Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

4.86 from 109 votes
397 Comments

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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! One of our favorite Hawaiian foods of all time.

If you enjoy Hawaiian cuisine, you will love this Hawaiian Mac Salad. It is essential on an Hawaiian Lunch plate!

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. I lived on the North Shore of Oahu 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!

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 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 authentic Hawaiian recipes:

  • Haupia – It only takes 4 ingredients to make this smooth, creamy, gelatin-like pudding dessert. Made with coconut milk and a little sugar, it is a little bite-sized taste of Hawaii (pictured above). 
  • Shoyu Chicken – A popular Hawaiian dish featuring chicken thighs simmered to perfection in a sweet and savory ginger and garlic infused Shoyu sauce.
  • Spam Musubi – If you know what this is, you know how good it is. If you don’t, you are in for a delicious Hawaiian food favorite! Delicious rice and spam wrapped in nori (dried seaweed) and enjoyed by all as a meal or snack any time of day! Dip in soy sauce for a little extra flavor.
  • Kalua Pork – This is an easy Crock Pot recipe (in lieu of imu style) made with Kalua pig and cabbage (make with or without ti leaves). Serve with poi or lau lau style in cooked ti leaves or taro leaves. 
  • Loco Moco – Sticky long rice topped with hamburger patties, a fried egg, brown gravy, and topped with green onions.
  • Poke (Ahi Poke) – Diced raw fish, typically ahi tuna, sprinkled with sea salt and a sauce made from soy sauce and sesame oil and topped with chili peppers. 
  • Saimin–  A delicious Hawaiian noodle soup similar to Shoyu Ramen. Just swap out the ramen for the chewier Saimin noodle that is popular in Hawaii. Top with char siu, soft boiled egg, sliced spam, green onions, or nori.

How to Make an Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

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

Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

4.86 from 109 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 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
0 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Hawaiian
Servings 10

Equipment

  • Stove Top
  • Large Sauce Pan

Ingredients

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 adding a little more milk if needed, no more than a tablespoon or two.

Video

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 beautiful three 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. Tasted horrible very mayo heavy. Not like authentic Hawaiian Mac mild salad taste that I’ve come to love.

  2. I haven’t made this…yet. Does anyone know if I can use olive oil Mayo? Will it taste okay? Or is original Hellman’s/best foods best?

  3. 5 stars
    Girl you are my hero!! You hit the nail on the head about the mayo, no other mayo compares. I lived in Hawaii twice and the first time around my son was 3 so he practically grew up on the island. 20 years late, he is buying the same mayo brand!! Hawaii has made me a mayo and rice connoisseur. But your recipe was on point!! I added a little sugar and white vinegar to give it the taste I like. If you really wanna wow your readers, make a spam musabi..I personally think spam is disgusting, much less with mouri but there are millions including my son, who disagree. The North Shore always had an awesome food truck/bus, oh so many good things. Now I miss Hawaii! Great post as I chow down on mac salad at 3Am because I have not gone shopping and literally had the recipe ingredients. I couldnt be happier right now!!

  4. Love this Mac salad. I have found I needed to add about 1/4 cup more milk and an extra splash of the cider vinegar. Makes it perfect.

  5. 5 stars
    This is a required side for the plate lunch supper I decided to make for my husband. I tend to make classic mac salad but it really needs sweet and tangier mac salad for a plate lunch. This turned out wonderfully. Years ago, I found a Hawaiian mac salad recipe that I would make for friends/family from Hawaii that I would take to pot lucks which was always gobbled up. I lost track of the recipe over the years so I googled the key ingredients that I could recall and…Voila! Your recipe appeared. Perfect match.

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