Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

You may think you don’t need another pasta salad but this Hawaiian Macaroni Salad may change your mind.

What makes this one different? You pour vinegar over the hot pasta so it gets absorbed. The milky dressing gets absorbed so overall it is a tangy, sweet effect in the end.

I couldn’t help myself but turn this in to a Hawaiian pizza kind of affair so I went ahead and added cubed ham and pineapple pieces. These are optional additions that I like because it turns it into almost a 1 dish meal. You can choose to stay traditional and omit them if you like.

One of the secrets to this salad is that you overcook the pasta. That allows the pasta to absorb the vinegar and the thin dressing – which is part of the salad’s charm.

You also keep back a portion of the sauce to add just before serving so that it is moist when you serve it.

I used small shell pasta because I thought it went with the Hawaiian theme but you can use any salad style pasta you want. Just be sure to cook it until it is soft so it can absorb the dressing.

A note on the dressing- I had dressing left over. My salad was swimming in dressing so I only added about 1 cup of dressing in the first addition. I did keep the reserve back to add later since the first addition does get absorbed.

Close up of creamy pasta salad with ham, pineapple, grated carrot, celery and greenn onion.

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

A creamy, sweet and tangy twist on traditional pasta salad.
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Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 8 servings


  • 1 lb macaroni or other small pasta
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 cups whole milk divided 1 1/2 + 1/2
  • 2 cups mayonnaise divided 1 + 1
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 8 green onions, sliced or 1 medium sweet onion, diced finely
  • 2 carrots peeled and grated
  • celery ribs sliced finely
  • 16 oz Black Forest ham (optiona) or other cured ham, cubed
  • 19 oz can pineapple pieces (optional) well drained
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper


  • Whisk 1 1/2 cups milk, 1 cup mayonnaise, sugar 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tsps pepper in a bowl. Set aside. Reserve the other 1/2 cup of milk and 1 cup of mayo to mix separately just before serving.
  • Bring 4 quarts of water and 1 Tbsps salt to a boil in a large Dutch oven. Cook pasta until well cooked and soft – about 15 minutes.
  • Drain pasta and return to pot. Pour the vinegar over the hot noodles and stir till it is absorbed. Transfer pasta to a large bowl and allow to cool about 10 minutes. Pour the whisked dressing over the warm salad and stir until pasta is well coated. Cool completely.
  • Add the onion, carrot, celery and ham/pineapple if using. Whisk the reserved dressing ingredients and stir in to salad. Refridgerate one hour to allow flavour to mix or up to 2 days.
  • Serve.


Calories: 502kcal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 1238mg | Potassium: 585mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 2846IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 120mg | Iron: 2mg
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

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