Filipino macaroni salad made extra special! Lusciously creamy with a hint of sweetness and a tangy kick. With minimal effort required, this salad is a great choice for parties, BBQs, and potluck gatherings.
Filipino Macaroni Salad
What sets Filipino Macaroni Salad apart from other salads is its combination of sweet, tangy, and zesty flavors. The addition of condensed milk imparts a gentle sweetness that beautifully complements the savory elements, such as meat, pickles, and cheese.
One of the best features of this Filipino Macaroni Salad is its simplicity. With minimal preparation required, you can easily whip it up for your gatherings. What's even better? You can make this salad ahead of time, giving you the freedom to prepare it in advance. This way, you can fully enjoy the festivities and cherish quality time with your loved ones.
The options are endless, but here are my absolute favorite macaroni salad ingredients:
My top choice of protein for macaroni salad is shredded or diced chicken along with cheese. The combination of chicken and cheese brings a delightful flavor and texture to the dish.
In addition to chicken, you have other good options to consider, such as diced ham, crispy bacon, and hard-boiled eggs. These ingredients add their own unique elements to the macaroni salad, providing additional savory contrast you will absolutely lovely enjoy!
Types of Cheese
Sharp or mild cheddar cheese is a classic option for macaroni salad. Colby-Jack cheese, swiss cheese are also good alternatives, and pepper jack if you enjoy a little kick of heat,
💭 Tip: Remember to shred or dice the cheese into small pieces for easy mixing and even distribution throughout the salad.
Vegetables and Other Ingredients
Here are my favorite vegetables for Filipino macaroni salad:
- Bell Peppers - use green bell peppers and red bell peppers. I use this alternately with celery.
- Carrots - for color and extra crunchy texture. You can use shredded or diced carrots.
- Red Onion - adds depth and sharp flavor. You can also use yellow onion but red onion is my personal choice.
- Raisins - Filipino macaroni salad is never complete without raisins. It adds a natural touch of sweetness and chewy texture.
Filipino Salad Dressing
This dressing has a perfect balance of sweetness, tanginess, and a hint of savory flavor. It gives the salad a velvety smooth texture that I'm sure everyone will enjoy.
To make it, you will need:
- Condensed milk - makes the salad creamy and sweet. No need to add additional sugar. This is what makes Filipino salad unique from other macaroni salads.
- Mayonnaise - Use your favorite mayonnaise or the best quality of mayonnaise you can find. My personal favorites are Lady's Choice or Best Food as they tend to be on the tangier side which is perfect for salads.
- Vinegar - balances the sweetness of the condensed milk.
- Salt and pepper - lift up the overall taste of the dressing. Don't skip this.
- Pickle relish - adds extra texture, tanginess, and a little bit of sweetness.
Secret to a Creamier Macaroni Salad
My secret to making the best Filipino macaroni salad is adding plain yogurt, cream, or sour cream. It will make it creamy, smooth, and rich. The precise measurements needed for the recipe will be outlined on the recipe card below.
How to Make It
And here's how I make it:
Here are my best tips for making Filipino macaroni salad the easiest way:
- Cook the pasta al dente. Because who wants a mushy salad, right? Simply follow the package instructions for cooking time, and as the pasta nears completion, take a taste test 2 minutes before the recommended time to determine the ideal cooking duration. This way, you'll ensure that your pasta retains a firm yet tender texture, adding a delightful bite to your salad.
- Don't rinse the pasta. The extra starch will help the dressing stick to the pasta.
- To save time, prepare and cut the other ingredients while waiting for the pasta to cook.
- Cool the pasta before adding the dressing and other ingredients. Residual heat may turn the dressing to curdle.
- Make the dressing in a separate bowl. Mix it well then taste test. Adjust the salt, condensed milk (sweetness), and tanginess (vinegar) based on preference.
How to Serve
Filipino macaroni salad is best served chilled. Place the refrigerator for 4 hours, best overnight before serving. Personally, I think macaroni salad tastes better the next day when all the flavors have developed.
What to Serve with Macaroni Salad
Serve this macaroni salad with your favorite BBQ, grilled, and fried foods, such as:
- Lechon Belly
- Filipino Pork BBQ Skewers
- Crispy Lechon Kawali
- Air-fryer BBQ Pork Chops
- Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Thighs
- Soy Garlic Chicken Wings
- Chicken Inasal
- Easy Oven Roasted Chicken
When properly stored, it can last for 3 to 4 days. It is important to keep it properly covered or sealed in an airtight container to maintain its freshness and prevent any contamination.
Watch the Recipe Video
Filipino Macaroni Salad (Extra Creamy!)
- 8 oz elbow macaroni pasta
- 1 ½ tablespoon salt
- water for boiling
Add-ins (note 1)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt then add pasta. Cook per package directions. Do not overcook. Drain then let it cool. No need to rinse.
- Boil chicken breast in water, seasoned with salt and black pepper. Cook until tender, around 15 to 20 minutes. Let it cool, then shred or slice. Set aside.
- In a bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients. Stir until well combined.
- Place pasta in a large mixing bowl. Add cooked chicken and the rest of the salad add-ins. Pour dressing and toss using two large wooden spoons until well coated.
- Do a taste test. Adjust, mayo, condensed milk, vinegar, salt, black pepper, and pickles based on preference.
- Refrigerate for 2 hour or overnight before serving. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes and Tips:
- Other add-in options: ham, left-over roasted chicken, boiled egg, and bacon.
- Yogurt substitute - ½ cup full-fat sour cream or ½ cup cream.
- Storage/Shelf life: Refrigerate the salad in an airtight container within 1 hour of preparing. When properly stored, it can last 3 to 5 days.
- To serve: I love having macaroni salad with baked chicken, BBQ, roasted chicken, grilled steaks, etc.
- Other pasta options: rigatoni, ziti, and shells.
Originally published December 2019. Updated with new photos, video, and a streamlined recipe after further testing to improve the recipe!
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