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Hawaiian Macaroni Salad (L&L BBQ Copycat)

This Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is a magnificent side dish for all the cookouts and picnics. This is reminiscent of the famous L&L Hawaiian BBQ mac salad. Make it completely ahead of time. 

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad in Dish

Macaroni Salad, Island Style

I grew up near the sandy beaches of So. Cal. Being on the West Coast near the ocean and year-round sunshine means a thriving Hawaiian culture, evidenced through surf and food.

I can’t speak to the surf, since the most adventurous I ever got on the waves was via boogie board. But food? That I can gab for days about. Hawaiian food joints were all around me, and simply adored it.

Anything from mom-and-pops, hole-in-the-wall restaurants to Hawaiian fast food joints, combination plates of teriyaki chicken or steak teriyaki beef abound. Lunch Plates = Swoon.

The side dishes are just as decadent.  It doesn’t get better than the refreshing crispness of  chopped Asian chicken salad and the huge flavors of this creamy macaroni salad.

Macaroni Salad in serving dish

Make-Ahead Mac Salad for Your Next Gathering

I’m not even a mac salad type of gal, but this one is ridiculously flavorful. If you’re on the fence about macaroni salad, give this super easy recipe a try for your next cookout or picnic.

This Hawaiian macaroni salad requires only a handful of ingredients and is amazing the flavors are allowed to meld together overnight; it’s the perfect side dish for any picnic or backyard cookout.

To make a batch of mac salad ahead of time, cook up your macaroni until it’s nice and tender. Drain and rinse in cold water to halt the cooking. Be sure it’s well drained so no excess water interferes with the dish.

Then pile on the shredded carrots, minced onions, green onions, and spices. Real mayo for creaminess. It’s that easy. Mix it all together and chill in a covered container until you’re ready to serve. Again, letting your mac salad chill overnight results in fabulous flavors.

Ingredients for Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Plan Your Menu (Make-Ahead Recipes)

This creamy, easy macaroni salad is superb alongside your favorite BBQ meats and veggies.

Here’s a simple cookout menu that spotlights prep-ahead recipes so you can actually relax and enjoy your meal with friends and family.

Appetizer4-Ingredient Crock Pot Buffalo Meatballs are not only unbelievably easy, but they can be prepared ahead of time and won’t crowd up your grill space. The slow cooker also frees up your stovetop and oven and keeps your kitchen cool.

Main Dish: No need to choose between beef or chicken, with these two delicious options. This Hawaiian BBQ Grilled Chicken Recipe can be marinated ahead of time (up to 2 days ahead) and is budget friendly. Our 30-Minute Steak Teriyaki is simple, quick, and boasts huge flavors.

Side Dish: this macaroni salad, recipe card below

Drinks: You’ll love this make-ahead Hawaiian Mai Tai for the adults. Kids adore this 4-Ingredient Orange Julius Recipe that takes only 5 minutes to whip up, and can be chilled until ready to serve (older kids can easily make these on their own.)

Dessert: This easy One Bowl Yum-Yum Cake is ultra moist and fits the tropical theme. It’s shocking how tender and tasty this cake is, given that it needs no oil nor butter. Feel free to find for your favorite sweet treat to serve up (or ask someone else to bring!)

Macaroni Salad in white dish

Try this Easy, Delicious Potato Salad, too:

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad (L&L BBQ Copycat)

4.60 from 37 ratings
This Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is so good, it's addictive. Easy to make, feeds a crowd, and tastes awesome. Don't be surprised when people go back for seconds and thirds of this mac salad.
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Servings: 8


  • ½ lb dry elbow macaroni
  • ¼ cup onion, minced
  • 2 TB shredded carrots
  • 1 cup real, whole mayo
  • ¼ cup green onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • Optional: freshly chopped parsley for garnish


  • Bring a large pot of well salted water to boil. Cook macaroni until tender, according to package instructions. Drain, rinse thoroughly with cold water; be sure to drain well.
  • Combine remaining ingredients with the cold, cooked macaroni. Toss to combine well. Chill 2-3 hours or overnight. Toss again right before serving.


Calories: 308kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 4.3g | Fat: 21.1g | Saturated Fat: 3.3g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 11.6mg | Sodium: 353.9mg | Fiber: 1.9g | Sugar: 2.7g
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Asian American
Diet: Vegetarian
Method: Stovetop

Did you make this?

Leave a comment below and tag @chewoutloud on Instagram

A BBQ party isn’t complete without all the awesome sides! Here are some faves:

  1. Southwestern Barley Salad. Light yet packed with flavor. The lime and cilantro really shine, while barley adds a toothsome satisfaction.


  1. Hawaiian Salmon Poke. Not really a side, but an extremely popular appetizer (or light dinner) in Hawaii. Nutritious and delicious.

Hawaiian Salmon Poke 3

  1. Potato Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette. A deliciously tangy, slightly sweet, and zippy potato salad that adds tasty interest to your table.


  1. Caprese Pasta Salad. As delicious as it is pretty. Perfect spring/summer side dish or light lunch.

Caprese Pasta Salad

Add a comment

Recipe Rating


    • Katie
    • 3 stars

    It will be great once I add more pasta but this had way to much salt to begin with.

      • chewoutloud

      Give the kosher salt a try, Katie! 🙂

    • Hekele

    L & L and Zippys are a staple of Hawaiian culture. Too bad you missed it!

