hawaiian macaroni salad in bowl

When spring and summer roll around, there are many things that people look forward to. But two of the most important elements of the season include good weather and even better food, especially during barbecue season. If you’re hosting a barbecue, there are plenty of options for side dishes, and macaroni salads are a top contender. If you want to make something slightly different from your standard macaroni salad, this Hawaiian macaroni salad is a great addition to pretty much any main course. One of the best things about this recipe is that it’s filling and flavorful, combining a fun Hawaiian sauce with noodles and fresh veggies.

Recipe developer Kit Hondrum of Kit’s Kitchen came up with this fantastic recipe that would be great to serve at your next backyard bash. "This dish is a Hawaiian staple. You’ll find it at nearly every backyard BBQ, family gathering, luau, and even at restaurants," Hondrum notes. She also shares her fun inspiration behind this recipe. "I used to live in Hawaii and you see mac salad everywhere! It’s truly a staple," she shares. If you want to add a little taste of Hawaii to your next barbecue, follow this easy recipe for creamy, subtly sweet macaroni salad.

Gather the ingredients for Hawaiian macaroni salad

hawaiian macaroni salad ingredients

Once you are ready to get things started, you will need to go to the grocery store and gather all of the ingredients. Be sure to pick up macaroni, mayonnaise, whole milk, apple cider vinegar, sugar, fine sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, celery stalks, carrots, and yellow onion.

Boil the macaroni

macaroni in a pot

Now that you’ve gotten the grocery shopping out of the way, you can get started on the prep work. Grab your macaroni and a saucepan. Add water and a little bit of salt, and cook the macaroni until al dente — you’ll want to cook the macaroni about a minute less than the box recommends to achieve this. Since each brand varies, simply check the back of the box for instructions.

Make the creamy sauce

Hawaiian pasta salad sauce in bowl

What pasta salad is complete without a sauce? To make this one, just add the mayonnaise, vinegar, milk, sugar, salt, and pepper to a large mixing bowl. "In order for this mac salad to taste authentic, make sure to use Best Foods or Hellmann’s brand (they are actually the same mayonnaise, under different labels)," Hondrum shares. "You can use other mayo brands but the taste won’t be quite right."

Mix the sauce to combine, and maybe even give it a little taste to see just how delicious the flavors are. "The sauce is creamy, tangy, and has just a little bite from the onion," Hondrum describes.

Start building the macaroni salad

Hawaiian macaroni ingredients in bowl

Once the macaroni finishes cooking, use a colander to drain the water. Then, rinse the noodles with cold water, and be sure to drain the excess water well.

Now you can begin to put together the salad. Just add the macaroni, celery, shredded carrots, and grated onion to the large bowl with the sauce. Use a spoon to combine gently. As a reminder, you should have chopped the veggies ahead of time to make things easier. "For chopping the veggies, you want a nice dice on the celery, then I use a cheese grater for the carrots and onion," Hondrum shares. "The onion can get a little slippery toward the end, so save another quarter of the onion to use at the end. It will be less slippery and safer."

Refrigerate and serve your Hawaiian macaroni salad

Hawaiian macaroni in a bowl

Now that you’ve mixed everything well, cover the salad and pop it in the fridge for at least 4 hours to set. Gently mix again before serving. While you can definitely enjoy this dish as a main course if you’d like, it makes a wonderful side to pretty much any protein. "This side dish is perfect with kalua pig, other BBQ meats, and perfect for picnics as well," Hondrum shares.

If you have anything left, be sure to keep and enjoy for another meal. "Store leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Due to the mayonnaise, you can’t freeze it," Hondrum says. We hope you love this delicious little taste of Hawaii!

  • 8 ounces macaroni
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • ¼ medium yellow onion, grated
  1. Boil the macaroni in lightly salted water and cook to al dente (1 minute less than package instructions).
  2. Make the sauce by combining the mayonnaise, vinegar, milk, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Drain the macaroni and rinse with cold water, then drain that as well.
  4. Add the macaroni, celery, shredded carrot, and grated onion to the large bowl with the sauce and gently mix to combine.
  5. Cover and refrigerate the salad for at least 4 hours. Gently mix before serving.