All You Need Is This Simple Hawaiian Mac Salad This Summer

This side dish is quick, uncomplicated, and easily a winner at every cookout.

Hawaiian Mac Salad
Hawaiian Mac Salad | Photo courtesy of Keeping It Relle
Hawaiian Mac Salad | Photo courtesy of Keeping It Relle

Come noon, plate lunch specials land on tables throughout Hawaii where many sit down to eat kalua pig, lomi lomi salmon, lau lau—ti leaf-wrapped pork or fish—alongside a scoop of rice. It’s the ultimate comfort combo. What’s rarely missing from these plates is a mound of mac salad.

The creamy accompaniment to plate lunches is a classic side dish that native Hawaiian food blogger Relle Lum has perfected. “My grandma made mac salad all the time,” says Lum. “I’ve adjusted it slightly, but it’s pretty much what we learned how to make growing up.”

The Maui-based blogger spent a lot of time in the kitchen with her mom making stuff—snacks to bring to teachers, holiday treats from Easter candies to Christmas cookies. “And of course, in Hawaii, everything is about potlucks and family get-togethers and you can’t show up empty-handed.”

That’s why this mac salad is an easy summer cookout crowd pleaser.

You can find her grandma-approved mac salad recipe on her blog, Keeping It Relle, which she launched in 2019. As a full-time nurse and mom of two, the blog is her way of sharing both Hawaiian and local recipes. “Hawaii is such an amazing place and the culture and the cuisine here is just so diverse and so different than anywhere else, so why not share it?”

Lum thinks some folks may be misinformed about Hawaii and its food culture. It’s not all poke bowls and Spam. “Putting pineapple on your pizza doesn’t make it Hawaiian,” she laughs. Through her recipes, Lum educates readers about her food and culture. “In the end, my goal is to [have readers] sit down around the table, enjoy a good meal, spend time with your family and friends…and of course eat good food.” Such as a mac salad you need to have in your potluck arsenal at all times.

Hawaiian Mac Salad
Hawaiian Mac Salad | Photo courtesy of Keeping It Relle

Hawaiian Mac Salad Recipe

• 8 ounces elbow macaroni
• 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
• 1 cup mayonnaise
• ½ cup milk
• 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1 carrot, grated
• 2 tablespoons onion, diced

1. Heat a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add salt and a splash of oil to the water. Then cook the macaroni according to package directions. You'll want to cook the noodles just until al dente.
2. Drain the noodles and rinse with water. Toss the warm noodles with apple cider vinegar and set aside.
3. In a large bowl add mayonnaise, milk, sugar, salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine.
4. Then add the mayonnaise mixture to the macaroni noodles and stir to combine.
5. Add in carrots and onion, and stir until well combined.
6. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 4 hours until cooled, or overnight.
7. Serve chilled and enjoy.

Note: The mac salad will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.

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Rosin Saez is the senior editor of Food & Drink at Thrillist.