Hawaiian Mac Salad

Hawaiian at Home

How to Make Your Own Plate Lunch

Hey to all, Carl here!

Having done my 3 month culinary externship in Hawaii, I have learned a thing or two about some pretty tasty island grinds (that mean “food” to all the haoles out there)! There’s a number of things that go into a really good Hawaiian plate lunch from teri beef, katsu (even katsu curry), loco moco and other main ingredients but one thing is for sure, the mac salad is a staple and one of the most underrated and even overlooked things in a Hawaiian plate lunch.

We don’t normally go out of our way to buy Hawaiian food around here in the bay but for this new series we are doing we thought it best we did some research! We hit up 3 spots: Ono Hawaiian BBQ, L&L Hawaiian BBQ, and a local (to the Bay Area) spot Takahashi Market. You can see some of our reactions on our video below but here is the shorts!

Ono Hawaiian: little to no effort with their mac salad! It’s just mayo and mac… more like Mayo with a side of mac.
L&L Hawaiian: Not as mayo-y as Ono and there was some effort into their salad as there was some fine diced vegetables. The mayo flavor still made its presence known though
Takahashi Market: Better job at getting all the ingredients to work together. You can tell the dressing had a lot of love go into it with some relish and even a hint of mustard in there. It had a much deeper flavor profile that’s for sure!

It is really sad to know that most folks on the mainland experience mac salad that taste like doodoo but if you’ve got a local spot like we do here in the Bay then don’t ever settle for less! Not many people are as blessed as we are to have these kinds of local specialty markets and stores (don’t get me wrong, Takahashi is great but nothing compares to the food on the islands!) so I want to share my mac salad guide, the way I learned how to do it on Kauai!


  • Mixing Bowl
  • Spatula or something for mixing (not a whisk)
  • Deep Pot for boiling
  • Strainer or spider strainer to fish out what your boiling


  • 1.5 cup Elbow Macaroni
  • 1 cup Medium Diced Potatoes
  • 1/2 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Fine Dice Celery
  • 1/4 cup Fine Shredded Carrots
  • 1/8 cup Fine Dice Onion
  • 1/8 cup Green Peas
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 2 Tbsp Pickled Relish (fine dice whole pickles is what we did, I tend to like the flavor and texture of whole pickle vs sliced or a relish, then I can cut them how I need them)
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • Salt
  • White Pepper – black pepper is okay if you don’t mind the look of the dark flakes
TLDR: Shorts Guide
Follow Along Video


  1. Bring to a boil some seasoned water in your pot and cook the potatoes until you can easily poke through it. A little bite/crunch is okay.
  2. Strain out the potatoes then bring water back to a boil (add more water or salt if needed) cook the mac super well! Al dente is for Italians, it’s definitely more Hawaiian style to get it a little past the al dente point but not mush.
  3. In your mixing bowl combine mayo, sugar, and mustard.
  4. Add your relish, celery, carrots, and onions. Mix well.
  5. Fold in your peas, potatoes and mac then season with salt and white pepper.
  6. Taste the mix to see if you need any adjustments.
    • Pro Tip – Mac salad should have a full flavor profile from all those ingredients working together rather than only mayo or no mayo. It’s okay to add whatever you prefer, I tend to add extra relish as I enjoy the tang especially with any of the fried plate lunches, with teri beef or more saltier main ingredients I make the mac salad slightly sweeter (keyword slightly). That way the whole dish works together to give you a full bodied tasty experience!
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Try it With:

  • For spicy mac salad, I like to add gochujang to the dressing as we find sriracha very plain.
  • Top it with a little furikake!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.