Hawaiian haystacks start with a bed of rice that’s been topped with creamy gravy chicken. The chicken is loaded with fun “salad bar” type toppings such as pineapple, chow mein noodles, olives, tomatoes, cilantro, etc.
What are Hawaiian haystacks?
Essentially 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” type 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 grabs 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, church events, etc. 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 slowly and gradually 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).
The best part of Hawaiian haystacks are the toppings! I like to pick 4-6 of the below and add them to individual bowls. Everyone can then grab what they like best and pile it on top of the rice and gravy chicken.
The two toppings I’d say are a “must have” with Hawaiian haystacks: pineapple and dried 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
- Sweet bell peppers: chopped
- Green bell pepper: chopped
- 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 🙂
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.
- Purchase toppings in bulk
- Double or triple the gravy chicken recipe
- Double or triple the amount of rice
Serve toppings in individual bowls, keep rice in warmers, and transfer the gravy chicken to crockpot(s) (on warm) when serving these Hawaiian haystacks to a crowd. Store any leftover gravy chicken in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 5 days.
More easy dinner recipes:
- Turkey Tacos 20-minute ground turkey tacos
- Easy, skillet Chicken Ramen
- Pesto Chicken Salad served on croissants or in lettuce wraps
- Chicken Vegetable Soup with roasted vegetables
- Chicken Gnocchi Soup Olive Garden copycat
These Hawaiian haystacks start with a bed of rice that's been topped with creamy gravy chicken. The chicken is loaded with fun "salad bar" type toppings like pineapple, chow mein noodles, olives, tomatoes, cilantro, etc.
- 1 cup white or brown rice + water
- 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)
RICE: Cook the rice 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 (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 (add gradually). 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 (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, top with chicken gravy. Allow everyone to pick their toppings and add them right on top. Enjoy immediately.
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.