Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

4.86 from 115 votes
404 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.

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

Authentic Hawaiian Mac Salad


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

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

Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

4.86 from 115 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. 5 stars
    I made this recipe last summer it was the bomb. It tasted just like the real deal. We are making it again for this 4th of July.

  2. If you don’t mind the extra calories try using heavy cream instead of milk , you won’t be disappointed

  3. 4 stars
    Best and Hellmann’s? Nonono! Blue Plate. I personally prefer Duke’s for everything, but it might be a bit tangy for HMS. Ono grinds, Sistah.

  4. 5 stars
    Just got back from Maui where I fell in love with the mac salad I was finding everywhere! This recipe is dead-on and I’ve already made a batch and saved this recipe!

  5. 5 stars
    This recipe has been a hit and is requested at every bbq we throw. Sometimes I throw in cubed ham and peas for some added color. The dressing is amazing and it’s so easy to make. It’s addicting!!!

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

    1. 5 stars
      I’m wondering if maybe you didn’t use one of the recommended mayo brands, or if you didn’t get the right amount of the other dressing ingredients right? I followed this recipe to a T and it tastes just like the Mac salad I had recently on Maui.

  7. 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?

  8. 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!!

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 5 stars
    A KEEPER RECIPE !! Followed recipe to the letter, no substitutes, etc., Made half. Shared recipe with family and friends in California, Indiana, Florida, and Hawaii – THUMPS UP ALL THE WAY. Has a long shelf life in frig. Re-seasoned each leftover portion with celery salt, white ground pepper and a dash of paprika. Hmmm delicious.

    1. I just finished making this I really hope after it melds until tomorrow it tastes better. I tasted after finishing and had no taste . Here’s hoping

  12. 5 stars
    Omg it was delicious! My mother in law loved it as well as my friends! Taste just like the Hawaiian restaurants ❤️ I doubled recipe except I didn’t add two more carrots and it was good.

  13. I wish there was a heads up in the explanation of time needed that this actually requires
    You to prepare it a day in advance or at least 5 hours before dinner.

  14. My future son-in-law was born in Hawaii and lived there until college, when he came to Indiana. His mother is still in Hawaii, as are a lot of his friends. He recently did a big luau style dinner for us and it was great. My daughter made him Hawaiian style macaroni salad last week and gave me a container with some. It was really good – just different enough from others I’ve tried that I definitely want to make it again. I’ll have to see how this compares to the recipe they use.

  15. 5 stars
    Have tried many recipes for Hawaiian Mac salad…and every time was a failure. Until I found this!! I used to live in HI many years ago and used to eat this side dish all the time. So happy to have found this recipe…it reminds me of my time there. Thank You!!

    1. 5 stars
      This recipe taste exactly like the mac salad that I LOVE at Yummy Hawaiian BBQ here in Oxnard (SoCal). I have made this recipe several times and I owe you a long overdue THANK YOU!

  16. 5 stars
    This is my go to recipe. When I cater luaus this is the recipe I use. Only thing different is I put in 2T of sugar instead of 2t. When people ask for a great Mac salad I always direct them to this recipe.

    1. 5 stars
      This is our go to recipe for mac salad. My daughter is gluten free so I use a 12oz box of Barilla elbows. I reduce the mayo and milk a little for the smaller box. We love onions so I also use a white one with the same measurements as the recipe.

  17. Mahalo, as noted, so ONO. I Iived on Oahu in 1959-61 and our mess hall had won more awards than you can believe. Submarine sailors get extra rations but it gets tiring when all you have to is go on the beach and get plate lunch, barbecue on a stick and all that great Hawaiian/Asian food from street carts. I copied the long rice recipe, do you have a good marinade for BBQ on a stick?

    1. I live in Hawaii and this is the basic Hawaiian Mac. But a lot of different restaurants add different things. Most actually something else, some add potatoes to it, others bacon, others tuna and others egg. But I like the basic the best

  18. 5 stars
    This recipe is great!!! I travel for work often to HA and this is an outstanding addition to your bbq! When you order a lunch plate in HA this is what you get!! I did put in the optional onion and used a vidalia since no Hawaiian onion here. Basic yep but really good!

  19. I love Hawaiian macaroni salad. Have made it many times. I’m going to try your recipe this week for a get together. Since I’m pressed for time can I make it 2 days ahead?

    1. Yes, of course! Keep it in an airtight container. You may need to add some extra mayo to moisten it a little bit before serving.

  20. 5 stars
    Excellent! I’ve never had authentic Hawaiian pasta salad before and I made this on a whim for the 4th of July. Did everything exactly as the recipe said, except I used a tri-pepper grinder right at the end. SO GOOD! Thanks 🙂

  21. 5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe! I made this for a Memorial Day barbecue and it was a solid hit! I used shallots chopped fine for the onions, and plain almond milk instead of regular milk. Yum! We like it best with a small amount of teriyaki sauce drizzled over a serving. Yoshida’s Sweet teriyaki original works great! Enjoy.

    1. I’m so happy you liked the recipe! Thank you for sharing your tips – adding some Yoshida’s is a fabulous idea.

  22. 5 stars
    Just what I was looking for. Went with this recipe for the ratings and sure glad I did. Didn’t add onions only because we don’t like them raw.

    1. 5 stars
      Thank you for the great recipe. I used large elbow macaroni and decided to start with half of the mayonnaise mixture and I’m really happy I did that. As someone who has never been to Hawaii, less mayo tastes perfect to me. Looking forward to trying this again with Greek yogurt. Happy 4th!

    2. Mince the onions and microwave on high a few minutes until opaque. Cool then add to salad. Gotta have the onions, man.

  23. I used yellow grated onion and it made the whole thing bitter and inedible. I’m going to have to throw it out. 🙁 Maybe I used a bad onion? Or should it have been red onion?

    1. That is so strange! I have used yellow onion before and I don’t get a bitter taste. Maybe it was a bad onion!

    2. 5 stars
      You could use any Mayo you’d like, Hellman’s just has the best flavor and consistency for this recipe but definitely experiment with others to find the best for you!

          1. I use Japanese kewpie Mayo and rice wine vinegar in place of regular Mayo and apple cider vinegar which is a little more authentic. Absolutely delish!

    3. 5 stars
      I made this for a Memorial Day barbecue last month, and it was awesome. We like it best with a small amount of teriyaki sauce drizzled over the top. Yoshida’s Gourmet Teriyaki works great. Also made it with plain almond milk in place of regular milk for my son who has a dairy allergy and it was delicious. Also used 1/4 cup of finally chopped shallots in place of onion. Yummy. Will make it again soon. Thank you for your recipe!!!

    4. Hawaii has Maui onion , closest thing to it I found is a good Vidalia. Last resort … A nice sweet purple (Red) onion

  24. I made this exactly as written using Hellmans. I don’t like it at all. I’m used to Miracle Whip, which probably explains it. I know a lot of people are anti Miracle Whip, and mayonnaise snobs. But not me.

  25. 4 stars
    Great recipe but the 2.5 cups mayo would have been way too much. I put 1.75 cups and it came out delicious! Also, I made it GF and vegan (used Banza chickpea elbow macaroni, unsweetened coconut milk, vegan mayo).

    1. Then you don’t have a Hawaiian Macaroni salad, but some kind of vegan spinoff and entirely different., you’ve totally altered all the key ingredients that make a Hawaiian Macaroni salad what it is. I live in Hawaii and for one, a lot of mayonnaise is exactly what folks love about it!

      1. 5 stars
        That is so true! its the only way to make it subsituting the recipe is not Hawaiian style
        From waianae Pokai Bay area 🙂

    2. 4 stars
      Agree about the mayonnaise. I used 2 cups and it was still a bit too much for my liking.
      I’ll still make the recipe again though, just with less 😉 Thank you, Erica!

