Hawaiian-Inspired Mac Salad

Traditional plate lunch mac salad in Hawaii is fairly simple – grated carrot and onion, buckets of Best Foods (Hellman’s) mayo and maybe a few other add-ins. I elevated it today with tricks from my grandma (G. Mom) and my uncle… thinning the mayo out with milk, and adding ranch dressing, respectively. I also added a few other elements to make the mac salad really tangy and bright, while still keeping it simple and super creamy. I think this version is as about as good as it gets! Here are the ingredients and the steps:

  • 1/2 box elbow macaroni
  • 1 c. Grated carrot
  • 2 1/2 Tbls. finely grated sweet onion
  • 1-2 Tbls. seasoned rice vinegar (you could also use apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/2 c. Sour cream
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 2 Tbls. ranch dressing
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1-2 Tbls. lemon juice
  • Salt to taste

Cook the pasta (I like to season the water with chicken base, but you could also just salt the water) and drain. Pour the hot pasta over the grated carrots and onion (this helps to cook them just enough to take the crispiness out of the carrots and the edge off the raw onion), drizzle on the vinegar, and mix together.


In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayo, sour cream, milk, ranch, and lemon juice. When the pasta has cooled for a few minutes, fold in the creamy mixture and some salt. Refrigerate for a few hours, until fully chilled. You may need to add a little more salt at this point. If the pasta has soaked up enough of the creamy mix that it’s getting a little dry you may need to add a bit more mayo.

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