Filipino Macaroni Salad Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 25 min. Cook: 20 min. + chilling
Filipino macaroni salad, packed with ham, chicken and pineapple, and studded with raisins, gives the American-style version of pasta salad a sweet makeover.

Updated: Jun. 25, 2024

This recipe is a staple at gatherings in many Filipino households. It comprises a bounty of flavors and textures, including canned pineapple, raisins, Velveeta cheese and chicken.

Like Hawaiian macaroni salad, Filipino macaroni salad is sweeter than the usual Midwestern pasta salads. It’s also a versatile dish. As an option, you can leave out the chicken, ham and eggs and add more fruit to serve the dish as a dessert, a common tradition in the Philippines.

Ingredients for Filipino Macaroni Salad

  • Pasta: As in other macaroni salads, elbow macaroni is the base of this dish. You can also use pasta shapes like penne, rotini or shells.
  • Chicken: Boneless skinless chicken breasts are shredded to make Filipino macaroni salad a filling lunch or dinner on its own.
  • Chicken bouillon granules: Bouillon flavors the cooking water for the chicken.
  • Vegetables: Cooked carrots bring a pop of color and a mild sweetness to the salad, while onions offer slightly spicy notes.
  • Pineapple: A can of pineapple tidbits performs double duty in this Filipino-style macaroni salad recipe: The juice infuses the dressing with tropical flavors, while the crushed pieces of fruit are a sweet, juicy complement to the veggies.
  • Ham: Plenty of cubed ham adds to the chicken to make Filipino macaroni salad a hearty meal.
  • Raisins: This dried fruit adds another layer of texture to the macaroni salad.
  • Eggs: Chopped hard-boiled eggs increase the salad’s protein level, and the yolks give the dressing extra depth and creaminess once the ingredients are combined.
  • Velveeta cheese: Cubes of Velveeta, which has a flavor and texture similar to Eden, a popular processed cheese product in the Philippines, bring bites of cheesy goodness to the salad.
  • Mayonnaise: Rich mayo is a quintessential component of a classic macaroni salad.
  • Sweetened condensed milk: This canned milk has a sweet flavor and velvety texture—it’s the star of the dressing.
  • Pickle relish: Along with the mayo and condensed milk, tangy pickle relish creates the dressing for this salad.

Directions

Step 1: Prepare the pasta

Cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Drain the pasta in a colander, and rinse in cold water.

Step 2: Cook the chicken

Meanwhile, add the chicken to a large saucepan and cover it with water. Add the bouillon powder and bring the water to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is no longer pink, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain the chicken, shred the meat and set it aside to cool.

Editor’s Tip: Shred your chicken breasts on a cutting board with two forks, or use a stand mixer. Put the chicken in the bowl and turn the mixer on low speed until the pieces break into shreds.

Step 3: Boil the carrots

Add the carrots to a small saucepan, cover them with water and bring the water to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the carrots are tender, five to seven minutes. Drain the carrots and set them aside to cool.

Step 4: Smash the pineapple

Drain the pineapple and reserve the juice. Put the pineapple in a large bowl and mash the pieces with a potato masher until no large pieces are left. Stir in the cooked macaroni, chicken, carrots, ham, raisins, onion, eggs and cheese.

Editor’s Tip: If you don’t have a potato masher, use a fork or the bottom of a mug to break up the pineapple.

Step 5: Assemble the salad

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sweetened condensed milk, relish, salt, pepper and reserved pineapple juice until well blended. Stir it into the pasta mixture. Cover and refrigerate the salad for at least an hour before serving.

Filipino Macaroni Salad Variations

  • Make it meatless: If you prefer a veggie-forward Filipino macaroni salad, nix the chicken, ham, eggs and Velveeta and add more veggies (chopped celery, red pepper or jicama are all great options). You can also make the dish vegan by using dairy-free condensed milk and plant-based mayo.
  • Try a dessert salad: You can make a sweeter Filipino macaroni salad by substituting the savory ingredients—meat, eggs and veggies—for more fruit, such as chunks of fresh pineapple and peaches. To make a more traditional Filipino recipe for macaroni salad, add ingredients such as kaong (sugar palm fruit) or nata de coco (coconut gel), both ingredients sold at many Asian supermarkets.

How long does Filipino macaroni salad last?

Filipino macaroni salad will last up to five days when it’s stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Stir in a little extra mayonnaise just before serving to refresh the salad, as the pasta will absorb moisture from the dressing and the leftovers can be dry.

Can you make Filipino macaroni salad in advance?

Absolutely! We actually recommend refrigerating the salad for a few hours (or overnight) before serving it, to allow the flavors to meld together. Just make sure to keep the salad properly covered to prevent it from drying out.

Filipino Macaroni Salad Recipe Tips

How else can you cook chicken for Filipino macaroni salad?

There are tons of ways to cook chicken for Filipino macaroni salad, like using an Instant Pot or slow cooker. If you have leftover chicken, use that for this recipe! And if you’re short on time, pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store to shred for the dish.

What mistakes should you avoid when making macaroni salad?

Filipino macaroni salad is a forgiving recipe, so it’s hard to go wrong. However, some mistakes to avoid include overcooking the pasta (follow the directions on the package) and not whisking the dressing properly (it should be smooth). If you add extra fruit, veggies or protein, don’t forget to make more dressing.

What can you serve with Filipino macaroni salad?

This macaroni salad Filipino-style is often served as a side dish, particularly at gatherings and holiday meals. Build your own feast of Filipino dishes such as chicken adobo, bola-bola (Filipino-style meatballs) and lumpia, all of which taste delicious with Filipino macaroni salad.

What other types of macaroni salad can you make?

If you love the Filipino version of macaroni salad, there are oodles of other crowd-pleasing recipes to try, including Mexican macaroni salad and Greek macaroni salad.

Filipino Macaroni Salad

Prep Time 25 min
Cook Time 20 min
Yield 16 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 package (16 ounces) uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 can (20 ounces) pineapple tidbits, undrained
  • 1 cup cubed fully cooked ham
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 6 hard-boiled large eggs, chopped
  • 4 ounces Velveeta, cubed
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions

  1. Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain. Rinse in cold water. Meanwhile, add chicken to a large saucepan; cover with water. Add bouillon. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until chicken is no longer pink, 12-15 minutes. Drain. Shred chicken and allow to cool.
  2. Add carrots to a small saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until tender, 5-7 minutes. Drain and allow to cool.
  3. Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Put pineapple into a large bowl. Mash with potato masher until no large pieces remain. Stir in cooked macaroni, chicken, carrots ham, raisins, onion, eggs and cheese. In a small bowl, whisk mayonnaise, sweetened condensed milk, relish, salt, pepper and reserved pineapple juice until blended; stir into pasta mixture.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup: 483 calories, 27g fat (6g saturated fat), 101mg cholesterol, 567mg sodium, 50g carbohydrate (27g sugars, 2g fiber), 12g protein.

This Filipino macaroni salad is always on the buffet table at family parties. It's such a sweet and unique combination of flavors that you almost forget it's not a dessert! Make it even sweeter by adding 3/4 cup of kaong (the sugar palm fruit used in halo-halo) or 3/4 cup of nata de coco. Some of my family members add a can of sweet corn too. —Angelica Cataldo, Orlando, Florida
Recipe Creator