Hawaiian macaroni salad
Side Dishes

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Let me stop you right now if you’re looking for something with pineapple and ham in it. If that’s what you’re looking for – this ain’t that.

We routinely eat at a place called “L & L barbecue” with some of our friends who are from Hawaii. That’s when I first tried this addicting, flavor carnival for your mouth.

There are things you eat and feel fine with going to a restaurant for, and then there are those things that you simply have to have at your immediate access for an “anytime I need this”, emergency. They come up. 

This is emergency-worthy.

I HAD to learn how to make it myself.

I make it for every Luau we go to and always get the question from everyone, “if this is Hawaiian, where’s the pineapple and ham?” And every time I hear that, I clench something. If you make this for a crowd – you’ll understand.

No self-respecting Hawaiian would consider putting a piece of pineapple in their macaroni salad, unless they were entertaining a bunch of their mainland friends and wanted to try and be accommodating to their expectations (i.e., fool them). 

In finding this recipe, I probably searched through dozens of sad excuses for “authentic” Hawaiian macaroni salad and read at least hundreds of posts from true Hawaiians who set the record straight. It is a source of contention, and I understand why.

Authentic plate lunch Hawaiian Macaroni salad has no pineapple in it. It has no ham. It has no spam or any other meat. What it has in spades is, wait for it: Mayonnaise. That’s what makes it so delicious. Unhealthy, but delicious.

It has a tang to it from the Apple Cider Vinegar. It’s tangy, creamy, pasta goodness. 

Now, with all that being said – I am sure I am committing some cardinal sin by altering this recipe to be a little, tad, wee, bit healthier (this is the point in the Kung-Fu movie when all the people turn to look at the camera with a horrified look).

I know, I know, I am so very sorry. But it had to be done. And really, it still doesn’t mean “healthy” by any stretch of the imagination.

This is a brilliant recipe as-is, and the name of the source is probably the best domain name on the internet: I believe I Can Fry = sheer genius.

In my altered version, I cut the milk and mayo down by half. I also thought it was a little too apple cider vinegary as written. 

Of course, feel free to adjust it to your taste.

But please, no pineapple or ham. If you do it, just don’t tell me. 


Hawaiian macaroni salad

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Adapted From: I Believe I Can Fry


  • 1 lb macaroni pasta of choice
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup whole milk, divided
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 celery stalk, minced
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper


  1. Boil water and add pasta. Cook until very soft, following instructions on the package for times.
  2. Drain pasta and return to pot. Pour the cider vinegar over the macaroni and combine. Let cool for 10 minutes.
  3. While the pasta cools, whisk together 1/2 cup of the milk, 1/2 cup of the mayonnaise, the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper.
  4. Once cooled, add the dressing to the cooked pasta and stir to combine. Cool completely to room temperature.
  5. Add remaining milk and mayonnaise, carrot, celery, and green onions.
  6. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Refrigerate overnight.


  • Changes: Reduced original Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) measurements. Reduced milk and mayonnaise amounts by half.
  • Alter as needed: The last time I made this I ended up adding more ACV, Mayo and Milk as well as Salt and Pepper - the macaroni I used just seemed to suck everything up more. So, make sure you alter this to your taste.

Nutrition Information
Yield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 205Total Fat 15gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 12gCholesterol 10mgSodium 220mgCarbohydrates 15gFiber 1gSugar 3gProtein 3g

This nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although alteredrecipe.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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