  26. 5 stars
    Love this. Lived in Hawaii for 5 years so remember it well!
    Sometimes I add little salad shrimp right before serving. Yum!

  27. 5 stars
    Just made this and even the taste I snuck to check for salt and pepper levels was amazing. I can’t wait until it has chilled and the flavors mingle properly. The tips in the comments section were gold. I’ve attempted this before and wasn’t so thrilled, but this time I’m very hopeful. Chilling the macaroni, carrot, onion and vinegar before mixing in the dressing was what I’d missed in the past. Incredibly helpful hint you might want to add to the recipe?

    1. Thank you so much for sharing! I just changed the verbiage in the recipe to be more clear.

  28. What am I doing wrong? This is a delish authentic recipe and I’ve made it several times but every time the sauce curdles and does not stay creamy like the picture. Even if I cool it in the fridge for several hours. It’s still yummy but does not look very appetizing.

    1. Are you cooling the noodle and vinegar mixture in the fridge before adding the mayo? The hot vinegar is what curdles the sauce most of the time. I would suggest refrigerating the noodles for longer if you are having trouble with curdling. Hope this helps!

  29. There is a trick to making authentic Hawaiian mac salad. One is to use a cheap brand of macaroni not the premium brand. You want to cook the macaroni until it is fat and soft. Hawaiian macaroni is not al dente. If you want to keep the salad from drying out. Either keep the salad in a storage bag with the air sucked out or put a layer of saran wrap right on top of the salad in the bowl (cling it tightly to the salad so there is no air space. This will keep the salad from drying and browning.

  30. 5 stars
    YES FIVE STARS FOR THIS ONE, BORN AND RAISED IN HAWAII MOST DRIVE-INNS, AND RESTRUNTS MAC SALAD DID NOT HAVE VINEGER AND SUGAR CAUSE NOT ALL LIKE THE SWEET SALAD IDEA BUT ITS GOOD., MAC SALAD IS LIKE CHICKEN RECIPE’S THERE IS A MILLION OR MORE WAYS TO MAKE IT. TRY THIS AT YOUR NEXT BAR-B-Q ADD CRISPY BACON BITS ALONG SIDE YOUR BAKE BEANS OOH YAH. YOU CAN HAVE ALOT OF FUN WITH MAC SALAD. ALOHA

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, and the five stars! Adding crispy bacon bits is a fabulous idea. Will definitely be trying that next time I make this. 🙂

  31. 5 stars
    Exactly how i remember it from Honolulu. We have a Hawaiian joint next to the base here, also coincidently in Utah that makes it. Meh…tasteless.

  32. 5 stars
    This is so yummy. Just what I was looking for. I also make your regular macaroni pasta salad all the time. It’s my go to, and my hubby’s absolutely favorite. You gals are pasta salad queens!

    1. What do you think will happen since I forgot to add the onions carrots and vinegar when it was hot. I added them after it was cooled

  33. 4 stars
    It looked very authentic but tasted a little too mayo-y to me. i know the main ingredient is mayo, but at the restaurants where it’s served you hardly get the mayo flavor.

  34. 5 stars
    Love it! Tastes just like what I had in Hawaii. It is so nice to run into no-fuss “copycat” recipe. Will make it again for sure!

  35. It’s good . And I hate it when people don’t follow the recipe then comment. I’m from the south and I added about 3 table spoons of pickle relish , it was on point . Take it for what it’s worth . It’s still a good recipe as is ,

  36. 5 stars
    I have made this several times and it passed my husband’s test; he grew up in Hawaii.

    I put my cooked macaroni (with the vinegar, carrots, onion) in the fridge for about an hour or so, then I take it out and add most of the dressing and put it back in the fridge. About 15 minutes before serving I add the rest of the dressing and it is nice and creamy.

    There may be different versions of “authentic” but this one was spot on for what I have had in Hawaii. Don’t listen to the haters.

  37. With all due respect, I love & make many of your recipes, but this recipe is not (The Authentic) “Hawaiian Macaroni Salad”. The ratio of dressing to 1 lb. of macaroni is incorrect, a few ingredients are left out, some other ingredient amts. are incorrect for 1 lb. of macaroni, & lastly – the final mixing method: You’re supposed to add your one (‘RESERVED’ Cup) of dressing to the macaroni salad AFTER you let the Salad sit in the fridge for at least 1 hr., then mix it in & serve the salad. I have no doubt that the recipe which I received from my mom is authentic, b/c mom received it from her native Hawaiian next door neighbor (nicknamed Hawaiian Rose), back in 1969 – when my mom was a brand new bride. Her salad is truly phenomenal, and it’s always present at backyard cookouts. Not to worry, it’s always quickly devoured, before it can go bad.

    1. Yes I second Bobbie!

      I’m born and raised Hawaiian from Oahu now living in CO and would love to try out the recipe your mom got!

    2. Perhaps you should just use her recipe if it’s as amazing as you claim it to be. People make/cook/bake different ways, it doesn’t make it incorrect or less authentic just because it is not exactly like your mother’s neighbor or who ever else…you’re just being rude!

    1. 5 stars
      Amazing! Putting the vinegar in while the macaroni is hot so it gets absorbed is genius! This recipe avoids the curd-texture you get when you add vinegar to Mayo. Adding the milk reduces the amount of Mayo too, but retains a creamy texture. Perfect with bbq!

  38. Delicious! I followed the recipe exactly. I used a micro plane to grate the onion fine and added a little extra seasonings and it was wonderful.

  39. Why is this called traditional Hawaiian macaroni salad? This is the way I’ve been making macaroni salad ever since my mom taught me the recipe when I was a young girl. What exactly makes this Hawaiian as opposed to traditional American macaroni salad???

    1. This is the traditional salad served with many Hawaiian meals – particularly Hawaiian lunch plates. Around our house, a typical American macaroni salad was made with peas, ham, green onions, and cheese cubes. We weren’t introduced to the Hawaiian Mac Salad until Erica lived in Hawaii and actually worked at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie. She also had close friends that were caterers there. She brought back many incredible recipes! This was my Mom’s recipe: https://www.favfamilyrecipes.com/moms-macaroni-salad/

  40. 5 stars
    My mom is full Portuguese and grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii. This recipe is by far the best version of “authentic mac salad” my Aunty’s make. So ono!

  41. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for posting real recipes and not something with pineapple thrown in to call it Hawaiian.

    1. You do need something to add a little acidity to the sauce. I would try substituting 1:1 with lemon juice! Hope this helps!

  42. 5 stars
    Should’ve gone to this recipe first!! I was stationed in Oahu for almost 4 years and the Mac salad there was my favorite. I’m making kalua pork and cabbage with a side of rice and needed something else to go with it. I started with a different recipe which was my first mistake- it only used the basic ingredients of onion, carrots, mayonnaise, and salt/pepper and it tasted like straight mayonnaise, yuck! Luckily, I found this and simply added the extra ingredients from this recipe and it literally saved my Mac salad! It tastes just like it did in Hawaii! Thank you so much, I can’t wait till dinner is ready!!

  43. 5 stars
    Good authentic Mac salad. Hubby is Hawaii so we eat it a lot but add a small (3 oz) can of tuna because that is how his mom and Aunties make it. You can also use a can of chicken if you don’t like tuna but you don’t really taste tuna. We also let the carrots sit in the cider vinegar while the macaroni cooks and then add it. It softens them.

    1. My uncle who is from Hawaii puts hard boiled eggs in his recipe. He also adds soy sauce to his helping for flavor. So good!!

