Hawaiian Haystacks

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Hawaiian Haystacks start with a bed of rice that’s been topped with creamy chicken and gravy. The chicken is loaded with fun salad bar toppings such as pineapple, chow mein noodles, olives, tomatoes, and cilantro. 

View of Hawaiian Haystacks, with salad bar toppings, all on a plate with a fork. The plate is surrounded by additional toppings.

What are Hawaiian Haystacks?

 Hawaiian Haystacks contain shredded chicken that has been coated in a creamy gravy and served on top of rice. The rice is loaded with salad bar toppings (pretty much anything you’d find in a salad bar buffet — fresh cut veggies, herbs, mandarin oranges, pineapple, etc.).

Typically toppings are served potluck style and everyone chooses whatever they’d like to pile on top of the creamy chicken. 

Hawaiian Haystacks are wildly popular where I live and they show up at potlucks, neighborhood parties, and church events. They’re simple to make, incredibly tasty, and totally fun; who doesn’t like adding ridiculous amounts of toppings to a dinner?!

How to make Hawaiian Haystacks

  • Make a roux. Melt butter and whisk in flour. Whisk until smooth and the raw flour taste has cooked off, about 1-2 minutes. 
  • Add seasonings. Add seasonings — garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, chicken bouillon, salt and pepper. Stir until smooth.
  • Alternate adding milk and chicken broth.  Stir slowly and gradually add in both liquids until sauce is smooth and thickened.
  • Add freshly grated cheese and sour cream. Whisk until smooth.
  • Stir in the prepared rotisserie chicken. Stir to coat and the chicken gravy is ready!
  • While preparing the chicken gravy, prepare the rice and set out Hawaiian Haystack toppings. (More on toppings below).

Process shots of making a roux and turning that into the Hawaiian Haystacks sauce.

Toppings

The best part of Hawaiian Haystacks are the toppings. I like to pick 4 to 6 of the ones listed below and add them to individual bowls. Everyone can then pick what they like best and pile it on top of the rice and chicken gravy.

The two toppings I’d say are must-haves with Hawaiian Haystacks are pineapple and crispy chow mein noodles. In fact, we typically layer rice, chicken, and crushed or diced pineapple right on top before adding other toppings.

  • Additional grated cheese
  • Chopped sweet bell peppers
  • Chopped green bell peppers
  • Dried chow mein noodles
  • Slivered almonds
  • Drained mandarin oranges
  • Crushed pineapple or freshly chopped pineapple
  • Thinly sliced green onions
  • Golden raisins
  • Shredded coconut
  • Chopped spinach
  • Sliced olives
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Chopped broccoli
  • Sliced celery
  • Sliced or diced avocado
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Diced ham 
  • Diced bacon
  • Crushed cashews
  • Bean sprouts

I’d love to know what you top your Hawaiian Haystacks with. Leave a comment below in the comment section.

Photo of Hawaiian Haystacks chicken gravy in the pan, and then shown served over rice.

Make these Hawaiian Haystacks for a crowd

We love these Hawaiian Haystacks for an easy weeknight dinner, but they also make a great meal to feed a large group of people. Fix double or triple of both the chicken gravy and the rice, and then fill larger bowls with the toppings.

Serve toppings in individual bowls, keep rice in warmers, and transfer the chicken gravy to slow cooker(s)set on warm when serving these Hawaiian haystacks to a crowd. Refrigerate any leftover chicken gravy in airtight containers for up to 5 days.

Close-up photo of the chicken gravy for Hawaiian Haystacks.

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Hawaiian Haystacks

5 from 1 vote
These Hawaiian Haystacks start with a bed of rice that's been topped with creamy chicken gravy. The chicken is loaded with fun salad bar toppings like pineapple, crispy chow mein noodles, olives, tomatoes, and cilantro.
Print Recipe

Hawaiian Haystacks

5 from 1 vote
These Hawaiian Haystacks start with a bed of rice that's been topped with creamy chicken gravy. The chicken is loaded with fun salad bar toppings like pineapple, crispy chow mein noodles, olives, tomatoes, and cilantro.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword hawaiian haystacks
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 444kcal
Cost $8.86

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white or brown rice
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup white, all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon EACH: freshly cracked pepper, garlic powder, onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth or stock
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, freshly grated
  • 4 cups prepared rotisserie chicken shredded/chopped (Note 1)
  • Toppings of choice such as black olives, cherry tomatoes, crispy chow mein noodles, drained crushed pineapple, green onions (see blog post for more ideas)

Instructions

  • RICE: Cook the rice with water, according to package instructions.
  • ROUX: Meanwhile, in a skillet, over medium heat, melt the butter. Slowly whisk in the flour until completely combined with no chunks (a thick dough will form). Stir over medium heat for 1 minute. Add in the 1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning, 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (See Note 2), 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, and 2 teaspoons bouillon powder.
  • FINISH GRAVY: Gradually (while whisking constantly) add in the chicken stock or broth and then the milk. Reduce the heat, stir over low heat until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the 1/4 cup sour cream, 3/4 cup Cheddar cheese, and 4 cups (See Note 1) shredded chicken.
  • TOPPINGS: Pick as many toppings as you'd like (we think canned crushed pineapple or freshly diced pineapple and chow mein noodles are 2 must-haves!) and separate toppings into bowls.
  • SERVE: Add rice to plates, and top with chicken gravy. Let everyone pick their toppings and add them right on top. Enjoy immediately.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: If you'd like a more saucy chicken (bigger emphasis on the gravy), only add 3 to 3 and 1/2 cups rotisserie chicken. 
Note 2: Add salt to personal preference; amount of salt will depend on the stock used and the bouillon used. Add slowly; you can always add more. 

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 444kcal

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.

These calculated calories are for the Hawaiian Haystacks base and rice; additional toppings are not included, as they will vary.

Nutrition facts in Hawaiian Haystacks

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18 Comments

  1. Ummm…I have never had a hawaiian haystack?! I feel like I have been missing out on LIFE! Plus, I love that I can get a little crazy with my toppings!
    Don’t worry, I won’t go too crazy. Although, chocolate makes everything better….right?

  2. I love how colorful and fun this looks! I’ve never had a Hawaiian Haystack but it sounds awesome and I know I would love it 🙂 Best part is I could totally get a little crazy with my toppings – pineapples, tomatoes and the crispy chow mein noodles for me too and maybe a little bit of toasted cashews too 🙂

  3. Sooo I definitely didn’t know what a Hawaiian haystack was! haha I feel like I’ve been missing out on greatness! I love when something has a bunch of toppings – so good! I have a feeling I’d love these. But no olives for me either … I’ve tried to like them but just can’t do it!

  4. I feel so left out, I’ve never heard of a hawaiian haystack before!!! luckily you’ve brought them into my life and wow, am I liking the way they look!!

  5. I’ve never heard of Hawaii haystacks before today but I am pretty sure that I need these in my life. I love how you can mix up the ingredients and add your favorite toppings. And your pictures are also so fresh and colorful, Chelsea!

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