The recipe prices will vary based on fluctuating grocery costs. Please use what is posted as a guide.
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.
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!
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:
- Grilled Hawaiian Chicken with Pineapple Barbecue Sauce
- Pulled Pork Sandwiches
- Smoked Ribs
- Chicken Teriyaki
- Garlic Shrimp
- Virgin Pina Colada Recipe
Why is macaroni salad popular in Hawaii?
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
- 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.
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
How to make classic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad:
Classic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
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
- 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 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.
- 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.
More Delicious Pasta Salad Recipes:
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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Renee Goerger says
I’m a huge lover of macaroni salad. This sweet one has me excited! Thanks for the recipe.
Tina Pastorius says
This is the only macaroni salad I love. Excellent side dish for fish or add chicken breast, chopped for a meal. Haven’t made it on a couple months, may need to have a mahi mahi night very soon. Of Hawaiian rolls are perfect for this dish.
Sounds like a delicious dinner! So glad you like this recipe! 🙂
Beth Hern says
Yum, This looks so light and refreshing. Will definitely be making this soon.
I love the twist on this classic dish! So tasty!
Lori Padgett says
Wow, this looks good! I love pasta salads. Will be trying this one. 🙂
Hands down BEST Mac salad I’ve ever made! I freaked out after realizing I didn’t have any onions left (which never happens), so I used dried, minced onion instead!
Heidi, So glad using dried onions work well. Thanks for letting me know!
Hands down THE BEST macaroni salad ever. It tastes JUST LIKE the plate lunch we had in Hana! It’s like a little Hawaiian break from all of this Covid nonsense
I am thrilled that you loved the pasta salad and it was a nice escape for you. 🙂
Funny, I was out of green onion so I just diced up the rest of the onion I grated for the dressing.
We discovered a macaroni salad we loved at a local Hawaiian restaurant, but till now hadn’t been able to duplicate it to our satisfaction. Now we love making our own with your recipe! It’s perfect! Since we are empty nesters, I half the recipe, and it works wonderfully. Thanks for sharing!
SO glad you liked the recipe! 🙂
Great for any patio get together, awesome picnic food too. I think it’d be popular at a bbq. Nice one.
Is the dressing supposed to be watery ???
Yes, the warm pasta will absorb it.
I looked at a lot of recipes for Hawaiian macaroni salad for an impromptu luau, and I found this one. Along with your coconut rice and teriyaki chicken I got raves reviews from my friends, who went back for seconds. Thank you for making my small party a huge success!
Therese, I am so glad all the recipes were a huge hit! Thanks for stopping by to let me know! 🙂
Making this to take to a Labor Day party on Monday. I’m going to take a copy of the recipe, as everyone always loves it and asks for it!
Thanks so much for sharing!
Susan Zaffuto says
My favorite macaroni salad recipe.
I love Hawaiian macaroni salad and can’t wait to try this one. Quick question can I substitute lactaid free milk for the half and half? I am planning to bring this to a July 4th get together and some of my friends are lactose intolerant.
It should be ok, but it won’t be as creamy.
You have truly brought Hawaii to Virginia with this salad. Thank you for sharing. It is exactly what we had in Hawaii. By chance we also had cut up steak from Times. I am looking for that recipe.
Hi Jovana, I am thrilled that you enjoyed this macaroni salad recipe! Unfortunately, I do not have a recipe for the cut-up steak.
This was THE BEST Mac salad I’ve ever made, THANK YOU! Exactly like the Hawaiian plate lunch. I made it tonight along with smoked baby back ribs. Absolutely DELISH! Couldn’t have had a more perfect side.
Ginger, you are so welcome! Sounds like you had an amazing dinner. Next time invite me! 😉
I’ve not tried it yet but I thought there would be pineapple in it
No, no pineapple in the macaroni salad.
Sarah E Lochmiller says
For Ages I have searched for a recipe perfect for a Hawaiian plate lunch I’d find at the restaurants. This recipe is that shining beacon standing out amongst the crowd of imitators. The half and half makes for a die-hard creamy dressing that *stays* rich and creamy for a good while and the usage of the cider vinegar in the hot pasta is inspired for a deeper level of flavor. Simple, homey, but a delicious recipe I plan on making way too often for my waistline. The only real difference I did was replace the celery with raw sweet corn which gave it a lovely pop and sweetness! Highly recommended!!
Sarah, I am thrilled that you enjoyed this recipe! I just got back from a trip to Hawaii, and I think this recipe still holds up to the macaroni salads I had on all of the yummy plate lunches. 🙂
Elizabeth Stewart says
Always a hit when I make it!
I was wondering if I could substitute for half and half with yogurt instead? I usually have yogurt in the house but I never have half and half.
I bet you could. I have never tried it with yogurt though.
Could you please link the half and half? I’m in Australia and we don’t have it here but if you link it I will be able to order it in. Thank you. Because I need to make this delicious recipe!
Also if there a reason Duke’s Mayo is recommended?
Hi Sophie, you can make your own half and half by using half cream and half milk.
Also, any mayo will work. I hope this helps! 🙂
I would love to make this for my daughters grad party but wondering how it will be if made one day before?
It will be perfect, go ahead and make it the day before.