Classic and simple, Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is the crown jewel of the plate lunch in the Hawaiian Islands. Super simple to make with tender elbow macaroni, mayonnaise, milk, apple cider vinegar, carrots and little else….this is a summertime staple side dish you must make.

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad in a blue and white bowl with a wooden spoon.

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

If you can’t get to Hawaii anytime soon, bring the taste of the big island home with this easy Mac Salad for a homestyle Hawaiian side dish you’ll love. It’s one of my favorite macaroni salad recipes because it’s simple, super flavorful and a surefire crowd pleaser.

And it couldn’t be simpler to make.

How To Make Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

This easy Hawaiian Macaroni Salad recipe is simple to make in just a matter of minutes with just a few simple ingredients. Regular elbow macaroni is used in the traditional Mac salad and so I stuck with it here. 

Also, use a good mayonnaise here or Japanese Mayonnaise works well, too, because it’s savory flavor enhances the salad dramatically. I used it for this Kani Salad the other week and have been putting it in everything ever since.

  1. Boil the macaroni to just under al dente. Don’t overcook it because you want the flavors to be absorbed by the pasta.
  2. Drain the macaroni and drizzle with the apple cider vinegar.
  3. Season the macaroni with garlic powder and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Whisk together the milk, brown sugar and mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Pour the dressing over the noodles and toss to combine.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients and toss with the macaroni to combine.
  7. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour or overnight.

Contrary to what a lot of people think, this Hawaiian Macaroni Salad does not contain pineapple.

If you want to add some more crunch to the recipe, you can fold in some chopped celery but I don’t include it here because I like it just the way it is.

Overhead shot of macaroni salad in a blue bowl with a wooden spoon.

Serving Suggestions

It’s a great addition to your usual summer BBQ or a casual poolside luau. You can serve it alongside this zingy Huli Huli Chicken or a BBQ pulled pork sandwich.

We also love it alongside this amazingly easy Loco Moco!!!

What is Hawaiian Mac Salad?

Unlike a classic macaronis salad which has a ton of ingredients for texture and flavor, Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is made simply with just a few ingredients. It’s commonly served on a Hawaiian Plate lunch, which is a big, budget friendly meal served like a Bento Box. 

First served in the 1800’s to feed feed immigrant workers in sugar cane and pineapple plantations, they usually consist of a meat like Katsu, Kalua Pork or Teriyaki Salmon. It’s accompanied by scoops of sticky rice and Mac Salad to round out the meal.

Close up of macaroni salad in a blue and white bowl.

More Easy Summer Side Dish Recipes


Overhead shot of macaroni salad in a blue bowl with a wooden spoon.

Get the Recipe: Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Easy and quick, Hawaiian Macaroni Salad recipe is made with tender noodles, milk, mayonnaise, onion, green onion, carrots and apple cider vinegar for a zingy, creamy perfect mac salad.
5 from 1 vote


  • 1 lb elbow pasta
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup grated onion
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper


  • 1 mixing bowl
  • 1 stockpot


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta to just al dente, approximately 7-8 minutes.
  • Drain the pasta and transfer to a bowl. Pour the apple cider vinegar and garlic powder over the pasta. Toss to coat. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together the mayonnaise, milk and sugar.
  • Stir the grated onion into the pasta. Pour the dressing over the pasta and fold to combine.
  • Add the grated carrot and green onions to the pasta. Toss to coat.
  • Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.


You can make Hawaiian Macaroni Salad up to 36 hours in advance. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Calories: 410kcal, Carbohydrates: 31g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 29g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 17mg, Sodium: 248mg, Potassium: 136mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 952IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 26mg, Iron: 1mg