    2. I asked an employee at L&L Hawaiian BBQ what they put in their pasta salad, and she whispered to me tuna. haha. I haven’t tried it yet. It looks like shrimp to me.

    3. Anyone ever make this kewpie mayo? Thinking of giving this a swing tomorrow. I’ll post the results, thinking this may take it up a notch. Thoughts?

  44. 5 stars
    Love your recipies! This looks delicious. Could you give a ballpark as to how much salt and pepper are added? Thank you!!

    1. I usually start with a teaspoon of each and then taste it and add more if needed! Hope this helps!

  45. 5 stars
    Finally, I found the recipe I’ve looked for over the last 5 years after eating at a Hawaiian restaurant where I loved the macaroni salad. It is perfect as it is, I added some chopped olives stuffed with red peppers since I had them and really liked the addition although it made it less authentic

  46. I used as much apple cider vinegar but the taste of it is a bit much. What can I do to make the vinegar taste less powerful? Will it die down after refrigeration ? Thanks!

  47. It looked perfect when I first made it. In the morning all the mayo was curdled and looked like it had been sitting in the case at foodland for a week. I followed the recipe including brand of mayo exactly. I paid 22 dollars to make this and I had to throw it away. 🙁

    1. I am so sorry that this recipe didn’t turn out for you. Was it stored in an air-tight container? Did you also add the milk in the morning, as we suggest in the recipe?

    2. Did you put the Mayo in while the macaroni was still hot? Or the vinegar curdled it. This has never happened to me and I make this for my Hawaiian hubby a lot!

    3. How did making THIS recipe cost you $22? It’s macaroni ($3 on the high end), mayo ($4 if you don’t already have a jar), vinegar ($3, again – if you don’t already have THAT in your pantry), a few carrots ($3 for a bunch of organic), an onion (less than $1), milk ($1.99 qt), and salt, pepper, and sugar, which everyone should have on hand. No way would these items rack up $22… And I live in Alaska, where the price of food is similar to prices in Hawaii.

      1. 5 stars
        Was thinking the same, $22???? I doubt that! Anyway, I’ve made this a few times and pretty much already had all the ingredients on hand, and as always, delish.

      2. Maybe she’s counting the cost of the entire container versus how much is actually used in the recipe? I live in Hawaii and know that you can spend as much as $10 for a gallon of milk and $8-9 for a large container of BF mayo 😞.

    4. $22??!! I can see if you don’t let the hot macaroni full absorb the vinegar and dump milk into it, there is a possibility for curdling. Or your milk is bad to start with … But even so, there is vinegar in mayo and if the milk is fully mixed in with the mayo, it should not happen. This is a really fool-proof (and super yummy) recipe!

      Just made it using:
      $2.99 organic imported Italian macaroni
      $0.17 organic apple cider vinegar ($2.79 for a bottle of 32 tablespoons)
      $0.32 organic carrots ($1.58 for a bag of 10)
      $0.11 organic onion ($0.88; used 1/8 of an onion)
      $8.80 organic Hellmann’s mayo ($6.62 for a 15oz. jar, used 1 and 1/3 jars)
      $0.08 organic grass-fed milk ($4.46 per half gallon, $0.08 per fluid oz, which is 2 tablespoons)
      $0.25 organic sugar (got a giant bag at home; pretty sure 2 teaspoons cannot cost more than a quarter)
      $0.25 French sea salt and organic white pepper (again, staples at home; probably costs another quarter at most)
      GRAND TOTAL: $12.97, and that is using top of the line ingredients.

  48. 5 stars
    5 stars all the way for your wonderful macaroni salad. It made a wonderful meal when served with jasmine rice, brioche sweet buns and Hawaiian grilled teriyaki chicken. I’ll be making this quick and easy recipe again and again. It was perfect. Thanks so much for sharing. BK

  49. 5 stars
    I have had Macaroni salad at one place in California and seems to me that it has finely shredded chicken brest or white fish…also, the macaroni is over cooked but not bad at all. Can’t seem to fins the recipe for that one 😐

    1. 4 stars
      You are correct. My Hawaiian mother in law always adds a small drained can of tuna to hers. You don’t really taste the tuna but it gives it something.

  50. 5 stars
    Just made this last night and had it today. It’s really good, I’m surprised because it’s basic cole slaw ingredients but with macaroni. Another favorite for us, as many of the “3 Sisters” recipes.

  51. 5 stars
    Delicious, next time I’ll know to cut the carrots up smaller. I bought the pre cut string carrots and will cut them down a bit. Reminded me of the steak plate shops on the island. Very good job and thank you.

    1. Yellow, white, red or sweet onion? I never bought plate lunch because, oy, two starches🤣, but making for supper club and must have with Kalua pork!.

  52. 5 stars
    every recipe is different but when I saw no Pineapples or ham EVER had to laugh being born and raised in Wahiawa and Whitmore village and everyone thinks that is Hawaiian.

  53. 5 stars
    I have made this three times and each time has been better. What I did differently this last time is rinse the noodles with cold water while draining them. The mayo mixture kept its creaminess and didn’t clabber like it did the other times.

  54. 5 stars
    I disagree! Born and raised on Oahu. This Mac salad tastes almost exactly like Penny’s Lunch Wagon’s mac salad except theirs is slightly sweeter. I don’t see anything that’s not authentic on the ingredient list.

  55. Aloha, this is definitely basic Hawaiian American Mac! Todd is incorrect and has lost his tastebuds unless he discloses the ingredients for what he deems is “authentic Mac salad”. I’d really like to know, because I come from kanaka maoli and I am American and this is obviously Hawaiian American and it’s delicious!

    1. Thank you for the comment, Marie! I’m so glad you approve. We make this all the time and it tastes as good, if not better, than any Mac salad we’ve had in the states. I’m sure eating anything in Hawaii just naturally tastes better!

  56. 4 stars
    Hi, thanks for this recipe! It was very tasty, reminded me of the Mac salad I had in Kauai but I felt like it was missing something. Another reviewer mentioned msg powder and I think I will try that as I feel like the recipe was very close and it was just a minor flavor missing. However I felt it was still quite delicious and am pleased to serve it at a potluck this afternoon. I think the mayo is spot on, as Hawaiian Mac salad is generally heavy on mayo however if someone doesn’t like too much mayo then just add less, common sense. I added Serrano peppers to my portion as I like everything spicy. This of course is not authentic but I enjoy the flavor spicy chili’s add to the dish. Thanks again!

  57. 4 stars
    Waayyyy too much mayonnaise. I love ono Hawaiian bbq’s mac salad so I thought I’d achieve that, instead I just got spoon fulls of mayo with each bite. Made another batch and did half of the mayo, it tastes much better.!

    1. So glad I read the comments BEFORE I put all the ingredients together. Totally agree with @Bri, 2.5 cups is way too much mayo! So, I folded in half of my mayo mixture and it was more than enough. Put the rest of the un-used mayo into the fridge, and if the Mac Salad ends up needing more after it’s fully chilled, I can add some more at that time. Meanwhile, I loved everything else about this recipe (it tastes fantastic still warm, so can’t wait until it’s been in the fridge for 4+ hours). Bravo, we will be making this often!

    2. 5 stars
      I agree about the amount of mayo. I cooked a regular sized box of Macaroni noodles and folded 1.5 cups of mayo mixture into it and felt that was a good amount. Put the rest of the mixture in my fridge to mix more in if needed.

      Also I added a little bit of garlic powder to give it a bit more fuller flavor.

  58. 5 stars
    Excellect! I made it with my teriyaki beef recipe and rice to make the perfect plate lunch, reminding me of home.

    Only extra comment is that I think japanese mayonnaise is the best option for mayo, because it has a little MSG in there. I didn’t have that so I used MSG powder and it added that perfect extra little flavor that makes the Mac Salad taste incredible.

