What Other People Are Saying About This Recipe:
This recipe has been shared over 17,000 times on social media. Here is what some people are saying:
I used your recipe for a Luau themed work party and everyone loved it. I have shared the recipe with all of them so your genius is likely to be spread throughout Florida now! Thanks for sharing it. Yummmm! -Nancie J
Delicious! Three generations of family ate this and complimented me, even a five year old! Tammy
A Bbq Party Isnt Complete Without All The Awesome Sides Here Are Some Faves:
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 .
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Making Macaroni Salad Ahead Of Time
Macaroni salad is an amazing potluck recipe because its actually supposed to be made ahead of time!
Once you mix it all together, its best to refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, but honestly, if you can make it a day ahead of time, it will have the best flavor and texture.
If you make this ahead of time and it seems on the dry side, add some mayo mixed with a little milk until you get the right consistency back.
Hawaiian Time Macaroni Salad Recipe Notes
Youll be able to pull this fantastic salad recipe together with staples from your pantry. It comes together fairly quickly but tastes like it took ages!
Dressing: Go ahead and use as much or as little milk as you like. If you want a dressing that has a more mayo-like flavor, use less milk. If you want a salad with a thinner dressing, use more milk.
The only thing to be careful of is that you dont let the dressing get too dense. If you choose not to include any milk at all, the macaroni salad probably wont taste the same. This is because you want the pastacooked until softto literally soak up the dressing. That way each bite is infused with a wonderful creamy flavor. If the dressing is too dense, meaning you havent used enough milk, the pasta wont be able to soak it up.
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Variations Of This Recipe
- CREAMIER the secret to a great Hawaiian-style macaroni salad is the consistency of the dressing. You dont want it TOO thick. However, if you prefer your salad to be a bit creamier, use the 1/2 cup of milk, rather than the full 1 cup.
- MACARONI SALAD IN A HURRY if you prefer not to do the two-step dressing process, you can add the entire dressing amount in with the vinegar-soaked pasta and other salad ingredients. I find the pasta absorbs the dressing a bit better when done in two parts, but I know not everyone has the patience to do that
- MIX-INS Ive seen a lot of macaroni salads that had other mix-ins added, like peas, hard boiled eggs, cubed ham, bell peppers, pimentos, and even finely chopped pineapple. I havent personally tried these things however.
- OTHER PASTA while elbow macaroni pasta is the traditional pasta used, you can make this salad with just about any short-cut of pasta .
Whats In Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
All you need to make amazing Hawaiian macaroni salad are macaroni, Best Foods mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, sugar, onion, sugar, and salt. One of the picky things I really like about mac salad is the size of the pasta. I prefer large macaroni because its similar to the type L& L Hawaiian Barbecue uses . This is a fun size to eat and I really like the soft texture when paired with the mayonnaise seasoning.
In older times, many Hawaiians would make their own mayonnaise at home, but its not always convenient so I like to use good quality mayonnaise. Many Hawaiian restaurants use Best Foods or Hellmans .
If youre interested in learning about other Hawaiian restaurants and cuisine, check out our top 15 best restaurants in Oahu.
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Healthy Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
This recipe may seem a little mayo-heavy, its 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 . You will get a likeness of mac salad but I am telling you, it wont be quite the same. In Hawaii its 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.
What Is Plate Lunch In Hawaii
Plate lunch is a local Hawaiian meal that originated during the 1880s from different plantations on the islands. Many of these workers immigrated from other parts of the Pacific like Japan and brought bento boxes for lunch.
Often leftover rice supplemented a majority of the lunch because it was cheap and paired with whatever meat or sides they could afford. During the 1920s, street vendors began selling these combination bento boxes to the public and this is where plate lunch comes from. It was later thought that macaroni salad was added to the plate as a good bridge between plain rice and fatty and flavorful meat sides.
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The Right Kind Of Mayonnaise Matters
Normally I dont need to recommend specific brands, but for mac salad, it is a MUST. After experiencing living up in the mainland, I have discovered that there is one other brand of mayonnaise favored by the mainlanders, Miracle Whip. Never heard of it growing up and I know whybecause that buggah isnt true mayo! Honestly, it is subjective but Miracle Whip tastes like an offbrand and to make taste better, added in some sweetener.
Anyways, the type of brand I recommend using is Best Foods . This brand of mayonnaise is used in every locals mac salad. So, please use this brand if you want your mac salad come close to Hawaiis kine of mac salad.
More Hawaiian Recipes: So Ono
If you’re hungry for more Hawaiian Recipes check out a few of our faves. Pineapple Sweet Rolls, or Pineapple Salsa are both to sweet not to try.
