Sweet, tangy, and super easy to make, this Hawaiian Mac Salad is a creamy macaroni salad that goes well with all of your BBQ favorites!
Why This Recipe Works
No Fuss Pasta Salad: If you have never had Hawaiian mac salad, it is time to try it! It is quite possibly the easiest macaroni salad recipe to ever exist. It is basically the epitome of a “no fuss” recipe that uses pantry staple ingredients and takes just 20 minutes to prepare! You do have to let it chill in the fridge so plan ahead of time!
BBQ Lovers Perfect Side Dish: This Hawaiian macaroni salad recipe is tangy and sweet, making it the perfect side dish to all of your favorite grilled proteins. Since this recipe originated from Hawaii, it really goes best with Hawaiian style BBQ like Huli Huli Chicken! This is the kind of pasta salad you will find in Hawaii, and no, it doesn’t have pineapple or ham in it!
My Hawaiian mac salad uses pantry staples that you probably already have on hand! Here’s what you’ll need:
- Macaroni: The classic pasta choice for this pasta salad is macaroni. But feel free to use any short pasta here that you prefer!
- Apple Cider Vinegar: A bit of apple cider vinegar adds a tangy flavor!
- Veggies: Carrots, celery and onion are combined in this salad for flavor and a crunchy texture!
- Light Mayonnaise: Since Hawaiian mac salad has a mayonnaise based dressing, you can use light mayonnaise like I did, or feel free to use the real stuff!
- Milk: Milk adds liquid to keep things moist and makes this pasta salad extra creamy.
- Sugar: Sugar helps balance out the tangy flavor of the apple cider vinegar and makes the salad pair perfectly with savory and smoky meats.
- Garlic Powder: Some garlic powder seasons the pasta to perfection! Along with some salt and pepper, of course!
- Green Onions: For extra flavor and crunch, slice up the green onions and add them at the end.
Here’s How to Make It
Step by Step Instructions
- Cook the Pasta: Cook the macaroni in a pot of boiling salted water as per the packets instructions.
- Drain & Add Veggies: Drain the macaroni well and combine it while still hot in a large bowl with the apple cider vinegar, carrots, celery and grated white onion. Set aside.
- Make the Dressing: In another bowl stir together the mayonnaise, milk, sugar, garlic powder, and a little salt and pepper to make the dressing.
- Pour & chill: Pour the dressing over the macaroni and stir well to coat. Chill for at least an hour, or overnight.
- Serve: Stir in the green onions and check to see if the salad needs a little more salt and pepper before serving.
- Don’t be afraid of the mayo! I know that this mac salad recipe seems heavy on the mayo, but this is what it is known for and it makes it super delicious. However, you can replace some of the mayo with greek yogurt! It won’t taste exactly the same, but it will still be pretty delicious!
- Use Best Foods (or Hellmans) brand mayo! Don’t judge, but it’s just a fact. Best Food or Hellmans brand mayo is the best mayo to use in this recipe.
- Gently fold the dressing into the pasta and veg! It is best to fold gently so you don’t break up the noodles too much!
Frequently Asked Questions
Definitely! This salad can chill in the fridge prepared for up to 24 hours. If it is a little dry after being in the fridge for 24 hours, add a little bit more milk to loosen things up before serving.
This Hawaiian mac salad is generally served with food you would eat at a BBQ, but it is also commonly eaten with a side of rice! You can eat this pasta salad on it’s own, or as part of a BBQ or Luau!
More Side Dish Recipes to Try
- Coleslaw with Homemade Dressing
- Classic Macaroni Salad
- Creamy Cucumber Salad
- Bacon Avocado Potato Salad
- Lemon Couscous
Did you try this recipe? FANTASTIC. Please rate the recipe below and be sure to tag us on social when you share a photo of your CDLC creation!
Hawaiian Mac Salad
- 1 lb macaroni
- salt - to taste
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 shredded carrots
- ⅓ cup chopped celery
- ¼ cup grated white onion
- 2 cups light mayonnaise
- ½ cup milk
- 2 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- cracked black pepper - to taste
- 4 large green onions - sliced
- Cook the macaroni in a pan of boiling salted water as per the packets instructions.
- Drain the macaroni well and combine it while still hot in a large bowl with the apple cider vinegar, carrots, celery and grated onion. Set aside.
- In another bowl stir together the mayonnaise, milk, sugar, garlic powder and a little salt and pepper to make the dressing.
- Pour the dressing over the macaroni and stir well to coat. Chill for at least an hour, or overnight.
- Stir in the salad onions and check to see if the salad needs a little more salt or pepper before serving.
- Best Foods, sometimes sold as Hellmans is the traditional mayonnaise to use in this recipe.
- This salad can be made up to 24 hours ahead, and keeps well in the fridge for up to 4 days. Pasta absorbs liquid in the fridge so you may want to loosen the salad with a little more milk just before serving.
This looks so yummy, Hawaiian Pizza is my absolute favorite. Can’t wait to try this with some gluten free crackers or pita!
Yum! The pitas sound especially delicious – I definitely have to try that!!
This is such a great idea. Tangy pizza sauce with pineapple and ham… in dip form! I’m sure this would be a hit appetizer at any party.
This made my mouth water!
This is a great spin on pizza dip! I love the pineapple and spice.
I like to eat pizza a lot. It’s both tasty and convenient foods tricky.