This Classic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad recipe has a delicious creamy dressing that’s tangy, sweet, and totally addicting! It tastes just like it came from a Hawaiian Food Truck.

This recipe serves 12 people and costs about $5.39 to make.

A serving spoon scooping up some of the Hawaiian mac salad.

This past April, my family and I were on the island of Oahu for Spring Break. While there, we soaked up as much of the Hawaiian culture and food as we could. 

Almost daily, I would have Hawaiian Macaroni Salad with my lunch or dinner (or heck, sometimes both) because it was simple, so creamy, so delicious, and SO addicting!

When I got back from our trip to Hawaii, I got started right away on my version of this classic recipe. I’ve been tasting the Hawaiian Macaroni Salad recipe for a few months now, and I’m happy to report that I nailed it!

An overhead picture of Hawaiian Macaroni Salad in a serving bowl.

I have made this Hawaiian style Macaroni Salad for family gatherings, pot lucks, and bar-b-ques. Every single time I have had rave reviews. It’s always the first dish to go, and it is the first dish folks ask for the recipe.

It is a classic dish that is perfect for all kinds of occasions. Bring a little bit of the islands to your home or next party by whipping up a batch of this authentic Hawaiian Food Truck Macaroni salad. 

Do you put eggs in Macaroni Salad?

No. Well, yes, sometimes. Let me explain.

Traditional salads do not have eggs or hard-boiled eggs in them. However, while in Hawaii, I noticed on some menus that there is a side dish called Potato Mac Salad, which is a mash-up of potato salad and macaroni salad that DOES have egg in it (recipe coming soon!).

How to Make Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Ahead of Time:

You can prepare this Hawaiian mac salad up to 3 days in advance. Just follow the complete instructions below, transfer the mixture to an airtight container, and keep it in the refrigerator. 

What goes well with Macaroni Salad?

Any kind of backyard barbecue food, but here are some of my favorites:

Mac salad in a white bowl with a fork digging into the salad.

It first became popular in Hawaii because it was so cheap to make. It is also incredibly filling. In fact, on a lunch plate in Hawaii, it is hard to find a plate that does not have a macaroni salad served on it! 

Can you freeze macaroni salad?

Yes, you can freeze it. Just place the assembled macaroni salad in the freezer in an airtight container. When you are ready to use it, put it in the fridge the day before you want to eat it to defrost.

What other people are saying about this Recipe:

This recipe has been shared over 17,000 times on social media. Here is what some people are saying:

I used your recipe for a Luau themed work party and everyone loved it. I have shared the recipe with all of them so your genius is likely to be spread throughout Florida now! Thanks for sharing it. Yummmm! -Nancie J

Delicious! Three generations of family ate this and complimented me, even a five year old! – Tammy

Cook’s Note:

  • If you use anything but half-and-half and mayonnaise, then the dressing for this macaroni salad will be too thin.
  • This recipe is great to make ahead of time as it will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days. Just make sure you give everything a good stir before serving.
  • If you want to make this pasta salad into more of a main dish, then I suggest adding 2 cups of chopped chicken or 2 cups of the diced ham in step 4 below.
Macaroni Salad in a white bowl with a fork next to the bowl and green onions in the background.

Ingredients and Estimated Cost

RECIPE COST: $5.39

PER SERVING COST: $0.45

NOTE: I calculate the recipe prices by using name-brand grocery prices on grocery store websites.

  • 2 cups half-and-half  – $0.88
  • 2 cups Duke’s mayonnaise  – $1.60
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon grated yellow onion – $0.06
  • 1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar – $0.03
  • 2 teaspoons pepper – $0.01
  • 1 teaspoon salt – $0.01
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni – $1.38
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar – $0.16
  • 5 green onions – $0.50
  • 2 large celery ribs  – $0.36
  • 1 cup grated carrots – $0.40

More from Food Folks and Fun

How to make classic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad:

An overhead picture of Hawaiian Macaroni Salad in a serving bowl.
4.32 from 239 votes

Classic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Author Jillian – a Food, Folks and Fun original!
Recipe Cost $ $5.39
Serving Cost $ $0.45
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
12 people
This Classic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad recipe has a delicious creamy dressing that’s tangy, sweet, and totally addicting! It’s great for summer cookouts or anytime!

