Love of the macaroni salad runs deep in Hawaii. Did you know that macaroni salad is a requirement when you’re eating a classic Hawaiian plate lunch? Seriously, if you’ve never had a classic plate lunch, it’s always served with two scoops of rice, macaroni salad, and meat. ALWAYS.

A macaroni salad (and rice) is not only a requirement on a plate lunch, it’s a “must have” at family gatherings too. A normal plate lunch macaroni salad is pretty basic with little to no vegetables or tuna. The salads are still great, but the ladies in my family always made it better by adding their own special twist to it.

Like my aunts, my Hawaiian Style Loaded Tuna Macaroni Salad recipe isn’t the typical plate lunch macaroni salad, but a pumped up version of salads that I’ve eaten at family gatherings. This hearty macaroni salad is full of tuna, eggs, carrots, celery, and onions. This salad can be eaten as a tasty side or as a mid-day snack.

Kalua pig plate lunch

Recently, I made my own Kalua pig plate lunch for my family and had the opportunity to get feedback on my Hawaiian Style Loaded Tuna Salad Recipe. Normally, I don’t add any vegetables and only use tuna and egg in the salad because I have really picker eaters to please.

Hawaiian Style Tuna Macaroni Salad

Sorry to call out my boys, but they are the most difficult to please. My husband likes simple ingredients and eats everything plain. He’s the type of guy that finds A-1 sauce “fancy”. Then I have to deal with my two boys, who are extremely picky with food. Both boys don’t like onions and one doesn’t care for carrots, but will eat it if I can hide or shred it small enough. Needless to say, I was worried about serving this loaded tuna salad to my kids, but guess what? I was able to split the base of the salad into two bowls and only added onions to one, which pleased everyone.

Okay, I did receive some grief about the carrots not being shredded small enough for my pickiest son. I guess I can’t please everyone all of the time…*sigh*. Despite his complaint, the rest of my picker eaters managed to finish off this salad in less than 24 hours. Yes, this salad only lasted through one dinner, several snack bowls the next day, and lunch.  Just know that you can adapt this recipe to please your own picker eaters too.

Hawaiian Style Loaded Tuna Macaroni Salad Ingredients

  • macaroni noodles
  • 1 – 12oz. can tuna
  • mayonnaise 
  • milk 
  • apple cider vinegar
  • 5 eggs (boiled)
  • shredded carrots (about one medium carrot)
  • chopped celery
  • dry parsley
  • onions, finely chopped and squeezed (don’t squeeze if you like onion flavor) – optional
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • soy sauce (low sodium preferred) – This is a condiment, but I highly recommend soy sauce as this will add the salt and flavor. It will also allow each person to season as they like.

How to Make Hawaiian Style Loaded Tuna Macaroni Salad 

Hawaiian style loaded tuna macaroni salad

To start this salad, we need to prepare the pasta in salted water and boil some eggs. While the pasta and eggs are cooking, prep all the other ingredients for the salad – drain the tuna, shred the carrot, and chop the celery.This next step is for the onion lovers. If you don’t care for onions, omit this step and leave the onions out, but onions adds help add another flavor layer. 


I tend to like the subtle taste of onions in my macaroni salad and use a little trick to avoid a strong onion taste. I finely chop the onions, place it on a paper napkin, and gently pat out some of the juice. For those that want a stronger onion flavor, skip the squeezing and add the finely chopped onion into the macaroni mix.  Update 7/3/2022: I’ve started to grate my onions and use 2T. for a subtle onion flavor or 3T. for a bit more onion flavor.

By the time all the prep is done, the pasta and eggs should be done cooking. Peel and coarsely chop the eggs to add in later.

Strain the pasta, add it to a large mixing bowl, and mix in apple cider vinegar to the hot pasta for a little bit of tangy. Next, start mixing in all of the prepared ingredients – tuna, carrots, eggs, parsley, and onions*.


*If you have kids/family that aren’t onion lovers, separate the salad mix into two bowls after the mayonnaise/milk mixture is added in the next step and only add onions to one bowl. Make sure you reduce the chopped onions when doing this. Mix together the mayonnaise and milk. Add this to the macaroni mix. If you feel the mix is too dry, add a little more milk/mayo. Salt and pepper to taste.

At this point, the salad is still warm and I prefer my salad cold. If you’re the same, place it in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving and serve with low sodium soy sauce. Soy sauce adds even more flavor and most Hawaii locals will add some on their salads. I suggest you don’t skip the soy sauce. And that’s what I call a Hawaiian Style Loaded Tuna Macaroni Salad that “brok da’ mout”!


brok da mout = Hawaiian pidgin slang for food that is super delicious

What is your family favorite summer side?

Hawaiian Style Loaded Tuna Macaronin Salad

Hawaiian Style Loaded Tuna Macaroni Salad

Yield: 15+
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 13 minutes
Additional Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 33 minutes

How to make Hawaiian style macaroni salad.


