How to Make Hawaiian Potato Salad

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This Hawaiian potato salad is perfect for a mainland barbecue.

The subtle sweet flavor, hint of sesame oil and bright vegetables of Hawaiian potato salad will transport you straight to the Aloha State. This recipe uses crunchy vegetables and creamy dressing to make an otherwise unassuming side dish the star of the show!

What Is Hawaiian Potato Salad Made Of?

If you’ve heard of “mac salad,” Hawaii’s staple plate lunch side, this potato salad is like its cousin, marrying the best of classic macaroni salad with the starchiness of potatoes. Hawaiian potato salad is made with potatoes, macaroni noodles, hard-boiled eggs and shredded carrots.

Like any family recipe, the spices, vegetables and secret ingredients differ from dish to dish. But one common thread in peoples’ homemade Hawaiian potato salad is lightly sweetening the mayo with sugar. Using Kewpie brand mayonnaise also adds a nice umami taste to balance the flavors.

How to Make Hawaiian Potato Salad

Ingredients

  • 6-8 medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1/2 cup macaroni noodles
  • 3 chopped hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 3 stalks green onion
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (Kewpie preferred)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper

Editor’s Tip: You can find Kewpie at an Asian market or on Amazon, or make Japanese mayonnaise at home.

Directions

Step 1: Cook the pasta

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook 1/2 cup macaroni noodles until al dente, about 6-7 minutes. Strain the noodles, reserving the water so you can boil your potatoes, peas and eggs in the same water. Let the noodles cool to room temperature.

Step 2: Boil the eggs

Return the water to boiling and gently add eggs to the water. Set a timer for 11 minutes and let them hard-boil. Carefully remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl to cool to room temperature.

Step 3: Cook the potatoes

potatoes in water in a bowlMegan Barrie For Taste of Home

Prepare the potatoes by giving them a good scrub, then dice them into 1/4-inch chunks to make the pieces all uniform. Place in a bowl of cold water to remove excess starch. Once you return the large pot of water back up to a boil, add potatoes, letting them cook about 10-15 minutes until they’re tender (a knife inserted should pierce easily and come out clean).

Add the frozen peas to the potatoes one minute before the potatoes are done, then strain the two together to let cool to room temperature. Make sure the potatoes are fully cooled before combining with any ingredients. You can even put the potatoes and peas in the fridge to cool while you prep the vegetables.

Step 4: Dice the remaining vegetables

close up of chopped vegetables separated into piles in a bowlMegan Barrie For Taste of Home

As the noodles, potatoes, eggs and peas cool, rinse the remaining vegetables and dice the celery, onion and cucumber into small cubes. Shred the carrot finely and give the green onion a fine slice as well. Toss into a large bowl. Remove eggshells and give them a quick dice to break up the yolk and whites.

Step 5: Make the dressing

close up of unmixed ingredients in a bowl for making Hawaiian potato saladMegan Barrie For Taste of Home

Combine the mayonnaise, sugar, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, mustard and salt and pepper to taste.

Step 6: Toss the salad together

close up of mixed ingredients for Hawaiian potato saladMegan Barrie For Taste of Home

Retrieve your cooled macaroni, potatoes, eggs and peas and toss into the bowl with the diced vegetables. Pour your dressing on top and stir thoroughly to coat the ingredients. Give it a taste and adjust seasoning accordingly. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours) before serving.

Editor’s Tip: It’s tempting to dig right in, but give the flavors at least 30 minutes to come together.

Tips for Making Hawaiian Potato Salad

Do I have to use Kewpie mayo?

No, but if you have access to Japanese mayo, this would be a great recipe for it. Its umami flavor and creaminess add that extra oomph to make this potato salad unique.

Can you make Hawaiian potato salad ahead of time?

Yes! It’s a perfect make-ahead dish because it’s best served chilled. Just keep it stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. You might also decide to omit vegetables like cucumber, which have a high water content, to prevent them from releasing excess water ahead of time.

How should you store Hawaiian potato salad?

Like any other mayo-based salad, we highly recommend keeping Hawaiian potato salad chilled up until serving. If you’re meeting up for a picnic, transport it in a cooler with ice packs—and don’t leave it sitting out on a hot day for too long. Keep it covered, shaded and cool.

If your potato salad hasn’t been brought outside, you should feel more comfortable placing it in an airtight container and enjoying for up to 3 days later if refrigerated.

What can you serve with Hawaiian potato salad?

Hawaiian potato salad goes well with lots of dishes like Hawaiian pineapple chicken, pork chops, burgers and dinner rolls or as part of a nice summertime spread. It’s also a great addition to other staple Hawaiian foods like spam musubi or with a plate lunch.

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Megan Barrie
I'm a home cook, instructor, and recipe developer focused on celebrating seasonal, comforting, Japanese-y food. I founded a platform called Seasoned Cook to give people the building blocks to make cooking approachable and enjoyable every day. My recipes are currently featured on Harvest Queen and Taste of Home.