Equipment

  • mixing bowls
  • pasta pot
  • serving bowl

Ingredients
 
 

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 cups mayonnaise Duke’s if you can find it
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons grated yellow onion
  • 1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt

FOR THE MACARONI:

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 5 green onions white and green parts sliced thin
  • 2 large celery ribs chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 cup grated carrots

Instructions

MAKE DRESSING:

  • In a medium bowl whisk together the half-and-half, mayonnaise, grated onion, dark brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 2 teaspoons of pepper until smooth. Refrigerate until needed.

COOK MACARONI:

  • Cook the macaroni as per the package instructions, except add 5 minutes to the cooking time on the package instructions (you want the macaroni to be very soft and plump so it absorbs the dressing better). Drain the macaroni into a colander and then dump it back into the pot. Add in the apple cider vinegar and stir until the pasta absorbs the vinegar. Cover the pot with a lid and cool for 20 minutes at room temperature.

TO FINISH:

  • Add half of the dressing and stir to combine. Then, cover the lid and cool for another 20 minutes.
  • Add in the remaining dressing, green onions, celery, and carrots to the pot and stir to combine, and season with salt and pepper if needed.
  • Cool completely to room temperature, about 30 more minutes.
  • Transfer the macaroni salad to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 430kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 18mg | Sodium: 482mg | Potassium: 229mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1875IU | Vitamin C: 1.9mg | Calcium: 57mg | Iron: 0.7mg

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More Delicious Pasta Salad Recipes:

Picture collage of mac salad for Pinterest.

This first appeared on Food Folks and Fun on August 15, 2018. I have since updated the pictures and added a recipe video. 

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Recipe Rating




109 Comments

  1. Tayler Ross says:

    Perfect for all of those end of summer BBQs! I love this!

  2. Wilhelmina Wessel says:

    Wonderful flavors!

  3. I just love the grated onion in here – it adds a great flavor!

    1. Thank you, I think it does, too!

  4. Yum! I just moved to Los Angeles from the East Coast and am now surrounded by Hawaiian restaurants. Yours looks incredible!

  5. So many delicious flavors are mixed in this salad and especially in the dressing!

  6. Brian Jones says:

    I love seeing recipes from places I have never visited, this sounds delicious, so many great flavours!

  7. I have never heard of a Hawaiian macaroni salad before. But I love macaroni and this has lots of veg in it, so that’s good with me!

  8. Nathan Wyper says:

    This looks so delicious love the flavors. great take on a classic!

  9. YUM! Colorful and Delicious!

  10. Jillian:
    I used your recipe for a Luau themed work party and everyone loved it. I have shared the recipe with all of them so your genius is likely to be spread throughout Florida now! Thanks for sharing it. Yummmm!

  11. This macaroni salad is THE BEST!!

  12. Mayo and mac yes please! This would be perfect for a BBQ! I love how easy it sounds and did I mention delicious!! Thanks for another great recipe.

  13. Milica Vladova says:

    Hawaiian cuisine sounds very intriguing and super delicious! I will be making this recipe for sure!

  14. Jacqueline Debono says:

    I love pasta salad and this one sounds delicious! I didn’t even realize that pasta salad is traditional in Hawaii. I live in Italy and we tend to think pasta is only traditional here! So interesting to know!

  15. Just the name sounds so refreshing! Macaroni salad is one of my favorite side dishes, I love this version and can’t wait to try it!

  16. I’m so glad you posted this! We were just in Maui, and we had the best macaroni salad ever! I had no idea it was a Hawaiian speciality until now, and your recipe is amazing!

  17. Hawaiian macaroni salad really takes it a class up a notch! This sounds so incredible and so perfect for summer time!

  18. Delicious! Three generations of family ate this and complimented me, even a five year old!

    1. Tammy, such great news! So glad the macaroni salad was a hit!

  19. Larry Potter says:

    What makes this Hawaiian? Is it because it is made in Hawaii, as I see nothing there.

    1. Almost all of the food trucks in Hawaii serve this macaroni salad and they call it “Hawaiian Macaroni salad”.

  20. Loved it- got raves from my Sunday School class

    1. Bonnie, I am thrilled that this recipe was a hit. Thanks for stopping by to let me know! 🙂