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Auntie Ahulani’s Amazingly Good Mac Salad recipe

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Are you ready for flaming torches, tropical drinks, amazing roast pig, Huli Huli chicken and all things tiki??  The sound of the Hawaii War Chant is in the air and the leis are lined up.  It is SO on.  In just under 5 weeks… WE ARE HAVING A LUAU!

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Join me over the next month as I post some fabulous Luau Recipes – everything from Beach Baby Pudding Cups to Huli Huli chicken – perfect summer recipes for your next barbecue, cookout or family reunion.  We’ll be starting with one of my personal favorites – Auntie Ahulani’s Amazingly Good Mac Salad.

I received this recipe, along with many others, from Auntie Ahulani, a wonderful Hawaiian lady.   At 76 she is still going strong and, if you’re looking for her, is likely found in her tiny retro kitchen fussing over a bubbling pot of beautiful sun-orange lilikoi jelly. Small but feisty and very kind, Auntie Ahulani was quick to offer to share some of her most amazing recipes with me as long as I would pass them on.  I’ll be sharing them with you in the coming months. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.  Here is Aunti Ahulani’s Amazing Good Mac Salad recipe.

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Authentic Hawaiian Mac Salad is ridiculously simple. In fact, a true Hawaiian macaroni salad is basically just macaroni, carrot, mayonnaise, salt and pepper.  If you’re feeling frisky you can add celery, extra onion, potatoes, crab, or peas.  But don’t even think of mixing in ham or pineapple – it’s just not authentic.  This version omits the carrot.

Hawaiian Cole Slaw

Besides being true to the add-in options, there are 2 main things that make Hawaiian Macaroni Salad authentic:  lots of mayonnaise (which is partly why it’s so wonderful) and soft plump macaroni.  Actually the two go hand in hand.  Hawaiians cook their macaroni until it’’s very soft. There’s a reason for this. It enables the macaroni to soak up more of the wonderful dressing. • In Hawaii it’s all about the mayonnaise.

And you don’t want to use just any brand of mayonnaise.  It has to be Hellman’s (sold as Best Foods to our friends west of the Rockies). That’s it.  Trust me, it just won’t taste right with any other brand.  And don’t hold back on the mayonnaise amount.  I know it sounds like a lot, but the creamy delicious results will speak for themselves.


Luau Recipes

Have you ever had a Hawaiian-style plate lunch?   Macaroni salad is a staple of the Hawaii-style plate lunch.

A plate lunch is great meal and consists of a scoop of mayonnaise-rich mac salad along with a couple mounds of white rice to mix into some huli huli chicken or teriyaki chicken with a sweet-and-tangy shoyu, sugar, garlic, ginger marinade.  This mac salad is right at home in the mix.


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5 from 2 votes
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
Auntie Ahulani’s Macaroni Salad
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
20 mins

A classic authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad. An recipe.

Course: Side Dish
Servings: 16 servings
Author: Auntie Ahulani
For the macaroni
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 tablespoon salt
For the Dressing
  • 3 cups Hellman’s mayonnaise (or Best mayonnaise)
  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • 1 pound imitation crab , chopped
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen peas , cooked
  • 2 stalks celery , chopped
  • 4 large hard boiled eggs , grated
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 green onions chopped
  1. In a very large pot bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta. Cook until very soft, about 13 - 15 minutes. Drain pasta and return to pot.
  2. Meanwhile in a large bowl combine onions, crab, peas, salt, pepper and celery. Mix in the mayonnaise.
  3. Separate egg yolks from egg whites. Chop egg whites and add whites and yolks to the mayonnaise mixture.
  4. Gently stir in the cooked and drained macaroni.
  1. Can, and should, be made at least 4 hours in advance and preferably up to 1 day for the flavors to marry.  Cover and refrigerate.  Serve sprinkled with the chopped green onion.



  1. Jeanine Fotheringhame

    This is the VERY best macaroni salad I have ever had! I was at the Luau and my friend, wow, this macaroni salad rocks! I quickly proceeded to twist my plate around and try it! It really is the BEST! Thank you Aloha Dreams!

    • Betsy Edwards

      Thanks Jeanine!! I’m so glad you liked it as much as I do. It’s even better the next day – if there’s any left. : )

  2. S. Misukan

    WOW!! Best Mac Salad ever.

    • Betsy Edwards

      Thank you, I think so too!

  3. Candace Takahashi

    Having a Hawaiian themed salad lunch at the school where I work. I’m trying this out!

    • Betsy Edwards

      I’d love to hear how you like it!


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Here’s some other fantastic recipes to put you in a Hawaii frame of mind.

Hawaiian Slow Cooker Kalua Pork

Another great, super-easy make ahead recipe. 10 minutes work, overnight unattended low and slow cooking, and you’ve got mouthwateringly tender luau-style Kalua pork. Really easy. REALLY good!

Beach Baby Pudding Cups

These Beach Baby Coconut Pudding Cups are everything that's great about the islands! Kids LOVE ‘EM. You will too since they are so easy to make.

Hawaiian Pineapple Cheesecake Bars

Even people who don’t like pineapple or coconut take a bite and say “WOW!” Treat yourself to a mini trip to Hawaii with these luscious Hawaiian Pineapple Cheesecake Bars.

Hawaiian Wedding Cake

Looking for a quick and easy treat? This Hawaiian Wedding Cake comes together in a snap and tastes like a piña colada on your plate.

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