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Hawaiian Haystacks were always a favorite dinner when we were growing up! We love how you can build your own dish just the way you like it!
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Hawaiian Haystacks are about as Hawaiian as “Hawaiian” Pizza (you know, the ham and pineapple combo). To be honest, I never had a Hawaiian haystack in Hawaii, nor did I ever see it on a menu anywhere. The closest thing to a Hawaiian haystack in Hawaii is a scoop of white rice on a lunch plate. Probably accompanied by a slice or two of spam. And maybe some macaroni salad (if you are in search of “authentic” Hawaiian dishes, see links below). But just because these aren’t “authentic” Hawaiian, doesn’t mean they aren’t a great weeknight meal. My kids LOVE these, and for that, they are a win in my book!
Ingredients in Hawaiian Haystacks
Basically, a Hawaiian haystack recipe starts with rice, chicken, a creamy chicken gravy, and then topped with veggies, cheese, fruits, nuts, basically anything you want! Here’s a basic recipe to get you started:
- Chicken breasts – about three large chicken berasts, cooked and cutr into small chunks. You can also use canned chicken or rotisserie chicken.
- Cream of chicken soup – one 10.5 ounce can. Cream of mushroom soup also makes a delicious Hawaiian haystacks sauce if you’re in a pinch. You can also make your own by using our homemade condensed cream of chicken soup recipe.
- Chicken broth – Whisk in low sodium broth to control the salt in the recipe. It doesn’t change the flavor at all.
- Sour cream – half a cup, or substitute with plain greek yogurt.
- Salt and pepper – to taste
- Add a dash or garlic powder or onion powder for extra flavor in the gravy.
- Steamed rice – three cups of any kind you like. Use either white or brown rice, even cauliflower rice and then top with any of the following toppings:
Toppings for Hawaiian Haystacks
Now’s the time to get creative! Picky eaters (kids and adults alike) love putting on their own toppings to make it EXACTLY how they want. Even the pickiest of eaters can usually find one or two toppings they like. Me? I like ’em all. They make delicious leftovers too. If you have things to use up in the refrigerator, use this haystacks recipe to clean things out in a really delicious way! Try any of these toppings:
- chow mein noodles
- diced fresh tomato
- green onions
- green bell pepper
- pineapple tidbits
- mandarin oranges
- grated cheese
- shredded carrots
- slivered almonds
- soy sauce
How to Thicken Hawaiian Haystacks Sauce
If you find your gravy isn’t as thick as you like, you can thicken it up by creating a simple roux. Combine two tablespoons butter and a couple tablespoons of flour in a medium saucepan on the stove top. Whisk together about one minute, then add about half a cup of milk. Then combine with your cream of chicken soup and season with salt and pepper and enjoy! If the sauce seems too thick, add a little bit of milk and stir until it’s the consistency you like.
Can Hawaiian Haystacks be vegetarian?
Yes! Just omit the chicken from the recipe and bulk up on veggies like mushrooms, avocado, bell peppers or broccoli. Use the roux mixture from above (flour and butter) and add vegetable broth instead of milk to create a yummy vegetarian sauce.
Hawaiian Haystacks for a Crowd
Hawaiian Haystacks are great for a little family weeknight dinner, but they are also great for a crowd. The key to cooking for a crowd is making sure everyone can be accommodated (to the best of your ability). All of the ingredients can easily be found or made in bulk, including the rice (especially the rice). Did you know you can make rice for 50 PEOPLE by BAKING it in one large pan? It’s true. Try our easy recipe for rice for a crowd. 🙂
Frequently Asked Questions
Definitely not from Hawaii! Actually the idea of Hawaiian haystacks originated back in the 1950s and is a general term for a potluck dish that layers several ingredients into a pile or a “haystack”. They’ve been served at church potlucks for years.
I’ve also heard this meal referred to as “Chicken Sundae” or “Snow on the Mountain”.
No, but it is a very popular potluck item and has been known to be served a church functions for many years. But they’re definitely not exclusive to one religious group or another.
READ NEXT:35+ Best Chicken Recipes
Looking for Authentic Hawaiian Recipes?
Want more rice recipes? Try some of our favorite ways to use rice as a main dish like our tasty Coconut Rice and this One Pot Chicken Teriyaki Bowl recipe which is always a crowd pleaser. As an easy side, try this Instant Pot Brown Rice.
How to Make Hawaiian Haystacks
- Heat soup and chicken broth to make a gravy. Add the chicken chunks and simmer 10 minutes.
- Stir in sour cream.
- To serve, put the rice on each individual serving plate. Top with the chicken gravy, then cheese, chow mein noodles, and any of the garnishes you like. Sprinkle soy sauce on top.
- Use this recipe to make rice in a baking pan It’ll serve up to 50 people.
- Bake a pan of chicken all at once and dice into chunks or use cans of chicken.
- All of the ingredients can easily be found or made in bulk, including the rice (especially the rice).
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