Filipino-style Macaroni Salad is a must for any party or celebration! It’s loaded with chicken, ham, cheese, and crushed pineapple for a hearty and delicious side dish that’s sure to be a crowd favorite.
Like spaghetti, Filipino-style macaroni salad is one of the dishes we adapted from the west and gave our Pinoy twist. Bursting with tropical flavors, it’s the perfect fit for our tastes.
This recipe was first published in September 2013, but I am giving it a little makeover today with new photos and cooking tips because, well, Christmas is almost here. No Filipino party or gathering is complete without chicken macaroni, and if I may say so myself, this version of mine is THE mother of all macaroni salads!
- Do not overcook the macaroni. It gets tossed with a huge amount of mixed ins and you want it firm enough to hold up.
- Poach the chicken instead of “boil”. This gentle method of cooking ensures the meat is moist and succulent instead of dry and stringy. I like to use boneless chicken breasts but a combination of dark and white meat will work well, too.
- Blanch the carrots. Like poaching the chicken, this step makes a big difference. By parboiling in hot water and then immediately shocking them in iced water, the vegetables stay vibrant and tender-crisp.
- Add your favorite mix-ins. l like to dice sweet gherkin pickles for extra crunch but feel free to swap sweet pickle relish. Feel free to experiment with other add-ins such as chopped bell peppers or celery for flavor and color.
- Do not skip the condensed milk! It adds creaminess and a touch of sweetness which counterbalances the savory flavors of the dish.
- Cool the ingredients completely. For food safety, allow the pasta and ingredients to cool completely before mixing.
- Chill in the refrigerator. The pasta salad will be a little loose when first combined but it will thicken beautifully after an hour or so in the fridge. I know everyone will be excited to dig in but give it a little time to cool completely and meld.
How long can you keep macaroni salad
- Although you can prep the salad in advance, I don’t recommend keeping it at room temperature for more than 2 hours or for more than 3 days in the refrigerator due to food safety. With mayo, eggs, and other protein-rich ingredients, it will spoil quicker than most foods.
- Unfortunately, due to the nature of the ingredients, this chicken macaroni salad does not freeze well. The fats and oils in the mayonnaise break down and lose creaminess when frozen and thawed.
- 1 pound uncooked medium elbow macaroni
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh meat
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 cup ham, cubed
- 6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 can (14 ounces) crushed pineapple
- 1 cup Eden or Velveeta Cheese, cubed
- 1/2 cup sweet pickle relish
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 onion, peeled and diced
- 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
- salt and pepper to taste
In a pot over medium heat, bring about 4 quarts salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook according to package directions for about 8 to 9 minutes or until firm to bite. Drain well and allow to cool completely.
In a pot, add chicken meat and enough water to cover. Bring the water to a boil, skimming scum that floats on top. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked through. Drain from the liquid, allow to completely cool and shred. Set aside.
In a pot, bring water to a boil. Add diced carrots and cook for about 30 seconds. With a slotted spoon, remove from water and plunge into an ice bath until completely cool. Drain and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine macaroni, chicken, carrots, ham, eggs, crushed pineapple including packing juice, cheese, sweet pickle relish, raisins, onions, mayonnaise, and sweetened condensed milk. Gently stir together until evenly distributed.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for about 1 hour to cool completely and to allow flavors to meld.