Saturday, March 26, 2022

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Hawaiian macaroni salad is a deliciously creamy side that’s the perfect balance of tangy and sweet. Try this easy pasta salad recipe today!

At the heart of any Hawaiian lunch plate is the humble macaroni salad. 
The concept of noodles and vegetables tossed in dressing can be found around the world, but the combination of flavors used is unique to this string of islands.

Incredibly tasty and budget-friendly, this is one easy pasta salad recipe that you’ll want to make again and again!

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Creamy homemade dressing with a touch of brown sugar adds a delightful sweetness to this Hawaiian mac salad. And tiny bits of red onion, celery, scallions, and carrot add texture and crunch for one delicious bite!

There’s one secret ingredient that you won’t want to miss — apple cider vinegar! It adds just the right amount of bite without leaving an unpleasant aftertaste.

I love the sweet and tangy flavor of so many Hawaiian-style dishes. From ham and beef kabobs to BBQ pulled pork sliders, there are plenty of options to have you dreaming of sandy beaches.

hawaiian macaroni salad in a bowl

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Don’t skip the apple cider vinegar! Tossing the hot, drained noodles with this ingredient allows them to really soak up that tangy flavor. For extra zip, you can add some to the dressing as well.
  • Follow the steps carefully. The noodles need time to soak up the ACV while you prepare the dressing. Also, mixing the warm pasta with a portion of the dressing and the firmer vegetables helps create a nice creamy dish.
  • Chill well before serving. Allow 1 hour in the refrigerator before adding the last of the ingredients, then chill again for 3 to 4 hours for best results.
  • Time saving tip: Look for pre-grated carrots in the produce department of your local store. Or, get thick grated carrot pieces by putting whole, peeled carrots through the grater attachment of your food processor.

hawaiian mac salad

Serving Suggestions

Hawaiian macaroni salad is a staple of the traditional “plate lunch” that is common across the islands.

It includes this creamy side, a big scoop (or two) of rice, and some sort of protein, while a “mixed plate” has an additional entree for a heartier meal.

Pulled pork or teriyaki chicken are great choices, or try smoked salmon for something a bit lighter.

easy pasta salad recipe dressing ingredients

Kitchen Tools You Will Need

hawaiian mac salad ingredients in a bowl

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad FAQ

What is Hawaiian macaroni salad made of?

It’s a very simple dish that combines tender pasta and diced or shredded vegetables.

Apple cider vinegar is used to create a tangy flavor, which is balanced with a sweet dressing made with mayonnaise, milk, brown sugar, and spices.

There are plenty of ways to customize it too! Add in some chopped ham or bacon, pineapple chunks, or green peas. Some canned tuna or imitation crab would be delicious as well.

easy pasta salad recipe tossed

Can I double this recipe?

You sure can! As written, it feeds 8-10 people, but you can increase the amounts to feed a crowd. Mixing in extra veggies or meat is another great way to stretch your servings.

How do you store Hawaiian mac salad?

Keep this dish refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Because the noodles will continue to soak up all of the flavors, you can also make this easy pasta salad recipe the night before! Just add a little more mayo or ACV if it seems dry.

hawaiian mac salad finished overhead photo


With love from our simple kitchen to yours. 

Do you   love  TSRI?  Don't miss another recipe.  Click here to Subscribe to The Slow Roasted Italian by Email and receive new recipes in your inbox every day!

Don't miss a thing! Follow us on Facebook Twitter Pinterest | Instagram ❤ ❤ ❤  

hawaiian macaroni salad with a wooden spoonful of salad

Yield: 8-10
Author: Donna Elick
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Hawaiian macaroni salad is a deliciously creamy side that’s the perfect balance of tangy and sweet. Try this easy pasta salad recipe today!
Prep time: 20 MinInactive time: 4 HourTotal time: 4 H & 20 M


  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or himalayan sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 red onion, diced small
  • 1 1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 3 scallions, sliced


  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni noodles until they are very plump (several minutes longer than recommended cook time).
  2. Drain pasta. Sprinkle apple cider vinegar over the pasta and toss to combine.
  3. Place the pasta in a large mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the apple cider vinegar to soak into the pasta for about 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together mayonnaise, milk, pepper, salt, and brown sugar. Taste mixture and adjust seasoning to taste. You can also add additional apple cider vinegar to this dressing mixture for a bit of extra zing.
  5. Pour half of the dressing mixture over the pasta and add the red onion and carrots. Toss together (the pasta should still be warm). Cover with plastic wrap (or a lid) and refrigerate for about 1 hour until pasta has cooled completely and the dressing mixture has soaked into the pasta.
  6. Toss salad with remaining dressing, celery, and scallions. Refrigerate, covered for 3-4 hours longer.
  7. Serve pasta alongside traditional Hawaiian mixed plate dishes.
  1. We used pre-grated carrots from the produce department at the grocery store. You can also make nice, thick grated carrot pieces by putting whole, peeled carrots through the grater attachment on your food processor.
  2. Tossing the hot pasta with the apple cider vinegar allows the noodles to really soak up the flavor. Mixing a portion of the dressing and some of the vegetables with the warm pasta aids in making a nice creamy salad.
  3. Adjust the seasonings to your personal taste. You can also vary the add-ins. Some diced ham and pineapple and a little extra brown sugar in the dressing would be delicious! Bacon or kahlua pork would also be yummy.
  4. Storage: Keep refrigerated in an airtight container for 3-4 days.

hawaiian macaroni salad closeup

Originally published March 2022

Disclosure: Posts may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link your price will remain the same and The Slow Roasted Italian will automatically receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting us, it helps us keep creating new recipes.


  1. When you say Hawaiian, I'm looking for pineapple 🍍 😋

  2. We mother-in-law used to make somethi g line this, but no onions or scallions in it. She put a can of drained pineapple chunks, added small chunks of cheddar cheese and small chunks of ham and frozen peas uncooked also added some plain Greek yogurt with the mayo mixture. Mixed it all up with other ingredients and put in frig for 8 hours or overnight we'd eat it the next day. It was soooooo good.

  3. How is it Hawaiian? There is no pineapple or anything making it anything but plain old macaroni salad, unless you count a tablespoon of brown sugar. Did you forget something?

    1. Shirley, I lived in Hawaii for several years, and this is indeed Hawaiian Macaroni salad. It has brown sugar in it, and they actually cook the noodles over the amount of time. This is the actual way they serve it. It isn't hawaiian because it has "hawaiian ingredients" in it, but the process they use to make it.

  4. This looks like an easy yet tasty recipe. Can't wait to try it!

  5. Like the other posters, if a recipe has Hawaiian in the title, then I expect to see pineapple and/or coconut in the recipe. The recipe itself does sound good and I will try it for our next cookout. The recipe ingredients do seem to lend themselves well to pulled BBQ pork or teriyaki chicken. But I think putting Hawaiian in the title is a little misleading.


If you really like a post, please Facebook and give it a THUMBS UP or Pin It on Pinterest!

We love to hear your comments and hear when you have used a recipe. ❤ ❤ ❤