It might sound like an odd combination but macaroni fruit salad is a delicious treat. This dish is a classic Filipino food served during the holiday season and other special occasions.
If you aren’t familiar with pasta fruit salad, you are in for a surprise. This Filipino dish is made with cooked macaroni noodles and canned fruits into a sweet cream sauce. The salad combines sweet ingredients with savory ones, and it can be enjoyed as both an appetizer and a dessert.
The main ingredients in the recipe are elbow pasta, canned fruit, sweetened condensed milk, and diced cheese. Here’s what we use in our version.
Regular elbow macaroni is used in the recipe. You just need to boil the macaroni pasta slightly undercooked so they aren’t mushy after mixing into the sweet dressing.
Any type of canned fruit works in the salad. However, it’s best to include palm fruit for an authentic Filipino flavor. It’s available in Asian markets. If the market carries a lot of Filipino items, you should be able to get red, green, and white palm fruit in jars.
We also like to include regular canned fruit salad along with a tropical fruit salad blend. Canned pineapple tidbits and mandarin oranges taste great too.
Nata de coco
Any Asian market should sell nata de coco. It’s a coconut gel popular in Filipino sweet dishes that’s usually cut into small cubes.
Queso de bola is a holiday staple in the Philippines! So it shouldn’t be a surprise that cubed cheese is added to this salad served at Christmas. It’s a type of edam cheese that comes in a ball shape with a red wax coating.
Although queso de bola is traditionally used, it can be hard to find in American grocery stores. So I like to use a mild cheddar cheese instead. But definitely go for a similar edam cheese if you can find one!
Nestlé table cream is a common ingredient in the Philippines because it’s shelf stable and is thicker than heavy cream. It has a consistency between heavy cream and whipped cream. In fact, it makes a great substitute for heavy cream in recipes.
Sweetened condensed milk in a can adds creaminess and sweetness to the salad. If you are cutting back on sugar, you can make your own keto condensed milk substitute by reducing a mix of heavy cream, sweetener, and butter on the stove top.
Traditional American pasta salads use mayonnaise in the dressing. It’s added to this sweet macaroni salad because it helps to stabilize the creamy sauce mixture.
Once you have your elbow macaroni already cooked, the recipe will only take a couple minutes to blend everything together. That’s because you’ll just dump everything in a bowl and give it a good stir.
The first thing you’ll need to do is cook the macaroni pasta. Cook if one minute less than the lowest time listed on the package to make sure it’s cooked firm.
Then, pour the pasta into a colander in the sink to drain the hot water. Rinse the noodles with cool water to stop the cooking.
Next, you’ll just add all the ingredients into a large bowl. Start by combining the dressing ingredients: table cream, sweetened condensed milk, and mayonnaises.
Add the elbow macaroni and gently toss them into the dressing.
Toss in the canned fruit salad, tropical fruit salad, and pineapple chunks.
Then toss in the palm fruit and nata de coco.
Use a large spoon or rubber spatula to gently stir all the fruit in so it’s evenly distributed and well coated with the creamy dressing.
For the best taste, you’ll want to chill the salad for at least two hours before serving.
- Don’t leave out the mayo. It helps stabilize the cream and condensed milk mixture so it’s recommended for best results.
- Use colored palm fruit during the holidays. There’s no need to add the red and green palm fruit other than to add color. But the dish does look more festive with the color for serving at Christmas time.
- For best texture, undercook the macaroni a minute below the lowest time on the package’s directions. You will need about 2 cups cooked.
- Chill well before serving. The salad may taste very sweet after mixing but the sweetness will lessen when cold.
Although it’s traditionally served for the holidays, the salad makes a great side for all your summer potlucks. The dish contains sweet and savory ingredients so it also makes a delicious appetizer or dessert.
Before getting to the macaroni fruit salad recipe, I wanted to go over a few common things others have asked about the recipe.
To keep fruit salad fresh, you should store it in an airtight container in the fridge. It should last at least five days.
Many people add a little lemon juice to regular fruit salad to help keep it fresh. But it’s not recommended to add lemon juice to this recipe because it may cause the cream based dressing to clump up and get thick.
The best way to tell if fruit salad has gone bad is to look for any signs of spoilage. This includes mold, slimy textures, or off odors. If the fruit salad has any of these characteristics, it is best to discard it.
Want a few more easy sweet recipes? Here’s a few of our other favorites.
- Filipino fruit salad with cream cheese is another great dish inspired by the food of the Philippines.
- No bake cookies with coconut can be made keto-friendly by using a low-carb maple flavored syrup.
- Vegan peanut butter cups are made without any gluten or dairy!
Macaroni Fruit Salad
- 1 cup macaroni elbows cooked
- 30 ounces canned fruit cocktail drained
- 8 ounces canned pineapple chunks drained
- 15 ounces canned tropical fruit drained
- ¼ cup nata de coco
- ¼ cup red palm fruit
- ¼ cup green palm fruit
- ½ cup cheddar cheese cubed
- 14 ounces canned Nestlé table cream
- 14 ounces canned sweetened condensed milk
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- In a large pot over medium heat, bring 2 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook 1 minute less than package directions.
- Remove from heat, rinse, and drain well. Let cool completely.
- In a bowl, combine cooked macaroni, fruit cocktail, pineapple, cheese, table cream, condensed milk and mayonnaise. Stir gently to distribute.
- Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.