Hawai‘i-Style Mac Salad

March 27, 2019 Updated: March 27, 2019

Mac Salad

“I’m obsessed with Hawaiian mac salad!” I can’t tell you how many friends from the mainland have said this very sentence to me. It’s usually followed by “What’s the secret ingredient?” Well, I think the answer is grated onions. Yes, pull out your box grater and grate your onions with the small grate side, making sure to add all the liquid goodness that weeps out. You want your onions to be almost liquefied to get that Hawai‘i-style mac salad flavor. This salad is served with almost every plate lunch and at most family gatherings. There are many variations—with green onions, peas, chopped ham, or even tuna—but this recipe makes a good basic island-style mac salad.

Serves 6 to 8

  • 8 ounces dry elbow macaroni
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons grated Maui or yellow onion (roughly 1/4 whole onion)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups Best Foods (or Hellmann’s) mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle juice
  • 3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup coarsely grated carrot (1/2 medium carrot)

Cook the macaroni, salting the water with 2 tablespoons kosher salt, according to the instructions on the package, until very tender, not al dente. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Let cool slightly for 10 minutes, then add the onion, 1/2 cup of the mayonnaise, the pickle juice, relish, and pepper to taste and toss until well coated. Taste and season as needed with salt and pepper. Chill for 1 hour.

When ready to serve, stir in 1/2 cup of the mayonnaise and the carrot; add more mayonnaise if it looks dry. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve chilled.

Reprinted with permission from “Aloha Kitchen: Recipes from Hawai’i” by Alana Kysar, copyright © 2019. Photographs by Alana Kysar and Brooklyn Dombroski. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc.

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