Hawaiian macaroni salad is a delectable side dish that includes chilled pasta, mayonnaise, vinegar, and pineapple juice! This popular pasta salad is the perfect blend of sweet, tangy, and savory- it's sure to be a new favorite!
Creamy, crunchy, and just a little sweet – my take on Hawaiian macaroni salad is a taste of the Islands in a bite!
I love how the rich, tangy sauce coats tender noodles that contrast with the crunchy bits of carrots, celery, and onion. Also known as “mac salad,” this cool and creamy side is a staple all over the Hawaiian Islands!
Easy, chilled dishes like this local macaroni salad are exactly what I want for lunch or dinner when the weather starts to warm up. It’s so full of amazing flavor, and it’s such a simple dish to make, too!
I love to use fresh, high-quality ingredients so that this simple salad tastes like you ordered it straight from a beach-side restaurant.
This Hawaiian macaroni salad is also the perfect side for barbecues, potlucks, or picnics. It pairs perfectly with grillable main courses like my huli huli Hawaiian BBQ chicken!
Note that most recipes aren't truly "Hawaiian" and rather should be called local mac salad instead. A great mac salad on the islands would be heavy on the mayo for a super creamy dish!
❤️ Why You'll Love This Recipe!
Extra Creamy! The combination of mayo and Greek yogurt makes for an extra cool and creamy sauce!
So Unique! Adding pineapple juice to the recipe adds just a hint of tropical sweetness to this macaroni salad!
Incredibly Easy to Make! This recipe only takes 15 minutes from start to finish!
I highly recommend trying this pasta salad with the optional ingredients. They truly take this side dish to the next level!
- 8 ounces Elbow Macaroni Pasta – You’ll boil the macaroni according to the package instructions for this recipe.
- ½ cup Carrot – Shred the carrot or get pre-shredded carrots for this recipe. ½ cup of shredded carrot is equal to 1 to 2 carrots, depending on size.
- ½ cup Celery – I prefer to thinly slice the celery for this recipe, but you can also finely dice the celery ribs. This amount is about 1 to 2 ribs of celery, diced or sliced.
- ¼ cup Onion – ¼ cup of onion is ½ or ¼ of an onion, depending on how large your onion is. The onion should be minced or finely diced for the macaroni salad.
- 1 cup Mayonnaise – For the best flavor in your dressing, I recommend using Hellmann’s/Best Foods or Duke’s mayo.
- ½ cup Greek Yogurt – Blending plain Greek yogurt for the dressing makes it extra creamy and lower in fat, too!
- 6 ounces Pineapple Juice – If you can find fresh pineapple juice, I recommend using it! If you can’t find fresh, you can definitely use canned!
- 1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar – I like to balance the sweetness of the dressing with a splash of apple cider vinegar!
- ¼ teaspoon each, Salt and Pepper – You can adjust the seasoning according to your taste!
- 20 ounces Crushed Pineapple – For extra tropical goodness, add crushed pineapple or pineapple chunks. If using, I recommend reserving ¾ cup of pineapple juice from the can for the dressing.
- 1 to 2 cups Cooked Ham – Ham and pineapple are a classic combo. Use cooked, cubed ham for this recipe.
- ¼ cup Bacon – For a salty and delicious addition, add 2 to 3 strips of bacon, crisped and crumbled.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for ingredients, amounts & instructions!*
🔪 Step-By-Step Instructions
If you’re shredding the carrots for this recipe, you’ll need a large box grater to get even shreds. Otherwise, there isn’t any other special equipment needed!
- Prepare. To start, boil 8 ounces of elbow macaroni pasta according to the instructions on the package until al dente (firm to the bite). Once the pasta is cooked, drain, thoroughly using a colander. Then, stop the cooking process by rinsing under cold water until cooled.
- Make dressing. Once the pasta is cooled, combine it with all the remaining ingredients: ½ cup of shredded carrot, ½ cup of diced celery, ¼ cup of finely diced onion, 1 cup of mayonnaise, ½ cup Greek yogurt, 6 ounces of pineapple juice, 1 tablespoon each of apple cider vinegar and sugar, and ¼ teaspoon each of salt & pepper. If desired, include optional stir-ins: 20 ounces crushed pineapple, 1 to 2 cups of cooked, cubed ham, and/or ¼ cup of crisped, crumbled bacon.
