This Hawaiian Macaroni Salad tastes as if it came from the islands with its creamy, tangy, and savory flavors! This easy macaroni salad is ideal for barbecues, picnics, or luaus.
Hawaiian culture is known for its vibrant colors and flavors, so Hawaiian Macaroni Salad captures the essence of Hawaiian culture with a delicious fusion of sweet, tangy, and creamy tastes. With just a few simple ingredients, you can create an island-inspired dish that will end up being the only pasta salad recipe you'll ever need.
The difference between a traditional macaroni salad and a Hawaiian macaroni salad is the combination of flavors and textures. It uses mayonnaise, sour cream, and milk to create a creamy base, while apple cider vinegar brings a tangy sweetness. To top it off, crunchy celery and onion give it a great texture that will have everyone coming back for more!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Change up the way you make pasta salad with Hawaiian flavors and textures that will make your taste buds take a mini-vacation!
- The ingredients are simple and easy to find.
- You can adjust the level of creaminess and crunch by adding more or less of what you love.
- This Hawaiian macaroni salad is the perfect side to serve alongside any Hawaiian dish or to take along on your next picnic or BBQ.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Elbow Macaroni - This macaroni is classic for pasta salad because it's small and can hold onto the creamy sauce.
- Mayonnaise - This creamy condiment adds a rich flavor to Hawaiian macaroni salad.
- Sour Cream - Sour cream is used in combination with mayonnaise for additional creaminess. Milk - Milk creates an even more creamy texture and helps thin out the sauce.
- Apple Cider Vinegar - Adds a tangy sweetness to the Hawaiian macaroni salad that balances the flavors.
- Carrots and Onion - You'll need shredded carrots and onions to add flavor and crunch to the salad.
- Sugar - Helps tame the tanginess of the apple cider vinegar and adds a sweet flavor.
- Salt & Pepper - Balances and enhances the natural flavors of all the ingredients.
- Green Onions - Adds a pop of fresh color and a mild onion taste to the pasta salad.
How To Make Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
Prepare the pasta: Cook the elbow pasta according to the directions on the package. Make sure you strain out the water fully. Add the cooked pasta to a large bowl while it's still warm.
Season the pasta: To the bowl with the pasta, add the apple cider vinegar, carrots, and onions, and stir until well coated. Set aside and allow the pasta to cool for 15 minutes.
Assemble the pasta sauce: In a medium-sized bowl, add the mayonnaise, sour cream, milk, sugar, pepper, and salt and mix until well combined. Pour over macaroni and gently fold until noodles are coated.
Chill and store: Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours. Stir before serving and garnish with green onions. Enjoy!
- Each pasta will have different cooking instructions, so be sure to use the directions on the back of the package.
- If you like a pasta salad that is a bit more firm, cook the pasta al dente, so it holds up better in the salad.
- Ensure that the pasta is cooled before adding the creamy sauce, as this will help the sauce stick better to the noodles.
- Let the pasta salad chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours for the best flavor to allow the flavors to come together.
- You can use vegan mayo, sour cream, and milk instead of regular dairy products for a vegan version.
- To make Hawaiian macaroni salad even healthier, substitute whole wheat pasta for elbow macaroni.
- Give it some spice and diced jalapenos or cayenne pepper to the Hawaiian macaroni salad.\
- For gluten-free Hawaiian macaroni salad, use gluten-free pasta.
Customize your macaroni salad by adding in other ingredients, including:
- Shredded cheese
- Bacon bits
- Bell peppers
- Diced hard-boiled eggs
- Diced ham
- Diced celery
- Chopped bacon
- Pineapple chunks
Storing & Freezing
Storing: Any leftover macaroni salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will last up to 4 days. The pasta will soak up the sauce the longer it sits in the fridge, so you may need to add more mayo or our sour cream to rehydrate.
Freezing: Hawaiian macaroni salad does not freeze well, as the mayo and sour cream will not stay emulsified. The pasta will also not remain as firm once thawed. Therefore, freezing is not recommended.
Elbow macaroni is the best type of pasta for Hawaiian macaroni salad because it's small and can hold onto the creamy sauce. You can also use shells, rotini, or any other small pasta.
Yes! Hawaiian macaroni salad is the perfect make-ahead dish because it will last 4-5 days in the refrigerator. Be sure to store it in an airtight container and add mayo or sour cream if needed.
Overall, the addition of apple cider vinegar is the difference between a regular pasta salad and the Hawaiian version. This adds a tangy flavor along with the sweetness of the other ingredients.
More Side Dish Recipes
- Bacon Wrapped Smokies with Brown Sugar
- Best Ever Twice Baked Potatoes
- Strawberry Pretzel Salad
- Sheet Pan Breadsticks
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Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- Cook macaroni according to the directions on the package. Drain and add to a large bowl. Add apple cider vinegar, carrots, and onions, stir until well coated. Set aside and allow the pasta to cool for 15 minutes.
- Add mayonnaise, sour cream, milk, sugar, pepper, and salt to a medium bowl. Mix until well combined. Pour over macaroni and gently fold until noodles are coated.
- Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours. Stir before serving and garnish with green onions.
- Diced hard boiled eggs
- Diced ham
- Diced celery
- Chopped bacon
- Pineapple chunks
- Hawaiian macaroni salad can be enhanced by using elbow macaroni due to its small size and ability to retain the creamy dressing. However, other types of small pasta such as shells or rotini can also be utilized in the dish.
- To achieve the best flavor, it is recommended to refrigerate macaroni salad for 2-3 hours to allow it to chill completely. This will help the flavors to infuse together and the ingredients to absorb the dressing, resulting in a more cohesive and delicious salad.
- Leftover macaroni salad can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days. However, as the salad sits, the pasta may absorb the dressing, resulting in a drier texture. To rehydrate the salad, you may need to add more mayo or sour cream and give it a good stir before serving.
*All nutrition information provided is automatically calculated and is an estimate and will vary based on ingredients, brands, and changes in cooking methods listed in the recipe. If you need exact numbers on your ingredients, I would recommend calculating them with your prefered nutrition calculator.