Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

In Hawaii, people absolutely LOVE the plate lunch. A Hawaiian plate lunch always consists of some kind of meat dish (poke, lau lau, kalua, or my July 4th BBQ chicken :D) served with two scoops of sticky Japanese-style rice and macaroni salad. The macaroni salad has a cult following; it's different from our mainland macaroni salad in that the dressing, mayonnaise-based like ours, is thinned with milk, and the pasta is cooked until VERY soft, which helps the macaroni absorb the dressing.

The key to Hawaiian macaroni salad is all in the dressing; the only vegetables typically added are carrots and celery, just enough to give a bit of crunch. The dressing is mayonnaise-based, ALWAYS using Best Foods/Hellmann's mayonnaise, thinned with milk, soured with a bit of cider vinegar, and sweetened with brown sugar.

Highly addicting and FULL of flavor, this macaroni would easily be at home here in the Deep South amidst some pork ribs or pulled pork sandwiches! For my fellow Southerners, surely shaking their head at me suggesting a macaroni salad not made with Duke's and filled with crunchy bits of red onion, hear me out - the dressing on the Hawaiian salad? It's almost a dead ringer for Alabama white BBQ sauce!


Oh yeah, and PLEASE don't try to make this with Miracle Whip.

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
adapted from Cook's Country

Ingredients:
1 lb elbow macaroni
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups whole or 2% milk, divided (skim or 1% is just too thin)
2 cups mayonnaise, ideally Best Foods' or Hellmann's, divided
1 Tbsp brown sugar
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, peeled & grated
1 celery stalk, minced
Salt & pepper

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add 1 Tbsp salt and the macaroni; cook until VERY soft, about 15 minutes. Drain and return to pot; add the cider vinegar and toss until absorbed. Let cool for 10 minutes.






Meanwhile, whisk together 1 1/2 cups of the milk, 1 cup of the mayonnaise, the brown sugar, 1/2 tsp of salt and 2 tsp pepper.






Once the cooked pasta has cooled for 10 minutes, whisk in the dressing. Let cool completely.





Add the remaining 1/2 cup milk and 1 cup of mayonnaise, along with the scallions, carrot and celery. Stir to combine, then season to taste with salt & pepper. Chill for at least one hour before serving.









117 comments:

  1. I love how clear and concise your directions are. For a new cook, the pictures of the steps are also a big help. It's not unusual to find me in the kitchen with a wooden spoon in one hand and my Kindle in the other.

    This is the fourth recipe of yours that I have made and it came out awesome just like the others. I also added raw corn cut off the cob. Thanks!

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    1. Noel, thanks so much for reading! I'm so happy to see a new cook getting into the kitchen and learning to love cooking!

      So glad you're enjoying the recipes! - Julia

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  2. Julia, happen on to your site,your salad is great as my mons, born and raise in Hawaii, her only addition was sweet Maui onions. Mine has frozen peas and eggs
    thanks for sharing Ed

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  3. i love the plate lunch! i was just thinking about teri chicken and two scoops...and mac salad of course. thanks for sharing!

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  4. I have made a similar noodle salad using noodles, sesame oil, sea weed, sugar, salt, white pepper, beef broth, vinegar, tabasco, pickled cucumber, pickled ginger, mayo, chopped onion, chopped garlic. try it.

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    1. That doesn't sound similar at all.

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    2. lol nat alie I thought the same thing lol

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    3. Similar in thats its served on the islands as a lunch side...

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  5. How many servings does this recipe make? Or did I miss that?

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    1. I didn't specify the serving size since I usually make this for potlucks; the mixing bowl in the pictures is a pretty big one, so this definitely makes a good bit of salad. I'd say 6-8 large servings at least, maybe 10-12 regular servings!

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  6. That's a lot of mayo, think it would taste the same using only one cup total? It looks and sounds yummy and I've been looking for a good macaroni salad but that much mayo makes this dish full of fat.

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    1. Good Hawaiian mac salad has a lot of mayo! Otherwise it's not Hawaiian Brah.

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    2. I thought it was too much as well, but it soaks it up well. And it tastes great!!

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    3. You probably could use Best Foods Lite or even non fat if fat is stopping you from trying this! Bet you couldn't tell the difference if you didn't know.