    1. Aloha,this is ono! Having teriyaki burgers and salad tomorrow, reminds me of Frankie’s Drive Inn in Waimanalo, ate there almost everyday while I was manager of a horse ranch. Just add a cherry Coke and that was lunch. Young in those days could eat anything!

  59. Found this same exact recipe on another site, entire post/context literally almost word by word. Not sure this recipe is just that simple or if you share your recipe on other sites but definitely looked like it was copied & pasted. Regardless, am trying tonight and am very excited!

    1. Do you have the link to the site? We would like to contact them and ask them to take it down.

      1. 5 stars
        I found this recipe late December 2018. I had modified it to my liking and it is always a hit!
        I added 1/2 cup black olives (diced), 1/2 cup celery (diced), 3 green onions (diced) 1 extra tsp white sugar & tsp of regular mustard. This side dish is the bomb.com!!!!! Also, I did a google search with just the listed ingredients and there were several sites that had the exact same ingredients and I wasn’t sure which site was the original. I would hate for your recipe to be stolen. It is truly a gem. I paired this dish last night with the hawaiian chicken from my favorite place (COSTCO) and some white medium grain rice + chicken bouillon + butter. It was banging!

  60. Made this today and felt like I was back home(HI)
    However there are only 3 of us and won’t be able to finish it. Can it be frozen?????

    1. Unfortunately, pasta and mayonnaise don’t freeze well. Maybe take some to a neighbor? It will last in the fridge for up to a week. Thanks for asking!

    1. Great question! I start off with about a teaspoon of each, but usually end up adding more pepper. I like the extra flavor pepper adds.

  61. Do you have a good Hawaiian rice and sauce recipe? Making this tomorrow with Kalua Pig with cabbage.

  62. I been looking for a mac salad, I’m from Big island, keaukaha, I will try this recipe and let you know, how it stands to our local places, like L & L, or K’s Drive -in, or Cafe 100. Give me a few days, I’ll let you know. Mahalo

  63. 5 stars
    This Mac salad is sooooo good! My sister in law made it for us when she was down to visit. They paired it with their grilled teriyaki chicken and it was seriously the best thing since sliced bread! Lol. It reminded us of a Hawaiian restaurant in Utah called Mo Bettahs. Thank you so much for sharing!

  64. 5 stars
    Made this for a potluck to accompany some Shoyu Chicken. It was a hit and honestly took me back to all the lunchboxes I had growing up 🙂 ! I was surprised by how quickly it went away and people were coming back for seconds. Thank you!

  65. I had Honolulu Grill yesterday, I love their macaroni salad and the sauce on the rice!! I am definitely going to give this recipe a try.

    1. 5 stars
      I made this today. It is to die for!!! Thank you for the fantastic recipe. Also I’m probably going to eat half of it before dinner. Absolutely delicious.

  66. 5 stars
    I’ve been looking for an authentic mac salad recipe for years and this is it. It tastes just like what you’d get at a Hawaiian restaurant. I truly believe that the secret is the addition of the Apple cider vinegar into the noodles after cooking.. other Mac salad recipes have never soaked up the mayo like this has! Thanks!

    1. 5 stars
      Best mac salad recipe. Threw a few fresh salad shrimp in just befoe serving. Perfection. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

      1. 5 stars
        I don’t know if this is authentic hawiian or not but it tastes great. I don’t like mac salad but I like this recipe alot!

  67. DO NOT COOK TO PACKAGE DIRECTIONS!! you need to overcook the pasta just a bit for authentic Hawaiin mac salad….

  68. Thank you for the recipe. I veganized this and it turned out great. Hellman’s vegan mayo and Silk unsweetened cashew milk. I also halved the recipe since it was just weeknight dinner at home.

    1. Thank you for sharing this! I will add your comment to the recipe for other people who might want to make it a vegan dish.

    2. I wish I knew somebody like you who could help me with all that!
      Can a person used to the regular, American diet notice the difference much?

    3. I love this as I was looking for a vegan version! Was just going to veganize it myself but made me happy to see someone else already had 🥰

  69. 5 stars
    Didn’t have a grater and used a food processor. The carrots and onions added a nice texture. Overall, this is my favorite recipe so far! The vinegar adds the extra kick.

    1. 5 stars
      Delish!! Waiting the 24 hours is painful but critical to develop the proper flavor. I tried it right away and was afraid I wasted my time. Waited until it was in the fridge for a few hours and it was a little better but, TODAY (24 hours later) IT’S PERFECT!!

      I used Best Foods Light Mayo (all I had on hand) and thought it was very good. I’ll make it with Original Best Foods Mayo for special occasions but this works fine for me.

      Thanks!

    1. 5 stars
      Best mac salad recipe. Threw a few fresh salad shrimp in just befoe serving. Perfection. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  70. 5 stars
    This recipe was on point and reminded me of home. Thank you! My Mac salad came out perfect. This was the first dish that was cleared up when I hosted a party. I paired it with chicken katsu and rice and everyone loved it!

  71. 5 stars
    This recipe is spot on! Simple and so delicious! We spent 2 weeks on The Big Island and Oahu and this takes me right back to the islands.

  72. This white was trying to recreate my wife’s paulan macaroni salad so I found this recipe to help with what I remembered her mother did. The only difference was instead of apple cider vinegar they use Soy Sauce but everything else was spot on . it tasted just like her mothers so thanks for the help

    1. So glad it worked out so well, and that you were able to re-create your mother-in-law’s recipe! I haven’t tried it with soy sauce before– that sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing!

  73. 5 stars
    Not being a Hawaiian native, I care more about taste than absolute authenticity, but I made this after being impressed with all the comments from Hawaii locals … and the “In Hawaii it’s all about the mayo.” statement in the overview. 🙂 Initially I added half the mayo/milk … but the full amount is fine (of course!), since the macaroni absorbs so much of it.

    I did want a bit of freshness and texture, so I added about a half-cup of chopped celery and apple … and next time I may dice rather than shred the carrots.

    Thanks for the warning to avoid pineapple. 🙂 (I also resisted my wife’s suggestion to add some mango.) But I’m thinking that some shredded coconut might give this a little more tropical flair.

    Many thanks for posting this recipe. — Mike in San Jose

  74. It might be just me, but this is like eating a big bowl of mayonnaise. I love mayo but this is just too much without enough other flavors to offset. Not saying it is a bad recipe at all. Just saying it’s not my cup of tea.

    1. It is heavy on the mayo – but that is Hawaiian Mac Salad. It is better after it chills and the macaroni absorbs some of the mayonnaise. You can always cut back on the mayo in the recipe. If it dries out, you can stir in a little milk before eating. Sorry you didn’t love it. 🙁

  75. I was born in the Islands and although our family moved to the mainland while I was young, every birthday party, wedding, funeral, graduation, or other family gathering always included my mom’s mac salad. When I saw this recipe, I had to try it. I made it exactly as described and it brought tears to my eyes when I tasted it…it is absolutely authentic, just like my mom’s. I just made it for my husband’s family reunion and they all loved it! This is a keeper. Thank you for posting!!!

    1. Hi Dee- Thank you so much for this wonderful comment! This is exactly why we do what we do. We love hearing when our recipes bring back fond memories. I am so glad you and your family enjoyed this recipe. Thanks again for taking the time to come back to share your story with us!

  76. 5 stars
    Love this! Whenever I order Hawaiian BBQ I order extra mac salad, and this recipe is spot on for me!

    1. Ooh I have never heard of doing that before! I am sure it is delicious since I love taking a bite of mac salad along with the teriyaki chicken 🙂

  77. One of the first meals I had at my (to-be) mother-in-laws was a cold Mac salad with flaked salmon. After 47 years I still make it for him every summer all summer long. Have to try your version, we just won’t tell my mother-in-law.

