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Hawaiian Macaroni Salad from 'Cook's Country'

Daniel Hautzinger
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad from 'Cook's Country.' Photo: Joe Heller
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad from 'Cook's Country.' Photo: Joe Heller

Cook's Country airs Saturdays at 12:00 pm.
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Americans love mayo-based salads: egg salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, potato salad. But Hawaiians in particular prize macaroni salad; it's an integral part of the ubiquitous Hawaiian-style meal called a plate lunch, which features an entree (often chicken katsu or beef teriyaki) along with a side of white rice and macaroni salad. 

Cook's Country has developed their own recipe for this simple Hawaiian classic, with their typical penchant for finding the best possible version of a beloved homestyle dish. Try it here. 

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Hawaiians cook the macaroni for their Hawaiian Macaroni Salad until it’s “fat," or very soft. They know what they’re doing. While overcooking the pasta seems like a bad idea, it actually enables the macaroni to absorb more dressing. The dressing for our Hawaiian Macaroni Salad had to be thin enough to soak into the pasta, so we used an equal amount of mayonnaise and milk, and a lot of each. To prevent the cider vinegar from curdling the milk, we poured the vinegar directly over the hot macaroni. After the vinegar soaked in, we poured on about half the dressing, gave the mixture a stir, and let it cool. We then stirred in the remaining dressing and added grated carrot, chopped celery (for crunch), scallions, a bit of brown sugar, and some vigorous shakes of salt and black pepper.

Low-fat milk or mayonnaise will make the dressing too thin.

Serves: 8-10


2 cups whole milk (see note)
2 cups mayonnaise (see note)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons pepper
1/2 teaspoon table salt, plus salt for cooking pasta
1 pound elbow macaroni
1/2 cup cider vinegar
4 scallions, sliced thin
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 celery rib, chopped fine


1. Whisk milk, mayonnaise, sugar, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt together in bowl. Reserve and refrigerate 1 cup dressing for finishing salad. Set both aside.

2. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta and cook until very soft, about 15 minutes. Drain pasta in colander and shake to remove excess water. Transfer pasta to large bowl, add vinegar, and toss until vinegar is absorbed. Let pasta cool for 10 minutes.

3. Stir the larger portion of dressing into pasta mixture until combined. Stir in scallions, carrot, and celery until combined. Cover and refrigerate until fully chilled, about 1 hour. Stir in reserved 1 cup dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.