Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Recipe (Mac Salad)

April 19, 2018Van
Blog post

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Serves: 6

Macaroni Salad is a people pleaser. From picnics in summer, to a must-have side dish for those filling Hawaiian Plate Lunches. The Hawaiian Plate Lunch has been making people happy since the late 1800’s. A hearty “island style” presentation of the Japanese Bento Box designed to feed hungry pineapple and sugar plantation workers—but proved too irresistible for the rest of us. Typically filled with lots of meat and lots of rice, the plate lunch expanded in the last century to include mac salad.

Hawaiian Mac Salad is unique because of the taste and texture, the macaroni is cooked very soft which adds to the creamy texture and the addition of milk and apple cider vinegar balances out the flavor. If you’ve ever been to Hawaii you can appreciate the protein options from Kalua Pork, Chicken Katsu, BBQ Ribs to Spicy Garlic Shrimp and how perfectly the creamy Mac Salad pairs with any of those dishes.

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Recipe
Print Recipe

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Recipe (Mac Salad)

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Serves: 6



  • ½ Pound Elbow Macaroni, (8 oz)
  • 1¼ Cup Best Foods Mayo or Hellmann's
  • ⅓ Cup Whole Milk
  • 2 Teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Carrot, peeled and grated
  • ½ Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • ½ Teaspoon Flaked Sea Salt or Kosher Salt, (plus more to salt the boiling water)
  • 1 Teaspoon Granulated Sugar


  • 1)

    Bring a large pot of water to boil and add 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ Pound Elbow Macaroni. Cook for 15 Minutes (Yes 15 Minutes, for Hawaiian Mac Salad the macaroni needs to be overcooked and very soft).

  • 2)

    Drain the macaroni in a colander and rinse under cold water for a minute to cool down the pasta. Let it sit for about 5 minutes while the water drains.

  • 3)

    In a large bowl, add 1¼ Cup of Best Foods Mayo, ⅓ Cup Whole Milk, 2 Teaspoons of Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 Teaspoon of Sugar, ½ Teaspoon of Sea Salt, ½ Teaspoon Onion Powder and 1 Grated Carrot – stir very well until it’s well combined (save a little bit of grated carrot to garnish)

  • 4)

    Add the macaroni and stir well. Don’t worry if the mixture looks quite liquid, it will thicken up once it’s been refrigerated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving – after it’s been refrigerated, stir well and taste – add more salt if needed. Garnish with grated carrots. Enjoy!

↓ Supplies to make this recipe ↓



  • Don

    April 22, 2018 at 10:40 am

    So many options for mac salad out there, but yours is one of my favorites. Plate lunch here I come. Thank you for this.


    1. Van

      April 22, 2018 at 12:48 pm

      You’re welcome Don! What else are you making for your plate lunch? I could go for some spicy garlic shrimp right now!

  • Don

    April 24, 2018 at 9:09 am

    Oh Shrimp sounds yummy, but you can’t forget Instant Pot Kalua Pig. Fast and tasty.

    1. Van

      April 24, 2018 at 9:14 am

      I’ve been wanting to try kalua pork in the Instant Pot, do you wrap it banana leaves?

  • Don

    April 25, 2018 at 8:04 am

    No, I use the recipe from NomNom Paleo and I think it is great. The Hawaiian salt makes it very tasty. Putting the cabbage in after the meat cooks and then cooking it in the broth…..yummm. Maybe better than the pork.

    Please try it.


    1. Van

      April 25, 2018 at 10:21 am

      Thanks Don, I’ll check it out! I still have alaea salt from the last time I made kalua pork (in the oven) – I might try wrapping the pork in banana leaves because I happen to have some in the freezer.

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