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 .
How Long Can You Keep This
This should keep for 2 days without losing its fresh taste and texture. If it seems a bit dry after it has been sitting, stir in a tablespoon or two of milk to loosen things up a bit! This salad is best if it gets a bit of time to rest before eating, so dont worry about making it ahead of time. It holds up well!
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How Is Mac Salad Served In Hawaii
Local mac salad is most often served on a plate, along two scoops of rice and a meat dish . In Hawaii we call this a plate lunch.
FYI: The best part is when part of the meat sits on top of the mac salad, and the mac salad soaks up some meat juices. Bonkers!!!
Mac salad at Liliha Bakery, Ala Moana location
You can also order it as side dish in many restaurants. A side of mac salad is always a good idea! Funny though, if you sit down with a group of friends for lunch at a restaurant, no one will suggest ordering mac salad , but if you just order it, everyone will dive in for some. And then youll have to place a second order!
The funny thing is, I dont enjoy eating mac salad on the mainland. But theres something about local mac saladits not just the dish itself, but what its served with, the atmosphere, and your surroundings, that make eating mac salad in Hawaii feel so right.
Potato-mac salad at Alicias Market .
What Makes Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Different
Even in Hawaii you can find different versions of mac salad.
Sometimes there is tuna or even potato mac salad. These versions are fine but, they aren’t what I dream of when I remember getting plate lunch when I was living in Hawaii.
Authentic Hawaiian Mac Salad only had a few ingredients: macaroni, mayo, onions, and carrots, and green onions.
Simple enough, right? Getting the flavor is all in the technique. Don’t worry I am going to show you how!
There are only a few simple ingredients in the macaroni salad recipe. But, it’s all in how you but those ingredients together that makes all the difference.
If you live near an L& L Barbecue, their mac salad is pretty spot on! It’s not quite as good as this recipe, but for fast food it’ll do.
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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.
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.
- Crispy Furikake Fried Chicken with Sriracha Aioli
- Spam Fried Rice
- Pineapple Salsa Recipe
- Pineapple Sweet Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing
â½Did you make this recipe? I love to see what’s going in your kitchen. Show me what you’re cooking. ï³ Tag me @foodologygeek on your favorite social channel! , & . If you loved â¤ï¸ this recipe, please leave a 5 â review and a comment!
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How Did Macaroni Salad Get To Hawaii
Macaroni Salad Has two interesting stories
- Some say mac salad came to Hawaii via potato salad from Europe. Before World War II, many hotel chefs in early 1900s Hawaii were brought in from Europe and they got the preparation of this dish into their work ethic because it was common for them at home too- replacing potatoes with pasta when youre on a tight budget can be done easily enough! It wasnt until after that war ended though when tourism became more popular than ever before -so much so that cuisine styles began changing all over again. This time around though no one wanted Italian food anymore everyone wanted local flavors insteadand what better way is there?
- Other said that mac salad came from the sugar and pineapple plantation. However, instead of coming from Asian workers who labored on it for hours each day in a hot environment without pay or appreciation-Mac Salad was created by European managers as an easy way to get rid of leftovers after meals where they could prepare something tasty but not messy with simple ingredients like potatoes while avoiding any messes themselves!
Our Favorite Kalua Pork
Kalua Pork is another very common plate lunch entrée. Traditional Kalua big is slow cooked in a pit with ti leaves and/or banana leaves. That method is a little intense for a typical weeknight meal at our house so we usually do the cheater method. This version is made in the slow cooker and tastes just like authentic shredded Kalua Pig. We love adding cabbage to the mix, which is also very common for this style of lunch.
Lucky for you, we have recipes for ALL of the components of a plate lunch. These are ALL tried and true recipes, approved by locals. Serve any plate lunch with a side of fresh pineapple and youre in business. We are so excited to share all these recipes with you! Enjoy!
