Cooking Tips

For the Very Best Macaroni Salad, Overcook the Pasta

This creamy, peppery salad is a potluck game changer and will convert even the greatest macaroni skeptic.

Published Sept. 1, 2022.

The idea of overcooked pasta doesn’t seem particularly appetizing. I get it. 

But there is one recipe that has helped me understand that the notion of “overcooked” doesn’t necessarily have to mean a ruined dinner, and that’s our Hawaiian Macaroni Salad. And you don’t even need to head to those pristine beaches to get it; you can whip it up in your own kitchen.

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10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.

Our Hawaiian Macaroni Salad calls for cooking a pound of macaroni for 15 minutes (a pasta that would usually require only about 10 minutes) to ensure that it becomes a little extra waterlogged, or “fat,” as the recipe suggests.

Natalie Estrada shows Julia Collin Davison how to create the perfect mac salad.

By “overcooking” the pasta in this delicious dish, what you’re really doing is making the macaroni a little softer and more porous, allowing it to soak up the tangy mayonnaise dressing that is poured over it.

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With a hit of pepper, the addition of the creamy dressing, and a pop of color and crunch from fresh carrot and celery, this potluck crowd-pleaser is guaranteed to convert any macaroni skeptic.

And don’t forget to brag about the overcooked pasta.

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