Hawaiian Macaroni Salad with a sweet and creamy dressing and the option to make it with tuna! This Mac salad is the perfect addition to a traditional Hawaiian lunch plate!
Consider this your reminder that you do not need to visit Hawaii to enjoy Hawaiian Macaroni Salad because you can easily make this mac salad right at home. Although, let’s be honest, wouldn’t it be amazing to hop on a plane and jet off to Hawaii to have some L&L Hawaiian Barbecue with a big side of their Hawaiian Macaroni Salad? If you’ve been to Hawaii, you know that each establishment that serves Hawaiian macaroni salad has a slight variation but the basics are the same and the result is always creamy and delicious. Let’s talk about the ingredients that you’ll need to make this Hawaiian Macaroni Salad recipe right at home:
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Ingredients:
Macaroni – you will need 1 pound of macaroni cooked according to package directions. It is better to overcook than undercook when making this particular recipe for Hawaiian Mac Salad. Alternatively, you could use ditalini instead of macaroni noodles. Be sure to salt your pasta water just after it comes to a boil, and before adding in the noodles. I use about one tablespoon of salt for one pound of pasta.
Apple Cider Vinegar – if you do not have apple cider vinegar on hand, you could also use regular vinegar or even rice wine vinegar
Carrots – you want these finely shredded and you’ll need about 1 cup which was 3-4 whole carrots for me. Use either a food processor with the shredder attachment or a box grater also works.
Grated onion – I like to use a sweet yellow onion for this. Use a food processor or box grater to shred the onion.
Green onion – you’ll chop up both the whites and the green parts of the onion.
Mayo – Use Hellman’s or Best Foods, Kewpie would be another good option.
Milk – If you don’t have milk on hand, you could also use heavy whipping cream or half and half.
Sugar – you’ll need 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. For a fun variation, try subbing in brown sugar which is also delicious.
Seasonings – you’ll need 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Optionally, you can add in 1/2 teaspoon celery salt and 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Additional ingredients: feel free to modify this recipe however you see fit. Sometimes I add in finely chopped celery which adds a nice crunch. I like to garnish this Mac salad with lots of fresh chopped green onion and a sprinkle of paprika.
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad with Tuna
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad with tuna is also super delicious. If you decide to make this with tuna, use any tuna that you prefer. I like to use 1-2 cans of the Kirkland Signature Albacore Solid White Tuna in Water or Chicken of the Sea Chunk Light Premium Tuna in Water. Each can is 7 ounces.
Another delicious option would be to add in chopped crab or imitation crab.
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Tips and Tricks
It is better to overcook the macaroni than undercook it. Just be sure you salt your pasta water before adding the macaroni because it is your only opportunity to season the pasta itself. After you’ve drained the pasta, and while it is STILL WARM, you’ll add it to a large bowl where you’ll stir in 1.5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar along with the grated carrot and grated onion. Cover it and place it in the fridge for about 20 minutes so that the pasta can start to cool.
After 20 minutes, you’ll stir in the dressing that you made, along with the green onions.
Refrigerate this Hawaiian Macaroni Salad for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
What to serve with Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
You’ll find Hawaiian Macaroni Salad all around Hawaii at restaurants like L&L Hawaiian Barbecue or Rainbow Drive-in. Their plate lunches typically come with a scoop or two of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad along with entrees like BBQ Pork, BBQ Beef, or Chicken Katsu.
While I like to pair my Easy Macaroni Salad recipe with all of our summer favorites, this Hawaiian Macaroni Salad pairs beautifully with our Slow Cooker Pulled Pork or our Instant Pot Pulled Pork Barbecue Sandwiches.
Nothing beats a Pulled Pork Sandwich with a side of this delicious, sweet and creamy Hawaiian Macaroni Salad.
We hope you enjoy this recipe for Hawaiian Macaroni Salad. If you make this recipe, and we hope you do, please come back and leave a comment to let us know what you think and be sure take a photo and tag us on social media!
- Macaroni – 1 pound cooked according to package directions
- 1.5 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup finely shredded carrots
- 1/4 cup grated sweet yellow onion
- 5 green onions – chopped (reserve some for garnish)
- 2.5-3 cups mayo
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup milk or half and half
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- *Tuna – optional
- Cook macaroni according to package directions, making sure to salt the water before adding the macaroni noodles to the boiling water- cook noodles according to package directions and drain.
- Add the drained noodles to a large bowl. Stir in 1.5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 cup finely shredded carrots and 1/4 cup grated yellow onion. Stir to combine and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
- Make the dressing: In a medium sized bowl combine 2.5-3 cups of mayo with 1/3 cup milk. Add in 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper along with 1/2 teaspoon celery salt and 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Stir to combine.
- After the macaroni salad has slightly cooled in the refrigerator for 20 minutes, stir in the dressing and green onion.
- Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight before serving.