- Chill and serve. Mix all the macaroni salad ingredients well until thoroughly combined. Then, cover the bowl and refrigerate the salad for at least 1 hour. When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator 10 minutes before serving.
This recipe is also the perfect dish to bring to serve at a potluck or barbecue! Enjoy!
💭 Angela's Tips & Recipe Notes
- After storing, you might need to drain the macaroni salad. The salad will likely collect liquid after sitting in your fridge, so drain it away before serving the salad again!
- Hellmann’s/Best Food is the brand of mayo typically used in Hawaii! This brand is extra flavorful and creamy, but you can also use another good-quality brand, like Duke’s.
- Don’t want the sauce to be too sweet? You can leave out the pineapple juice (though I don’t recommend it)! Try thinning the sauce with a little milk, instead.
- The optional add-ins aren’t required, but are highly recommended! I especially recommend trying the bacon or ham. The sweet and salty flavor combo is just so delicious!
- Want to make this macaroni salad vegan? Simply swap the mayo and Greek yogurt for a good quality vegan mayo, like Hellmann’s Vegan Mayo or Vegenaise!
Hawaiian macaroni salad is good in the fridge for 3 to 5 days! Make sure to refrigerate cooled leftovers immediately by transferring them to an airtight container or covering the bowl with plastic cling film.
I don’t recommend freezing the macaroni salad, as it can so easily be made fresh! When freezing, the dressing and consistency of the noodles might change in texture.
If desired, however, transfer the macaroni salad to an airtight, freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 4 months. Let thaw in your fridge overnight when you’re ready to eat it.
🍽️ More Easy Side Dishes!
- Tuna Salad with Pasta
- Instant Pot Buttered Cabbage
- Microwave Baked Potato
- Loaded Baked Potato Salad
- Rotisserie Chicken Salad
Traditional Hawaiian macaroni salad is usually just macaroni, mayo, shredded carrot, and salt & pepper. You can certainly make it this way! However, I love the added flavor and texture of the pineapple juice, celery, onion, and optional add-ins give the macaroni salad. It’s a delicious take on the classic that you should try!
Yes! You can make this deliciously creamy macaroni salad 1 to 2 days ahead of time. I like to keep the dressing/veggies and cooked macaroni separate until an hour or two before you’re ready to serve. This way, you’ll never have to worry about soggy noodles!
This salad is relatively healthy! I cut the mayo with plain Greek yogurt so that the dressing is a bit lower in fat and higher in protein without sacrificing creaminess! It’s also full of crunchy veggies that add fiber, vitamins, and minerals. As well, the nutrition information includes the optional add-ins, so you can leave them out if you want a healthier macaroni salad!
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Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- 8 oz elbow macaroni pasta (uncooked noodles)
- ½ cup carrot (shredded)
- ½ cup celery (sliced or diced)
- ¼ cup onion (minced or finely diced)
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup Greek yogurt (plain)
- 6 oz pineapple juice
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar (or light brown sugar)
- ¼ teaspoon each, salt & pepper
- 20 oz crushed pineapple (or pineapple chunks- 1 20 oz can drained, then reserve ¾ cup pineapple juice)
- 1-2 cups cooked ham (cubed)
- ¼ cup bacon (2-3 strips crisped and crumbled)
- To begin, cook pasta according to the instructions on the package until al dente (firm to the bite). Once cooked, drain the pasta and stop it from cooking further by rinsing it with cold water until cool to the touch.8 oz elbow macaroni pasta
- Once the pasta is cooled, combine it with all remaining ingredients (carrot, celery, onion, mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, pineapple juice, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper - including optional stir-ins if desired) in a large mixing bowl. Mix well, and cover with plastic wrap.½ cup carrot, ½ cup celery, ¼ cup onion, 1 cup mayonnaise, ½ cup Greek yogurt, 6 oz pineapple juice, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, ¼ teaspoon each, salt & pepper, 20 oz crushed pineapple, 1-2 cups cooked ham, ¼ cup bacon, 1 tablespoon sugar
- Refrigerate the Hawaiian macaroni salad for at least 1 hour. Remove from the refrigerator 10 minutes before serving.
- The nutrition information includes the optional add-ins.
- When stored, you may need to drain off excess liquid before serving.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!