Close up view of Hawaiian haystacks.

Transport your taste buds to a tropical paradise with Hawaiian Haystacks! This scrumptious dish combines juicy chicken, vibrant fruits, and crunchy toppings for a meal that’s as delicious as it is colorful.

Hawaiian Haystacks is a versatile and delicious meal that brings together the best of sweet, savory, and crunchy textures. Perfect for a weeknight dinner or a gathering with friends, this dish allows everyone to customize their plate to their liking. The creamy chicken gravy pairs beautifully with the fresh pineapple and mandarin oranges, while the chow mein noodles and coconut flakes add a satisfying crunch. Whether you’re looking to introduce new flavors to your family or impress your guests, Hawaiian Haystacks is a surefire hit!

The Origins of Hawaiian Haystacks

Hawaiian Haystacks, despite their name, are not originally from Hawaii, nor do they have a direct connection to Hawaiian cuisine. The exact origin of the dish is unclear, but it’s generally agreed upon that it originated in the United States mainland, likely around the mid-20th century. Its name likely derives from its exotic, customizable presentation, which includes a bed of rice, a creamy chicken sauce, and a variety of toppings like chow mein noodles, pineapple chunks, and more. Its popularity resides predominantly in the American West, especially the Rocky Mountain states, where it’s a staple at potlucks and church gatherings.

The concept of “haystacks” is versatile, with variations reflecting the tastes and traditions of different regions and religious communities. For instance, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the US has embraced a “haystacks” variant featuring a corn or tortilla chip base, layered with beans, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, cheese, and other toppings – a dish akin to a taco salad. In the Midwest, areas with significant Mennonite or Amish populations have their own take on the haystack, often featuring regionally common ingredients.

Can I use brown rice instead of white?

Yes, you can substitute brown rice for white rice, just keep in mind that the cooking time may be longer.

What if I don’t have chow mein noodles?

You can use crushed tortilla chips, crispy fried onions, or even slivered almonds for an added crunch.

Can I make Hawaiian haystacks vegetarian?

Absolutely! For best results, replace the chicken with tempeh or your favorite plant-based chicken substitute, and use vegetable broth in the gravy.

Can I make this gluten-free?

For a gluten-free version, use gluten-free flour in the gravy and opt for gluten-free noodles or another gluten-free crunchy topping.

Overhead view of Hawaiian. haystacks in a bowl.

Serving Suggestions

Hawaiian Haystacks are meant to be a full balanced meal. For a fun dining experience, consider setting up a buffet-style topping bar and let your guests build their own haystacks! Don’t hesitate to get creative with additional toppings like diced avocado or sliced olives to suit your personal taste.

Storage & Reheating Instructions

Store leftovers separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. To keep them fresh, store the toppings and creamy chicken gravy separately from the rice. To reheat, microwave the rice and chicken gravy separately, then reassemble with the desired toppings.

If you like this recipe, you may be interested in these other delicious buffet-style recipes:

Watch the Video

Watch the video below where Caytlin will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTubeFacebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.