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!
With a delicious assortment of hearty pasta, shredded chicken, cubed ham and cheese, crushed pineapples, plump raisins, diced carrots, and chopped eggs, it’s an array of flavors and textures your guests wouldn’t be able to get enough of. They will be lining up for seconds. Or thirds!
Good thing this macaroni salad recipe can be easily doubled (or tripled) for a large crowd and can be prepped in advance for less-stress entertaining.
- 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.
Filipino-style macaroni salad makes a delicious side dish for special occasions or holiday celebrations. It’s also a great addition to picnics, BBQs, and potlucks.
If you’re looking for more festive salads, enjoy the same flavors in potato form! Or try my pasta fruit salad for a delicious Noche Buena dessert option. If you like tuna, I’ve got you covered, too!