    • Veronika
    • 5 stars

    Love this recipe! I want to try to make it for our family BBQ cookout! So simple to make but it looks like it so tasty! Can’t wait to try!

    • Tammy
    • 5 stars

    I love your version of macaroni salad…I honestly love it! I always make it for bbqs and cookouts. This sounds like a wonderful recipe and I’d love to try it soon!

    • Colleen
    • 5 stars

    I’ve never heard of L&L (How did I miss it in all of my trips to Hawaii?) But this looks like a delicious macaroni salad!

      • Leilani

      I’m a local and L&L is like McDonald’s or In
      & Out for us. They serve tons of local kine food. It’s a big deal.

        • chewoutloud

        Yes, Leilani! Love it 🙂

    • Uma S
    • 5 stars

    My husband love macaroni salad with peas and carrots. This will be perfect for him to pack some lunch box. saving this recipe. This looks so good and flavorful!

    • Amanda
    • 5 stars

    I’m so excited I found this macaroni salad recipe! I love the macaroni salad from L&L, and it’s such a spot-on copycat. Delicious!

    • Tatiana
    • 5 stars

    Saving this recipe to try this weekend! I have a barbecue to go and that salad sounds like an amazing dish for me to bring over!

    • Kathryn Donangelo
    • 5 stars

    This Shrimp Macaroni Salad is incredible! So creamy and packed with flavor- definitely a new BBQ favorite!

    • Aline
    • 5 stars

    We grilled ribs this weekend and served this as a side!! Total winner!!! Will be making it again for sure!! Thanks!

      • chewoutloud

      You’re so welcome, Aline! 🙂

    • Shelley
    • 5 stars

    I’m DEFINITELY not on the fence when it comes to macaroni salad – I’m all in! For whatever reason, it’s always been one of my favorite BBQ and picnic side dishes. Not that I need even more of a reason to make it, but it’s really fun that you created a whole coordinating menu to pair with this, including Hawaiian chicken and mai tais! The perfect makings of a luau party! Thanks for all the inspiration!

    • Annette

    We love L&L’s macaroni salad. Yes, I have found tuna in it. I think it might be their secret ingredient. There isn’t much, I thought maybe they used the same spoon they used for making a tuna salad as there is so little. But I think it really adds to the goodness of the macaroni salad.

      • chewoutloud

      Thanks, Annette! 🙂

    • Joleen

    This recipe is perfect. The only problem is that I want to eat it all before dinner, and it makes me miss living in California (ample Hawaiian food access). Thanks!

      • chewoutloud

      Joleen, so happy you liked this mac salad! I agree – miss Cali so much! Thanks for coming over today 🙂

    • David K. Wilson

    Thank you for not having vinegar in the ingredients. I don’t understand all these sweet and sour vinegary recipes. A true Hawaiian style mac salad basically tastes like macaroni, mayo and a few bland vegetables for texture/crunch. Credentials include being born and raised on Oahu.

      • chewoutloud

      Awesome, David! So glad you like this dish 🙂 Mahalo!

    • Jaci
    • 5 stars

    Tomorrow’s weather forecast calls for BBQ pork steaks along with this wonderful Mac salad and other sides. Just love a cold Mac salad! Thank you for the recipe. Pinterest follower! Jaci from Missouri

    • Lindsay

    To be honest it sounds like your missing a couple of ingredients for a real L&L Hawaii salad or maybe it’s made differently then how they make it in Hawaii .When my husband was stationed oahu we always went out to the random restaurants or L&L’ s located on Oahu and it always had a bit of a sweet taste .think about Hawaiian BBQ it’s usually sweet because Hawaiians like it sweet . During October candy corn is a huge seller in Hawaii . This version sounds good but I suggest you try adding some celery seed or using celery salt instead of regular and a bit of sugar . I was always told to put a tablespoon or two in it when I asked a waitress how it was made at a pancake house . Of course that depends on how much your making but still I suggest you give it a try and only add as much as you like . I myself like to stay away from and cut the sugar out as much as possible but I don’t think it would be the same without it . Also thanks for the info dorthy now I know why my salads were always dry the next day .

      • chewoutloud

      Thanks for the ideas and thoughts, Lindsay! 🙂

    • ray’s drive in

    here another l & l mac salad: boil mac in hot water with chicken bouillon; when well done drain don’t rinse; allow to cool; add shredded blanched carrots, mayo, salt and pepper to taste. That’s it.

    • Jennifer M Avila

    Can’t forget the tuna in the l&l copycat mac salad

      • chewoutloud

      Jennifer, we enjoyed it when they used to have tuna in it a long time ago, too! Thanks for being here today 🙂

        • Stephanie

        They still put tuna in it.

          • Kanawai

          Laie L&L does not put tuna inside. Honestly, I feel like tuna would be gross inside mac salad when I’m trying to eat the other BBQ meats.

            • Zaina
            • 5 stars

            I agree kanawai it would be gross and our l&l’s here in California do not put tuna in it …this recipe is delicious I’ve made it twice now taste just like it

              • chewoutloud

              So happy you guys like this recipe! 🙂

        • dorothy

        CRITICAL FOR MAYO-BASED SALADS: ingredients must be room-temperature or colder. If the ingredients are warm, the mayonnaise be absorbed into the starch (ie pasta or potato) and disappear. Dish will still taste good but then you will have lost the silky texture and appearance of the mayo.

        • Liz

        Thanks so much for the lovely recipe.

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