The from-scratch chicken sauce is reinvented so that nothing is processed in this simple and delicious hawaiian haystack recipe.

Stick with me during this complete recipe throwback to the 80’s.

After seeing the title of this post, I’m betting about 50% of you are nodding your head and saying, “Yep, had ’em” and the other 50% have no idea what I am talking about.

A staple in my home growing up, this is a simple meal consisting of rice smothered in some type of chicken sauce and topped with anything from chow mein noodles to mandarin oranges.

white rice with hawaiian haystack toppings on a black plate

Our favorite toppings of choice include: olives, tomatoes, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, green onions, mandarin oranges and chow mein noodles…but seriously, people, you can let your imagination go wild and top these with anything that sound good to you and yours.

From-Scratch Cream of Chicken Sauce

What I really want to focus on is the chicken sauce. Hawaiian Haystacks are notoriously made with a gravy concocted from cream of chicken soup, milk and sour cream (or some such variation on this theme).

In my quest to eliminate many processed foods from our diet, I have long since stopped cooking with condensed soups, but I happen to love this meal and wanted to recreate a from-scratch chicken sauce to make an average Hawaiian Haystack become out of this world (wait, then would it be called a Galactical Haystack??).

Enter my reinvented chicken sauce.

Simple and quick to make, this saucy mixture is light, creamy and packed with flavor, thanks to the fresh garlic and onions.

I was thrilled with the outcome and have a feeling Hawaiian Haystacks will be making a major comeback in our house, thanks to the gravy reinvention.

What to Serve With This:

Baked Brown Rice
Buttery Peas with Thyme
Toppings of choice, such as olives, tomatoes, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, green onions, mandarin oranges and chow mein noodles

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Hawaiian Haystacks: Chicken Sauce Reinvented

4.57 stars (229 ratings)


  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size chunks (or leftover cooked chicken, cubed)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic; finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth (I use low sodium)


  • In a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat and add the onion and raw chicken (if using leftover cooked chicken, don’t add it to the skillet now, you’ll add it later).
  • Saute the onion and chicken, if using, until the onions are soft and translucent and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about one minute, stirring, until fragrant.
  • Sprinkle the flour over the onions and chicken and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat for one minute – this helps get rid of the starchy, flour taste.
  • Slowly whisk in the milk and chicken broth. Cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, and bring the sauce to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat.
  • Add the salt and pepper. If you are using leftover cooked chicken, add it now. Continue simmering, stirring the sauce frequently, until the sauce has thickened, about 5-8 minutes.
  • Serve the chicken sauce over rice with your toppings of choice, such as olives, tomatoes, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, green onions, mandarin oranges and chow mein noodles.
Serving: 1 serving, Calories: 272kcal, Carbohydrates: 10g, Protein: 17g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 76mg, Sodium: 682mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 5g
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Recipe Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe