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Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is so fabulously creamy and simple. This mayonnaise-based pasta salad makes a wonderful side for summer bbqs and picnics.

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad


When I travel to Hawaii, I get Macaroni Salad every chance I get. And there are a lot of chances to get macaroni salad because they eat it with just about everything.

It’s pure simple comfort food and unless you have a total aversion to mayonnaise, there’s no reason not to love it.

This recipe only uses a handful of ingredients you are sure to have on hand: macaroni, mayonnaise, milk, apple cider vinegar, onion, carrot, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. You can dress it up from there by adding diced ham, peas, chopped pineapple, or bacon. There are tons of options for customizing it.

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad


Tips for making Hawaiian Macaroni Salad:

  • Do not overcook your pasta. You want it just slightly al dente becasue it will end up soaking up some of the dressing and if you overcook it it will turn to mush.
  • The mayonnaise is the key to a really good Hawaiian Pasta Salad. Be sure to use a good quality one like Hellman’s or Duke’s.
  • This macaroni salad tastes better if it is refrigerated for at least 2 hours. The pasta will soak up some of the mayonnaise mixture, so I like to reserve 1/2 a cup of it to mix in right before serving to ensure it is really creamy.

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

These are great recipes to serve Macaroni Salad with:

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is so fabulously creamy and simple. This mayonnaise-based pasta salad makes a wonderful side for summer bbqs and picnics.
PREP: 10 minutes
COOK: 10 minutes
TOTAL: 20 minutes


  • 16 ounces elbow pasta
  • 1/4 cup grated onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 shredded carrots
  • salt and pepper


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoons kosher salt. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • Place onion in a large bowl. When pasta is done, drain it well and add it to the bowl. Add garlic powder and apple cider vinegar and stir. Let sit 10 minutes.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, milk, and sugar.
  • Set aside about 1/2 a cup and add the rest to the macaroni along with carrots. Stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Cover and refrigerate both the bowl of macaroni salad and the reserved 1/2 a cup of mayonnaise mixture. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Stir in the reserved mayonnaise mixture just before serving.


Be sure not to overcook your pasta or it will have a mushy texture.
If you to dress it up some, add diced ham or chopped pineapple.


Calories: 479kcal
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pasta salad

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Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

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30 thoughts on “Hawaiian Macaroni Salad”

  1. This has been a staple in my household for a year or more.
    Excellent Mac salad and great notes . Thank you!!

  2. Bill tomalin

    Found this recipe about a year ago. It has always turned out great. We have tried different mayo almost each time. Today we are trying Dukes mayo. We have also added green peas. Every time it turns out fantastic.

  3. I stayed away from macaroni salad because it was always just to thick. This is absolutely delicious and moist and creamy. Didn’t change a thing. A definite keeper.

  4. Hawaii Mac salad is meant to eat with rice and some kind of meat ( AKA plate lunch). I know it’s carb overload but every once in awhile won’t kill you. For instance I’m eating mine with Korean short ribs (kalbi/Galbi). You get a little bit of each in every bite. Cold salad with hot rice and meat is so good.

  5. Kathleen Smith

    Super easy and tastes like the real deal! This recipe makes a fairly large bowl so it’s perfect for a big family bbq. Love it!

  6. Delicious! Even my picky husband liked it, said he didn’t know macaroni salad could be this good.

  7. Good mac salad. I have made it with and without garlic. I prefer without, my husband likes it with. I do overcook my pasta by an extra 2 min to get it close to what I’m used to in Hawaii.

  8. This recipe is delicious, it tastes just perfect. I will make it for Fourth of July again, so so good!

  9. Made it exactly as the recipe said and it was delicious! Everyone loved it! It tastes exactly like how “Hawaiian Macaroni Salad” is
    suppose to taste. Will be making this more. Thank you 😊

  10. Tana wilson

    I like this recipe much diferent then the one i usually use wich replaces black pepper with white pepper and uses sweet onions drained and only rinsed with pickeled vinigar. Less the hassle same result . Love it thank you

  11. You say don’t overcook, but Hawaiian macaroni salad is most definitely a bit overcooked. Not al dente.

    1. Christin
      Christin Mahrlig

      It won’t taste al dente after it soaks up everything. It will taste overcooked. But if you start with overcooked pasta, it will be mush after soaking up the liquid.

      1. Beth Suchocki

        interesting as all hawaiians I know and recipes from hawaiian groups say to cook the mac an extra 1-2 minuts.

  12. I lived in Hawaii as a kid. This brings me back! Legit! Not everything in Hawaii has pineapple in it…

  13. This is so amazing, thank you for sharing. Easy and refreshing specially for hot summer days!!

    BTW – I like how it with garlic too😊

  14. This recipe seems like all the rest. Why call it Hawaiian Mac Salad if you don’t have any hawaiian ingrediants?

    1. Christin
      Christin Mahrlig

      Have you been to Hawaii before? This is exactly like the macaroni salad that gets served with everything.

    2. Vera Robinson

      I was wondering the same thing. It is no different than any other Mac salad. I was expecting something different. Some Hawaiian spice or something.

    3. Beth Suchocki

      Hawaiian Mac Salad is a local dish, not all local hawaiian dishes have pineapple etc. It’s different than mainland Macaroni Salad, particularly due to the tang from the apple cinder vinegar and onion. IMO it tastes better.

      1. Rebekah Emerson

        It’s really good and it’s just a small amount of garlic. Did you try it? You might be surprised 😊

    1. Just an fyi pineapples are not Hawaiian! They were imported here and one of the main motivation for the business men that forced the start of the overthrow of the Hawaiian government and monarchy.

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