Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

This Hawaiian Macaroni Salad recipe is the base of a great side dish! Add in extra toppings like peas, carrots, or cubed ham for the ultimate pasta salad!

This Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is cool and creamy and completely customizable to your taste preferences too! 

This cool and creamy Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is super easy to make and is the perfect side dish!pinterestWhen my husband and I first got married we lived in a tiny townhouse that was within walking distance from a quaint Hawaiian restaurant.

While I was pregnant with my first daughter I would walk the 1/4 mile to indulge in a plate lunch that consisted of chicken katsu and Hawaiian Macaroni Salad. Even after my daughter was born I would still pack her in the stroller and walk to get my fix. We moved shortly after she was born and I had almost forgotten about this epic salad until I recently visited a street cart in Portland last month.

This Hawaiian Macaroni Salad recipe is the base of a great side dish! Add in extra toppings like peas, carrots, or cubed ham for the ultimate pasta salad!

A few of my friends and I were trying all the infamous food carts in the bustling city of Portland when we spotted a cart that boasted a really long line.

Of course we had to check it out. To my surprise (and delight) it was a Hawaiian food truck! We waited for what seemed like hours to get a hot plate lunch with a cool and creamy macaroni salad.

I was instantly transported back to the early days of my married life. As soon as I got back home from my trip I knew instantly I needed to fine tune a recipe of my own.

I'm obsessed with this super cool and creamy Hawaiian Macaroni Salad recipe! So easy and so good!

I searched high and low for the key to the BEST dressing, and stumbled upon this gem. The trick to a good Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is to use a really good quality mayo. Best Foods was the top choice (or Hellmann’s depending on where you live).

How To Make Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad:

  • Cook your pasta, then let it soak up some apple cider vinegar before tossing it in the creamy mayo sauce.
  • Customize your Hawaiian Macaroni Salad by adding in shredded carrots, shredded sweet onions, peas, or even diced ham!
  • The flavors of the pasta really enhance after a night of chilling in the fridge. But you can serve right away if desired.

Now, the macaroni salad that I had in Portland was suuuuuuper basic, and only consisted of this creamy sauce and a little salt and pepper. The nice thing about a pasta salad like this though, is that you can add in all sorts of additions to the finished product to suit your needs. I love adding in shredded carrots, peas, and sweet onions. Some people enjoy chopped pineapple and cubed ham.

The options are endless, but whatever you choose, you’re going to LOVE it!

This Hawaiian Macaroni Salad recipe is the base of a great side dish! Add in extra toppings like peas, carrots, or cubed ham for the ultimate pasta salad!

Now I only have to walk to my fridge to enjoy this delicious salad!

Oh and that delicious chicken in the pictures above is my Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken, in case you wanted something to go with your salad!

Make sure you don’t miss a thing! Follow I Wash You Dry here:

A plate of food, with Macaroni Salad and meat
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5 from 10 votes

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

This super easy Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is super creamy and with all the different add-in options, you can completely customize it to your taste!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Chill Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 35 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Hawaiian
Servings: 10
Calories: 576 kcal
Author: Shawn


  • 1 lb. uncooked macaroni pasta
  • 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups Best Foods Mayo, divided
  • 1 cup milk, 2% is best, divided
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper

Optional Add-ins:

  • thinly sliced sweet onions
  • diced celery
  • finely shredded carrots
  • chopped pineapple bits
  • peas
  • hard boiled egg
  • crumble bacon
  • cubed ham


  • Cook the pasta according to package instructions and then drain well. Place hot pasta in a large bowl and sprinkle with the apple cider vinegar, stirring to coat. Let the pasta absorb the vinegar and cool for about 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile whisk together 2 cups mayo, 1/2 cups milk, sugar, salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni salad into the dressing, stirring to coat and then let cool completely.
  • Add the remaining 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, along with any additional add-ins you would like, and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight. Stir before serving and adjust seasonings as needed. Enjoy!
This salad tastes best after it's had time to refrigerate and let the flavors enhance.


Calories: 576kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 602mg | Potassium: 154mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 76IU | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 1mg
Keywords: Hawaiian, Macaroni, mayo, Salad, Summer
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?don't forget to share a picture and mention @iwashyoudry on Instagram or tag #iwashyoudry!


A close up of pasta salad

About the author

Shawn is the Owner and Creator of I Wash You Dry. She loves to create and share simple, family-friendly recipes. Mom to 5 adorable children and dwells in the desert of Southern Utah.
40 Responses
  1. Keli

    I just wanted to thank you! I lived on the Big Island for almost six years and the food — good golly I miss the food!! Over the years, I’ve tried to find a recipe for mac salad that reminds me of those amazing plate lunch specials, but it’s never been quite right (including ones that are from locals and one from Hawaiian Magazine). This recipe is the closest thing I’ve tried. I’m a purist and I like it how it normally comes in the local restaurants–mac salad with carrots (I loathe onions, celery, tuna, peas, etc).

