Buy the Cookbook

Main Dish | February 5, 2019

Hawaiian Haystacks

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and these Hawaiian Haystacks are the perfect way to celebrate with your loved ones. They are so easy to make and everyone you love, from young to old, will enjoy this festive meal!

In or out?

Have you planned your Valentine’s Day dinner yet? I have to admit, when my kids were young, I looked forward to Valentine’s Day dinner OUT. But the older I get, I avoid dinner out on Valentines Day like the plague! We usually go to lunch at a nice restaurant but dinner is usually enjoyed at home! What to make when you’re trying to please the kids and your sweetheart too?  This recipe for Hawaiian Haystacks will save the day. It’s the perfect family-friendly meal, even for the pickiest of eaters. Hot rice and creamy chicken, topped with yummy foods like pineapple, coconut, sliced almonds, or cheese. All you need to do is prepare the chicken mixture and rice, and let your kids and/or guests pick their own toppings.

Make ahead+crowd pleaser=perfect for any occasion

Hawaiian Haystacks are great to serve at large gatherings, such as family reunions, banquets, Girl’s Camp, parties and other events. Simply make the main dish, serve buffet style and your guests can bring some of their favorite toppings as well if you want guests to contribute to the meal. It’s a win-win for everyone! This recipe for Hawaiian Haystacks feeds a crowd in no time and everyone can adapt it to their own liking! I love meals that are easy to make, that feed a crowd. You can also make ahead. Simply refrigerate the chicken after cooked, as well as the sauce, and on the day of serving simply heat it up a bit on the stove or in a slow cooker. Perfect prep for busy weekdays, weekend events, or any occasion. This recipe for cooking chicken in the Instant Pot is the best and easiest way to cook a batch of chicken to use in recipes.

Canned soup vs home made sauce

Confession. I’ve never made Hawaiian Haystacks before developing this recipe. For years, readers have asked for a Hawaiian Haystack recipe. I have only eaten Hawaiian Haystacks once at a Boy Scout dinner years ago. All I remembered was chicken, rice and a whole lot of toppings. In my research, I found most people make Hawaiian Haystacks using Cream of Chicken soup, but I wanted to make a version using a from-scratch sauce. You can also make the sauce using two cans of soup, one and a half cups of milk and 1/2 cup of mayo, whisked together if you really love canned soup! I think the home made version is as good as it gets! Taking a few extra minutes to make the sauce homemade will make all the difference in a sauce that is ho-hum, to over the top delicious. Serve Hawaiian Haystacks buffet-style this Valentine’s Day for your sweetheart and family. They’ll fall in love with you all over again!

4.89 from 18 votes

Hawaiian Haystacks

​Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and these Hawaiian Haystacks are the perfect way to celebrate with your loved ones. It’s so easy to make and something everyone, from young to old, will enjoy!

Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword foodforacrowd, glutenfree, makeahead, quick and easy
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 8


  • 2 lbs cooked chicken breasts, shredded or cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • 2 cups cheese
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli
  • red or green peppers, chopped
  • 1 3.8 oz can olives or 15 oz can olives chopped
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes or 3-4 Roma tomatoes chopped
  • 1 20 oz can pineapple tidbits, drained well
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 6-8 oz package spinach
  • 1 15 oz can mandarin oranges, drained well
  • 1 cup raisins ( I like golden)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 package chow mein noodles, dried


  1. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat.

  2. Add chicken broth and half and half. 

  3. Combine cornstarch and water in measuring cup, mix until smooth. 

  4. Add cornstarch slurry to the skillet. Heat, stirring until thickened. 

  5. Add chicken, vinegar, parsley, salt and pepper – heat through. 

  6. Serve with cooked brown or white rice and toppings in individual bowls. 

39 thoughts on “Hawaiian Haystacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

  1. 5 stars
    I’ve loved following you on instagram and have tried a number of your recipes. This weekend I made this recipe and loved it. I am not a fan of the cream of chicken soup but have always used it in my haystacks. I loved this version and will use it going forward. Everyone loved it.

    1. Thanks Liz! I’m glad you’ve this recipe a try. I agree, anything homemade is better than using a can, and making your own base for Hawaiian Haystacks is so easy. Thanks for reading ABK!

    2. I’m not a huge fan of cream of chicken either, Liz. It tastes so much better with quality ingredients. Thanks for sharing and for reading ABK!

  2. Any idea what modifications would be needed to do the sauce (and cook the chicken) in a crockpot for this? 🙂 Maybe I’m asking for too much. 😉

    1. Hi Elyse,

      Sorry I missed your comment earlier! I would make the sauce in a pan as directed and then add the chicken and cook on low for 3 hours. Let us know if this works for you!

  3. I have always used a recipe that calls for cream of chicken soup for the sauce. We tried this recipe and my family LOVED it! They said this their new favorite. Thank you!

