Hawaiian haystacks are the ultimate layered comfort food! Rice, shredded chicken, and hearty gravy combine with your favorite toppings in this easy dinner.
Despite the name, this dish actually doesn’t come from Hawaii! It’s originally a potluck dish. It’s tasty when paired alongside other potluck favorites like baked beans, poppyseed fruit salad, and loaded creamy ranch dip!
Quick and Tasty Hawaiian Haystack Recipe
I’m here to share one of my favorite dinner recipes! You are in for a treat with this one. I have a huge obsession with Hawaiian haystacks. If you haven’t heard of them, it is usually some form of shredded meat on top of rice. I like using chicken! From there, you add gravy and all of your favorite toppings! Pineapple, shredded cheese, and crunchy chow mein noodles are just a few of the countless options! It’s crazy easy to put together and everyone in your family can customize their plate to their liking! Perfect for topping lovers and picky eaters alike.
Honestly, this dinner is kind of a lifesaver. Perfect for busy weeknights when my kids are hungry. It’s so easy to make and also low-cost! All I have to get from the store, usually, are toppings. All of the other ingredients are pantry staples! And as if you needed any more reason to make this, Hawaiian haystacks are perfect for making ahead of time. I like to keep some rice and chicken on hand so that once dinnertime rolls around everything is ready to go! There is nothing better than a bed of rice topped with warm, creamy chicken. Then, add all of your favorite tasty toppings and you have a winner! It’s a hit! And for even easier preparation, use my foolproof Instant Pot method for cooking rice!
Ingredients For Hawaiian Haystacks
The ingredients for Hawaiian haystacks vary a little bit from region to region. Here is my take on the recipe and some of my favorite toppings! Each of these are completely interchangeable, so feel free to get creative and add your own! Your family will love it! Measurements for each ingredient are in the recipe card below.
- Cream of Chicken Soup: This is the base for your creamy chicken gravy! You can use both homemade and storebought versions.
- Sour Cream: When you add sour cream to your gravy, you give it a perfect tangy taste.
- Milk: Add milk to the gravy to adjust its consistency. You can use any kind you like here, but I prefer milk with a high fat content for extra creaminess!
- Shredded Chicken: You can cook and shred your own chicken, but I like to buy it precooked to make things a little easier. I will sometimes even pick up a Rotisserie chicken and pull it apart for a quick fix!
- Pepper: Used to add flavor to your gravy. You can add this to taste!
- Italian Seasoning: This is my secret ingredient for adding the perfect flavor to the gravy. I like to make my own blend of Italian seasoning at home so I can customize the flavors!
- Cooked Rice: White rice is what I use for a more traditional version of this recipe. You could swap this out for brown or wild rice, too.
Optional Toppings for Haystacks
The best part about this recipe is that you can add whatever toppings you want! The savory flavor of the chicken gravy makes it versatile. Here are a few of my favorites!
- Mandarin Oranges
- Sliced Olives
- Pineapple Tidbits
- Sliced Green Onions
- Shredded Cheese
- Diced Tomatoes
- Chow Mein Noodles
Making Easy Hawaiian Haystacks
It only takes 2 crazy easy steps to prepare this dish. Yep, you read that right! While the steps to make Hawaiian haystacks are simple, the flavor is anything but! The chicken gravy is bursting with savory flavor and hints of pepper, basil, and oregano! It’s the perfect comfort food in a pinch.
- Mix Wet Ingredients: Let’s start! First, add the cream of chicken, sour cream, and milk in a medium-sized saucepan over medium high heat. Stir until heated through.
- Add Chicken and Seasonings: Next, add chicken, pepper and Italian seasoning. Cook for 3-5 minutes until heated through. To finish, serve over rice and top with your favorite toppings.
Since at its core this recipe is just rice and chicken gravy, it goes well with almost anything! You can serve yours up with dinner rolls or even breadsticks to dip into the gravy *drool*. Even though this recipe isn’t technically Hawaiian, it would taste incredible alongside some homemade Hawaiian sweet rolls, too! One of my personal favorite side dishes is to serve haystacks with a green salad. The light, fresh flavor of salads pair really nicely with the hearty flavor of a Hawaiian haystack.
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Hawaiian Haystacks Tips and Tricks
These simple tips can help you elevate this delicious, simple dish! Be prepared to make a dinner that everyone will be wanting more of! It’s one of my absolute favorites.
- Using a Crock Pot: I like to use a crockpot to keep my chicken gravy warm throughout dinner. If you are bringing this to a potluck and food is going to be served for a long time, it’s especially important! Warm chicken is key to the best Hawaiian haystacks.
- Additional Toppings: In addition to the toppings I have listed in this recipe, there are many more tasty options out there! Sliced almonds, diced ham, avocado slices, shredded coconut, bacon bits, sautéed onions, and chopped bell peppers are other must-try toppings!
- Make Cream of Chicken From Scratch: The best way to achieve optimal gravy flavor is by making your own! The flavor is so much more fresh and rich than storebought! And the best part? It only takes a few easy ingredients to put together. You can find my recipe here!
Storing Leftover Hawaiian Haystacks
Hawaiian haystacks are the ultimate leftover recipe. It is so incredibly easy to reheat the gravy! Make some rice, and pull toppings out of your cupboard! Honestly, the flavor tastes just as good as the day you made it!
- In the Refrigerator: It is best to store your rice and gravy seperately so it doesn’t become soggy when mixed. Keep both in airtight containers until ready to reheat. Rice will keep for 3-4 days and chicken gravy for up to 5.
- Reheating: My recommended way of reheating your gravy is over the stove. Put on medium heat and stir until warmed through. If I’m not making fresh rice to go with it, I will pop leftover rice in the microwave for 30 minute intervals until warm. Be sure to sprinkle some water over it and cover with a paper towel when cooking. This will keep it nice and fluffy!
Easy Hawaiian Haystacks
- 2 (10 Ounce cans) cream of chicken or homemade cream of chicken
- 8 ounce sour cream
- 2/3 cup milk
- 3 cups cooked chicken shredded
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 3 cups cooked rice
- mandarin oranges
- sliced olives
- pineapple tidbits
- green onion sliced
- shredded cheese
- diced tomatoes
- chow mein noodles
In a medium sized saucepan over medium high heat add the cream of chicken, sour cream, and milk. Stir until heated through.
Add I chicken, pepper and Italian seasoning. Cook for 3-5 minutes until heated through. Serve over rice and top with your favorite toppings.
Originally Posted on March 25, 2016