Hawaiian macaroni salad isn’t your ordinary macaroni salad recipe! Supremely creamy, a little bit sweet, with just the right amount of crunch, this is the kind of dish made for backyard get-togethers.
I share quite a few healthy pasta salad recipes here on Simply Quinoa, from creamy hummus pasta salad to vegan Caesar pasta salad. This Hawaiian macaroni salad is a little more indulgent than those other options, but it is so worth it.
Because Hawaiian macaroni salad? It just hits different. If you’ve never had it before, you’ve got to give it a try—I promise it will be the talk of your next barbecue.
Why Does Hawaiian Mac Salad Taste Different?
If you have had Hawaiian macaroni salad, then you know it’s a bit unique compared to the classic version. It’s super creamy, but balanced with the crunch of celery and onions. This is a dish that’s all about the texture.
Many recipes call for only a single ingredient in the dressing—mayonnaise—but other authentic recipes do add in vinegar for some tanginess. I also include honey for a touch of sweetness and mustard to add depth.
Why You’ll Love This Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Recipe
Here’s why Hawaiian mac salad is so wildly popular:
- Creamy. You know how sometimes macaroni salad sucks up all the dressing and ends up oddly dry? Not the case here! Hawaiian macaroni salad is super creamy and made with a generous amount of dressing.
- Sweet and savory. The perfect balance between sweet and savory flavors makes this Hawaiian mac salad impossible to resist.
- Simple ingredients. You don’t need much to make this recipe, just a few pantry staples and everyday veggies.
- Easy to make. This is a pretty straightforward recipe—simply add the ingredients to a mixing bowl and give it a stir!
What You’ll Need
Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this creamy Hawaiian-style pasta salad. Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the page to see the exact amounts for each ingredient.
- Macaroni pasta – Feel free to use your favorite gluten-free pasta to make this recipe gluten-free.
- Sea salt
- Mayonnaise – You can make a vegan Hawaiian macaroni salad by using vegan mayo.
- Dijon mustard
- Apple cider vinegar
- Carrot – Buy the carrot pre-shredded and save yourself some prep time.
- Celery – This adds a nice crunchy texture to the salad. If you want some crunch without the flavor of celery, you can swap in water chestnuts.
- Red onion – Another crunchy element, and the onion also adds some pungent flavor.
- Fresh parsley – Parsley is not traditional, but I like the herbaceous flavor it adds to the table.
What’s the Best Mayo for Hawaiian Macaroni Salad?
The go-to mayo for Hawaiian mac salad is Hellman’s or Best Foods (it’s the same mayo, but it has different names in different parts of the country). That said, because mayo is the star of the show here, buy the brand you like best.
How To Make Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
This Hawaiian macaroni salad takes just minutes to make. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Cook the pasta. Boil the pasta in salted water following the directions on the package. Drain and place in a large bowl.
- Dress the pasta. Stir in the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, honey, and sea salt, evenly coating the macaroni.
- Add the veggies. Fold in the carrot, celery, onion, and chopped fresh parsley until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Chill. Let the pasta salad cool to room temperature, then cover and chill for one hour.
Tips for Success
These hints and tips will help you make perfect Hawaiian macaroni salad.
- Don’t undercook the noodles. Usually, you want to cook pasta al dente for pasta salads. That’s not the case with Hawaiian macaroni salad. In fact, some recipes have you over-cook the pasta. While you can try that if you like, at the very least, I’d cook the pasta for the full time listed on the package.
- Chill the salad. This is a must! Allowing your macaroni salad to chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour gives all of the flavors time to marry and create a super flavorful side dish.
- Make it your own. If you’re not concerned about authenticity, there’s a lot of room to customize this Hawaiian mac salad. Add chopped hardboiled eggs, green onions, or anything else that strikes your fancy.
Traditionally, mac salad is served as part of a Hawaiian plate lunch, which also includes two scoops of white rice, greens, and a protein. You can recreate that at home with a protein like Korean tofu or air fryer popcorn chicken and 5-Ingredient garlic butter quinoa in place or rice.
How to Store Leftovers
Leftover macaroni salad will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Give it a good stir before serving!
Can Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Be Frozen?
No, salads with mayo in them do not freeze well. The mayo will separate and create an unappetizing texture when frozen and thawed. For best results, make this Hawaiian macaroni salad the same day you’re going to serve it, or eat it within a few days.
More Salad Recipes
Hawaiian Mac Salad
- 1 pound macaroni pasta feel free to use gluten-free pasta
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 ½ cups mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 large carrot shredded
- 3 ribs celery finely sliced
- ½ medium red onion chopped
- 1 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- Cook the pasta. Bring a large pot water to a boil and add the sea salt. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 8-10 minutes (or as directed on the pasta packaging). Drain the pasta and transfer it to a large bowl.
- Dress the pasta. Add the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, honey, and sea salt to the bowl. Mix with a rubber spatula until the pasta is evenly coated in the dressing.
- Add the veggies. Add the carrot, celery, onion, and chopped fresh parsley to the bowl and mix to incorporate into the dressed pasta.
- Chill. Allow the pasta salad to cool to room temperature before covering it and placing in the refrigerator for 1 hour.