Perfect Macaroni Salad

Side Dishes

This year, I decided I would start making New Year’s resolutions that were actually attainable. I am sick of pretending I’m suddenly going to pick up running, go to the gym at 6am or change my lifestyle drastically with a new way of eating. I prefer to live by the, “everything in moderation” motto.

So this year I set out to make the best mac salad. Why? Well, because a Hawaiian restaurant by my house makes a really great one and I wanted to figure out what made it so amazing and different. Now, I am definitely not Hawaiian. I have been 3 times, but to be honest I never had a mac salad over there that stuck out to me like the place down the street. There is a tang and brightness that I could never put my finger on.

I researched a lot of recipes. Tried them a few variations. Had my friends, family and coworkers weigh in (very willing participants, by the way). After 5-6 attempts, I feel like this one is the right balance for what I like. Now, you can adjust, add and subtract a few things-BUT DO NOT SKIP THE APPLE CIDER VINEGAR!!! This is what I have found gives the mac a perfect texture and tang that balances the sweetness and mayo content.

This one has been made countless times since it won the taste test and it compliments so many dishes, but it is honestly so good on its own. Enjoy!


Perfect Macaroni Salad

A fresh, light, Italian-inspired pasta recipe perfect for a late summer dinner.

I always recommend reading the entire recipe before you begin


  • 2 cups whole milk (divided)
  • 1 ½ cups mayonnaise
  • 1 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • ½ cup yellow onion (grated)
  • 2 carrots (peeled and shredded)
  • 1 celery (finely chopped)


  1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together 1 ½ cups milk, 1 cup mayonnaise, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add pasta and 1 TBSP salt to the water and cook the pasta for 15 minutes. Until it’s fat and very soft. Drain pasta and pour it back into the dried pasta pot. Pour vinegar over pasta and stir until it’s evenly distributed and absorbed. Pour pasta into a bowl and cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Add in the milk and mayonnaise mixture and stir until evenly combined. Let cool completely.
  4. Add the grated onions, carrots, celery and remaining ½ cup milk and ½ cup mayonnaise to the pasta and mix until combined.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days. Adjust salt & pepper to taste before serving!


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