Classic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Classic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Recipe

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8


  • 454 grams (1 pound) elbow macaroni
  • 60 grams (1/2 cup) grated carrot
  • 60 grams (1/2 cup) chopped celery
  • 30 grams (1/4 cup) finely chopped onion
  • 480 grams (2 cups) mayonnaise
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) milk
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) apple cider vinegar
  • 15 grams (1 tablespoon) sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook the Macaroni:
    • Cook the elbow macaroni according to the package instructions until soft (not al dente).
    • Drain the macaroni and set aside to cool.
  2. Prepare the Vegetables:
    • In a large bowl, combine the cooled macaroni, grated carrot, chopped celery, and chopped onion.
  3. Make the Dressing:
    • In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, milk, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper to create the dressing.
  4. Combine and Mix:
    • Pour the dressing over the macaroni mixture and stir until well combined.
  5. Chill:
    • Refrigerate the salad for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld together.

Nutritional Information (approximate per serving):

  • Calories: 520
  • Total Fat: 47g
  • Saturated Fat: 7g
  • Cholesterol: 25mg
  • Sodium: 470mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 21g
  • Dietary Fiber: 2g
  • Sugars: 5g
  • Protein: 3g

Most Popular Questions and Answers Related to Classic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Q1: Can I use a different type of pasta?

  • A: Yes, while elbow macaroni is traditional, you can use other small pasta shapes like shells or rotini. Just make sure to cook them until they are soft.

Q2: How long can I store this salad in the refrigerator?

  • A: The salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Stir before serving to redistribute the dressing.

Q3: Can I add other vegetables to this salad?

  • A: Absolutely! Some popular additions include peas, bell peppers, and diced pickles. Just be sure to keep the pieces small and consistent with the other ingredients.

Q4: Is there a substitute for apple cider vinegar?

  • A: You can use white vinegar or lemon juice as a substitute for apple cider vinegar. The flavor will be slightly different but still delicious.

Q5: Can I use a different type of mayonnaise?

  • A: Yes, you can use light mayonnaise or even Greek yogurt for a healthier option. Keep in mind this may alter the flavor and texture slightly.

Q6: How do I keep the salad from getting too dry?

  • A: If the salad seems dry after chilling, you can mix in a little more mayonnaise or a splash of milk before serving.

Q7: Can I make this salad ahead of time?

  • A: Yes, this salad is perfect for making ahead. In fact, the flavors improve as it sits, so it’s recommended to make it at least an hour ahead of serving.

Q8: How can I add a bit of sweetness to the salad?

  • A: Adding a small amount of pineapple tidbits or a bit more sugar can add a touch of sweetness to the salad.

Q9: Is it necessary to grate the carrot?

  • A: Grating the carrot ensures it blends well into the salad and adds a subtle sweetness. You can finely chop it if preferred, but grating is recommended.

Q10: What can I do to reduce the calories in this salad?

  • A: Use light mayonnaise, reduce the amount of mayonnaise, or substitute part of the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt. Also, using whole wheat pasta can add fiber and reduce the calorie impact.

Q11: Can I serve this salad warm?

  • A: Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is traditionally served cold, but you can serve it at room temperature if you prefer. Just be sure to refrigerate it first to let the flavors meld.

Q12: How can I make this salad more tangy?

  • A: Increase the amount of apple cider vinegar or add a small amount of Dijon mustard to the dressing for an extra tangy kick.

Q13: Can I add protein to this salad?

  • A: Yes, adding diced ham, chicken, or even boiled eggs can make this salad more substantial and protein-rich.

Q14: How finely should the onion be chopped?

  • A: The onion should be finely chopped to ensure it distributes evenly throughout the salad and doesn’t overpower each bite.

Q15: Is whole milk necessary?

  • A: Whole milk adds richness, but you can use any type of milk you prefer, including 2%, skim, or even a non-dairy alternative.

Q16: What if my salad is too vinegary?

  • A: If your salad tastes too vinegary, balance it out with a little more sugar or mayonnaise.

Q17: Can I use pre-shredded carrots?

  • A: Yes, pre-shredded carrots can save time and work well in this salad. Just ensure they are fresh and not dried out.

Q18: Should the macaroni be completely cool before mixing?

  • A: Yes, letting the macaroni cool prevents the dressing from becoming too runny and ensures a creamy texture.

Q19: What’s the best way to chill the salad quickly?

  • A: Spread the salad out in a shallow dish and place it in the refrigerator. This increases surface area and helps it chill faster.

Q20: How can I adjust the consistency of the dressing?

  • A: If the dressing is too thick, add a bit more milk. If it’s too thin, add a bit more mayonnaise. Adjust to your preference.