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!
Authentic Hawaiian Mac Salad
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is one of my biggest guilty pleasures. I lived in Hawaii a little over 10 years ago and became very familiar with true, authentic Hawaiian “Mac Salad”. I literally lived across the street from an L&L Hawaiian BBQ restaurant and found myself wandering over there way more often than I should have for their delicious plate lunch – always with mac salad and rice on the side (I love getting a little rice and mac salad together in one bite, oh so good).
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!
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. 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. Pineapple and ham have no business being in a Hawaiian mac salad. EVER.
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 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.
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!
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.
If you love this Hawaiian Macaroni Salad, you have got to try these other great side dishes:
- Traditional Macaroni Salad: This is one of our favorite macaroni salads for potlucks and BBQs. A traditional mac salad with lots of great mix-ins!
- Traditional Potato Salad: Hands-down the best potato salad. We do not have family BBQs without it. It is always a must!
- Pani Popo (Samoan Coconut Rolls): Looking for another island-style side dish? You will LOVE these coconut rolls! One of my favorite sweet treats from Hawaii.
- Need more side-dish ideas? Check out ALL of our side dishes HERE.
How to Make an Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- 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. Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes.
- 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 adding a little more milk if needed, no more than a tablespoon or two.
- Stove Top
- Large Sauce Pan