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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!

Creamy macaroni salad with shredded carrot on top.
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Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

If you’ve ever visited the islands of Hawaii, then you’re probably familiar with the term “plate lunch.” Popular at food trucks and counter service restaurants, the plate lunch consists of a protein, like Kalua Pork or Katsu Chicken, and two scoops of white rice and Hawaiian Macaroni Salad.

Hawaiian Mac Salad is unlike the traditional Macaroni Salad we have stateside. It’s sweeter, creamier, and absolutely divine. It’s basically just macaroni, mayonnaise, carrot, salt, and pepper. Some add sugar or vinegar to the dressing.

I have eaten that way and it is delicious, but when I make it at home I try to make it a little lighter and still get the same great flavor.

So while this recipe is not an authentic recreation, it’s a healthier version of the traditional. It only uses half the amount of mayo, replacing it with a lighter plain Greek yogurt.

How To Make Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

See the recipe card below for full, detailed instructions

Boiling macaroni in a large pot.

Cook the macaroni according to package instructions. Drain and rinse. This is one of the few times I actually recommend rinsing. It removes the excess starch, cools the pasta, and stops the cooking process.

Greek yogurt, mayo, honey, apple cider vinegar - hawaiian mac salad ingredients.

Whisk together the mayo, greek yogurt, honey, vinegar, and milk.

Macaroni with creamy dressing poured on top.

Gently fold the dressing into the macaroni. Use a rubber spatula so you don’t accidentally tear the pasta.

grated carrot and diced onion with creamy macaroni.

Stir in the carrot and onion. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.

Garnish with fresh parsley if desired – I like to add this optional step for some color, but it is not traditionally included in mac salad.

Key Ingredients

  • Mayonnaise – This is the main ingredient used in traditional mac salads, but I decided to cut the amount in half and make it a little lighter.
  • Plain Greek Yogurt – It has the tang of sour cream without nearly the calories. It’s super creamy, like the mayo, and is a great substitution for either when trying to lower the calories in a dish.
  • Honey – This sweetener has less sugar than actual sugar, so it’s a great swap to lower the calories.
  • Carrots – Always included in the traditional Hawaiian mac salads so I had to include it.
  • Onion – Not always included but I like the bite.


What makes Hawaiian Macaroni Salad taste different?

Unlike our traditional macaroni salad in the states, the Hawaiian version tends to be sweeter, opting for sugar instead of vinegar and mustard. There is also a huge lean towards Best Foods mayonnaise, which some Hawaiians say is the only one they will use.

Why is Macaroni Salad a thing in Hawaii?

After Europeans introduced dry macaroni and mayonnaise to the islands, locals began making the mac salad because the ingredients were affordable, less perishable than other salads, and easy to make.

Can you make Mac Salad ahead of time?

You can make it up a day in advance. If the salad looks a little dry, it’s because the macaroni absorbs some of the liquid in the dressing. Just whisk a little milk and mayo together and fold it in to remoisten.

Hawaiian mac salad in a white bowl.

Serving Suggestions

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 Chicken Kabobs.

Some like to add tuna to the salad and make it a complete meal. Whatever way you enjoy your Mac Salad, it’s sure to become a family favorite!


While the traditional salad has a base of macaroni and mayo, there are several local variations that you might find around the islands.

  • Macaroni and Potato – The locals love this one. It uses half diced potato and half macaroni so it’s kind of a marriage of mac salad and potato salad.
  • Add-ins – Peas and canned tuna are classic add-ins for mac salad, or try my recipe for Tuna Macaroni Salad.


If properly stored in an airtight container in the fridge, Hawaiian Macaroni Salad will last 4-5 days. If it seems dry, add a little milk mixed with a touch of mayo or Greek yogurt and stir it up to moisten.

Small bowls of Hawaiian macaroni salad.

More Hawaiian-Inspired Recipes


Lighter Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

4.91 from 11 votes
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is made lighter with Greek Yogurt for a super creamy pasta salad that saves on calories but not on flavor.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 12 servings


  • 1 pound Macaroni
  • 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely minced onion
  • 1 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 cup plain Greek Yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons nonfat milk more if needed
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley optional
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  • Cook macaroni according to package instructions. 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 fold with a spatula to coat completely. Fold in carrots and onion. Chill until ready to serve.


Calories: 289kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 7gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 9gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.03gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 134mgPotassium: 115mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 975IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 38mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional Disclaimer Kristin Maxwell of “Yellow Bliss Road” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. For accurate calorie counts and other nutritional values, we recommend running the ingredients through your preferred online nutritional calculator. Calories and other nutritional values can vary depending on which brands were used.

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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4.91 from 11 votes (10 ratings without comment)

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  1. Maria says:

    So good recipes !!!thanks 😍

    1. Adrienne - Yellow Bliss Road says:

      Thanks so much Maria!

  2. Teresa says:

    I did not make this salad but I have a question. I graduated HS in Hawaii. The name of this Salad is Lighter Hawaiian Macaroni Salad. None of your ingredients have anything to do with Hawaii. So why is it not just Lighter Macaroni Salad? I am not trying to be rude or anything but if I see Hawaii in a recipe name, I expect to see tropical ingredients.

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Hi Teresa, “tropical” ingredients aren’t always Hawaiian. This is a popular macaroni salad in Hawaiian culture, and in the post I discuss why.

  3. Doreen says:

    Can I use all Greek yogurt? Don’t care for mayo.

    1. Kristin says:

      Yes you could, however it will alter the flavor.

  4. Amanda says:

    Do you use plain Greek yogurt or vanilla?

    1. Kristin says:

      Plain Greek yogurt.

  5. Courtney says:

    When do you add the milk to the Hawaiian macaroni salad recipe?

    1. Kristin says:

      With all the other liquid ingredients.

  6. Jan Larson says:

    These sound super!!