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Add some fun to your next family meal with Aunt Bee’s 20-Minute Hawaiian Haystacks! A simple chicken gravy is served over a bed of rice or mashed potatoes, and finished off with all of your favorite toppings.

Close up side shot of a plate of Hawaiian haystacks.
Table of Contents
  1. What are Hawaiian Haystacks?
  2. Ingredients
  3. How to Make Hawaiian Haystacks
  4. Hawaiian Haystacks Toppings
  5. Serving Suggestions
  6. Preparation and Storage
  7. Recipe Variations
  8. Tips for the Best Hawaiian Haystacks Recipe
  9. 20-Minute Hawaiian Haystacks Recipe

I’ve learned that children are much more likely to enjoy their food when they are involved in the preparation. That’s why this meal is such a hit with both kids and adults! Everyone at the table can customize his own dish, assembling a delicious plate of Hawaiian haystacks exactly how he likes it!

What are Hawaiian Haystacks?

This recipe comes from my Great Aunt Bee, but a classic Hawaiian haystacks recipe has been a popular family supper for decades. Sometimes called “chicken sundaes,” this dish includes a creamy chicken gravy that’s typically served over rice or mashed potatoes.

Toppings such as diced pineapple, Chinese chow mein noodles, and fresh vegetables are set out buffet-style for diners to pile on the chicken.


While the haystacks recipe did not actually originate in Hawaii, this dish gets its name from the Hawaiian-style of some of the popular toppings — including pineapple and shredded coconut!

Overhead shot of a plate of hawaiian haystacks on a table with toppings.


This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for Aunt Bee’s recipe for Hawaiian haystacks. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Cream of chicken soup and cream of celery soup: form the base of the creamy chicken gravy. Use just about any variety of condensed soups that you enjoy. For instance, swap out the cream of celery soup for cream of mushroom soup.
  • Sour cream: adds thickness, richness, and a bright tangy flavor to the gravy.
  • Chicken broth: to thin the gravy. You can substitute with milk if you prefer.
  • Cooked chicken: use the shredded meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken for a convenient shortcut, or cook your own chicken at home. See my notes below.
  • Cooked rice or mashed potatoes: for serving with the chicken and gravy.
Process shot showing how to make Hawaiian haystacks.

The Best Chicken for Hawaiian Haystacks

You’ll need cooked chicken for this recipe, and a variety of options will work. Pick the most convenient method for you:

  • Boiled and Pulled Chicken: Boil about 2 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts or boneless skinless chicken thighs until cooked through (about 15-20 minutes), or cook them in a Crock Pot with a splash of water and salt and pepper for 1-2 hours on HIGH or 3-4 hours on LOW. When cool enough to handle, chop or pull the chicken and use in the recipe.
  • Rotisserie Chicken: This is a great shortcut! Purchase a large rotisserie chicken (or two small chickens) from the grocery store, shred the meat, and use in the recipe as instructed.
  • Leftover Chicken: If you have leftover grilled or baked chicken from a previous meal, put those extras to good use in this recipe.
  • Canned Chicken: Yep, you can even use canned chicken!
Adding chicken to a pot of gravy.

How to Make Hawaiian Haystacks

This recipe comes from my mom’s godmother, Aunt Bee, who has been kind enough to send me many, many care packages over the years. From her home in South Carolina, I regularly receive envelopes full of some of her favorite family recipes from decades past, as well as dishes, table linens, and other beautiful heirlooms that she knows I will enjoy.

The recipe is very easy, so you can prepare everything in advance with a handful of pantry staples, and then just warm the chicken and sauce on the stove top before serving. I’ve included the detailed instructions in the recipe card below, but here’s the quick version:

  • Whisk together the soups, sour cream, and broth.
  • Heat in a large saucepan or Dutch oven until warmed through.
  • Stir in the chicken, and continue cooking and stirring until the meat is heated through.
  • Serve the chicken and gravy over cooked rice or mashed potatoes.
  • Set out a variety of toppings and let your family members pile on their favorites.
Hawaiian haystacks served on a white plate with toppings on a green table.

Hawaiian Haystacks Toppings

This meal is perfect for picky eaters, because everyone at the table can design their own plates! Here are some common toppings for Hawaiian haystacks, but feel free to get creative. Anything goes! You don’t need to offer all of these options, so just pick those that your family will enjoy:

  • Diced green bell pepper or red bell pepper
  • Diced celery
  • Sliced water chestnuts
  • Sliced green onions
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Slivered almonds
  • Chopped peanuts
  • Chow mein noodles
  • Pineapple tidbits
  • Shredded coconut
  • Thawed frozen peas or canned peas
  • Sliced black olives
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Mandarin oranges
Horizontal side shot of a Hawaiian haystacks recipe served on a white plate.

Serving Suggestions

Traditionally, the chicken sauce is served over a bed of rice or mashed potatoes; however, if you’re looking for other options, cauliflower rice, or garlic and parmesan cauliflower mash.

Sides that go well with Hawaiian haystacks include:

Side shot of Hawaiian haystacks recipe on a green dinner table.

