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If you’ve been to Hawaii and had Macaroni Salad there (usually referred to as Mac Salad), then you’ve probably been craving it ever since. If you haven’t been and haven’t had it, well then, you’ll just have to trust me that you absolutely need to make it. It’s macaroni salad, yes, but it’s macaroni salad that’s creamy as all get out with the perfect amount of sweetness and tang. It’s a plate lunch staple, sure, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a staple at your potlucks and parties too.

This isn’t your mainland macaroni salad, so how does it differ? Well, for starters, you usually won’t find mustard and relish in the mix but you will find shredded carrots, grated onion, and sometimes celery for crunch. You also won’t find al dente pasta here – you want to overcook the noodles so they better absorb all the creaminess and flavor from the dressing. It’s soft and plump stuff.

First, you’ll mix up the dressing – half and half, mayo, grated onion, a touch of sugar, and some salt and black pepper – and then set it aside while you overcook that pasta (a good five minutes extra should do it). You’ll then drain the pasta but then stir in apple cider vinegar until it’s absorbed. It gets that tang right into the pasta itself.

Once the macaroni has cooled for twenty minutes, you’ll stir half of the dressing into it, cover it, and let it hang out for another twenty minutes. This gives the pasta time to absorb some of the creaminess and since there is half and half in the mixture, some absorption needs to happen. (It’s pretty liquidy.) After twenty minutes pass, you’ll stir in the rest of the dressing along with the celery and carrots and chill it long enough for the pasta to soak up some more goodness. And there’s an awful lot of goodness to go around.

Serves 9

10m prep time

20m cook time

3h inactive

Rated 4.4 out of 5
Rated by 318 reviewers

Allergens: Gluten, Milk

For the dressing:
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, finely grated
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
For the salad:
  • 1 lb dried elbow macaroni
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 carrots, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup celery, finely diced
  1. First, make the dressing:
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the half and half, mayo, grated onion, sugar, salt, and pepper. Chill until ready to use.
  3. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the macaroni. Add 5 minutes to time on package instructions - overcooking the pasta helps it absorb the dressing.
  4. Drain macaroni, then add back to pot. Add apple cider vinegar and stir until absorbed. Cover pot and set aside to come down to room temperature, at least 20 minutes.
  5. Once pasta has rested 20 minutes, add half the dressing and stir to combine. Cover again and let cool 20 minutes more.
  6. Add in remaining dressing, along with celery and carrots. Adjust seasoning as needed and chill until ready to use, at least 2 hours. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food Folks and Fun.

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