Furikake Chicken with a side or Mac Salad and some Spam Fried Rice is so ono!
- Crispy Furikake Fried Chicken with Sriracha Aioli
- Spam Fried Rice
- Pineapple Salsa Recipe
- Pineapple Sweet Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing
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Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Ingredients
Real Hawaiian mac salad is just elbow macaroni, mayonnaise, a little milk to think out the mayo a bit, apple cider vinegar, grated carrots, salt and pepper. Sometimes chopped celery and green onions are also added, which is what I like to do because I love the flavor and texture they add.
It’s similar to classic macaroni salad, but there are a few key distinctions you need to know about to get that true authentic Hawaiian macaroni salad texture and taste.
First, you will need to intentionally overcook the macaroni noodles. It feels so wrong to cook pasta beyond “al dente” perfection, but overcooked pasta absorbs the other flavors much more than al dente pasta, in addition to giving you the correct texture to achieve the same kind of macaroni salad that you get in Hawaii.
Another key point is that you have to use real mayo in this recipe. Miracle Whip just won’t work and gives a different taste than true mayonnaise like Best Foods/Hellmann’s or Duke’s. It’s important. Trust me.
The third thing you need to know is that the apple cider vinegar in the recipe needs to be added when the pasta is still hot, just after draining. The hot, overcooked noodles will absorb the vinegar which is important to the flavor of the pasta salad.
Where To Eat Mac Salad In Hawaii
You can find mac salad everywhere in Hawaii! From famous plate lunch places like Rainbow Drive-In, to local restaurants like Zippys and Liliha Bakery, and Hawaiian food spots like Helenas Hawaiian Food and Alicias Market, mac salad is everywhere you go. These are a few places to get started:
- Liliha Bakery For a taste of very classic Hawaii mac salad.
- Rainbow Drive-In Famous local plate lunches, always served with two scoops of rice and mac salad.
- Helenas Hawaiian Food They serve mac salad with traditional Hawaiian dishes.
Simple, right? All pretty common kitchen ingredients.
Mixing all the mac salad ingredients in a bowl
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Mac Salad When You Cant 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 havent gotten a good Hawaiian mac salad recipe here on Favorite Family Recipes yet!
What Makes Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Unique
There are similarities between Hawaiian mac salad and other American macaroni salads. A few specifics set the Hawaiian version apart from all the rest. First of all, you absolutely must use Best Foods or Hellman’s brand mayonnaise for the dressing.
These are the only brands of mayonnaise that are used in this dish. They are technically the same brand, but have different names depending on the US region where you purchase them.
Also, the traditional components other than macaroni and mayo typically include grated carrot and onion. Although it seems super straight forward and potentially basic, it’s outrageously good! There’s a reason it’s practically its own food group on the Hawaiian islands.
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How To Make Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad:
- Cook your pasta, then let it soak up some apple cider vinegar before tossing it in the creamy mayo sauce.
- Customize your Hawaiian Macaroni Salad by adding in shredded carrots, shredded sweet onions, peas, or even diced ham!
- The flavors of the pasta really enhance after a night of chilling in the fridge. But you can serve right away if desired.
Now, the macaroni salad that I had in Portland was suuuuuuper basic, and only consisted of this creamy sauce and a little salt and pepper. The nice thing about a pasta salad like this though, is that you can add in all sorts of additions to the finished product to suit your needs. I love adding in shredded carrots, peas, and sweet onions. Some people enjoy chopped pineapple and cubed ham.
The options are endless, but whatever you choose, youre going to LOVE it!
Now I only have to walk to my fridge to enjoy this delicious salad!
Oh and that delicious chicken in the pictures above is my Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken, in case you wanted something to go with your salad!
Make sure you dont miss a thing! Follow I Wash You Dry here:
Incredible Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is the perfect side dish! It is a delicious macaroni pasta salad with ham, pineapple, shredded carrots, and green onions, and a tangy dressing.
When I see a dish with elbow noodles in it, I know it is going to be decadent comfort food! Try these amazing recipes for yourself, Macaroni and Cheese, Salad, and Goulash!
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Variations For Our Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- If you want a more authentic version, you can omit the celery and red onion and grate the carrot instead.
- Sometimes I like to add bonito flakes, instead of tuna, to the mayo mixture for an even more savory and umami flavor. If replacing the tuna for bonito flakes, just add 1 1/2 teaspoons.
- You can swap out the mayo for Kewpie, which is a Japanese mayonnaise. It has a richer, more eggy and slightly sweeter flavor than American mayonnaise and is delicious!
