This quick and easy Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Recipe is inspired by my favorite dish at our local Hawaiian restaurant. Traditional elbow noodles are tossed with ham, veggies, and a sweet and tangy pineapple dressing. It’s out-of-this-world delicious!
Hawaiian Style Macaroni Salad
A few years ago a Hawaiian restaurant opened up in our town, so of course we had to try it out right away! My favorite things on the menu were the Spam “sushi” and the pasta salad.
Not gonna lie…I could have eaten the entire order of Hawaiian mac salad!! It was SO good!!
This recipe is a recreation of what you’d find in a restaurant that serves Hawaiian style plate lunches. These meals usually include a protein, rice, and a generous scoop of macaroni salad. Delicious and filling!
This classic macaroni salad recipe has a creamy dressing that’s both tangy, sweet, and so addicting you’ll want to have seconds and even thirds! This pasta salad is so delicious, you’ll want to serve it at every barbecue, party, and side during the summer.
Tip: Serve this side with our Hawaiian-inspired Huli Huli BBQ Ribs!
What is Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Made of?
Traditional Hawaiian macaroni salad is very simple and consists of only a few ingredients. It starts with elbow macaroni and sliced carrots and a sweet and sour mayonnaise-based dressing.
From there, you can customize with added protein (such as cubed ham) or even extra veggies.
We did add ham to our recipe, as well as sliced pineapple and cucumbers. This makes the dish hearty and satisfying, with a burst of sweet pineapple that is brings it all together.
I won’t claim that this is a 100% authentic recipe, but it is lovingly inspired by my favorite dish at our local Hawaiian joint! It is the next best thing to the getting the real thing!
Related: Be sure to try our Hawaiian Sliders too! It’s one of the most popular recipes on the blog!
Hawaiian Pasta Salad Ingredients
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- Cooked elbow macaroni — prepared according to package directions
- Pineapple chunks — drained (you can save the juice for the dressing)
- Cubed cooked ham
- Shredded carrot
- Sliced cucumber (optional)
- Salt & pepper
For the Pineapple Dressing:
- Pineapple juice or liquid from can
- Apple cider vinegar
Handy Kitchen Tools
How to Make Hawaiian Pasta Salad
You’re going to LOVE how easy this recipe is to whip up!
Grab a large mixing bowl and add to it the macaroni, pineapple, ham, carrots, and cucumber.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the pineapple juice, mayonnaise, vinegar, and sugar. Taste and adjust as necessary to get your preferred sweetness.
Pour the dressing over the pasta, then toss until the dressing evenly coats all the macaroni.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Cook the Pasta Ahead of Time?
Instead of cooking only the pasta ahead of time, I’d recommend making the entire dish. Macaroni salad is perfect the make the day before you plan to serve it, and keep refrigerated. The flavors only get better overnight!
If you just make the pasta by itself and keep refrigerated, there is a chance that the noodles may stick together.
How Do You Cool Down Pasta for Pasta Salad?
When planning your cooking time, allow yourself 20-30 minutes to cook and cool the pasta. After that, it should only take a couple minutes to mix everything together.
TIP: Prep your veggies while the pasta cooks to save time.
While the pasta cooks, prep a large bowl of ice water. After you’ve cooked the pasta, place it in a colander to drain the hot water. Then dunk the colander of pasta in the cold water bath — just for a minute — then drain again.
This should chill the pasta so it’s ready to mix.
How Long Does Pasta Salad Last in the Fridge?
Because this recipe contains mayonnaise, you’ll want to keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to serve. When serving, you don’t want to leave it out at room temperature for more than an hour or so.
Any leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for 3-4 days. I find that it tastes even better on day two because all the flavors start to meld together!
Related: Try this Creamy Bacon and Tomato Pasta Salad too! It’s a recipe that’s been passed down for generations in my family!
Grab a free printable copy of our Hawaiian Pasta Salad recipe:
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Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Recipe
- 4 cups cooked pasta
- 1/2 cup pineapple chunks
- 1 cup cooked ham cubed
- 1 carrot shredded
- 1/2 cucumber chopped (optional)
- Salt & pepper to taste
For the Pineapple Dressing:
- 1/2 cup pineapple juice
- 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Sugar to taste
- Add macaroni, pineapple, ham, carrots, and cucumber to a large mixing bowl
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the pineapple juice, mayonnaise, vinegar, and sugar.
- Pour the dressing over the pasta and toss until evenly coated.
- Finish with salt and pepper, to taste.
Pin our Hawaiian Pasta Salad on Pinterest:
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Nina Paul says
Hi! Thanks for sharing this great salad recipe. I tried this last weekend for my guests & they loved it.
This is not Hawaiian macaroni salad, it doesn’t have sweet and sour based sauce.
Hawaiian macaroni salad only has Bestfoods mayo, salt, msg white pepper, celery, shredded carrots. Tuna and or hard boiled eggs is an option.
Sweet and sour is HAOLE STYLE
Stacey aka the Soccer Mom says
Thank you for providing more specific information for the name – when I update the post I will include. I used the general Hawaiian macaroni salad as the title because it is how I learned the recipe and how a lot of people will search for it. But I always appreciate more cultural context!