Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is made lighter with Greek Yogurt for a super creamy pasta salad that skimps on calories, but not flavor. This Hawaiian Mac Salad is the perfect side dish for barbecues, picnics or just dinner with your family.
If you’re feeling a little tropical, enjoy this Hawaiian Macaroni Salad with our Huli Huli Barbecue Baked Chicken and Pineapple Cobbler. You’ll be transported to the islands and won’t ever want to leave!
Authentic Hawaiian Mac Salad
If you’ve ever visited the islands of Hawaii, then you’re probably familiar with the term “plate lunch.” It’s a popular order for lunch or dinner or many food trucks and counter service restaurants all over the islands. The Two Scoop Hawaiian Plate Lunch consists of a meat entree, like Kalua Pork or Katsu Chicken, and two scoops of white rice and/or macaroni salad.
While staying at Disney’s Aulani Resort a few years ago, we had the Plate Lunch at a little counter service joint called Zippy’s, which is really popular with the locals. It may have very well been the best meal I ate during our entire trip. The Macaroni Salad is not like the traditional Macaroni Salad we have stateside (like this one). It’s sweeter, creamier and is absolutely divine. The other thing it is, is full of unhealthy (but still quite tasty) fat and sugar. So when I wanted to make this salad at home, I knew I needed to bring the fat and calories down a bit.
Why Do Hawaiians eat Macaroni Salad?
The plate lunch, with a scoop of rice and a scoop of sweet Hawaiian mac salad was a popular lunch for hungry workers during the booming pineapple and sugar cane plantations era of the 1880s. By the 1950s, that era had ended but the plate lunch, with it’s two scoop rice and mac salad, had found its place as a Hawaiian staple.
How to Make Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
My recipe still uses good old traditional mayo, but instead of 2 1/2 cups of the stuff, I used half mayo and half Greek Yogurt. Hawaiian Macaroni Salad recipes usually also call for whole milk and a bit of white sugar, which I swapped out for nonfat milk and honey. Still super creamy and super delicious, but you can feel a little bit better about having that extra helping (or three)!
- Cook a box of macaroni in boiling, salted water until it’s al dente. Drain using a colander, then rinse with cold water. This is one of the few times I actually recommend rinsing. It removes the excess starch and cools the pasta, as well as stopping the cooking.
- While the macaroni is cooking, combine mayo and Greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar, nonfat milk and honey. To that mixture, stir in shredded carrots and diced white onion. I add a little parsley to my mac salad just for added color. It doesn’t alter the taste much so you could easily leave it out.
- Toss the macaroni with the dressing until everything is well coated and blended nicely.
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is pretty adaptable to a variety of entrees, but because of the sweetness it pairs especially well with more savory, salty dishes like Kalua Pork, Korean Short Ribs and grilled meats like chicken and steak. Some like to add tuna to the salad and make it a complete meal. Whatever way you enjoy your Hawaiian Mac Salad, it’s sure to become a family favorite!
What to do with leftovers
If properly stored in an airtight container in the fridge, Hawaiian Macaroni Salad will last 4-5 days. If it seems dry, add a touch of mayo or greek yogurt and stir it up to moisten.
More delicious pasta salads
If you love Hawaiian Mac Salad, you love’ll these other pasta salad recipes!
- Tuna Pasta Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Zesty Italian Pasta Salad
- Italian Spaghetti Salad
- Easy Vegetable Pasta Salad
Lighter Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- 1 pound Macaroni
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 smallish carrots shredded (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/2 small onion finely minced (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 1/4 cup Mayonnaise
- 1 1/4 cups plain Greek Yogurt
- 1/4 cup nonfat milk
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley optional
- Cook macaroni according to package instructions (about 10 minutes). You want them a little softer than al dente. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain and cool to room temperature or chill in the refrigerator.
- In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, greek yogurt, milk, honey and apple cider vinegar. Pour over cooled macaroni and stir to coat completely. Stir in carrots and onion. Chill until ready to serve.
- Chill in the fridge until ready to serve. Can be made up to 24 hours in advance, and leftovers can be stored, covered, for up to 4-5 days.