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    4. mayo is the Hawaiian way lol. this is defiantly not meant to be healthy but so good. reminds me of home!

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    5. i used best foods lite mayo and it tasted great! as long as u use best foods.

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    6. I see nothing in the ingredients that make me thing it will taste Hawaiian....I thought sure Pineapple maybe an ingredient and think it would taste good in it. Mayo is over used no matter how you read it or reduce it. I have used low fat or non fat yogurt or Ranch dressing sparingly.

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    7. Also I forgot Maybe add lean cubed ham or imitation bacon bits!!! Now with the pineapple, that is Hawaiian!!!

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    8. Hawaiian macaroni salad doesn't have pineapple or bacon in it. This is an authentic recipe.

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    9. That cracks me up. Being from Hawaii, living on the mainland for 20 years, it amazes me how many times people say "You'll like this...it's Hawaiian" and the only reason they say that is the obligatory addition of pineapple. Or sometimes a macadamia nut. This looks like the mac salad at L & L!

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    10. What do you mean, too much Mayo ? The Locals even put Best foods on Chili !

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  7. I make a similar recipe that uses sweetened condensed milk and white sugar instead of regular milk and brown sugar. It is great for potlucks!

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  8. Would be really good with pineapple! Maybe raisins too?

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    1. It is great with shreaded leftover chicken and pineapple! My husband;s favorite!

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  9. Living in Hawaii many years ago a plate lunch was a staple for me and I always had two scoops of mac salad! Came across this from pinterest...although I watch my carbs I will be making this..it so totally looks "right".

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    1. I've never been to Hawaii, but I just KNOW I'd love the food SO much! I can eat the macaroni salad year-round! In fact, now that it's FINALLY starting to feel like Spring, here, I might have to make some!

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    2. Try making it with dream fields pasta if you are worried about carbs

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  10. @ Anonymous Jan 3. 2013, 1:01 AM . I hate it when People say" I made a similar recipe using this , and this and that and this and this too" !! Seriously? Not same recipe at all and disrespectful to the person who went to all the trouble of posting and putting pictures and directions. If you want to put your recipe on then do your own blog. p.s and they are alway "Anonymous"

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    1. Hahaha! Thanks, Idona! :)

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    2. Is it really that big a deal? Some people are too upright. People are just sharing and trying to be helpful. Lighten up. You can just keep moving along like water off a ducks back. Being so bitter can cut years off of your life.

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    3. Agree!!!!!!!!!

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    4. LOl..LOL..I agree Idona!!! Aloha!!! Mahalo for the fabulous recipe!!! (mauidebb)

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    5. That is not being bitter. It is just telling the truth. I think the comments should always be for a question about something in the recipe that is not clear, or a comment that I used less Mayo, or some other small change. But to change the whole recipe is terrible. A comment of I tried it and it was excellent or I just didn't like it goes a long way in determining if I will try it. It looks good doesn't mean anything. I can see for myself. And if you haven't tried it I really don't need to know that. AND I don't know any of you just from your ID so what difference does it make if mine says Anonymous??

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    6. Who cares! They obviously meant well, I don't see why it really matters to anyone. It should just be perceived as a different take on a similar recipe.

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  11. Thanks so much for the receipe. I am not Hawaiian but we had some friends that brought this to a couple of potluck a I was just too shy to ask how they made it... It looks delicious. Can't wait to make it!!!

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    1. You're very welcome! It's incredibly easy and SO GOOD! Thanks for reading!

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  12. Just Came across this recipe. I am going to attempt to make it today! I'm sure it will come out great, your steP by step instructions make it easy. Thank you so so much :)

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    1. You're welcome! I hope you enjoy it!

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  13. I thought this would be awesome- but had way too much of a vinegar taste & nobody liked it! Can you leave out the vinegar?

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    1. I agree the vinegar overpowered the dressing taste! :( Ideas?

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  14. We were stationed in Hawaii for 3 years - LOVED the plate lunch and always got the macaroni salad. This looks totally right and I can't wait to try it! Thanks!

