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Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

July 26, 2019

By Kath Dedon


Last week we had a family dinner to celebrate Bob’s birthday. I planned on Kalua Pork with Cabbage. And then I got the bright idea to go in the direction of a Hawaiian plate lunch. So I added steamed rice and this Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad.

My salad is adapted from Erica’s recipe on Favorite Family Recipes, the blog she writes with her sisters, Emily and Echo. Erica writes that she used to live in Hawaii; her goal was to replicate the macaroni salad that she had so often enjoyed at L&L Hawaiian BBQ.

Erica proclaims that this Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is the “real deal”, and there are many comments on her blog post by people who agree with her. This was the recipe to try!

I followed Erica’s advice to use Best Foods (or Hellman’s) mayonnaise. She said there are NO substitutes! I was a bit horrified to see how much mayonnaise is used, but I trusted the recipe. Tasting the finished salad, I had to admit that it was the perfect amount of mayonnaise.

If you want to make it gluten free, I recommend Barilla Gluten Free Elbows. I followed the package directions, cooking the macaroni for 8 minutes. The Barilla elbows worked so well! They were the perfect texture and if you don’t tell anyone, no one will know that they’re eating gluten free pasta. I have tried many brands of gluten-free pasta and I know many of them would not work as well. (Note that boxes of Barilla Gluten Free Elbows are only 12 ounces, so you’ll need 2 boxes to have a pound.)

I subbed ¼ cup of water for the ¼ cup of milk to keep it dairy free and it worked fine. And I used 2 teaspoons of maple sugar instead of regular sugar.

With my changes, maybe my Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is not quite “authentic”, but it was probably the best macaroni salad I have ever had. Sometimes you just have to splurge a bit, and this Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad would be welcome at any barbecue or potluck party.


Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad


Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

(Adapted from Erica’s recipe on the Favorite Family Recipes blog)


(print the recipe)


Serves 10 – 12


1 pound macaroni (use Barilla Gluten Free elbows for gluten or wheat free)

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 carrots, shredded (about 1 cup shredded)

2½ cups Best Foods or Hellman’s mayonnaise

¼ cup milk (or water for dairy free)

2 teaspoons sugar (I used maple sugar)

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. When it’s boiling, add the tablespoon of kosher salt and the macaroni to the pot. Stir and cook according to the package directions. The pasta should be well-cooked, not al dente. (I cooked the Barilla Gluten Free Elbows for 8 minutes.)
  2. Drain the macaroni and put it in a large bowl. Stir in the vinegar and the shredded carrots. Stir gently until the carrots are evenly distributed. Allow it to cool slightly while you prepare the dressing.
  3. Stir the mayonnaise, milk (or water), and sugar together in a smaller bowl or a 1 quart Pyrex pitcher.
  4. When the macaroni has cooled a bit (15 minutes or so), stir the dressing in. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (I added a bit of salt, but no pepper.)
  5. Cover the salad and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.


Gluten-free Hawaiian Macaroni Salad


2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 27, 2019 1:35 am

    I quite like this creamy salad and look forward to trying it. I have neve added mayonnaise to pasta, and am sure it would be great.

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