    1. oooh that actually sounds delicious! If you try our version your secret will be safe with us 😉 we won’t tell her. 😀

    2. 5 stars
      This is a GREAT recipe!
      I use a few things to create my own version of a PotatoMac-
      reminiscent of Da Kitchen in Oahu: add half a bag of green peas (frozen, cooked), several potatoes peeled, cubed, and boiled in salted water, 1 hardboiled egg (chopped), a splash of Kikkoman teriyaki. I cook the macaroni fully, no al dente! Your Apple cider vinegar helps “set” the ingredients. It’s crucial to grate the yellow onion-they will be hidden, but so flavorful! This recipe with just a little milk is perfect; some recipes call for “1/2 milk, 1/2mayo” ratios and I find that is too much milk and not enough mayo. Once the mayo sauce or dressing is mixed, it IS best to FOLD the mixture in the macaroni with other ingredients as mentioned ESPECIALLY if making PotatoMac to prevent overblending. In terms of seasoning, it is best to SLIGHTLY “stir and taste”, adding small amounts of salt and pepper as you go. The flavors will form more in fridge, and you can always add more LATER if needed after setting for 8-12 hours. Scallions can be added for garnish if desired. Every person I have given this to has become addicted – it looks so simple, very easy to make, and not many people have eaten it before with regular meals, but they love it as a unique side dish. I will NEVER be able to recreate the exact perfect side that Da Kitchen served with their full plates, BUT it’s a good variation of goodness that will REMIND you of Ha-Vi-Ee. Enjoy and thank you for a super basic macaroni salad recipe that is delicious and wonderful AS IS or a great base to customize. Superb!

  78. Can you give me a rough estimate of “salt and pepper to taste”? I have NO idea what the correct taste is, help!

    1. I would say maybe a teaspoon of each and then taste it and add more as needed! It really is about what you think tastes good!

  79. 4 stars
    I fell in love with the Maui version of mac salad which has potatoes & macaroni with cold, green peas in it along with the mayo.

  80. 5 stars
    Erica: I am amazed at the number and variety of replies! This is what I’ve been looking for, as our local Hawaiian restaurant serves the best macaroni salad! But my wife doesn’t like this salad. What can I do about that? (I’m betting you have an answer!)

    1. Marty- haha you know me all too well 😉 I’m so excited for you to try this recipe and see how it compares to your local place. Please come back and let me know how it turns out! 😀 – Erica

  81. 5 stars
    One thing that I noticed that no one mentioned here is that on every table in every restaurant in Hawaii is Tabasco sauce. This salad is great with some Tabasco sprinkled on top, if you like that kind of thing.

  82. 4 stars
    I recall enjoying a weekend picnic either with my family or with a huge group in Hawaii and Mac Salad was always offered. Your recipe looks like how I remembered. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  83. I have been researching a great recipe for Hawaiian style Mac salad for years! This is by far the best recipe! So glad I came across this! Makes perfect sense. Thanks for posting!!

      1. To rinse or not to rinse? I’ve heard different opinions on rinsing your noodles after boiling. What’s your take??

        1. I like to rinse my pasta when I’m using it for cold pasta salads. It stops the pasta from clumping together in the salad – plus it helps it cool faster!

    1. 5 stars
      I love this recipe, but I need to alter recipes to make them both gluten-free and soy-free, so these are notes for any other folks who crave Mac salad but have those dietary restrictions:
      I prefer Tinkyada rice elbow pasta (it cooks soft but still stays in shape). Other rice pastas are ok too.
      I use 2 cups of either Soy-free Vegenaise or Earth Balance original spread/mayo substitute. They are the closest tasting ones ones this recipe. I find the soy-free mayos need a little more salt than regular mayo. I use plain water instead of milk. Sometimes I reserve the extra 1/2 cup “mayo” to add fresh, right before serving.
      I always pull the ribs out of 2 celery sticks before slicing them thin. They are more tender this way.

  84. 5 stars
    I’ve made this twice in the last 2 weeks for parties. Both times, everyone has said how much they LOVED it! After a few days, I added chopped Olives and celery, just to change it up a bit, but your recipe is perfect and delicious as is! And I do agree, it seems very authentic, in fact, I would compare this to the local Hawaiian restaurants in my area; it’s nice to be able to make a huge batch of this for the same cost as a small container at a restaurant! THANK YOU for posting this 5-star recipe!

    1. Wow Erin, thank you so much for the 5-stars and for the SUPER nice comment! I agree, it’s nice to make a big batch for the same price as a small container. Especially when it’s so EASY to make 🙂

  85. I’ve made this twice in the last 2 weeks for parties. Both times, everyone has said how much they LOVED it! After a few days, I added chopped Olives and celery, just to change it up a bit, but your recipe is perfect and delicious as is! And I do agree, it seems very authentic, in fact, I would compare this to the local Hawaiian restaurants in my area; it’s nice to be able to make a huge batch of this for the same cost as a small container at a restaurant! THANK YOU for posting this recipe!!!

  86. 5 stars
    from a 4th generation portagee from TBI

    We’ve made this recipe from your site 3 times now- the first time I mixed everything minus the noodles and it was still great- second time I paid attention better to your instructions and this last time I used a 1/2 c less mayo which I like best so far but its only been a day.

    As for kalua pig smoke? since I saw that comment- Keave wood is Mesquite so that is the dominant smoking wood and charcoal in Hawaii. A cut up banana stump is added into the pit to keep moisture levels up and will end up burning and creating a sweet smoke. On the mainland I use Mesquite wood chips and apple wood chips on a big green egg and I wrap a shoulder or ham cut in multiple layers of Goya Banana leaves (Freezer section). The leaves add a layer of protection and flavor that mimics the Ti leaves used when the traditional bluestone lined pit is used (Imu).

    1. Hi Garrison! Thanks so much for the 5-stars and also for the great comment! Thanks for all your great tips, too!

  87. 5 stars
    I broke the rule and substituted kewpie mayo for the Best Foods.

    I will fight anyone IRL who tries to get me to do otherwise.

    Thank you. Recipe was very good!

    1. Kewpie mayo? Can’t say that I have heard of it but I am glad it worked out and was a good substitute!

  88. Hi Nicole- The vinegar isn’t added for taste, it is actually a chef’s technique to make the noodles more absorbent and hold the flavors better. Many Hawaiian restaurants (including the one I worked at) use this technique but if you would like to leave it out, you can!

    1. 4 stars
      I agree with Nicole..I lived on Maui for many years, and worked with a family who cater. They NEVER put onion, potato, celery, or vinegar, olives, any kine other veggie junk in their mac salad. Only mac, choke mayo, little bit carrot, salt and peppa.

  89. 5 stars
    Thanks for sharing this recipe, it was delicious! I made this for a pot luck and it was a hit! The portion size was pretty big and I had a fair amount leftovers that I packed for lunch. Do you know how many calories would be in a serving size? Or per cup of the mac salad?

    1. We don’t have a calorie calculator on our site but if you plug the recipe in a nutritional calculator online you should be able to find it pretty easily. Hope this helps! Glad this was such a hit for you!

  90. My Tutu taught me how to make this Hawaii salad when I was a little girl and I have never strayed from her recipe, which by the way is your recipe. Adding celery or tuna is great but it’s not the same when you eat the salad on the same plate with rice and you get a bite of salad and rice together…Oh my goodness…
    I’ve been living in KCMO for the last 32 years and have never let the Haole in me change this recipe and every time I serve it to my guests they want the recipe. I tell them “don’t change it”…lol
    I’m serving it tomorrow for my son & daughter in laws baby shower…I can’t wait for the reactions.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your comment with us! I agree, this recipe should not be changed! lol It is prefect as-is 😀 Best of luck with the baby shower! Let us know how it goes!

