Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad: Bringing the Aloha to Your Plate

4.92 from 603 votes
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This Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is truly island-style, from how it’s made to the ingredients used. This recipe uses pantry ingredients to create a creamy, no-frills macaroni salad that is the perfect side dish for any Barbecue or Luau.

A spoon taking a scoop of Hawaiian macaroni salad from a serving bowl

Authentic Hawaiian Mac Salad

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is one of my biggest guilty pleasures because it reminds me of my time on the North Shore of Oahu. When I lived there, I often frequented a restaurant called L&L Hawaiian Barbecue where I always ordered the same thing: a plate lunch with macaroni salad and rice on the side.

And If you follow a vegan or healthy diet, we’ve added alternate ingredients that will allow you to enjoy this macaroni salad recipe.

For the complete Hawaiian experience, be sure to try our other recipes, such as Malasadas (Hawaii’s version of donuts), Haupia (Hawaiian coconut pudding), and Huli-Huli Chicken (Hawaiian grilled chicken).

Mac salad when you can’t be in Hawaii

This past weekend, I had a flashback to my Hawaii days when we ordered food from Honolulu Grill in St. George, UT. Everything we had there was delicious and seriously the most authentic Hawaiian food I have had since leaving Hawaii.

The macaroni salad, especially, hit home and suddenly made me wonder why we haven’t gotten a good Hawaiian mac salad recipe here on Favorite Family Recipes yet!

Close up of Hawaiian macaroni salad on a serving spoon to show the detail of the macaroni noodles, carrot, and dressing.


Keep it simple

Authentic Hawaiian Mac Salad is ridiculously simple. It is a no-frills mac salad yet, it is so creamy and flavorful. I had a friend in Hawaii who was also a caterer there. He explained to me long ago that true Hawaiian macaroni salad is pretty much just macaroni, carrot, mayonnaise, and salt and pepper. This is the way the locals make it.

There are a few other ingredients you can add like celery, extra onion, potatoes, fresh crab, or relish, but the basic recipe is my favorite. Once you start getting into adding ham or pineapple, you are getting way off course.

Adding ham or pineapple to something does not make it “Hawaiian Food”. Pineapple and ham have no business being in a Hawaiian mac salad. EVER.

Hawaiian Lunch plate with pork, white rice, mac salad, and teriyaki chicken.

Healthy Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

This recipe may seem a little mayo-heavy, it’s true. That is what makes it so stinking good. If you are really concerned about the mayo-ness of it, you can substitute Greek yogurt in whatever amounts you would like (i.e. half mayo, half Greek yogurt).

You will get a likeness of mac salad but I am telling you, it won’t be quite the same. In Hawaii, it’s all about the mayo. As far as the BRAND of mayo, it has got to be Best Foods. Period. No other mayo will taste right.

Close up of Hawaiian Macaroni Salad in a white Dish

Substitutions for a Vegan Hawaiian Mac Salad

We are so grateful for comments we get from our readers, especially when adapting recipes for special diets. We received a comment from Mimi that I thought would be helpful for anyone wanting to make this a vegan recipe. She substituted Hellman’s Vegan Mayonnaise for the regular mayo in the recipe, and Silk Unsweetened Cashew Milk for the regular milk. She said it turned out great. Thank you, Mimi!

Top view of a serving bowl of Hawaiian macaroni salad made with macaroni noodles, mayo, and shredded carrot

How to make Hawaiian Mac Salad ahead of time

If you make this ahead of time and it seems a little dried out, add some mayo mixed with a little milk until you get the right consistency back. Fold it in with a large rubber spatula so you don’t tear the macaroni noodles. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

More Delicious Hawaiian Food

If you love this Hawaiian Macaroni Salad, try more of our other authentic Hawaiian recipes:

Hawaiian macaroni salad in a large bowl with a serving spoon.

Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

4.92 from 603 votes
This Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is the real deal. A no-frills, creamy mac salad that is the perfect side dish for any BBQ or Luau!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Hawaiian
Servings 10

Video

Equipment

  • Stove Top
  • Large Sauce Pan

Ingredients

  • 1 pound macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 carrots shredded
  • 1/4 cup onion shredded (optional)
  • 2 1/2 cups Mayonnaise Best Foods or Hellman's mayonnaise (no substitutes!)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain well and place macaroni in a large bowl (I like to use a tupperware bowl with a lid so I can easily refrigerate later).
  • While macaroni is still hot, sprinkle on vinegar and add carrot and onion. Toss together until well combined. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, or until cooled.
  • In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together mayo, milk, and sugar. Fold mayo mixture into the macaroni until all the noodles are evenly coated. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours (best if overnight). Gently stir before serving, add a little more milk if needed, no more than a tablespoon or two.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 563kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 7gFat: 43gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 370mgPotassium: 165mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 2085IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 25mgIron: 0.7mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her three beautiful girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

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Comments

  1. Simple changes. but oh MG! Just enough changes to make you go OMG!!! Can’t wait to serve this macaroni salad this spring/summer…

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe is authentic plate lunch style Hawaiian mac side salad. It’s perfect for those of us who moved away from the islands and are looking for the authentic taste and texture of our childhood. I have to laugh at the comments saying it’s too bland, then they make suggestions about how to make it better. The author even said that making changes would destroy the authenticity. This side salad is meant to be simple, served as a small scoop next to a scoop of white rice in a typical Hawaiian mix plate lunch. It’s not meant to be overpowering. It’s meant to compliment the primary flavors found in the fix plate meats such as grilled teriyaki chicken, teriyaki beef, chicken katsu, kalua pork, or Kali short ribs, for example. Try going to a plate lunch restaurant in Hawaii and tell them that it’s too bland. Best case, you’ll be laughed off of the island.

  3. 5 stars
    Very delicious macaroni salad with subtle flavor and great texture with a smooth finish. Had two helpings!

  4. Very good flavor with the hint of onion and the shredded carrot adding texture. Has an amazing smoothness and subtle flavor with the mayonnaise, salt & pepper!

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