Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is easy to make with simple ingredients and in under 30 minutes. Perfectly sweet, tangy, and creamy, it's a great side dish for backyard BBQs, potlucks, or holidays.
Guys, it's November, and you know what that means. Christmas and New Year are just around the corner!
As part of a yearly holiday series, I showcase party-worthy recipes around this time to help you plan your Noche Buena menu. So far, we have slow cooker ham with pineapple and steamed lapu-lapu with mayo as well as homemade gift ideas such as tropical magic bars and Spanish-style bangus oil.
Chicken macaroni salad is one of my most popular recipes here on Kawaling Pinoy during Christmas, and it's not surprising as it's seriously the bomb! Creamy and tasty with loads of diced ham, chopped eggs, cubed cheese, crushed pineapple, and raisins, every spoonful is like a party in your mouth.
But since our Filipino-style pasta salad comes with tons of add-ins, it can be time-consuming to prepare. If you're looking for an easier option which takes fewer ingredients and under thirty minutes to ready, Hawaiian macaroni salad is it!
This Mac salad is a staple in Hawaii's local food scene and is traditionally served with a meat entree and steamed rice as part of the quintessential Hawaiian meal, plate lunch.
An easy, no-frills recipe, the pasta dish uses only a handful of ingredients you probably already have on hand. It's a simple affair of elbow macaroni, shredded carrots, and grated onions dressed in apple cider and creamy mayo, milk, and sugar mixture yet is just as mouthwatering as more elaborate versions.
- Use full-fat mayonnaise and whole milk for ultra-creamy taste and texture. If you want to shave off some of the calories, swap the mayo with Greek yogurt but expect a change in flavor.
- Toss the macaroni with the apple cider vinegar while still hot to give it a bit of tang and help it absorb more flavor. Let stand for about 10 to 15 minutes to cool before adding the dressing.
- Add extras such as diced ham, bell peppers, celery, green peas, or crushed pineapple for variety. Not traditional additions in this classic Hawaiian side dish but still delicious.
How to store
- Hawaiian macaroni salad holds up well and can be prepped in advance of the party. If it looks dry from the refrigeration, just toss with additional mayo dressing to loosen consistency and add back some of the creaminess.
- Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Unfortunately, it does not freeze well as the mayo dressing tends to break or separate when frozen then thawed.
- For food safety, do not keep the salad at room temperature for more than 2 hours as it contains mayonnaise that might cause to spoil faster especially in hot weather.
For more island favorites, try this Spam musubi recipe!
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- 1 pound uncooked elbow macaroni
- ½ cup shredded carrots
- ¼ cup grated onions
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups mayonnaise
- ½ cup milk
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- green onions, chopped
- In a pot over medium heat, bring about 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add elbow macaroni and cook according to the package's direction.
- Drain well and transfer to a large bowl.
- While still hot, drizzle the apple cider vinegar and add the carrots and onions. Gently toss to evenly distribute and let stand for about 10 to 15 minutes.
- In another bowl, combine mayonnaise, milk, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Whisk together until smooth.
- Add half of the mayonnaise dressing over the macaroni mixture, and gently toss together all of the ingredients to coat. Let stand for about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Add the remaining half of the mayonnaise dressing to the pasta mixture and toss again to distribute. Garnish with chopped green onions, if desired.
- Cover the bowl with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for about 2 to 3 hours to completely chill and the flavors to meld. Serve cold.