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Why Do Hawaiians Eat Macaroni Salad
The plate lunch is a cheap and filling dish that originated back in the 1880’s as a midday meal for workers at Hawaii’s sugar and pineapple plantations. Now a Hawaiian plate dish lunch with macaroni salad is served at roadside stands, drive-ins, and hole-in-the-wall restaurants throughout Hawaii and at a number of restaurants on the mainland like L& L Barbecue and Ono’s.
The creamy, carb-loaded macaroni salad was an inexpensive way to bulk out a plantation worker’s lunch, which was usually made up of leftovers from the previous day.
Special Equipment For This Recipe
- Stockpot I like to use this stockpot to boil my pasta in, plus its great for making soups and chilis.
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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.
Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
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.If you enjoy Hawaiian cuisine, you will love this Hawaiian Mac Salad. It is essential on anHawaiian Lunch plate!
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The Best Hawaiian Mac Salad
A plate lunch is not a REAL plate lunch unless it has Hawaiian macaroni salad. You simply MUST have mac salad on there. Dont as me why, it just makes a the meal complete. I am totally a food mixer when it comes to plate lunches. I love getting a little mac salad, a little rice, and a little bit of meat for each bite. HEAVEN I tell ya. Mac salad, the good kind with mayonnaise and everything. Dont skip it.
A Bbq Party Isnt Complete Without All The Awesome Sides Here Are Some Faves:
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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
Instant Pot Hawaiian Macaroni Salad + Video
Instant Pot Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is traditional and simple. It is creamy, a bit sweet and a little tangy a must have for any Hawaiian plate lunch.
Instant Pot Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
A traditional Hawaiian plate lunch has three components rice, meat and macaroni salad. Hawaiian macaroni salad is not your regular macaroni salad with a lot of additions, like my Instant Pot Best Macaroni Salad Recipe. A true and authentic Hawaiian macaroni salad is very simple with only a few ingredients. It is very creamy, a bit sweet and a bit tangy from the vinegar.
Kings Hawaiian Restaurant in California has the most delicious potato macaroni salad. As I wanted to keep this Instant Pot Hawaiian Macaroni Salad very simple in the video, I did not use potatoes. However, I will show them as an option in the recipe card below. Try this salad both ways and see which you prefer.
Cast of Ingredients for Instant Pot Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
Just like my awesome Instant Pot Potato Salad, everyone has their own version they feel is best. I will show you how I make my Instant Pot Hawaiian Macaroni Salad, which is the most common in Hawaii and then you are on your own.
Instant Pot Cranberry Spice Couscous is another dish that makes a wonderful side dish to any type of meal.
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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
What Is In A Plate Lunch
A true plate lunch is made up of 2 scoops of rice , a healthy portion of mac salad, and an entrée . The entrée is typically grilled teriyaki chicken, Kalua pork, or teriyaki beef. Sometimes you can find plate lunches with chicken katsu , shoyu chicken, shrimp, hamburger patties, mahi mahi, BBQ chicken or spam. I have also seen plates that have potatoes, fried egg, salmon, or sausage. It just totally depends on the plate lunch spot.
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Is This Hawaiian Food
Outside of Hawaii, this dish is often called Hawaiian macaroni salad. That is incorrect because this is a local dish and not a Hawaiian dish. Mac salad is from Hawaii, but that doesnt automatically make it Hawaiian food. Learn more about the difference here.
I titled this post Hawaiian macaroni salad, not to further reinforce the name but in the hopes that people will discover this post and realize that Hawaiian macaroni salad is in fact, just mac salad!
Since there are many different types of mac salad in the world, you can also call it Hawaiis mac salad, Hawaii-style mac salad, or even mac salad from Hawaii.
Mainly, we just hope you enjoy the dish ^_^
Mac salad with Loco Moco at Cafe 100
How Did Mac Salad Get To Hawaii
Iconic Hawaii dishes like saimin and shave ice we created during Hawaiis sugar and pineapple plantation era in the late 1800s. Both those dishes were the result/combination of different ethnic groups working together in Hawaii.
