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Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

 This quick-and-easy Hawaiian macaroni salad is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser!


macaroni salad

The sun is shining. The birds are chirping. The grill is smoking. The kids are laughing. You’ve got a beer in one hand and a cornhole bag in the other. Your brother-in-law is animatedly telling you for the 85th time about the day he saw Vin Diesel at a gas station. It’s the perfect vacation barbecue. 


Soon your guests will swarm like bees to the perfectly seared brats, the expertly grilled burgers, and the just-right portobellos. But not you. You’ve been here before. You’re a picnic pro. Sure, you’ll have a brat, but you and the other seasoned barbecue vets in attendance know that the real secret weapon of any summer soirée is the sides. You’ll all save ample room on your plates—and in your bellies—for watermelon and corn on the cob and slaw and, of course, macaroni salad, the crown jewel of the cookout canon. 


Macaroni salad is the perfect barbecue complement—except when it’s not. Too often, it’s prepackaged and bland. Or it’s goopy, globby, and too heavy for a summer day out in the sun. 


But not this recipe!


Our Hawaiian macaroni salad is tradition with a twist. It’s lighter than a typical macaroni salad thanks to the addition of milk, grated carrot, and white pepper, but you can make it nearly as robust as a main dish with the addition of thinly sliced scallions, potatoes, and celery. It’s also quick and easy: Instead of sacrificing quality for speed by picking up some blah store-bought macaroni salad, whip up this recipe for both simplicity and quality.


The mayo-and-pasta combination acts as a classic base, while the sugar and apple cider vinegar create a perfect sweet-and-tart complement. And the onion and carrot round out the hearty balance of flavors, rousing your taste buds and distracting you from your brother-in-law’s 15th deep dive into the time he swears he saw Judi Dench at a car wash.



1 pound macaroni or ditalini 

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 carrots, shredded

1/4 cup onion, shredded (optional)

2 1/2 cups mayonnaise

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon sugar

Kosher salt and pepper, to taste



  1. Cook the macaroni al dente, according to package directions. Drain well, and place it in a large bowl. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or until cool.


  1. In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, milk, and sugar. Fold in the apple cider vinegar, carrot, and onion. 


  1. Fold the mayonnaise mixture into the macaroni until all the noodles are evenly coated. Add salt and pepper to taste.


  1. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours (best if overnight). Gently stir before serving, adding a tablespoon or two of milk if needed.

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