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    1. Lucky you to get to live in Hawaii!! I *love* this macaroni salad in the summertime, even though I'm miles away from HI. Course, it also gives me an excuse to make Hawaiian BBQ too :)

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    2. I wanted to come back and update - we've made this several times now and its as good as what we used to get from the lunch plate places on Oahu! The first time I made it, my daughter was helping and kept "sampling" as we stirred the various steps. She was only 3 when we left, but I was so happy to have her fall in love with something from where she was born. I made it exactly as written the first time - excellent, by the way - but usually add a few extra veggies just because its one way to sneak them in where my kids don't care. I think the salad is excellent with the addition of grated bell pepper and some finely minced/grated sweet onion plus extra carrots 'cause that never gets a complaint in my house! Serving it again tonight with some HuliHuli chicken - feeling very nostalgic today. :)

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    3. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!! I like your idea of sneaking in the veggies!

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  15. Auwe, this made me homesick! You got it just right -- just enough carrot, etc. to give it a bit of crunch, and definitely not cluttered up with other stuffs. After all, it's all about the macaroni and Mayo! Mahalo for sharintg!

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    1. I don't know if it's a good or bad thing that I made you homesick! I hope my macaroni salad is "Hawaiian" enough! :)

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  16. My boyfriend is Hawaiian and I hope he is surprised when I make this for him!! He just loves this stuff!!! And so do I!!! :) Thanks for sharing!!

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    1. How sweet of you to surprise him! I hope he enjoys it :)

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  17. I'm sooo excited! We were stationed in Okinawa for 2 years, there is a big fusion of Okinawan, Japanese, Hawaiian cuisine there. Our fave restaurant was an Hawaiian themed one, the owner was Hawaiian and his wife Okinawan. SOOO good..I would get a teriyaki steak plate..came with the best steak, a BIG scoop of sticky rice, stir fried bean sprouts and the fantastic scoop of macaroni salad! My husband and I would always get an extra side scoop of the macaroni salad. I've never been able to recreate it at home,I can not WAIT to try this. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Wow, sounds YUMMY, Bonne! I hope you and your husband enjoy this salad!!

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  18. I tried it like this: 1/2 the green onion, crushed/tidbit pineapple to taste, double the carrots. It's quite good!

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  19. I made this for our Cinco de Mayo celebration, we had beef ribs, brisket, sausage and all the fixins, and it was a hit. Everyone raved about how good it was. Thanks.

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    1. Yay!! I'm glad everyone enjoyed it!

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    2. It was tasty..Thanks!! I'm actually making again today :)

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    3. Bonne, I'm making it today as well!

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  20. Happened upon your recipe via Pinterest and I am so excited to try it. We went to Hawaii in 2011 and couldn't get enough of the plate lunch. In California, where we lived for two years, it was still common to find the same plate lunch. However, since moving back to GA last year, I have been craving the deliciousness of the mac salad. Thanks so much for posting this.

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    1. Thanks, Jeannie! I hope this recipe lives up to those great memories!!

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  21. I Made It, And Just Because, I Altered It Slightly...Loved It Am Going To Make It Again. Key Is, Of Course, To Go By Taste. Again, Great Recipe! Thanks.

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    1. Wonderful! Glad you enjoyed it!

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  22. I've made a very similar recipe for years. Everyone in my family likes it with something different added so it seems I never make it the same way twice. Although the onion, carrots and celery are a must, I've added tomatoes, peas, cucumber, shredded cheddar cheese, and dill weed. The one thing we all agree on is bacon crumbles! The smoky bacon adds another layer of flavor to the sweet and sour of the dressing.

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  23. Born and raised in Hawaii, left for the mainland in 1960 after the Tsunami and have been back quite a few times and this salad makes me homesick.
    Mom fixed it and I do too, cause my husband loves it, but it's the paradise that I miss while eating this salad.
    Thanks for making people aware of the good eats in Hawaii. Honey

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    1. You're so welcome! Thank you for reading :)

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  24. We were in Maui in January and had several different plate lunches. The most interesting one was similar to this recipe but had little pieces of potato mixed in as well. Same taste, just added a little different consistency. I love the food trucks in Hawaii! They are so much fun. I'm going to give this recipe a try.

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  25. Haole recipe - you don;t add vinegar, not milk, brown sugar nothing cousin - just Best Foods mayo or maybe Hellmans and that's *it*. Very funny - celery? That is so expensive in the stores (if they have it) - just used canned vegs whatever you can find.

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    1. Best Foods makes Hellman's. It's sold under Best Foods in the west, and labeled Hellman.s in the east.