  4. 5 stars
    I’ve made this many times and it’s always a hit. It’s seriously just as easy as the “can of cream of chicken” kind but tastes 1000xs better. Just FYI it freezes and reheats great! I was making it for a family lake Powell trip and cooked the chicken and cream mixture at home for convenience.

  5. Hi! I was wondering if there are any tips or tricks when doubling the sauce for the chicken or if it’s just a straight forward double everything. Making this for a family gathering! Thanks, I love your recipes!

    1. Hi Aimee,

      I think just a straight up double of the recipe will work. I’ve had a few people tell me on Instagram they have doubled and it has worked perfectly! I’d love to hear your feedback after making it.
      Thanks for reading ABK,

      1. I’m back to report! The recipe doubled tasted great! I had a little trouble getting it to thicken up but I might have just not been patient enough. I added some more thickener and that worked just fine. Thanks for your help and for the great recipe!

        1. I’m so glad to hear that Aimee, there’s definitely a lot of trial and error in doubling recipes. Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. Making this for the first time and the sauce is really taking a long time to thicken. Any tips? excited to try this!

  7. 5 stars
    Ive never enjoyed a Hawaiian haystack more!! Even my insanely picky oldest liked the sauce (minus the parsley since .. it’s green ya know?;) I cooked the chicken in my instant pot and then removed it and made the sauce on sauté in the instant pot, worked great.

  8. I’m planning on making this for girls camp. Could I make the sauce without the chicken? And have the chicken in the side for girls to layer with instead? Does that make sense? I am planning on making the sauce in advance and reheating in a crock pot there and serving with rotisserie chicken

    1. Hi Jill,
      Yes, you can make the sauce without the chicken, and have the meat as an add-in. That would be a great way to accommodate non-meat eaters with this recipe! Great idea! Have a wonderful time at camp.

  9. 5 stars
    My son requested Hawaiian haystacks for our family dinner after his baptism. I love everything I have made from this blog so I decided to try this. I made it the night before and warmed it up in a crockpot the next day. It was amazing and everyone was saying how much better it is than we use canned soup. Thanks for making me look good.. again! You know your stuff and I trust that when I make a recipe from your blog it will be a hit!

    1. Hi Melanie!
      I’m glad this recipe worked so well for your son’s baptism. Thank you for your kind words and thank you for following ABK. I really appreciate you as a reader and fellow “creator in the kitchen”.

  10. My son requested Hawaiian Haystacks for lunch after his Mission Farewell. We’re expecting about 50 people. I’m having a hard time figuring out the quantities for that many. What number would you times the recipe by for 50?

  11. 5 stars
    Really love this version with no cream of chicken soup. My kids are always happy when this is for dinner! I love how it’s super customizable and quick to put together

  12. 5 stars
    Love this recipe! So much better than the ones that call for Cream of Chicken soup! Thanks for sharing!

  13. 5 stars
    This is a family favorite – I love this non canned soup sauce version of a nostalgic recipe my mom used to make. I love that everyone with their vast varieties of likes and dislikes can find a topping they like. It works for my DIL with food sensitivities too. Winner!

  14. 4 stars
    User error likely but it wasn’t as runny as I was hoping. It was thick and didn’t go as far as I thought it would for a sauce.

  15. 5 stars
    I love everything about this recipe… especially the fact that all five of my kids love and devour it! So easy to please everyone with the variety of toppings. The sauce is delicious!!

  16. 5 stars
    My husband never was a fan of Hawaiian haystacks until I made this recipe. Now he loves it and our kids request it for dinner every so often too.

  17. 5 stars
    The sauce is so easy and comes together beautifully! Never using canned cream or chicken again!! We added a bit a Greek yogurt at the end and loved it too!

  18. 5 stars
    This is so much better than the “can” recipe I’ve been using for years! Thanks for sharing!

  19. One of the girls in my ward requested Hawaiian haystacks for one of the dinners for Girls Camp last year, so I made your recipe for the chicken sauce and it was so good. I made it ahead and froze it and it worked great!

  20. 5 stars
    This is my new favorite chicken haystacks recipe! It makes a lot so you’ll have leftovers or it would be great for a gathering/party. I always love how the toppings and can be customized for my picky kids ha ha.

  21. 5 stars
    This is one of my ultimate childhood throwback recipes! And infinitely better, because this sauce is absolutely delicious. For me, it’s that special hit of acidity with the lemon juice that makes this shine! This is always a winner with the whole family.

  22. 5 stars
    How much rice do you cook to serve 8 people for this recipe? Just trying to increase quantities to feed 50 missionaries. Any tips for cooking rice in large batches?

    1. Hi Susan!

      One cup of uncooked rice equals two cups of cooked. For a recipe like this, I’d allow 1/2 cup per person. Some will want more some a little less…
      So 1 cup uncooked = 4 servings
      In the case of missionaries I’d probably err on the safe side and plan for 1 cup cooked for at least half of the missionaries.

      Have a wonderful day,