Easy Hawaiian Haystacks
Easy Hawaiian Haystacks will quickly become a household favorite. Picture this, a mound of fluffy white rice, piled high with tender shredded chicken, juicy sweet pineapple chunks, crunchy chow mein noodles, and a medley of colorful hearty veggies. All topped off with a creamy flavorful sauce that brings everything together perfectly.
Not only are Hawaiian Haystacks delicious, they are customizable. And we know how much this matters in families, especially with different preferences and dietary restrictions. Top them how you want, swap proteins, make ahead, or make fresh. The possibilities are endless.
The beautiful thing about this Hawaiian Haystack Recipe is the creamy chicken sauce is loaded with flavor, without being loaded with processed ingredients or junk. It is simple and delicious.
How to Top Hawaiian Haystacks
One of the best parts of Hawaiian Haystacks is that you get to top them with whatever you want. This is the chance to make it personal, customize, and have some fun. So get creative and add your own personal touch. Here are a few ideas for how you can top those Hawaiian Haystacks with fresh or cooked ingredients
- Mandarin Oranges
- Sliced Olives
- Pineapple Tidbits
- Sliced Green Onions
- Shredded Cheese
- Diced Tomatoes
- Chow Mein Noodles
- Sliced Almonds
- Shredded Chicken
- Diced Ham
- Avocado Slices
- Shredded Coconut
- Bacon Bits
- Sautéed Onions
- Chopped Bell Peppers
Basically, have fun with toppings like cheese, nuts, fruit, and herbs. Put anything you want on it that adds flavor, texture, and color. While there is a standard set of ingredients that are usually found on Hawaiian Haystacks, ultimately, the toppings for Hawaiian haystacks are flexible and can be customized to suit your taste.
Are Hawaiian Haystacks Actually Hawaiian?
Hawaiian Haystacks actually don’t come from Hawaii! Probably much like pizza, they are likely called Hawaiian because they often have pineapple in them.
So if they aren’t actually Hawaiian, where did they come from? The idea of these easy Hawaiian Haystacks originated in the 1950’s as a general term for a potluck dish that layers several ingredients into a pile or haystack.
Since, it has gained popularity, especially in Utah. Which happens to be where I live.
But I have elevated the yummy, creamy chicken sauce from a canned cream of chicken soup to a homemade version that is absolutely delicious, but still very easy.
How to Make Hawaiian Haystacks
Making Hawaiian Haystacks is easy, here is how you make them:
- Make the Sauce
- Cook Rice
- Prepare Toppings
Hawaiian haystacks are a quick and easy meal to make, but here are a few tricks and tips for making it even simpler:
- Make the Sauce From Scratch: While you could use a canned cream of chicken soup sauce, it just doesn’t taste that great. So instead, we are making the chicken gravy recipe from scratch, and it is super simple to do. It is mostly pantry staples. And the process is quick and easy. You start with the flavor with butter and onions, then add flour to make a roux, then slowly whisk in your liquid to create that creamy base. Stir in some cooked chicken, and you have the perfect creamy chicken sauce, with very little effort.
Pro tip: Double the batch and freeze half to make dinner easy on another night!
- Cook Rice: With the gravy made, the next step is to simply make your rice. You can use a rice cooker, or whatever your favorite method is for cooking rice. You can even make these Hawaiian haystacks on top of Cilantro Lime Rice, for even more flavor!
- Additional Toppings: Lastly, you prepare your toppings. The real fun of Hawaiian haystacks are the toppings and customizing the dish to your preference. Besides the rice, and chicken gravy, the rest is up to each person. And how fun is a topping bar? We love to have a big variety, usually including pineapple, carrots, chow mein, peas, green onion, olives, and more. Have fun with the toppings, and consult the topping list above if you need any ideas.
Tips and Tricks for Making Hawaiian Haystacks
Variety is Key: Provide lots of options for the toppings for your Hawaiian haystacks, and it is sure to be a hit.
Taste and Adjust: The chicken gravy is the base for your Hawaiian haystacks recipe, and lots of other flavor gets added with the toppings. But make sure you taste the gravy, and adjust to seasonings to your preference before serving.
Make Ahead: The chicken gravy can be made ahead and reheated to serve when desired, just store in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days, and reheat. If needed, add a little broth or milk to it to get the right consistency.
Use a Crock Pot: I like to make this recipe on the stove top, as making a roux is simple, and that is the easiest method. But once it is done, I like to transfer it to a crockpot to keep it warm, and ready to go with the topping bar. Hawaiian haystacks are the perfect recipe to serve at gatherings etc. As everyone likes a topping bar. And you can make the chicken gravy ahead of time, and simply reheat it in a crockpot to serve.
What To Serve with Hawaiian Haystacks?
Hawaiian haystacks are typically served as a main course, but they can be paired with a variety of side dishes to create a complete meal.
Some popular side dishes to serve with Hawaiian haystacks include:
Storing and Reheating Hawaiian Haystacks
To store leftover Hawaiian haystacks, let the haystacks components cool to room temperature and then transfer them to an airtight containers separately. While you can combine the chicken gravy and rice, I prefer to store the chicken gravy and the rice in separate containers in order to reheat better. This will help you have fluffier, nicer rice, and not overcook your chicken gravy.
Store the haystacks in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
When you are ready to eat the haystacks, remove the container from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to allow the food to warm a little, then use the stove top to reheat the components. You may need to add some broth or milk to the gravy to get the right consistency. And some water to the rice when reheating.
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. Add more broth or milk if it is too thick.
For the rice, pop leftover rice in the microwave for 30 second intervals until warm, sprinkling it with water, and covering it with a damp paper towel to help it steam and stay nice and fluffy.
Easy Hawaiian Haystacks
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ½ onion about ½ cup, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic; finely minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
- 6 cups prepared hot rice
- shredded cheese
- pineapple tidbits
- sliced black olives
- diced tomatoes
- diced green onions
- frozen green peas thawed
- crunchy chow mien noodles found in the asian isle
- shredded carrots
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter, and add onions, cook until onions are translucent and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat for one minute.
- After the minute cook time, whisk milk and chicken broth into the mixture, adding it gradually until all added.
- Cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, and bring the sauce to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat.
- Add the salt and pepper, garlic powder and Italian seasoning, and cooked rotisserie chicken.
- Continue simmering, stirring the sauce frequently, until the sauce has thickened, about 5-8 minutes.
- Serve the chicken gravy over the hot rice, and top with any of the suggested toppings you would like! Enjoy!
Our recipe card software calculates these nutrition facts based on averages for the above ingredients, different brands, and quality of produce/meats may have different nutritional information, always calculate your own based on the specific products you use in order to achieve accurate macros for this recipe.
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