Preparation and Storage

  • Make Ahead: prepare the chicken and sauce in advance. Let it cool, and then store it in an airtight container for up to 3 days before reheating and serving.
  • Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
  • If you want to freeze the chicken and gravy, do not add the sour cream. You can stir the sour cream into the sauce after it’s thawed. Cream-based recipes have a tendency to break or separate if frozen. Store chicken and soup mixture in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • To reheat, place the chicken and gravy in a saucepan. Warm over low heat, just until it reaches the desired temperature. You can also reheat individual servings in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.
Close overhead image of hawaiian haystacks on a table.

Recipe Variations

  • For a slightly less creamy sauce, omit the sour cream.
  • Add more or less broth, according to your personal preferences, so that the sauce reaches your desired consistency.
  • Milk works as a nice substitute for the chicken broth.
  • Use white rice, brown rice, or wild rice for serving. Mashed potatoes, riced cauliflower, and mashed cauliflower are also good alternatives.
Side shot of a plate of hawaiian haystacks on rice

Tips for the Best Hawaiian Haystacks Recipe

  • Simmer the gravy just until all of the ingredients are warmed through. Do not boil, or the sour cream may separate or curdle.
  • Taste and season the chicken sauce with salt, pepper, or other herbs and seasonings of choice. It’s a blank slate, so feel free to jazz it up. Add spice with cayenne pepper; brighten it up with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or chopped fresh herbs like chives, parsley, thyme, or rosemary; or give it more savory flavor with garlic powder, onion powder, or even Italian seasoning.
  • Add extra broth if you prefer a sauce with a thinner consistency.
  • Scale the quantities up or down to feed the size of your family. For instance, for a larger crowd, double or triple all of the ingredients. If you’re cooking for two, cut all of the ingredients in half.
Chicken and gravy over rice with toppings on a white plate.

More Easy Chicken Recipes to Try

Sour Cream Chicken

1 hour hr 50 minutes mins

King Ranch Chicken

40 minutes mins

Country Chicken and Biscuits

57 minutes mins

Hawaiian haystacks served on a white plate with toppings on a green table.

20-Minute Hawaiian Haystacks

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 257 kcal
Aunt Bee's 20-Minute Hawaiian Haystacks includes a simple chicken gravy served over a bed of rice, and finished off with all of your favorite toppings.


  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed cream of celery soup, not diluted
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup, not diluted
  • 4 ounces sour cream, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • 4 cups diced or shredded cooked chicken (such as the meat from a large rotisserie chicken)
  • For serving: cooked rice or mashed potatoes

Optional Toppings (Pick Your Favorites)

  • Diced red bell pepper
  • Diced celery
  • Diced tomato
  • Sliced water chestnuts
  • Sliced green onions
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Slivered almonds
  • Chopped peanuts
  • Chow mein noodles
  • Pineapple tidbits, drained
  • Shredded coconut
  • Frozen green peas (thawed) or canned peas
  • Sliced black olives
  • Mandarin oranges


  • In a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat, stir together soups, sour cream, and broth until smooth and warm (do not boil).
    Process shot showing how to make Hawaiian haystacks.
  • Add cooked chicken; simmer over low heat, stirring regularly, just until warmed through.
    Adding chicken to a pot of gravy.
  • Place toppings in individual bowls and set out on the table.
  • Divide rice or mashed potatoes between individual bowls. Spoon chicken gravy over rice. Allow each person to add desired toppings.
    Close up side shot of a plate of Hawaiian haystacks.


Nutrition information is an estimate for 1/6 of the chicken and gravy. This does not include any rice, mashed potatoes, or optional toppings.


Serving: 1/6 of the chicken gravyCalories: 257kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 31gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 99mgSodium: 632mgPotassium: 537mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 438IUVitamin C: 0.3mgCalcium: 50mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: chicken and rice, chicken breast recipes, hawaiian haystack recipe, hawaiian haystacks
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in May, 2015. It was updated in May, 2023.



Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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  1. This is such a great idea, Blair! I’ve never thought to lay out different kinds of toppings, so I’m loving this. What a fun way to jazz up chicken, especially for kids!

  2. I love this idea! I’m such a fan of comfort food meals like chicken and rice anyway, and the idea of the various toppers is so clever. That gravy also looks divine! Your family pictures are always so beautiful! I need to get better about taking photos!!! 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    Thanks so much for sharing your awesome post with Full Plate Thursday, I just pinned this recipe it looks so good! Hope you are having a great week and come back soon!
    Miz Helen

  4. I can’t believe I almost missed sharing this this week….my apologies, Blair. It’s up on my Facebook page now! I love your family recipes!

  5. I really want to make this but I was wondering what other toppings you could put on it besides the nuts my son is allergic to nuts? I need paleo nut free recipes i can make that are easy because I’m unable to stand up for to long.

    1. Hi, Nona! I’m not super familiar with paleo recipes, but here are some other nut-free toppings you could try:

      Additional grated cheese
      Chopped sweet bell peppers
      Chopped green bell peppers
      Chow mein noodles
      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
      Bean sprouts