Saimin is a mix of ramen, pancit, Chinese noodle soups, etc, adjusted to local tastes. Shave ice is a mix of kakigori and many different ice desserts from Southeast Asia, also adjusted to local tastes.
But mac salad has an interesting story. Two stories :
- Some say mac salad came to Hawaii via potato salad from Europe. Tourism is Hawaiis main industry, and many hotel chefs in early 1900s Hawaii were brought in from Europe. Those chefs got potato salad into the hotel kitchen and restaurant menus. Then it got popular with home cooks .
- Other say mac salad came from the sugar and pineapple plantation. But instead of coming from the plantation workers , it came from the plantation managers and owners . They had the staff prepare potato salad for meals. The staff adapted the potato turned mac salad for their own tastes.
And thats how we have local mac salad.
Mac salad at Gochi Grill
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Recipe Tips And Variations
- Yield: This recipe makes 12 servings.
- Storage: Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Make ahead: Make this macaroni salad 1 day in advance. Stir to recombine before serving.
- Dry: If the pasta salad seems dry, stir in warm water, 1 tablespoon spoon at a time, to loosen.
- More mix-ins: Some cooks swear by adding green olives, chopped hard-boiled egg, finely chopped boiled potatoes, watercress, pickle relish, frozen peas, or even canned tuna.
Hawaiian Teriyaki Grilled Chicken
Grilled teriyaki chicken has got to be the most common entree ordered. I could be wrong on this but it seems like it is always a safe option for people who are unsure about trying out new foods. If you are throwing a luau or party and just wanted to cook up one entree for everyone, this may be the one you want to do. Be sure, though, if you do this, that you are using chicken THIGHS. Chicken breasts do not make the cut and I promise you, it will not taste anywhere nearly as good as chicken thighs. Dont be tempted to make the switch!
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Best Mayonnaise For Instant Pot Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- Using a good quality mayonnaise truly makes a difference in a good Hawaiian Macaroni Salad.
- While any type of mayonnaise is fine to use, we prefer to use Dukes Mayonnaise or Hellmanns / Best Foods mayonnaise as they are high quality products.
It is actually very similar to the dressing my dads second wife used to make for regular garden salads. She would use lemon juice in place of the vinegar.
Grated Carrots Get Mixed into Macaroni
Normally, pasta and macaroni is best when served al dente, like for instance my Pressure Cooker Macaroni and Cheese . For traditional Hawaiian Macaroni Salad the macaroni is slightly overcooked. The macaroni firms up as it chills and if made al dente, it would be too brittle.
How To Make Hawaii Plate
Because a local plate lunch without mac salad is unthinkable.
Macaroni salad is a staple of the Hawaii-style plate lunch.
Typically scooped onto lunch plates along with a couple mounds of white rice, the seemingly divergent starches combine forces as ideal pairings to just about any main dish.
A Hawaii-style barbecue chicken or beef mixed plate without a scoop of mayonnaise-laden mac salad to mix into some of the grilled meats sweet-and-tangy shoyu, sugar, garlic, ginger marinade? To many Hawaii residents, as unthinkable as not being able to soak up the same sauce with a forkful of white rice.
Making Hawaii-style plate lunch mac salad is easy. The bonus? Once you learn the basics, the recipe can be adapted into an endless array of variations depending on your individual tastes.
Here, well get you started with two basic recipes for Hawaii-style macaroni salad and a history of the popular local side dish, excerpted from the new book Kau Kau: Cuisine and Culture in the Hawaiian Islands. The book, by Hawaii writer Arnold Hiura, is chockfull of the history and stories of favorite Hawaii foods, much of it accompanied by terrific family recipes you can try out for yourself.
In a previous article, we excerpted a Kau Kau recipe for Hawaii-style barbecue sauce and brief history of the popular local grilling marinade. With the macaroni salad recipes on the following pages, all youll need is a pot of hot white rice for your own Hawaii-style barbecue mixed plate lunch or dinner.
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