Pasta salad is great for so many reasons. It is easy to make ahead, easily transportable, easily customizable, and delicious. This Filipino macaroni salad is no different! It makes a great dish for upcoming summer cookouts, or an easy side to pack in lunches or picnics. If you've had Hawaiian macaroni salad, this is a leveled up version with more veggies and protein to pack more nutrition in every bite.
Warm weather calls for cool, refreshing sides. This Filipino style macaroni salad is a slightly sweet macaroni only because of the raisins. It's light, with a little shredded chicken and cheddar cheese to balance the savory side of the dish (and lend a little protein!)
Why You'll Love This Filipino Macaroni Salad
Inexpensive Ingredients – Macaroni salad is famously cheap to make, and this version stays true to that! Whip up a batch when you need something cheap on the fly.
Love Your Leftovers – You can use leftover rotisserie chicken for this recipe, just make sure it's not the flavored variety like barbeque. Otherwise, it will taste like bbq chicken macaroni salad. You also only need ½ cup of corn, so it can be a great way to repurpose leftover corn as well.
Ingredients for Filipino Macaroni Salad
- Macaroni – You can use ordinary boxed elbow macaroni for this recipe. You will need 2 cups of uncooked noodles (or about 4 cups cooked.)
- Mayonnaise – Depending on your desired level of creaminess, I recommend 1-1 ½ cups of mayonnaise to dress your macaroni salad.
- Relish – A little sweet pickle relish adds tanginess and a slight crunch that I think really makes mayonnaise-based salads perfect!
- Chicken – You will need 1 cup of shredded chicken. Leftover chicken works if you have some. Otherwise, we will cook the chicken in the instructions below, so just make sure you have enough to make about a cup once shredded. Cut your prep time by using a mixer to shred your chicken!
- Salt – You will need a little salt to season the dressing. Your mayonnaise and chicken broth will already taste salty, so add to taste, but I generally use about ½ teaspoon.
- Chicken Bouillon – If you haven’t used it, bouillon is a paste that you can use to make broth or stock. In this recipe, the bouillon gets mixed with the mayonnaise to make your dressing. You can also use it to prepare your chicken broth, if you wish.
- Chicken Broth – You will need 2 cups of chicken broth to cook your chicken, pasta, and carrots. You can use boxed broth, or use some extra bouillon to prepare your broth!
Optional Ingredients (But Necessary In My Opinion)
I prefer you follow this recipe to the T. My grand mother would not be very happy. I'm kidding, but that said, it will change the flavor panel if you omit any of these. Some folks however, have allergies or dislike some of these ingredients.
- Pineapple – Canned pineapple works great for this recipe. Just make sure it is thinly sliced so that it is easy to get some in a bite with every component!
- Corn – I like a little corn in this recipe for the texture, and the flavor perfectly marries the sweet and savory components of the dish.
- Cheddar Cheese – Diced cheese is a signature piece of Filipino macaroni salad. You can purchase a block of cheddar and cut it into small cubes.
- Carrots – You will need to dice two carrots for this macaroni salad, however, don’t include this step in your prep, as you will cook them a little during the recipe, and they are easier to cut once cooked!
- Raisins – The sweet, fruity element is another signature component of Filipino macaroni salad. I use ¼ cup of raisins in mine. You can add more if you wish, but too much can be overpowering.
How to Make Macaroni Salad Filipino Style
- Combine half chicken broth and half water in a pot. Boil your chicken in the mixture until cooked through.
- Set the chicken aside to cool, then shred it by hand or with a mixer.
- Cook your macaroni according to the box instructions and allow to cool.
- Boil your carrots until cooked, but not mushy. Dice into small squares. Dice cheddar cheese into small squares.
- In a small bowl, mix salt, mayonnaise, and bouillon.
- In a large bowl, mix all ingredients. Chill in the refrigerator, and enjoy!
First, pour 2 cups of chicken broth, and 2 cups of water into a pot and heat to boil. Add your chicken and boil until the chicken is fully cooked.
Once your chicken finishes cooking, remove it from the pot and set it aside to cool. When it has cooled enough to touch, you can shred it either by hand or using a mixer. Set aside.
Add your macaroni noodles to the pot of boiling liquid. Cook it according to the instructions on the package. Once you finish cooking your macaroni, drain and set it aside to cool.
After removing your pasta from the pot, place your carrots in the chicken broth and water mixture, and boil them for around 5-10 minutes. You want the carrots to be fork tender, but not mushy. Remove them from the pot and dice them.
Dice your cheddar cheese into small squares. Next, make the dressing for your macaroni salad. Mix 1-1 ½ cups of mayonnaise, ½ tsp chicken bouillon paste, and salt to taste, or about ½ tsp.
Place your cooked macaroni, shredded chicken, diced carrots, diced cheddar cheese, relish, pineapple, corn, raisins, and dressing all in a large bowl and mix until completely combined.
Cover your macaroni salad and place it in the refrigerator to chill. Enjoy cold or at room temperature!
- You can keep your macaroni salad in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
- Furthermore, chicken is safe to eat when it reaches an internal temperature of 165F.
- Do not attempt to freeze your macaroni salad. The dressing will not thaw well.
- Some family recipes call for condensed milk, as a result you will get a sweet macaroni salad. I think this recipe has more than enough sweetness, for instance from the pineapple and raisins.
You should prepare Filipino macaroni salad similarly to other macaroni salads, however with an additional step: cooking chicken. There are a few other differences in ingredients, including the addition of pineapple, carrots, raisins, and cubed cheese. My husband says this is favorite macaroni salad! He's a tough sell sometimes so I'm sure you'll also love this recipe.
While this chicken macaroni salad may not be as healthy as a green salad, it is not an unhealthy choice either. The ingredient that sometimes raises a nutritional red flag for health conscious cooks is mayonnaise. You can opt for mayo made with a healthy oil, or you can substitute half of the mayo for avocado puree or greek yogurt. You can also choose a whole wheat, or vegetable based pasta if the macaroni is a concern. It definately won't taste the same! I say follow the recipe and eat in moderation!
Why is my macaroni salad not creamy?
Make sure to cook your pasta al dente. If the pasta is over or undercooked, the mayonnaise will not properly cling to the noodles. You can also add more mayonnaise if you prefer.
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Filipino Macaroni Salad Recipe
- 2 c. uncooked elbow macaroni pasta
- 1 c - 1.5 c. c mayonnaise
- ¼ c sweet pickle relish
- 1 c shredded chicken
- 1 15oz can pineapple rings sliced thinly
- ½ c. can corn optional
- ½ c cheddar cheese diced in cubes
- 2 small carrots diced
- ¼ c raisins
- ½ tsp salt or to taste
- 1 tsp. chicken bouillon paste
- 2 c hicken broth
- Boil chicken in half chicken broth, half water, until cooked
- Allow the chicken to cool and shred by hand or with a mixer
- Cook macaroni per box instructions and allow to cool
- Boil carrots, until cooked but not mushy, dice into small squares
- Dice cheddar cheese into small squares
- In a small bowl, mix salt, mayonnaise, and bouillon.
- In a large bowl, mix all ingredients
- Chill in refrigerator and enjoy cold.