  91. I’m sorry I meant for the kalua pork not the macaroni salad.
    If you know about the pork I would appreciate that information. What flavor of liquid smoke? Thanks.

    1. My son is allergic to dairy. Would this be weird if I tried with almond milk instead of reg milk?

        1. I use this recipe and have done it with oat milk and with coconut milk and adjust taste with sugar and mayo. Guests seem to like it with coconut milk or oat milk better than almond milk.

          1. Good to know. I am going to try it with coconut milk and will see how it tastes. Thank you for the suggestion!

  92. Could you please let me know what flavor of liquid smoke you used? I have mesquite and hickory. Will be making this for a cub scout blue and gold banquet. Thank you.

    1. haha I Just went and checked on my bottle to see what flavor it was. The one I use is “Hickory”. Hope this helps!

    2. My husband was born and raised in Hawaii, along with all of his family. He makes Kalua pork with liquid smoke in mesquite. The kiawe wood used in Hawaii is a variety of mesquite. You will get a better flavor that is more authentic when you cannot use real kiawe wood.

  93. 5 stars
    This is delicious, I just made it and even without the refrigeration it’s delicious! I made the Hawaiian chicken last night , my son loved it. Thanks for 2 great recipes.

  94. 5 stars
    Great recipe. I did add some green onion and a ton of sriracha to the mix before adding it to the macaroni. Great flavors and spice.

    1. 12 people should be about right, especially if you have a bunch of other food to go with it. It makes a pretty big batch. Hope this helps!

  95. Absolutely delicious! Only change I made was the addition of a cup of chopped celery. Tasted exactly as I remembered it from Maui! And this is the exact way they make it at Mama’s Hawaiian BBQ in Sahuarita AZ. Thanks for the recipe. I’ll be making this often.

    1. So glad you liked it! Haven’t eaten at Mama’s Hawaiian before but definitely want to try it now because if they can get the mac salad right, usually the rest falls in to place 😉

  96. I made this last week–omg–so good!!! The only problem I had was it was kind of bland with only the two TBS vinegar and sugar…so I added more and that did the trick. I will say that this recipe makes a TRUCKLOAD of mac salad–but trust me, it will get eaten. 🙂

    1. Great idea adding more vinegar and sugar to spruce up the flavor! So glad you liked this recipe 😀

  97. I make this recipe all the time now. My family loves it! I always add celery, green onions, and black olives. So good! Thanks for this great recipe!

  98. Erica
    I have made this Hawaiian dish with macaroni and potatoes and everyone seems to love it that way. Everyone wants the recipe Whenever I make it for them.

  99. Yum! We just got back from a vacation on Oahu and I’m craving some Mac Salad! I can’t wait to make this and take us back to our beautiful vacation once again. Thank you!

  100. My mother always mixed equal amount of boiled potatoes cut into cubes with the macaroni and also added a can of peas and carrots and hot dog relish and chopped up boiled egg. There were 8 of us kids so perhaps this was her way of making it go far enough to feed all of us.

  101. Ok, I’m not from Hawaii, but my aunt is, born and raised, and her family runs a pretty popular Hawaiian takeout joint in California(I grew up in LA). They won’t give me their mac salad recipe(it’s a restaurant thing), and ever since moving to Canada, I crave Hawaiian Mac salad like crazy!!! So thank you!! I make this once a month, and even my macaroni salad hating Canadian husband gobbles this up. I usually have to kick him out of the kitchen. I do notice this salad tastes better the next day. And please don’t put pineapple or coconut in it, that’s um…an abomination. Oh, and I have to eat my mac salad with a scoop of calrose rice. Thank you again.

      1. Thanks! Btw, Im Japanese, and I don’t know if I can agree about Kewpie mayonnaise. That would turn the salad into a Japanese macaroni salad(which is fantastic, but not the same). In Japan, we make a spaghetti salad using Kewpie, and if you’re ever bored, do look this recipe up! It’s delicious! On the island though, people love their Best Foods Mayo, and never seen anyone else use Kewpie for Hawaiian mac salad. Also, calrose rice is simply the name of the type of rice which a Hawaiian plate lunch is served with. It’s the fluffy, sticky rice, which I love!

    1. So glad you (and your mac-hating husband) like this recipe! It is always me go-to when I am craving REAL Hawaiian food. I could not agree more about pineapple and coconut being an abomination haha love them on their own.. but they have no business being in mac salad lol

      1. I agree! I love pineapple and coconut (I can eat my weight in pineapple coconut cake!!) but I like my Hawaiian mac salad traditional.

  102. Omg… I loved L&L in St George, I live in cedar and travel there just for L&L I was so sad when they closed… I was just looking h for recipes via I love the macaroni salad and came across this!!! Do excited to try it tonight! Thanks

  103. I would say real Hawaiian Mac salad is made with Kewpie Mayo. It’s a Japanese mayo that is much more creamier than BestFoods. Basically, you are trying to reproduce the taste of Kewpie by adding the cider vinegar and milk. Also, we throw in a tablespoon of tuna to give it a subtle seafood kick. This is much more authentic of what you’ll find in Hawaiian islands not the Americanized version at L&L.

  104. This is a great recipe. I have made it many times and even added celery and imitation crab meat. So good. This is in my opinion a no fail dish to make for any potluck situation as well. I love it, thank you.

  105. This was an amazing macaroni salad. The flavors came together wonderfully overnight. I can’t emphasize more how important it is to refrigerate this overnight. I tasted right after it was cooked and it wasn’t all that impressive but boy did those flavors come together overnight. It was like eating 2 completely different salads. Once again I can’t say enough about this. So flavorful. Thanks, Erica. Such a tasty recipe.

  106. Just got back from Oahu, da best grinds, local style. Recipe is great. Today I made kalua pua’a in da oven, also cabbage slaw with grated carrots, onion, and creamy sriracha sesame dressing like Foodland’s spicy Ahi Poke dressing. Mac salad didn’t miss a beat, brah! Onolicious! Broke da mouth!

  107. First off…let me say there is no such thing as authentic “Hawaiian” macaroni salad. It would more appropriately be called “Island Style” macaroni salad. The authentic method would be adding potatoes and macaroni to the salad, Best Foods mayonnaise, salt & pepper, shredded carrots, chopped yellow onion, celery, peas and sometimes can tuna. Local families have been variations…all of them good. It is incorrect to say that something is “Hawaiian” when it is not. Traditional Hawaiian food is poi, fish, kalua pig to name a few. Because of so many different ethnic groups living in the Hawaiian Islands, the different foods have become a part of the Island of eating. It is major concern of mine for people to think because something is associated with the Hawaiian Islands, especially food, it much be Hawaiian. Unfortunately, that is not so. Your recipe looks wonderful and I’m sure tastes fantastic. I apologize in advance if my comment upsets you, that is not my intention…just a little education, if you will.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Betty. The comment doesn’t upset us at all. Erica lived in Hawaii and this salad recipe was made by many of the families that lived there – one family that had a catering business and called this “Hawaiian Mac Salad.” It’s always good to have a different perspective and more information. One thing I know for sure – the food in Hawaii is amazing. Kalua Pig is one of my favorites.

  108. My mom always put tuna in our Mac salad. I like tuna, crab and shrimp!!
    And you are right pineapple has NO BUSINESS in Mac salad. Also, just because it has pineapple in it does not make food Hawaiian????

    1. haha yes everything in Hawaii definitely does not have pineapple in it, especially mac salad! — I like the idea of crab.. definitely will try that one!

