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spoonful of macaroni salad
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5 from 7 votes

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Sweet, tangy, and creamy... with just the right amount of crunch, this Hawaiian Macaroni Salad will become your GO TO macaroni salad recipe for every potluck and summer bbq!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Chilling Time2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time2 hrs 55 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Hawaiian
Keyword: easy side dish recipe, macaroni salad recipe, pasta salad
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 510kcal



  • 2 1/3 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/2 - 1 cup whole milk depending on how thick you want your dressing
  • 2 Tbsp light brown sugar (optional - granulated sugar can be used)
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp black pepper


  • 1 lb. dried elbow pasta
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 5 green onions sliced
  • 2 stalks celery finely minced
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1/4 cup grated yellow onion



  • Add all dressing ingredients to mixing bowl and whisk to combine fully. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add dried pasta. Boil pasta 2 - 5 minutes longer than the package lists for al dente.  Drain.
  • Immediately add pasta to a large mixing bowl, add vinegar and stir until pasta absorbs the vinegar. Let sit 10-15 minutes.
  • Add half of the dressing to the pasta, stir well.  Let sit another 10-20 minutes.
  • Add the green onions, celery, carrots and onion.  Stir, then add remaining dressing and stir again.
  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours, but longer is better.


  1. Overcooking the pasta may seem, and feel, wrong... but it's a classic distinction in Hawaiian-style macaroni salad.  Plus the overcooked pasta will absorb the flavors of the vinegar and dressing much better.
  2. Adding the dressing in 2 parts may seem like an unnecessary step, but it allows for the pasta to soak up plenty of the dressing, while still being creamy.
  3. Macaroni salad is served cold, so make sure it's fully chilled before serving.  At least 2-3 hours, but if you can make this the day before serving, it's even better!
  4. From what I can tell, classic Hawaiian macaroni salad is just dressing, pasta, onion and carrot.  If you'd like to omit the celery and green onions, you absolutely can.


Calories: 510kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 548mg | Potassium: 238mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 2303IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 57mg | Iron: 1mg