What Is a Hawaiian Haystack?

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  • Written By: Helen Akers
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2019
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A Hawaiian haystack is a chicken dish with several layers of vegetables, chow mein noodles, pineapple and coconut. The dish is also known as a chicken sundae due to its appearance. Vegetables, cheese and other garnishing ingredients are piled on top of the chicken in the same manner that syrup and candy is put on top of a scoop of ice cream. The Hawaiian haystack originated outside of the tropical state, but is known for incorporating Hawaii's classic island flavors.

Bite-sized pieces of cooked chicken make up the base of a Hawaiian haystack. The dish is considered to be convenient and easy to prepare. It is often enjoyed as a quick family meal throughout the United States. Some parents prepare it for their children to eat during a school lunch.

The pieces of cooked chicken are placed in a gravy that is made up of chicken soup and broth. A Hawaiian haystack takes about 15 minutes to prepare, making it the ultimate convenience cuisine. Chow mein noodles add to the consistency of the dish and pay homage to Hawaii's inclusion of Asian culture. Cooked rice is also placed around the base of a Hawaiian haystack, giving it a good mix of nutritional food sources.


Besides chicken, some choose to prepare the dish with turkey. Due to the relative similarity in taste between the two meats, there is only a slight noticeable difference. One of the highlights of the Hawaiian haystack is the amount of vegetables that sit on top of the dish's chicken and rice base. Water chestnuts, green peppers, tomatoes, onion, and celery are a few of the more popular dressing choices for the chicken sundae.

In addition to a healthy amount of vegetables, melted cheddar cheese can also be sprinkled on top of the chicken base. Some versions of the dish forgo the cheese in order to accommodate those who are lactose intolerant or to reduce fat and calorie content. Pineapples and coconut are used around the base and as garnishes, giving the dish its island flavor. In fact, the pineapple and coconut ingredients give the Hawaiian haystack its notoriety.

Pineapple and coconut are some of the state's signature crops, which are often used in luau cookouts and served with other meat dishes, such as fish and pig. Some versions of the chicken sundae include almonds and pimento. Those who choose to indulge in the chicken sundae also add additional servings of broth to their liking.


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