  109. I am going to make this today. I hated Mac salad until I had my first plate lunch! I think some huli huli chicken and rice will be a nice compliment.

    1. Oooh Huli Huli chicken will be coming soon to the blog, too! Keep an eye out for it 😉 You’ve got good taste 😀

  110. OMG!!! This is soo good!! I moved to northern Utah from St.George. We used to live right down the street from the Honolulu Grill, and I crave the Honolulu Grill all the time! This hit the spot! Thank you so much for posting!

    1. So happy that you liked it! I am totally with you– I am always craving Honolulu grill MmmmmMMMmmm Isn’t Hawaiian food the best?!

    1. It will work but with it being “light” it probably won’t taste quite as good 😉 I have used the Olive Oil mayo and that actually tastes really good

  111. I have made this recipe twice in a month….family loves it! They are requesting it again for our Memorial Day cookout….thank you!

  112. 5 stars
    THANK YOU THANK YOU for this recipe! 🙂 I’ve been so homesick for good Hawaiian food and it was exactly the right taste I was looking for. It turned out great and then I put it in the fridge to chill and about a half hour later I took it out to sneak a few more bites (so addicting) and the mayo sauce seemed to have been all absorbed. It was still good but there wasn’t much sauce so it was just like cooked buttery noodles. I used the 2 tablespoons of vinegar. What could have gone wrong? Are there any other tricks to keep the creamy consistency like it was at first and not have the mayo sauce absorb?

    1. hmmm… I don’t know. You could try waiting until the noodles are completely cool before adding the mayo mixture. I think if you do that it probably won’t absorb as much as it is cooling. I hope this helps!

      1. 5 stars
        My 2 cents. I seem to notice that different pasta brands react differently to the sauce. Some brands seem to absorb the mayo faster than others. Not sure why. I’ve using DeCecco lately and it seems to work have the sauce as a coating. Perhaps it is the type of flour they use to make the pasta. I so love this salad in a plate lunch. To die for. thank you so much for sharing.

        1. Thanks so much for the info! We have definitely noticed different brands can taste MUCH different. I have never tried DeCecco before. Will definitely try it next. Thanks!

  113. 5 stars
    Just made this! Couldn’t wait for it to be refrigerated and it still taste delicious! Does flavor enhance upon refrigeration or can it also be served @ room temperature? No Best foods where I’m from, so Hellmans did the trick! Awesome salad, thanks for sharing!

    1. OH good, Hellman’s is the same as Best Foods so you made the right choice 😉 It can be served at room temp or refrigerated, just whatever your personal preference is. To store, though, you will want to refrigerate.

  114. 5 stars
    Just got done making this for a family gathering. My husband can’t keep sneaking forkfuls out of the bowl!!

  115. I want to make this for a large party so I’m sure i need to up the ingredients. I was wondering, what is the serving size for your ingredients here? thank you!

  116. The key to good Hawaiian Mac salad is to salt the water well when cooking the mac. I haven’t tried adding vinegar but this recipe otherwise looks authentic.

    1. Man, egg is traditional! We put egg in the Mac salad. You have to use a cheese grater and shred the eggs up. I use at least 6 hard boiled eggs in a recipe. Only best foods mayo and salt the water before cooking the macaroni. My husband is born and raised on the north shore. Hawaiian-Filipino….eggs are always in Mac salad.

      1. I love that you grate the eggs in with a cheese grater! And I completely agree on the Best Foods Mayo, that is the only Mayo I will use!

  117. My mom is from the Philippines and she makes a macaroni salad similar to this. She adds canned pineapples and raisins, hate the raisins but I can’t eat the salad without the pineapples! So much yum!

  118. Erica when you visit Las Vegas (approx 77 miles from St George) visit L & L on Maryland and Flamingo…Yummy! ????
    Yes…this salad tasted like Zippy’s. ????

    1. Saint George is more like around 120 miles from Vegas EvaMarie. Since I’ve moved away I miss Honolulu Grill and their mac salad, I hope this recipe is as good as theirs, if it is, I’ll be making it often. Thanks.

  119. I love the macaroni salad at L & L. Thankfully my daughter makes a pretty good rendition of it. Definitely use the Hellman’s/Best Foods (Kirkland’s is good too,) makes a HUGE difference. I haven’t tried your recipe, but I aim to next time we make Katsu.

  120. Honolulu grill just opened down the street from me in Cedar City! I get the Kalua pork with macaroni salad EVERY time! (The sauce over the rice is a must.) Thanks for sharing, can’t wait to try it.

    1. Honolulu grill opened in Cedar City??? That is so awesome!!!! Will definitely go there next time I am in Cedar!

        1. Hi Ashely… I don’t know what is in their teriyaki sauce. I will have to have to go there again and see if I can figure it out! Thanks for the suggestion!

  121. 5 stars
    Thank you! I couldn’t ever figure out why mine would just absorb all the mayo. It has to be the vinegar bath. Came out perfect!

  122. I will be making the Mac salad for a fundraiser Luau family dance very soon and was wondering about how to add potatoes? Also, is celery a good addition. I would like to see if there are any great recipes for smoking pork butt the Hawaiian way? If so, please share. We are also doing 40lbs of pork butt. Thank you.

    1. You should try our Kalua pork recipe. It’s perfect! If you are doing potatoes I would probably do roasted potatoes. We have a really good recipe for that too.

      1. not roasted but boiled potatoes…not too soft like for mashed, have to have some body to the potatoes and serve in chunks about 3/4 inch by 3/4 inch or so…

  123. Just came back from a 3 Island tour and had falling in love with the Mac Salad, so had to look it up, can’t wait to try it! Out of all the food I ate there it was the best!

  124. Do you think a few slices of a hard boiled egg would taste good in this? I usually add some to my normal macaroni salad but was not sure if it would fit well in this. Thx!

      1. I always put hard boiled eggs (and celery) in Macaroni salad. But I’ve ever made the Hawaiian version. I’ve read all the comments and never heard anyone mention eggs in the Hawaiian Mac. So it doesn’t seem traditional for that.

        1. I’m also local born and raised from Oahu and we’ve always added boiled eggs to our mac salad. Eggs, tuna, carrots, and some with onions. It is not traditional but. It could be why many friends would comment on how good my Grandma’s mac salad was! 😉😊

  125. 5 stars
    Haole boy here but work with old time local. Made your recipe and had him try it to see how I did. His only recommendation was celery (optional) and white pepper, not black pepper. Made some tonight for Christmas lunch tomorrow. Mmmmmmm!

  126. Do you have a recipe for the pork and cabbage you have pictured beside the mac? It looks so delicious , I can already taste it!

    1. We don’t have the recipe on the site yet… but you have inspired me to get it on! I will put it on my to-do list. It is such an easy recipe. Basically it is just a pork roast cooked with some liquid smoke in a crock pot. 🙂

      1. I use 8lbs of pork butt ( really the shoulder)
        1 bottle of liquid smoke
        1/4 cup or less of salt.

        I got this from someone who had a restaurant in Hawaii.
        Thank you for this Mac salad recipe. I was stationed there 20 yes ago and haven’t been able to copy the Mac salad yet

      2. If you can find NOH Kalua Pig salt or red and black hawaiian rock salt all you need is about 3 tbsp of salt to a 5lb pork butt. Sprinkle over the butt and if you can get them wrap it in ti or banana leaves. If not, corn husk will work too.

        Cook the whole thing in the crock pot for about 8 hours. Shred the meat separately from any juice and then taste and add juice as desired. If you shred it in the juice it can too salty for some.

        We make this at least once a month, primarily for pizza topping followed the next day by Kalua pork sandwiches on onion rolls.