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  26. I make mine the same way except I use buttermilk. It gives the salad a nice tangy taste. A friend of mine said she never liked macaroni salad until she tried mine.

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    1. I've used buttermilk in 'plain' (non-Hawaiian) macaroni salad, and it's great!

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  27. I'm going make this, but I won't add celery (family person preference) I thought water chestnut or jicama or maybe both (I did have a Hawaiian Macaroni salad and it also had potatoes made by Hawaiian No celery)

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    1. I bet jicama or water chestnuts would make a GREAT substitution for celery - never thought of that. What a fantastic idea!!

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  28. I make my potato salad with the Helman's mayo,milk,sugar and red cider vinegar dressing and somehow it's always a hit.

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    1. Hellmanns is the key! I won't use any other mayonnaise except for the occasional Kewpie mayo!

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  29. I make this with a Tbs of honey , instead of sugar, about 3/4 cup of whole milk, and add olives, sometimes artichoke hearts, & use Hellman's olive oil mayo, or make my own mayo with olive oil. I use same amount of vinegar, celery, & celery. Sometimes add fresh parsley, or cilantro. I put it in refrigerator overnight. Flavors are more enhanced. Also sometimes use 1/2cup of fine chopped sweet onions. It always is a crowd pleaser.

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  30. I was hesitant because the amount of mayo and milk seemed high...but I followed the recipe exactly. 1) it was EXACTLY what I was looking for. 2) it was sooooooo good! I took it to our beach day BBQ and it was a hit with kids (16 of them, aged 2-13) and adults. Thanks for the great recipe!

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    1. Shannon, I'm so glad that everyone enjoyed the salad!! Thanks!!

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  31. When we first stated going to Maui 20+ years ago I was introduced to Hawaiian Macaroni Salad and fell in love! Diced potatoes, cooked macaroni, Best Food Mayo, small amount of milk, small amount of minced onion, small amount of shredded carrot & frozen green peas. Nothing else. Wonderful,but can't find it anymore, so I'll try this one without the vinegar.

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  32. I made this today which inspired me to make Hawaiian BBQ as well! It was good thanks for posting! This has me wishn I was Hawaiian again ��

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    1. Sounds great, J Rich! Hawaiian BBQ is one of my all-time favorites! :D

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  33. Julia-

    Just wanted you to know I've been making this salad probably every two weeks all summer long, we love it that much! I took it to a family party, announcing that THIS is the ONLY Mac salad I will ever eat again. Everyone loved it, and it's been requested at least two more times!

    Tonight we are having your Korean ribs with this salad, of course! LOL

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    1. Wow!! I'm so glad y'all love it that much - I've eaten it several times over the summer, too! It really DOES go great with everything!! Thanks so much for your kind comments!

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  34. Hi Julia,
    I am thinking of serving for a couples shower next weekend but I won't have time to make the day of. How long does this recipe keep fresh? I would probably make Friday morning and serve Sunday afternoon.

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    1. This has kept in my fridge for 3-4 days with no problem. Making it the day before is best, but you should be just fine making it 2 days ahead of time.

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  35. I made some of this today and it is delicious! I will feature it for my Useful Pins post this Friday. Thanks so much for sharing!

    http://www.theprincessandhercowboys.com

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    1. Thanks, Britney! I appreciate you sharing it, too! Thanks for reading :)

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  36. Being Hawaiian and having worked recently at the mom and pop plate lunch counters your recipe is almost perfect. Remove the celery and green onions and reduce the apple cider vinegar to ¼ cup then change the recipe to add:

    ½ cup finely shredded or grated carrots
    ¼ cup very finely grated Maui white onion

    That's the Hawaiian recipe.

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  37. From North Carolina and love our standby macaroni salad. That being said; I am always open to trying different versions of the foods I love. This recipe incorporates my favorites tastes, (sweet and creamy) into one dish. I can not wait to try it. Sounds yummy!

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    1. Thanks! Hope you love it as much as I do!

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  38. From Wisconsin, never been to Hawaii, but when I vacationed in California I tried this and loved it! So happy I can recreate it at home now. Thank You!

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  39. Just made this yesterday tastes great. Can't wait for my kids to try, serving it with my Hawaiian ahi poke'. Have a great Labor Day!

