Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad! You're going to love this super easy recipe that's gluten-free, vegan, and allergy-free! This simple and creamy macaroni salad is slightly sweet and tangy. It's an essential addition to homemade Hawaiian lunch plates and a perfect side dish for summer cookouts, BBQs, and luaus!
Macaroni vibes! Much love for the classic American macaroni salad, but there are other styles that make the mouth water too! A big cold scoop of Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is just what the summer calls for! Whether you've been to Hawaii or not, this classic lunch plate side is a must-try! Super creamy, tangy, and slightly sweeter than a traditional macaroni salad. It's so simple with just a few ingredients and this recipe is perfectly gluten-free, vegan, and allergy-free!
What is a Hawaiian Lunch Plate?
Originating back to the 1880s when a mix of cultural influences converged on the Islands and hungry sugar and pineapple plantation workers needed a quick lunch, the Hawaiian lunch plate was born. The offerings on the typical lunch plate have evolved to now being iconic fare of two different proteins like grilled teriyaki chicken, beef, Kalua pork, pork katsu, even salmon teriyaki, two scoops of white sticky rice, and a big scoop of macaroni salad. You can find these cheap and filling lunch plates served at roadside stands, drive-ins, and hole-in-the-wall restaurants all throughout Hawaii now! It's a must-try dish when you visit the state!
Why is Macaroni Salad so Popular in Hawaii?
Well, it's so cheap to make! Hawaiian macaroni salad has no-frills, it's so simple, filling, and quick to make. It was so popular with plantain workers because macaroni noodles lasted longer than potatoes, which were presented as potato salad from Eastern settlers. Wesson Oil Company sent jars to the island that had instructions for mayo on the side. These two things combined and ended up being a carb-loaded, creamy, and inexpensive way to fuel long hot days of work and have leftovers for the week!
What is Hawaiian Macaroni Salad?
It's not just your 'ole mac salad. There are specific ingredients and methods to make the most authentic Hawaiian macaroni salad! You want your macaroni noodles slightly overcooked and more mayo than you think you can handle. The mayo dressing is thinned out slightly with apple cider vinegar, a touch of brown sugar, salt, pepper, and milk. The only veggies you'll find are finely grated sweet onion, carrot, and just a small amount of celery. A few chopped scallions are acceptable, but not required.
Is There Pineapple?
No! If you ever come across a recipe that includes pineapple, it's wrong. That's a stereotype and 100% inaccurate!
What Makes This Recipe Special?
You know I gave this classic a little Strength and Sunshine love and made it allergy-safe and vegan! With a few swaps, this recipe is...
- Vegan & Vegetarian
- Allergy-free (Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Peanut-Free, Wheat-Free, Sesame-Free, Corn-Free, Coconut-Free)
- Great to Make-Ahead & Meal Prep
- Perfect For Potlucks, Cookouts, BBQs, and of course Luaus!
Ingredients You'll Need
- Gluten-Free Macaroni Noodles: You can't have macaroni salad without elbow noodles! The moment you use macaroni for pasta salad, it turns into macaroni salad...weird?
- Sweet Onion: Grated sweet Vidalia onion will give this super simple mac salad so much flavor.
- Carrots: Grab a large fresh carrot or two and grate it. The carrot will give this gluten-free macaroni salad a summery orange color, naturally!
- Celery: Finely dice just a bit of celery for a few hints of green and salty crunch.
Eggless Mayo Dressing
- Vegan Mayo: Calling all mayo lovers! You can use my homemade eggless mayo or your favorite store-bought allergen-free brand!
- Non-Dairy Milk: Unsweetened plain non-dairy milk is used to thin out the mayonnaise and make it easier to dress the noodles.
- Light Brown Sugar: To enhance the natural sweetness from the grated carrot, a touch of brown sugar is just what you need in this classic Hawaiian mac salad!
- Apple Cider Vinegar: An extra splash of cider vinegar is a must for this creamy dressing.
- Salt & Pepper: Finish everything off with salt and black pepper to taste!
How To Make Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- First, you'll boil your gluten-free macaroni beyond al dente. Just about 3-5 minutes over your typical pasta cooking time!
- Grate and dice your 3 veggies and set them aside to toss with the noodles.
