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Korean Macaroni Salad

Learn how to make Korean style macaroni salad!

It is definitely not a traditional Korean side dish, but I seem to spot this dish as often as kimchi when I dine at a Korean restaurant these days. How about you?

Macaroni salad in a small bowl

What is Korean Macaroni Salad

Korean macaroni salad is Korean pasta salad side dish made with macaroni pasta. It is covered with creamy, rich, slightly sweet and mildly tangy mayonnaise based dressing.

When I was growing up in Korea, I used to spot this when I ordered Korean style Japanese pork cutlet – Tonkatsu (Korean name: 돈까스, Donkasu). 

Here in Australia, many Korean restaurants seem to serve this as a complimentary side dish when you order a meal.

I personally don’t think there’s a huge difference between Korean style macaroni salad and western style macaroni salad, but maybe Korean style is less complicated to make, requiring fewer ingredients.

You might be surprised to know that the salad even goes very well with plain steamed rice, and of course Korean BBQ dishes, to just name a few.

Other Ingredients Ideas

A Korean restaurant version of macaroni salad often only consists of basic ingredients such as macaroni pasta, julienned  or shredded carrots and salad dressing. 

However, a typical Korean home cook loves adding more ingredients than those. Most common ones include bell peppers / capsicums, cucumbers and corn kernels.

What’s more, the below ingredients can be used additionally or alternatively as well. 

  • red onions, cubed
  • hard boiled eggs, cubed
  • ham, cubed
  • imitation crab, cubed
  • apple, cubed 
  • cabbage, shredded

So be my guest and add whatever you like in this salad!

Finally, if you like Korean macaroni salad, you might also like to try Korean corn cheese too. So don’t forget to check it out!

Close up photo of Korean macaroni salad

Ingredients for Korean Macaroni Salad

Main

  • 200g / 7 ounces elbow macaroni 
  • 50g / 1.7 ounces cucumber, seeded & cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 50g / 1.7 ounces corn kernel (from tin), drained
  • 50g / 1.7 ounces red bell pepper / capsicum, cut into small cubes

Macaroni Salad Dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (whole egg)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp ~ 1/2 tsp fine sea salt, adjust to your taste
  • ground black pepper
  • (optional) 1 tsp dijon mustard

* 1 Tbsp = 15 ml, 1 Cup = 250 ml

How to Make Korean Style Macaroni Salad

1. Cook the macaroni pasta following the package instructions. (If the package does not suggest, I would recommend adding some fine sea salt when boiling the pasta.) Drain and cool down for 2 mins.

Photo collage - boiled macaroni salad

2. While the pasta is cooking, combine the salad dressing in a separate bowl. Also, separately, combine the cucumber and the salt (1/2 tsp) in a small bowl. Mix them well and set it aside until the remaining ingredients are ready. When ready, gently squeeze the water out of the cucumber. 

Pickling cubed cucumbers with salt

3. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. Chill in the fridge for 30 mins to develop the flavor. Serve.

Korean macaroni salad in a bowl

How to Store Leftovers

While I love eating leftover foods in general, I don’t enjoy eating this salad as leftovers as much. Because, while it’s kept in the fridge, the pasta hardens, so the texture of the pasta feel a bit rubbery and a little bit undercooked.

But sometimes leftover food is unavoidable. If that’s the case for you, you can refrigerate the pasta in an airtight container. It should be good for up to 2 days.

Before serving, take out the pasta about 30 mins to soften a bit and give it a good stir. Also, if the sauce looks lacking, add a bit of mayonnaise to moisten the pasta again.

 

Macaroni salad in a small bowl

Korean Macaroni Salad

Easy Korean style macaroni salad recipe
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Side dishes
Cuisine: Korean
Keyword: korean pasta salad, macaroni salad
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Chilling time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 274kcal
Author: Sue | My Korean Kitchen

Ingredients

Main

  • 200 g elbow macaroni  (7 ounces)
  • 50 g cucumber , seeded & cut into small cubes, (1.7 ounces)
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 50 g corn kernel (from tin), drained, (1.7 ounces)
  • 50 g red bell pepper / capsicum, cut into small cubes, (1.7 ounces)

Macaroni Salad Dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (whole egg)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt , adjust to your taste
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard (optional)

Instructions

  • Cook the macaroni pasta following the package instructions. (If the package does not suggest, I would recommend adding some fine sea salt while boiling the pasta.) Drain and cool down for 2 mins.
  • While the pasta is cooking, combine the salad dressing in a separate bowl. Also, separately, combine the cucumber and the salt (1/2 tsp) in a small bowl. Mix them well and set it aside until the remaining ingredients are ready. When ready, gently squeeze the water out of the cucumber. 
  • Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 mins to develop the flavor. Serve.

Notes

* 1 Tbsp = 15 ml, 1 Cup = 250 ml

Nutrition

Calories: 274kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 534mg | Potassium: 115mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 273IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?I love hearing how you went with my recipes! Leave a comment below or Tag me on Instagram @MyKoreanKitchen.

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Written by: Sue

Last Updated: July 27, 2019

Hi, I'm Sue and I am the creator of My Korean Kitchen. Thank you for joining me in this delicious culinary journey!

Leave a Comment

7 thoughts on “Korean Macaroni Salad”

  1. Hi Sue,
    Coming from Hawaii, the plate lunches served originally from the lunch trucks always had macaroni salad on the side along of the main dish, like teri chicken, with “two scoop rice.” Then in the late 70’s kim chee became a regular too. I think this may be Koreans from Hawaii bringing their Hawaiian traditions back to Korea.
    Your recipe look delish. I never thought to add corn. I also like the idea of apple and cabbage. Thank you.

    • Thanks for your input, Jet!
      Actually, I’ve been wondering why “Hawaiian macaroni salad” kept popping up when I did a google search on “Korean macaroni salad”. Maybe there are some similarities in there? I do not know as I haven’t tried Hawaiian style.

      Also, I think adding ‘corn’ might be part of “Koreanization” of this salad. Koreans love adding corn particularly when recreating a western style dish. (I’m only half serious! ;))

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