  • 3 1/2 cups dry macaroni noodles
  • 1 - 12oz. can tuna
  • 2 cups mayonnaise 
  • 1/2 cup milk 
  • 1-2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 5 eggs (boiled)
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots (about one medium carrot)
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 teaspoon dry parsley
  • 2 - 3T. onions, grated (see notes)
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • soy sauce (low sodium preferred)


  1. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions, making sure to salt the water. Drain and add to a large mixing bowl. Mix in the apple cider vinegar - use 1 T. for a subtle flavor and 2 T. if you like it tangy.
  2. At the same time as the pasta is boiling, boil 5 eggs. When the eggs are done, peel and coarsely chop. Set aside.
  3. While the pasta and eggs are cooking, prepare the other ingredients. Open and drain the tuna. Use a fork to shred the tuna meat. Set aside.
  4. Use a food processor or grater to shred the carrot and chop the celery. Set aside. Grate onion to get 2-3 tablespoons (see notes). Add all of these ingredients to the pasta with the tuna and parsley. Mixture thoroughly. Set aside.
  5. For the mayonnaise mixture, mix together the milk and mayonnaise. Add this into the salad and mix together. If you feel the mix is too dry, add more mayonnaise and milk till you get the consistency you like. (see notes)
  6. Taste the mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. (see notes)
  7. Refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours or until ready to serve. Salad is best topped with soy sauce to each person's liking. (see notes)


  • If you find the salad too dry and want to cut down on adding more mayonnaise, add in a few tablespoons of milk to get the consistency that you like. Note: the macaroni will absorb some of the mayonnaise and milk after sitting in the fridge to cool. Adding a bit more mayonnaise and milk will mostly likely be necessary after it has chilled.
  • For non-onion lovers, split the salad into two bowls and add 2 T. of onions to only one bowl.
  • Optional - The onions can be placed on a paper napkin and squeezed to lessen the intense onion flavor for those that don't want a strong onion flavor.
  • Adding less salt is best in the beginning, as the salt flavor will intensify as the salad cools and the ingredients mix together. Also, this is usually served with soy sauce, which will add more salt and flavor when served.
  • Salad is best served chilled and topped with soy sauce. In Hawaii, most people will splash a bit of Aloha soy sauce on top of their macaroni salad to give it that extra umami flavor.

Did you make this recipe?

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  1. My favorite macaroni salad has to have tuna; but alas, my adult children don’t like it with tuna (go figure). I also add frozen petite peas (not necessary to boil). Couple of tidbits that i learned over the years: (1) onions make the salad go bad – not the mayo, so I add onion powder instead; and (2) add a little of the pasta water for moisture to keep the salad from drying out – not sure about the amount. I always have to add more mayo right before serving. The water helps a lot; I guess same theory with the milk. I also add sweet pickle relish and prepared mustard. Now I’m ono for mac salad.

    1. I’m a tuna lover in mac salad and I’m lucky my kids love it too. As for fresh onions, mac salad never lasts more than 2-3 days at our house, so we don’t have to worry about it going bad 🙂 I also make it without fresh onions for my oldest, who hates the texture of onions and add in onion powder for him. Thanks for taking the time to share your mac salad tips.

  2. I’m a latina and a meal isn’t a meal without a side of rice or macaroni salad either! My kids are picky eaters as well and I know they would love this tuna macaroni salad.

  3. Thanks for the recipe, I wanted to make sure that this salad was at the Luau party we are having at work tomorrow. This and white rice!!

  4. I am not a picker eater and would eat this up in a heart beat! Thanks for sharing such an awesome salad! The best part about finding your recipe today is that I already have everything I need in my pantry! I love recipes like that! Thank you so much for sharing!
    Gina Marie from Always Savory

  5. Erlene – thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop! I have featured you on my Tuesday Treasures. Hope you have time to stop by and take a look!

  6. I’m in love with this! Thank you for sharing this with us! Pinned and tweeted! I hope to see you at tonight’s party. We are always so impressed with your creations and can’t wait to see them! Lou Lou Girls

  7. Looks delicious and my youngest would love it ( she is big tuna fan) – Thanks for linking up to Pin Worthy Wednesday, I have pinned your post to the Pin Worthy Wednesday Pinterest Board

  8. Glad you joined Wednesday round up pin it party, Really want to keep this recipe. I stopped by from the party to pin it and got to check out this delicious dish.

  9. Chilled pasta salads are my favorite meals during summer. I’ve got a couple of picky eaters, too, and I have to leave the onions out of everything if my daughter and son-in-law are eating with us. Looks like a winner to me!

    1. I love chilled pasta salads too. Pasta salads are great for snacks or for a light meal. My oldest son is the one that hates onions and will pick it out of all his foods. I’m so amazed that he can taste even the smallest amount.