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Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Craving a taste of the islands? Look no further than this simple yet satisfying Hawaiian macaroni salad. It’s a staple of Hawaiian plate lunches and backyard BBQs. 

Creamy and comforting, this light, tangy salad is the perfect side for almost anything. It pairs especially well with teriyaki chicken, kalua pork, and chicken luau. 

Every time I bring it to a party, people ask for the recipe. Best served chilled, it’s a macaroni side dish you won’t want to miss! 

Irresistible Hawaiian-style macaroni salad, featuring tender pasta and a tangy mayonnaise dressing
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Why You’ll Love This Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Uniquely Hawaiian: Pasta salad is popular worldwide. But the specific ingredients and flavors in this macaroni salad are distinctly island-approved. 

Comforting & Creamy: This salad’s luscious mayo-based dressing makes it absolutely addictive. Between the tangy dressing and tender pasta, it’s comfort food at its finest. 

Picnic Perfect: Cool and refreshing, it’s perfect for picnics, potlucks, and other outdoor events. It pairs perfectly with grilled meats. 

Vibrant Hawaiian macaroni salad, featuring colorful ingredients including carrots, celery and red onions with creamy and tangy dressing


  • Elbow Macaroni: While many noodles would suffice, elbow macaroni works best. Its perfectly short, curved shape helps capture plenty of dressing in every bite. 
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: This ingredient adds a subtle tangy kick. It balances nicely with the richness of the mayonnaise. 
  • Mayonnaise: I specifically recommend Hellmann’s. It has the best flavor and pairs well with the other ingredients.
  • Whole Milk: Milk mixes with the mayo for a delightfully smooth and creamy texture.
  • Brown Sugar: Just a hint will have everyone coming back for seconds. 
  • Salt & Pepper: The dynamic duo that enhances all the other flavors. 
  • Veggies: Though you can experiment, the recipe calls for yellow onions, carrots, and celery. They’re a classic veggie trio and provide plenty of crunch and color.
A glass bowl of uncooked elbow macaroni pasta on a white marble table
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Ingredients - Carrots, Mayo, Red Onions, Green Onions and Elbow Macaroni

How to Make Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Can you boil water and mix things? If so, you’ve got this Hawaiian macaroni salad recipe in the bag! Follow these instructions to whip it up: 

1. Cook the macaroni. Cook it in salted boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes longer than the package instructions require. Then, drain it well and pour it into a large bowl. 

2. Add the veggies. Sprinkle apple cider vinegar over the still-hot macaroni. Then, add the carrot, celery, and grated yellow onion. Toss well. Then, let the noodles cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Make the dressing. Whisk together 1 cup mayo, 1/4 cup milk, brown sugar, salt, and pepper in a separate small bowl. 

4. Combine and chill. Stir the dressing into the cooled macaroni. Coat well. Then, cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. 

5. Finish the dish. Immediately before serving, stir in the remaining milk and mayo. Stir until smooth, then add the green onions. 

6. Taste and adjust. Taste the macaroni salad and add more salt and pepper if needed. Chill for an additional hour. Then, serve and enjoy! 

Mouthwatering Hawaiian macaroni salad, a refreshing blend of pasta, carrots, and onions in a creamy dressing

Tips for the Best Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

It’s never a bad idea to have a few tips up your sleeve in the kitchen. Here are my best ones for this particular recipe: 

  • Overcook the pasta. Typically, I stress NOT overcooking things. In this case, it ensures the noodles absorb the dressing without getting mushy. 
  • Try a grating trick. Take the added step of grating the yellow onion directly into the bowl with the macaroni. Doing so will ensure the onion’s juices mix with the noodles. 
  • Taste and adjust. This is your pasta salad! If you want it creamier, add more mayo. Want it tangier? Add another dash of apple cider vinegar. You can even vary the veggies.
  • Try fun variations. Popular mix-ins include chopped ham, peas, pineapple, bacon, etc. You can also swap out the mayo for Greek yogurt. 
Delicious macaroni salad with a Hawaiian twist, combining carrots, celery, and chopped onions

How to Store

Storing this dish is a breeze since it’s best served cold!

To Store: Keep the salad in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Stir it before serving to reincorporate everything. If needed, add a splash of milk-thinned mayo for extra creaminess. 

Unfortunately, I don’t recommend freezing macaroni salad. The noodles won’t hold up well after you thaw them. The mayo will also start to separate. 

Luckily, it’s super simple to make, so you can easily whip it up fresh any time! 

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Course: Side DishCuisine: Hawaiian


Prep time


Cooking time





This Hawaiian macaroni salad is a fun twist on a classic! The tropical flavor is perfect for any potluck.


  • 1 pound elbow macaroni

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, grated

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded

  • 1/4 cup celery, finely chopped or grated

  • 2 cups mayo, divided

  • 1/2 cup whole milk, divided

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced


  • Cook the macaroni in a large pot of salted boiling water until very soft. (About 2-3 minutes past al dente.) Drain well and place macaroni in a large bowl.
  • While macaroni is still hot, sprinkle on the apple cider vinegar and add the carrot, celery, and onion. Toss until well combined. Let cool for about 10-15 minutes.
  • In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the mayonnaise, 1/4 cup milk, the brown sugar, salt and pepper.
  • Gently stir the mayonnaise mixture into the cooled macaroni until all the noodles are evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • When ready to serve, stir in the remaining 1 cup mayonnaise and 1/4 cup milk. Mix until smooth. Gently stir in the green onions. Add a little more milk if needed, for a creamier consistency.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning with a little more salt and pepper if needed. Chill for an hour or more before serving.


  • Use Best Foods or Hellmann’s mayo for the best results.
  • Overcook the pasta so it absorbs the dressing and becomes very soft. 
  • Mix in additional mayo and milk just before serving for the creamiest texture.

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Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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