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Island-Approved Hawaiian Mac Salad

This Hawaiian Mac Salad features tender noodles, grated carrots, and lots of creamy dressing. It’s an authentic recipe, just like they make on the island!

Large white bowl of Hawaiian macaroni salad on stripe towel and wood cutting board.

I’ve developed a love for Hawaiian mac salad over the years once we found an authentic restaurant in our area.

I would go there just for the delicious noodles!

Once we went to Hawaii and tried authentic mac salad, I knew I needed to figure out how to make it like a local.

I searched through several recipes to make sure I had all of the elements of the real mac salad included and the result was delicious!

This Hawaiian mac salad works because its:

  • Simple. You’ll just need a few key ingredients for this salad to come together.
  • Easy to make. Once you cook the pasta and add in the veggies and dressing, this salad is ready to pop in the refrigerator.
  • Full of flavor. The vinegar and pepper combine to give this salad lots of delicious flavor.
  • Authentic!

Step-by-Step Instructions

Bowls of uncooked macaroni and mayonnaise next to cutting board white carrots and onion and glass measuring cup of milk.

COOK 16 ounces of macaroni past according to package directions. Rinse with cold water and drain once done.

Cooked macaroni noodles and water in large metal pot on white table.

WHILE the pasta is cooking, grate 1 large carrot until you get 1/2 cup. Using the large holes, grate 1 sweet yellow onion until you get 1/3 cup. Carefully rinse and drain the yellow onion using a fine mesh strainer.

Shredded carrots and onion on wood cutting board next to metal grater.

MIX 2 cups of mayonnaise, 1 cup of milk, 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a small bowl.

Creamy mayo dressing mixture in small bowl with whisk next to cutting board.

IN a large mixing bowl, add the cooled pasta, carrots, onion, and dressing and stir well to combine. Season with salt and white pepper to taste.

Creamy mayo mixture, shredded carrots, onion, and cooked macaroni in large white mixing bowl.

REFRIGERATE for one hour before serving.

Recipe Tips and Substitutions

Close up of Hawaiian mac salad with ground pepper and shredded carrots.

To be considered 100% authentic, you’ll want to use Best Foods, Hellman’s, or Duke’s mayonnaise.

If you don’t love the taste of raw onion you can always substitute 1 teaspoon onion powder or 1 tablespoon dried onion flakes.

The dressing may have lots of bubbles in it once you’ve mixed it with the pasta. Don’t worry. Once the salad sets up in the refrigerator and you mix it again, the bubbles will go away.

White pepper can be pretty expensive and you may not have any on hand. I used a peppercorn medley that had black, white, pink, and green peppercorns in it. You can also use any of these white pepper substitutes.

You can also substitute apple cider vinegar for the rice vinegar.

For an extra crunch, try adding in some chopped celery or one of these celery substitutes.

Try using broken spaghetti noodles instead of the macaroni and adding a can of tuna for a local twist on this salad.

More Like This

Two small bowls full of Hawaiian pasta salad next to gold forks and a large bowl of salad.

Looking for more delicious salads? You’ll love these!

FAQs

Overhead photo of three bowls of Hawaiian style macaroni salad on striped towel and wood cutting board.
Why is macaroni salad so popular in Hawaii?

Hawaii is a melting pot of different cultures, and the story goes that mac salad originated from plantation managers who were Europeans.

The migrant workers would eat the mac salad with leftover rice and their favorite meats to keep them fueled during a day of hard labor.

The mac salad neutralized the heavy flavors of the proteins and soon street vendors starting including the salad with their mixed plates, which cemented it as a Hawaiian staple.

I hope your family loves this Hawaiian mac salad! If you make it, be sure to take a picture and tag me on Instagram with @ashcroftfamilytable and use the hashtag #ashcroftfamilytable!

 

And if you’d like to get a 4-week meal plan featuring my recipes, just enter your email in the form above and you’ll get it straight to your inbox!

Close up of Hawaiian mac salad.

Island-Approved Hawaiian Mac Salad

Yield: 12-16 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

This Hawaiian Mac Salad features tender noodles, grated carrots, and lots of creamy dressing. It's an authentic recipe, just like they make on the island!

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces macaroni
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1/3 cup grated sweet yellow onion
  • 2 cups mayonnaise (Best Foods, Hellmann's, or Duke's)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook macaroni past according to package directions. Rinse with cold water and drain once done.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, carefully rinse and drain the grated yellow onion using a fine mesh strainer.
  3. Mix mayonnaise, milk, rice vinegar and sugar in a small bowl.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, add the cooled pasta, carrots, onion, and dressing and stir well to combine. Season with salt and white pepper to taste.
  5. Refrigerate for one hour before serving.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 250Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 222mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 3g
Pinterest graphic with text and bowl of Hawaiian macaroni salad.

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