  127. 18yrs away from HOME….sure miss the food 🙁 Thank you for bringing a little of home to my home away from the islands! I will definitely be making this really soon!!

    1. Exactly! The nearest L&L or Hawiian bbq place to us is almost 30 miles away. I followed the recipe almost to a T (I used regular table salt and no pepper). It chilling in the fridge now. I really hope it comes out great for tomorrow night. Thx

  128. 5 stars
    I, too, lived in Hawaii and ate many plate lunches. My favorite part was always the macaroni salad. My attempts to copy it over the years never lived up to the original. Now I know why – not enough mayonnaise! And I agree with you, it must be Best Foods! Thanks so much for the recipe.

  129. Made this and it’s delicious. But for some reason the mayo curdled. Should I have let the macaroni cool longer? Somewhere I read that it might have been the vinegar. Please let me know what I did wrong. Thanks!

    1. Did you use Best Foods mayo? It is supposed to cool to about room temp after tossing it in vinegar. When did you add the mayo?

        1. Did you ever figure out why this happened? Same thing happened to me. Was thinking the same as you that it has to be something with the temp of the noodles when mayo mix was added or Tuesday vinegar. I used the raw organic type vinegar. Not sure of that matters.

      1. I mix the vinigar in the mayo then add to noodle, but authentic Hawaiian has coconut and pineapple in it, don’t know why they are saying this Mac salad is Hawaiian, it’s just a typical Mac salad recipe

        1. This is the mac salad that they serve all over the place in Hawaii. I can’t say I have ever had a mac salad in Hawaii with either coconut or pineapple in it. But if that is how you like it, by all means, add it 🙂

        2. Go to any Hawaiian restaurant and they will likely serve this near exact recipe as a side with nearly all their main course dishes. (Hawaiian and Hawaiian restaurant owner) thanks

          1. I lived in Hawaii twice, 4 times each for a total of 8 years and I am soooooo happy and grateful that you have posted this recipe!!!! It is EXACTLY like the side on the plate lunches that I had all over Oahu! Oh my, how I have missed this. It is just as addictively delicious now as it was then. I miss Hawaii! Thank you for this taste of Aloha!! My oldest daughter was born there – she’ll be stoked!

          2. Because it’s what you would typically get on a plate in Hawaii. They consume a lot of pork, spam, rice and macaroni salad. I ate this every time I was in Hawaii and now I make it for all my parties!

        3. I was born and raised on Oahu and lived in Waianae. Never have I ever had macaroni salad with pineapple or coconut. This is the basic recipe, variations for it include either tuna or potato but never ever coconut or pineapple.

          1. Have u ever used leftover kahlua pig in the mac salad?? My son insists there’s a island salad made with it. Yes or no?

        4. I was born and raised on the Waianae side of Oahu and have been to the other islands….NEVER HAVE I EVER HAD MACARONI SALAD WITH COCONUT AND PINEAPPLE IN IT. That is NOT authentic and it has NO BUSINESS BEING IN MACARONI SALAD. This is the basic macaroni salad, other local variations are adding Tuna for a Tuna Mac OR Potato for a Potato Mac salad.

          1. Hello Waianae friends !! And thank God for LL every darn day!! 1st place I go when I go home. And you are also very correct to say NO PINEAPPLE OR COCONUT.. Miss home and LL …..

          2. 5 stars
            Aloha! another from Waianae! I grew up in waianae – pokai bay beach area. What the hell? no pinapple and coconut please!

        5. 5 stars
          NO, NEVER! Why do folks think if you add pineapple – that somehow makes it Hawaiian? You’re right, macaroni salad is not just served in Hawaii – it’s all over. Having eaten “Hawaii style” Mac salad for almost 40 years (!), I State definitely THIS recipe is totally our own style Mac Salad!! ????????

    2. For all of you who were not born and raised in Hawaii, please don’t say you know what is real local Hawaii Marconi salad. We don’t put pineapple or coconut in it!!!! Im making it tonight and will comment back to let everyone know if this is truly the way it’s made “back home.”

      1. Thank you so much for you comment! What did you think? I am interested to hear if we get a TRUE local’s stamp of approval! 😀

      2. Too funny…. I to am from Hawaii born and raised and have never made or ate mac salad that had pineapple or coconut in it. Just because a Hawaiian Pizza has pineapples on it, doesn’t mean that’s how we eat that too. I’m sure no one from Hawaii even created that. Salad with fruit in it is called a fruit salad =)

          1. Also agree, no fruit. We always added tuna, carrots, onions, both shredded. I still make it the way I was raised. Making Korean Kalbi tonight the ono mac salad, and gotta have my sitcky rice. Also make my own Kim Chee. You can take the girl out of the Islands but you can’t take the Islands out of the girl. You have to use Best Foods mayo and Aloha shoyu in this mac salad. Can’t wait for dinner tomorrow !!!

  130. 5 stars
    This is almost the exact way I make my macaroni salad except I add some chopped celery. I think your recipe is great!

          1. You people do know that this is what makes the world go around. To celery or not to celery. But it really doesn’t matter, if you like it, put it in, if not, leave it out. But don’t start a war over it.

      1. I think the Hawaiian BBQ place we go to puts tuna in theirs. Is that unheard of? Also, I am looking forward to trying this recipe ????

        1. Aloha,

          I always put tuna in mine too when I make it at home. Matsu’s on the Big Island have my favorite mac salad. And they always have tuna in theirs but it’s good without too. 🙂

          1. Yes, you probably could. It probably won’t be as creamy but it should be an ok substitute. Hope this helps!

        2. after being born and raised in Oahu and then moving to Kauai… I realize that Mac Salad also may vary by island. Here they use spaghetti noodles (sometimes a mix of both elbow and spaghetti) and some places add tuna…

      2. well I suggest that you try a little sore you on top of that mac salad he will find it that is truly a beautiful fusion of flavor that comes traditional Hawaiian back salad I hope you like it

        1. Thanks Chris – I’m guessing you meant Shoyu? (autocorrect gets me all the time too) I will have to try that! I like the idea of trying a little teriyaki sauce over the top too. Bet you can’t go wrong with either!

        1. LOL, I do prefer mac salad in its purest form. I’m with you there. Celery is a common addition on the mainland though and a lot of people like it. haha I hear ya though, it definitely makes it less “Hawaiian”.

    1. This is a great base for the Hawaiian salad I perfected to my families taste after about the third try. I use the recipe above only I give the noodles a quick rinse first then add about 3 tablespoons of the vinegar and let them finish cooling. I leave the milk out of the mixture because it seams to curdle the sauce after refrigeratorating. I add a bit more sugar than the recipe calls and the key is to add 1-2 tablespoons of jack Daniels honey Dijon mustard. Generously add salt and pepper (expectially pepper) then add the noodles to the mixture a bit at a time to make sure you have a good amount of sauce to noodles. You want the recipe to be really creamy! I serve just right after making at room temperature or refrigeratorate. Enjoy!

    2. 4 stars
      I just made this tonight and my husband and i LOVED it!!!! I made it exactly as was stated in the recipe.
      Thank you sooooo much for sharing this recipe!????

    3. I MADE THE SALAD SATURDAY MT 1ST TIME IT WAS EASY AN AWESOME I WOULD LIKE 2 PUT PINEAPPLE OR PEACHES MAYBE MANGO IN IT BUT TUNA DO SOUND GOOD WHAT U THINK

    4. I always do the simple way as mentioned in the narrative with mayo, S&P, carrot, tiny bits of pineapple and I add a little garlic powder… why the milk and apple cider though?? I never knew. So awesome.

      1. The vinegar brings out the flavor of the mayo and the milk makes it nice and smooth. Hope this helps!