    Thanks again!
    (PS – I think I ate a plate lunch from that same food truck last year!)

  2. Amy

    I love this recipe! I didn’t really like pasta salad until this. The vinegar step and the bit of sugar just round out the flavors. I made a big batch and will do half personalized for myself and half for my bf. There are so many variations possible.

  3. Cathy

    5 stars
    Thank you for sharing this recipe. My husband and I moved to an area where there is no Hawaiian restaurant so I learned how to make kalua pork and this pasta salad is a perfect side dish! I added sweet onion, pineapple, and dried cilantro. It was so good!

  4. Jordan

    5 stars
    My partner and I love this! We always hated store bought Mac salad, and when we go to Hawaiian restaurants it’s good, but we wanted to make it on our own. This is delicious! We also live in Portland and want to know what the food cart was you ate at? We always want new tasty places to eat! Thank you.

    1. Shawn

      Awesome! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! As for the name of the food truck, I really can’t remember! Darn, I’m so sorry. Hopefully you can find one there to enjoy.

  5. Dawn

    Born and raised in Hawaii, every family has their own version, claiming to be the best. My mother’s always included shredded carrots, onions, celery, peas, regular canned tuna well drained, lots of eggs. As a treat, she’d do a crab version for “company”, later changing it out to the imitation crab. Everything else was “eyeballed” and to taste and was the best. Served over Manoa lettuce leaves, similar to butter lettuce, “broke da mouth”.

    Your’s is a good launching point for creative minds.

  6. Quanessa

    Found this recipe quickly while grocery shopping for my son’s birthday that’s approaching this week. He’s a vegan and likes macaroni salad. When I saw this on Pinterest I thought wow interesting than the traditional macaroni salad. Cannot wait! I’ll update my review :).

  7. Diane

    I’m looking forward to trying this recipe. Thank you for posting it! While serving in the US Navy, I was stationed in Hawaii and always enjoyed the lunch plate off the Kau Kau truck (food truck) after a day of beach and body surfing – teriyaki chicken, macaroni salad and sticky rice. Many happy memories. Thanks again for posting this memory. Aloha!


    This is not authentic…….vinegar, milk and sugar???? Just because it says Hawaiian bbq doesn’t make it authentic.

    1. Marie Czarnecki

      Why do you comment?? Just because to be noticed?? If you don’t like it don’t make it, “GEEEEEEEZ”!!!

    2. John

      Thank you for posting this recipe! I too have been on a search for the right creaminess, sweetness, texture and slight tartiness. You did a fantastic job. I live on the east coast now, and have been missing L&L in socal, and really can’t do the 12 hour flight to get my hawaiian mac salad fix. Been there many times. Though I can’t compare side by side, when I made it, it tasted authentic to me. I have tried other recipes and they just fell short. So thank you, thank you, thank you!

  9. Leah

    I noticed in the ingredients list it calls for 2 1/2 cups of mayo, however, in the instructions only 2 cups are added. What do you recommend? Can’t wait to try it.

    1. Shawn

      Sorry, I’ll get that updated. Basically you’ll start with 2 cups, then add the remaining 1/2 cup as needed at the end.

  10. Freddh

    My wife is from the Big Island, yes the same area where Kilauea is erupting. She adds a can of albacore tuna to the mix as well as other items from your optional add on list. Great recipe and eating. Mahalo!

    1. Shawn

      Wow, I heard about the eruptions! That’s crazy! I’ll have to try adding tuna to the salad too! Thanks for the suggestion!

      1. Kali

        Yes! I was going to say that my husband’s idea of Hawaiin Mac Salad is: Tuna Mac!

        I am not a big fan of tuna myself, but I’m going to be making him a batch today!

        My son was born on the Big Island and I miss it so much! We are on the mainland for the time being while my husband finishes school and we save up some money to build on our land out there.

        I was actually looking for the I Believe I Can Fry recipe just now, I’ve made it several times and lost the recipe (I couldn’t remember the website) the apple cider vinegar adds such an awesome touch! I’m so glad I stumbled upon this! Thank you 😀

  11. Janie

    We are blessed to be able to travel to Hawaii every other summer! I first had this salad at a luau in Honolulu years ago and haven’t been able to stop eating it! I make mine at home with carrots and pineapple, but you’re right, sometimes simple is better! 🙂

        1. Kali

          I prefer to use whole peas. I take the peas out of the casing, throw the peas in, then chop up the casing really fine and throw a good amount of those in as well!

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Shawn Syphus

Hi, I’m Shawn and I’m a busy mom of five; pretending to live on a budget. I love to cook, and explore new recipes, but they have to be quick and easy with as few dishes as possible.

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