- Whisk together the vegan mayo dressing ingredients and adjust seasonings to taste.
- Toss the macaroni with the dressing and veggies so everything is mixed and mingled.
- Let the noodles absorb all the delicious flavors and chill in the fridge before serving!
Tips & Tricks
- Since you're using gluten-free macaroni noodles be careful when cooking them beyond al dente. You don't want the noodles to become mush and gluten-free pasta tends to be finicky. 3 to 5 minutes over your typical ideal pasta time, no more. I recommend using Ronzoni gluten-free elbow noodles. They are the best gluten-free noodles for holding up to cooking times. About 8-9 minutes if using this brand.
- Make sure to add the dressing and veggies to the macaroni while it's still hot. The acid in the vinegar needs to be absorbed in the hot noodles for flavor. The veggies can get extra soft here and the sweetener mixes into all the flavors.
- Make sure to chill the pasta completely before serving. That requirement makes this vegan macaroni salad ideal for make-ahead prep!
- You can add some chopped green onion (scallions), right before you set the salad out to serve for "presentation".
Make It Ahead Of Time
Prep this Hawaiian mac salad ahead of time, ideally the night before you plan on serving it! This way the gluten-free noodles have ample time to soak up all the flavors, soften in the dressing, and be perfectly chilled.
Storage & Leftovers
- You can store leftovers in the fridge for 5-6 days. Just cover the container and keep it cold!
- If your leftover macaroni salads thicken up too much after being stored for a few days, you can add a little bit of fresh vegan mayo or dairy-free milk to loosen up the macaroni salad again! Just gently toss the salad again before serving.
What To Serve With This Macaroni Salad?
- Grilled Eggplant Banh Mi Sliders
- The Incredible Veggie Burger
- Pulled BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches with Tahini Slaw
- Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken
- Grilled Hawaiian Chicken
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad (Gluten-Free, Vegan)
Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad! You're going to love this super easy recipe that's gluten-free, vegan, and allergy-free! This simple and creamy macaroni salad is slightly sweet and tangy. It's an essential addition to homemade Hawaiian lunch plates and a perfect side dish for cookouts, BBQs, and luaus!
- Prep Time: 10 Minutes
- Cook Time: 10 Minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 6-8 Servings 1x
- Category: Side
- Method: Stove Top
- Cuisine: Hawaiian
- 12 oz Gluten-Free Elbow Macaroni Noodles
- ½ Cup Grated Sweet Onion
- ½ Cup Grated Carrot
- ½ Cup Diced Celery
Vegan Mayo Dressing:
- Boil your gluten-free pasta according to package directions, adding 3-5 minutes extra to al dente cooking time.
- While the pasta is cooking, grate the onion and carrot, and dice the celery.
- Mix together the sweet mayo dressing ingredients and adjust seasonings to taste.
- Drain the pasta and while it's still hot, add it to a large serving bowl. Add the prepped veggies and dressing to the hot pasta and mix everything together to fully coat and combine.
- Chill the macaroni salad for at least 1-2 hours, ideally overnight, before serving.
- You can use plain white vinegar if you don't have cider vinegar.
- You can add fresh chopped scallions before serving the salad if desired.
- Store leftover macaroni salad in a covered container in the fridge for 5-6 days.
- Serving Size: 1 Serving
Keywords: Hawaiian macaroni salad, vegan Hawaiian macaroni salad, gluten-free Hawaiian macaroni salad, authentic Hawaiian macaroni salad
So if you're not ready to jump on a plane to Hawaii at the moment, just whip up this gluten-free and vegan version of the classic Hawaiian mac salad, maybe a couple of frozen piña coladas too and you're in for your own backyard tropical vacation!
More Gluten-Free Pasta Salads:
- Asian Pasta Salad
- Easy Mexican Pasta Salad
- Classic Italian Pasta Salad
- Classic American Macaroni Salad
- Simple Summer Corn Macaroni Salad
So tell me:
+ Have you ever been to Hawaii or...do you live there now?
———————————————-Stay connected: Facebook: Strength and Sunshine Twitter: @RebeccaGF666 Instagram: rebeccagf666 Pinterest: RebeccaGF666 Bloglovin’: Strength and Sunshine