College Cooking – Hawaiian Haystack

We had our third college cooking lesson this week.  I decided Cali needed to learn to fix her favorite meal – Hawaiian Haystack.

I think this dish is pretty much a staple for a lot of families.  Some of you may call it Mexican Haystack or just Haystacks.  I’ve heard it called all kinds of things.

I think this recipe came from one of the very first cookbooks I got when I was married – Make a Mix.

Whenever Cali gets to pick what we have for dinner her choice is always Hawaiian Haystacks.

This dinner is quick and easy to prepare and it is a great one when you are feeding a crowd too.  It can be made ahead of time and kept warm in a crock pot.  The other reason it is great for a crowd is because people can personalize it to their tastes – depending on what toppings they add.

Hawaiian Haystack is a fun dinner – a “build your own” kind of meal.  We just serve the meat sauce over rice and then everyone adds whatever toppings they like.

Some of our favorites are pineapple tidbits, chow mein noodles, peanuts, green onions and lots of cheese.  The sky is the limit as far as what you can add to it!

As we were fixing it my 23 year old college son informed us that he makes Hawaiian Haystack all the time at school!

The first trick I taught Cali was a quick and easy way to cook the chicken that goes into the Haystack.  It is done in the microwave and the chicken stays nice and moist and doesn’t dry out as chicken will do.

Fill a 9 x 13 (size  of pan will vary depending on how many chicken breasts you are cooking) with about 1/2 inch of water.  Place chicken into water and cover with plastic wrap.  Cook in the microwave until chicken is done.

For 2-4 chicken breasts it takes around 10 minutes – possibly a bit longer.  For the four of us I used two boneless, skinless chicken breasts and there were no leftovers – that was 3 girls and 1 big boy (Jim was out of town)

Hawiaan Haystack (7)

The chicken is basically cooked in a steam bath and you end with with nice moist chicken.

After it cools, cut up or shred the chicken.

Hawiaan Haystack (6)

Add the chicken to two cans of cream of chicken soup (for 2-3 breasts) and then add enough chicken broth to make it the consistency you want.  We don’t like it too runny!

Hawiaan Haystack (4)

Then reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop.  Serve over rice.  Add toppings.  Doesn’t get any easier then that!!  Enjoy!

Hawaiian Haystack - Page 299

College Cooking – Hawaiian Haystack


  • 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 C chicken broth
  • 2 C chopped, cooked chicken


  • Add chicken to cream of chicken soup
  • Add chicken broth until desired consistency


  1. says

    This is a favorite at our house too. We usually use almonds, but I think it would be fun to try the peanuts. Thanks for the idea!

  2. tamara says

    This has been one of our staples for years. . . .Used to feed lots of missionaries on one chicken. Way to go Cali! It is a blessing you have the best teacher around. Am in Washington this week not too far away. Can’t wait to be here permanently and come over for my own cooking lessons.

  3. Emily says

    This is a favorite at our house also . . . Guess what’s for dinner? The picture looks too good!

  4. says

    I have been looking for this recipe forever. Seriously! I went to a Bunko game when I was in my early 20’s and the hostess made this for her meal. I loved it then and now I am really craving it. Guess what my kids are getting for dinner tonight?! Thank you again for sharing. Loving the cooking lessons.

  5. Cristina says

    We call it chinese sundaes, I guess because of the chow mein noodles. I haven’t had them forever! They were always something we looked forward to as kids! Maybe I should introduce my 3-year old to them! :)

  6. says

    I just served these to my 9 year old’s mother-daughter book club tonight. As always they were a big hit.

    My variation is the shredded chicken is separate from the gravy. We layer rice, chicken, cheese, and ladle the gravy over that. Then add any or all of the toppings: pineapple, mandarin oranges, diced tomatoes, green onions, diced bell pepper, diced celery, sliced almonds, coconut, and a little soy sauce on top.

    I like to put the frozen chicken in the crockpot in the morning, and by dinner it is ready to shred.

    I also serve a Chicken Curry recipe (mildly seasoned)where you build your own adding the toppings you like.

  7. says

    I’m wondering if this wouldn’t also work with shredded pork shoulder…which I happen to have in the frig right now.

    …could use Sweet Baby (can’t think of the correct name) barbecue sauce instead of chicken soup maybe…

    i’ve sent the non-recipe on to two of my college-aged grandchildren. These two are real cooks…one more adventuresome than the other, however.

    Your “college Cooking” reminds me of a cookbook that was published at the college I attended (in Portland…) written by a fellow Reedie: The Impoverished Student’s Cookbook…and the title of one of the recipes: What the Hell Did You Do to the Liver? It was the sage!

  8. says

    We’ve made this one for years too, except we do the sauce a bit different. I use whipping cream, butter and flour, then add in the cooked chicken, and sauted green peppers. It’s a probably a bit richer, and sometimes I used half and half or milk to cut the richness. But our toppings are similar!

  9. Katie says

    So I just tried cooking the chicken like how you did in the microwave. It’s so easy. I was kinda nervous if it would cook it all the way but it did. I didn’t do the Hawaiian haystack recipe but instead did chicken tacos.. Thanks for the idea!


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