Filipino-style Macaroni Salad is a must for any party or celebration! Loaded with chicken, ham, cheese, and crushed pineapple, it’s hearty, delicious, and a sure crowd favorite.
Like spaghetti, Filipino-style macaroni salad is one of the dishes we adapted from the west and gave our own 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 hodgepodge of hearty pasta, shredded chicken, cubed ham and cheese, crushed pineapples, plump raisins, diced carrots, and chopped eggs, it’s a smorgasbord of flavors and textures your guests wouldn’t be able to get enough of. They will be lining up for
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.
Tips on How to Make Filipino-style Macaroni Salad:
- Macaroni is the highlight of the show here so make sure it’s cooked right. As pasta tends to turn chewy when it cools, you might want to cook it a minute more than package directions but don’t overcook where it gets mushy. It’s tossed with an overwhelming amount of mixed ins and you want the pasta firm enough to hold up.
- My favorite trick in this recipe is poaching the chicken and not “boiling”. This gentle method of cooking ensures chicken pieces are moist and succulent instead of dry and stringy. I used boneless chicken breasts but a combination of dark and white meat will work well, too.
- Like poaching the chicken, blanching the carrots is another step that makes a difference. By parboiling in hot water and then immediately shocking them in iced water, the carrots are vibrant and tender-crisp.
- I like to dice sweet gherkin pickles for extra crunch but feel free to swap sweet pickle relish.
- Do not skip the condensed milk! The half a cup adds creaminess and a touch of sweetness which counterbalances the savory flavors of the dish.
- 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 4 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.
Include this Filipino macaroni on your holiday menu and make A LOT as it’s sure to be a crowd favorite!
Filipino-style Macaroni Salad
- 16 ounces 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
- 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 for about 8 to 9 minutes or until firm to bite. Drain well.
- 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 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.