This recipe for homemade Hawaiian Haystacks is truly the best. The creamy, from-scratch gravy is so easy to make and has great flavor!

A staple in my home growing up, Hawaiian Haystacks is a simple meal consisting of rice smothered in a delicious, creamy chicken gravy and topped with everything from chow mein noodles to mandarin oranges.

It sounds weird, but I promise: it is delicious!

White bowl with rice, chicken gravy, peas, cheese, mandarin oranges and peas.

From-Scratch Cream of Chicken Gravy

Hawaiian Haystack recipes notoriously use canned cream of chicken soup, milk and sour cream (or some such variation on this theme) for the creamy gravy.

Since I don’t normally keep cream of chicken soup on hand, this homemade recipe is perfect!

The from-scratch chicken gravy is super easy, and the flavor is fresh and delicious!

For this recipe, all you need to do is blend milk + flour + chicken broth together and stir it into the butter + onion + garlic mixture. It thickens beautifully and eliminates the stress of having to whisk out any lumps!

Pouring milk and flour mixture into saucepan with onions and garlic.

Once the gravy thickens, stir in cooked, cubed chicken (a rotisserie chicken or canned chicken works great here!).

But I also include a note in the recipe if you need/want to start with uncooked chicken.

Cubed, cooked chicken in saucepan with white gravy.

The sauce is thick and creamy and flavorful and SO delicious!

Ladle scooping up portion of white chicken gravy.

Hawaiian Haystack Toppings

Serve the homemade Hawaiian Haystack chicken gravy over rice: brown or white. And then add toppings of your choice.

Some popular Hawaiian Haystack toppings are:

  • shredded cheese
  • tomatoes
  • canned mandarin oranges or pineapple tidbits
  • sliced olives
  • green peas
  • shredded coconut
  • green onions or chives

What toppings am I missing? Any favorites that you serve with your Hawaiian Haystacks?

White bowl with brown rice, hawaiian haystacks gravy, mandarin oranges, chow mein noodles and peas.

A Favorite Meal

We’ve been eating this version of Hawaiian Haystacks for over ten years, and it is still one of my kids’ favorite meals of all time.

The recipe has over 200 5-star reviews for good reason!

Pamela writes: What a game changer! These Hawaiian haystacks were so good. I am grateful to still be able make this recipe without using cream of chicken. A healthier version that is not only just as good but better. My family all gobbled it up. Thank you!!

Amy says: 100% recommend. I made this with gluten free flour and it was still so awesome. Definitely worth the difference in taste and it really wasn’t that much extra work. 

Louise writes: This is so good! I’ve made it a bunch and everyone always loves it! So much better and almost as easy as the condensed soup version. Thanks Mel!

White shallow bowl with fork taking bite of rice, chicken gravy, peas, and cheese.

What to Serve With This:

Baked Brown Rice
The Best Drop Biscuits
Toppings of choice, such as olives, tomatoes, shredded cheddar cheese, green onions, mandarin oranges and chow mein noodles

White bowl with brown rice, hawaiian haystacks gravy, mandarin oranges, chow mein noodles and peas.

Hawaiian Haystacks {From-Scratch Gravy}

4.58 stars (233 ratings)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic; finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • cup flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth (I use low sodium)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 to 4 cups cooked, cubed chicken (see note)

Instructions 

  • In a large skillet or saucepan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook for about one minute, stirring, until fragrant.
  • Combine the flour, broth, and milk in a blender (or use a handheld whisk and a bowl or liquid measuring cup) and blend until smooth.
  • Pour the mixture into the pan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture simmers and thickens, 2-3 minutes.
  • Stir in the cooked chicken, salt and pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often.
  • Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
  • Serve over rice with toppings such as: olives, tomatoes, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, green onions, mandarin oranges and chow mein noodles.

Notes

Chicken: the meat of a rotisserie chicken, cubed or shredded, works great here, as does canned chicken, if you prefer to use that. If you want to use uncooked chicken, use about 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Cut them into bite-size pieces and saute them until cooked through in step #1 with the onions. 
Original Recipe: over the years, I’ve changed how I make this recipe to make it even easier. If you are looking for the original recipe, it called for melting 3 tablespoons butter, cooking the onion and raw chicken pieces until the chicken is cooked through, adding the garlic and 1/4 cup flour and cooking for a couple minutes before whisking in the broth and milk and simmering until thickened. 
Serving: 1 serving, Calories: 192kcal, Carbohydrates: 12g, Protein: 20g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 57mg, Sodium: 678mg, Fiber: 0.5g, Sugar: 5g
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Recipe Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe
Recipe originally posted February 2010; updated August 2022 with new photos, recipe notes, etc.

white rice with hawaiian haystack toppings on a black plate