This creamy pasta salad is loaded with tender pasta, crunchy veggies smothered in a sweet and tangy dressing. Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is easy to make in under 1 hour and perfect for potlucks and summer BBQs.
My favorite creamy macaroni salad is definitely Hawaiian Macaroni Salad. It’s a simple dish that’s a great addition to any summer meal.
Hawaiian style macaroni salad is popular on a Hawaiian plate lunch. If you love a creamy mac salad, this is your recipe to try. The creamy dressing has a hint of tangy sweetness and loads of flavor.
If you aren’t a fan of mayonnaise based dressing, you can try my Macaroni Salad without mayo.
Why You’ll Love This Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Recipe
- Simple ingredients
- Perfect side dish for a lunch plate
- Delicious tangy flavor
- Family favorite for summer cookouts
- Summer staple with the perfect balance of creaminess, sweetness, crunch and tang.
- Easy to make
- Goes with almost any main course
- Elbow macaroni noodles
- Apple cider vinegar
- Shredded carrots
- Sweet onion
- Mayonnaise – Use a high-quality mayonnaise. I love a real mayo like Hellmann’s. You could also use Miracle Whip if that is your preference.
- Whole milk
- Granulated sugar
- Salt and black pepper
- Green onions
How to Make Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- Step One: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, but add 2 to 3 minutes to the cook time. You want the pasta to be just slightly overdone.
- Step Two: When the pasta has finished cooking, drain the water and place the cooked pasta in a large mixing bowl and pour the apple cider vinegar over the noodles. Toss gently.
- Step Three: Add the carrots, onion and celery and toss gently.
- Step Four: In a medium sized bowl, add the mayonnaise, milk and sugar. Mix well with a rubber spatula.
- Step Five: Pour the mayonnaise dressing over the pasta veggie mix and toss gently to coat.
- Step Six: Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the pasta salad.
- Step Seven: Chill the salad in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Serve chilled.
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What to Serve with Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- Teriyaki Chicken
- Kalua Pork
- Potato Salad – Try Ranch Potato Salad or Herb Potato Salad
- Huli Huli Chicken
- Korean Short Ribs
- Scoops of white rice
- Or any meat entree
Variations and Substitutions
- Use brown sugar in place of the granulated sugar for a deeper richness
- Use Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise
- Try yellow onion instead of sweet onion
- If you don’t have whole milk, use 2% milk
Store leftover macaroni salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
I don’t recommend freezing macaroni salad because of the mayonnaise in the dressing. Mayonnaise tends to not freeze well and will separate.
You can make this pasta salad up to a day ahead of time and store, covered, in the fridge, until ready to serve.
- Make sure the onion is grated on the finest section of your grater. It should almost look mushy.
- Rinse the cooked macaroni noodles in cold water to remove the extra starch.
- Save time by using carrots that have already been shredded.
- Use a good quality mayonnaise for the creamiest and most delicious result. I don’t recommend using light mayonnaise.
How is Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Different than Classic Macaroni Salad?
- The macaroni noodles are slightly overcooked so they are nice, big and tender. Classic Mac Salad often has the noodles cooked al dente.
- There is no vinegar or mustard in the Hawaiian version and it includes sugar.
- The onions are grated until they are mushy.
- Very simple with only a few add-ins.
Pasta Salad Recipes
- Shrimp Pasta Salad
- Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
- Macaroni Dill Salad
- Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad
- Bacon Pea Pasta Salad
- Italian Pasta Salad
You’ll also like these Waikiki Meatballs.
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Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- 1 lb dry elbow macaroni
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup carrots shredded
- ⅓ cup sweet onions grated very fine
- ⅓ cup celery finely diced
- 2 ¼ cups mayonnaise
- ⅓ cup whole milk
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- Green onions sliced, for garnish, optional
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, but add 2 to 3 minutes to the cook time. You want the pasta to be just slightly overdone.
- When the pasta has finished cooking, drain the water and place the pasta in a large bowl and pour the apple cider vinegar over the noodles. Toss gently.
- Add the carrots, onion and celery and toss gently.
- In a medium sized bowl, add the mayonnaise, milk and sugar. Mix well with a rubber spatula.
- Pour the mayonnaise dressing over the pasta veggie mix and toss gently to coat.
- Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the pasta salad.
- Chill the salad in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Serve chilled.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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