Creamy Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Recipe

Authentic Hawaiian macaroni salad is a delicious and creamy pasta salad with crunchy red and green peppers, red onion, and grated carrot wrapped up in a tangy apple cider vinegar mayonnaise. Grated hard-boiled egg adds an extra layer of richness for a side dish that makes the perfect side dish for any meal!

serving dish filled with homemade Hawaiian macaroni salad

Hawaiian macaroni salad is a beloved dish in Hawaii. It is more than just a side dish; it’s a part of the local culture. It often appears in plate lunches, which are classic to Hawaiian cuisine.

Macaroni salad is a beloved part of a Hawaiian Lunch Plate, often paired with kalua pork or lomi-lomi salmon. It’s more than just a side dish—it’s a staple in Hawaiian restaurants, and people love it!

This delightful dish combines tender macaroni noodles with mayo, carrots, onions, and a hint of vinegar for a tangy flavor.

It’s a crowd-pleaser that transports you straight to the islands with each bite.

The origins of Hawaiian macaroni salad trace back to the late 1800s. During this period, plantation workers needed affordable meal options that were filling. A plate lunch usually included two scoops of white rice, a scoop of mac salad, some greens, and a protein.

Fun Fact: Key influences on Hawaiian macaroni salad come from various cultures, including Portuguese, Filipino, and Japanese cuisines.

How does traditional Hawaiian macaroni salad differ from traditional macaroni salad?

An authentic Hawaiian mac salad differs from traditional pasta salad because it uses overcooked elbow macaroni. Also, no self-respecting Hawaiian would make mac salad with any brand of mayo other than Hellmann’s or Best Foods mayonnaise.

Ingredients Needed

Hawaiian macaroni salad has a few simple ingredients that give it its unique, delicious taste. Each component plays an important role in the overall flavor and texture of the dish.

  • Dry elbow macaroni noodles – cooked
  • Tuna – drained
  • Red onion – diced
  • Green pepper – diced
  • Red pepper – diced
  • Hardboiled eggs – peeled and finely chopped
  • Mayonnaise
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper – to taste

NOTE: For more recipe details, please refer to the handy printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.

Hawaiian macaroni salad ingredients laid out on a counter

How To Make Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

With these instructions, your dish will be ready in under 30 minutes!

Step 1 – Cook The Noodles

Cook the macaroni noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside to cool.

I recommend cooking it for an extra 1-2 minutes past al dente to ensure it’s very soft, which helps the macaroni better absorb the dressing.

Step 2 – Add The Veggies

In a large mixing bowl, toss together the cooked hot pasta noodles, tuna, diced red onion, and diced peppers.

adding tuna and diced veggies to cooked pasta

Step 3 – Add Hard-Boiled Eggs

I recommended either very finely dicing or grating the hard-boiled eggs using a small grater before adding them to the mixture.

This will ensure that the eggs are evenly distributed throughout the salad and provide a smoother consistency.

adding grated hard-boiled egg to pasta salad

Step 4 – Mix In The Dressing

Combine the mayonnaise and apple cider vinegar. Gently fold it into the pasta salad and mix until everything is well combined.

adding mayonnaise mixture to pasta salad

Step 5 – Refrigerate

Cover the salad and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld together.

Pro Tip: This Hawaiian pasta salad tastes even better the next day, so don’t be afraid to make it ahead of time!

Serve chilled and enjoy your Hawaiian macaroni salad!

serving dish with Hawaiian macaroni salad and serving utensils on the side

Hawaiian Style Macaroni Salad Expert Tips

  • Cook noodles a little longer – I often cook the pasta slightly longer than the package instructions suggest to give this pasta the authentic texture of Hawaiian macaroni salad.
  • Drain and cool – It’s best to drain and let it cool down a bit before mixing with other ingredients.
  • Give the pasta a rinse with cold water – This helps stop the cooking process and prevents the noodles from sticking together so they mix well with the creamy dressing.
  • Storage – Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Keep your Hawaiian macaroni salad chilled until serving.
  • Make it ahead of time – this means less stress on the day of your event, and the flavors get a chance to meld together.
Hawaiian macaroni salad in a dish with a wooden serving spoon

Serving And Pairing Ideas

This dish is the perfect recipe to pair with SO many other dishes! If you’re planning a luau or just craving a taste of the Hawaiian islands by making a Hawaiian plate lunch, you’ll find that this classic Hawaiian macaroni salad recipe pairs perfectly with: 


Tropical Fruits

  • Pineapple Slices – Juicy and sweet, adding a refreshing contrast.
  • Mango Salsa – A blend of mango, red onion, cilantro, and lime.
  • Papaya Salad – Lightly dressed with lime juice and chili flakes.

Other Side Dishes

  • Lomi Lomi Salmon – A refreshing salmon salad with tomatoes and onions.
  • Sweet Potato – Roasted or mashed, adding a sweet touch.
  • Coconut Rice – Creamy and fragrant, perfect for soaking up extra dressing.


Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Variations To Try

When making Hawaiian macaroni salad, there are several ways to tweak this simple recipe to better suit your tastes or dietary needs. Here are some creative options for dressing, add-ins, and healthier substitution ideas for this great side dish.

Alternative Dressings

  • Sweet – Mixing a tablespoon or two of brown sugar into the dressing makes it a tad sweet.
  • Creamy – For extra creaminess, consider using avocado or a combination of sour cream and mayonnaise.

Add-in Ideas

  • Pineapple – Adds a sweet, juicy element.
  • Ham – Provides a bit of protein and can make the salad more filling.
  • Peas – Frozen peas can add a pop of color and a slight sweetness.
  • Imitation Crab – Swap out the tuna for this protein for a different flavor.
  • Potato – Boiled and diced potatoes can make the salad a bit heartier.
  • Sweet onion – swap out the red onion for the subtle flavors of a yellow onion or sweet onion
  • Celery – If you love crunch, add some diced celery.
  • Green onion – Adds a great mild flavor.

Health-Conscious Options For Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

  • Whole Grain Pasta – Use whole grain or gluten-free pasta for added fiber and nutrients.
  • Low-fat Dressings – Substitute regular mayonnaise with low-fat versions or use Greek yogurt.
  • Vegetables – Increase the amount of veggies like shredded carrots, diced celery, or peas to boost nutritional content.
Bite of Hawaiian macaroni salad on a wooden spoon

More Amazing Recipes To Try!

Pin For Later!

image of serving dish with Hawaiian macaroni salad and text overlay
Vibrant Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad in a white oval dish, featuring macaroni, red and green bell peppers, red onions, and a creamy dressing. A wooden spoon rests in the dish. The background includes pink and white hues and a couple of forks.

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Hawaiian macaroni salad is a delicious and refreshing dish that combines the creamy texture of macaroni with the crunchiness of red and green peppers, red onion, and grated carrot. The tangy apple cider vinegar adds a nice kick to the overall flavor, while the grated boiled egg adds an extra layer of richness. 


  • 1 lb macaroni noodles
  • 1 can tuna, drained
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3 hardboiled eggs, chopped
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced


  1. Cook the noodles about 1-2 minutes longer than normal. Drain and rinse under cool water.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, toss together the cooked macaroni noodles, tuna, diced red onion, diced red and green pepper.
  3. Grate the hard-boiled eggs and add them to the salad.
  4. Combine the mayonnaise and apple cider vinegar. Gently fold it into the pasta salad.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to let the flavors marry.

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