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    1. Thanks, Robynn - I hope they enjoyed it!

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  40. Yes!!! I had a ton of friends from Hawaii in college and they wouldn't share their secret though they made me love the plate lunch!

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  41. Thanks for posting such a delicious salad. When we lived in Maui, many stores had "Hawaiian macaroni salad" in their deli case. The only difference was they mixed potatoes and macaroni together. It was terrific. After reading your ingredients I can't wait to give it a try! Mahalo!

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  42. I have been looking for a recipe that would produce the mac salad similar to the one sold at Ono Hawaiian BBQ for what seems like forever now. I love that salad. This seems to be the closest thing I have found, though I have not made it yet. I just have a couple of questions-

    1- what is the purpose of the apple cider vinegar? Is it absolutely necessary? I've had some hawaiian macaroni salads that have a weird tang to it that I do not like; would the ACV give it that tang?
    2- the salad at Ono Hawaiian BBQ has teeny tiny bits of tuna in it; you can barely even tell, but I am sure this affects the flavor. Is this not the traditional way?

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  43. This sounds delicious. Is there a printable version of the recipe?

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    1. There is! Just click on the "PRINTABLE RECIPE" link above, just before the ingredients list.

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  44. WOW! Looks totally awesome! Can't wait to make this for our next cook-out! I'm a southern gal transplanted to Indianapolis, In. I love cooking southern food for our northern friends. I think they will love this with our baby back ribs!

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    1. Everyone I make it for seems to love it!!

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  45. I did everything according to the recipe except I used half of the vinegar and it was perfection. Soooo easy and sooooo good. Love this.

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  46. Fantastic Julia, thanks for this... it is exactly what I was looking for and it'll be fixed tonight!

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  47. Have been making mac salad like this and so did my mother. She's from Eastern Europe and knew nothing of Hawaii. See nothing Hawaiian at all in this recipe...all the hype for nothing. Amazing what advertising will do.

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    1. Carmel, the Hawaiian mac salad has nothing to do with it being made with Hawaiian ingredients. This is the type of mac they serve at local diners in Hawaii. Fried chicken is looked at as a southern dish along with greens... does that make it less southern because it is made similarly in other regions?

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  48. Thanks for sharing the recipe! I am so stoked to make Hawaiian mac salad! This is one of my fave salads to eat and I am afraid to make enough for sharing as I will probably end up eating it all by myself!!! Thanks again!

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  49. Thank you for such a great recipe. We are fortunate enough to travel to Hawaii over the summer. Maui and Oahu being our favorite islands! I fell in love with this salad on our very first visit! Hawaiian food is not for the faint of heart, that's for sure! We love to go to Rainbow Drive-In when we are at Waikiki and always make a stop at Ted's Bakery for their bento box luncheon: fried chicken, spam, rice, and macaroni salad! Heaven! Thanks again!

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  50. I don't like super soft noodles. Can I just cook al dente?

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  51. Why can't you use Miracle Whip? It's all I use. We don't like Hellman's.

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  52. You should clarify what size elbow macaroni you used. I used this recipe with large elbow macaroni and it came out good. Then I had a potluck and decided to use the normal/small elbow macaroni size like your picture. It was super watery and the sauce was heavy. So I had to use another pound of of macaroni then the macaroni salad became more dry. However, everyone liked the drier macaroni salad more because they said that the other one had too much sauce and mayo. I guess my "mistake" turned out for the better. I followed the exact recipe, now I will be using 2lb of normal/small size elbow macaroni!

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  53. I'm making this on Saturday with marinated, grilled portabello mushrooms! I can't wait to try it! I've always loved the macaroni salad at Ono Hawaiian BBQ, but wished they'd left out the carrots. Now I can!

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  54. So...I don't use cow's milk and wanted to know if anyone has ever used 'coconut' milk in their recipe??? The reason I pinned this on Pinterest was because I saw "Hawaiian" and thought that it WAS coconut milk in the photo. Just curious. Mahalo!

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    1. I've made this twice now and it is SO good using the coconut milk, instead of cow's milk! FANTASTIC!!!

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  55. I am eating alone at Ono Hawaiian and am dying to make some macaroni salad at home. Yaaaaasssss found this recipe. Super happy. Can't wait to make them!

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