- For a vegan version, replace the mayonnaise with veganaise and either omit the tuna or replace it with a tuna alternative, like Good Catch.
Ingredients You Need To Make Creamy Hawaiian Mac Salad:
Elbow Macaroni Youll need a half pound of elbow macaroni for this recipe.
Carrot One small carrot.
Onion You can use yellow, sweet or white onion.
Apple Cider Vinegar If you dont have ACV, you can use regular white distilled vinegar.
Pickle Juice I used sweet pickle juice, but you can also use dill.
Pickle Relish I used sweet pickle relish, but you can also use dill.
Milk I used whole vitamin D milk, but you can use low fat as well.
Mayonnaise I highly recommend using Best Foods or other thick rich mayo.
Sugar Granulated white sugar or organic cane sugar both work great.
Black Pepper Fresh cracked or ground.
Green Onions Optional garnish.
Tools to have on hand for this recipe:
- Saucepan To boil the macaroni.
- Cutting Board To prepare the veggies for the salad.
- Mixing Bowls For mixing the sauce and to toss the pasta salad in.
- Mixing Spoon For mixing your salad and dressing.
- Colander Straining macaroni.
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Hawaiian Style Mac Salad Recipe
As we head out to picnic and BBQ this Fourth of July weekend, just wanted to share one of my favorite recipes. In Hawaii, BBQ meat needs to be eaten with mac salad. They go hand in hand, just like PB& J or chips and dip. This recipe makes more of an Okazuya type salad. Hope you like it!
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 ½ cups Whole Milk
- 1 ½ – 2 cups Best Foods Mayonnaise
- 2 boiled eggs
- 4 green onion stalks, thinly sliced
- 1 medium sized carrot, peeled and shredded
- 1 cup of peas
- 1 can of drained tuna
- Salt & Pepper
– Boil 4 quarts of water. Add 1 Tbsp salt and cook your macaroni for about 15 minutes. You want your macaroni to be soft, NOT al dente. I also wash my eggs, wrap them in foil and boil them along with the noodles.
– Drain your noodles and return them to the pot. Add the Apple cider vinegar and toss. Then add your carrots and peas. Let it cool for about 10 minutes.
– While that cools, whisk together your milk, mayo, brown sugar, ½ tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. It might look a little watery, but thats ok.
– Now chop up your boiled eggs and add them along with your drained can of tuna to the pasta.
– You dont want to add your milky mixture to the pasta too quickly. Otherwise, the milk and vinegar will curdle. So make sure you wait the full 10 minutes before whisking in your dressing.
– Mix and let cool completely before adding your green onions as garnish. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
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L& l Hawaiian Barbecue Macaroni Salad Recipe
Hawaiian Macaroni salad is a must-have on Hawaii-style plate lunches. Typically served with a couple mounds of white rice, Hawaii-style barbecue chicken or beef and, often, a piece or two of locally caught seafood.
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- MORE Great Recipes Coming Soon!
Photo of L& L Hawaiian Barbecue Macaroni Salad is by Mark and is free to use and share under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License. Information about L& L Hawaiian Barbecue, Hawaiian Barbecue and Hawaiian Plate Lunches courtesy of L& L Hawaiian Barbecue and is used under the fair-use doctrine and Wikipedia and is used by permission. Recipe is an adaption of a recipe found in numerous places on the web. Additional Information Courtesy of Wikipedia and is used by permission.
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Whats In Ono Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Recipe
- Pasta a traditional Elbow macaroni or noodle is commonly used. I love to use a Cellentani pasta which has more of a curly corkscrew shape.
- Carrots Matchstick carrots are quick and easy but diced or shredded carrots work perfectly.
- Mayonnaise Using a quality name brand Mayo is best. Do not skimp on this ingredient. Best Foods or even the stronger bolder taste of Dukes Mayo is wonderful.
- Sugar This recipe uses a little bit of sugar. I have been a fan of Dixie Sugar. Its a fine white sugar and I love the subtle flavor it adds
- Vinegar Apple Cider Vinegar is best. White vinegar can also be used in a pinch
- Milk I use 2% milk but this could easily be made with 1% or even Almond Milk.
- Broth When pressure cooking noodles use a broth . The noodles will be infused with extra flavor. Its my secret Tip to a fantastic recipe!
- Adding green onions on top or even grated onions in the recipe is purely optional.
My love for this salad doesnt end there, with more than 1,000,000+ reach, this recipe is a favorite Mac Salad for so many others too!
Authentic and oh so simple recipe, makes up this traditional Hawaiian Macaroni Salad.