My mom would make Hawaiian haystacks all the time when I was a kid. Now as an adult (and mom of three), these easy crock pot Hawaiian haystacks are one of my favorite meals for busy weeknights. This great recipe is quick to put together and everyone always loves it! Keep it simple by just serving the Hawaiian haystacks gravy recipe over a bed of rice, or customize it to your liking with optional toppings. I’ve included a list of our favorite toppings for Hawaiian haystacks!

Serve this slow cooker Hawaiian haystacks recipe with quick and easy sides like Oven Roasted Broccoli or Fruit Salad. For more easy main dish chicken recipes, try my Buffalo Chicken Pasta, Pesto Chicken Parmesan and Curry Chicken Rice and Peas.

A white plate with white rice and creamy chicken mixture (Crock Pot Hawaiian Haystacks) topped with olives, tomatoes, pineapple, chow mein noodles, and almonds.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Easy weeknight dinner recipe. This is a classic crock pot “dump” recipe, where you dump your ingredients into a slow cooker and just let them cook for hours. No need to sear any meat before it goes in or chop up a bunch of vegetables first. All that’s left to do is cook some rice, and dinner is served. 
  • Delicious comfort food. An easy but hearty meal that tastes great, this Hawaiian haystacks recipe is a perfect comfort meal! 
  • Family favorite. This is one of my favorite recipes because it’s a win for the whole family, even picky eaters! Creamy chicken gravy over hot rice is always tasty, and everyone can add their own toppings. If you offer a variety of toppings, this meal can even be a great way to introduce new foods to young kids.

Ingredient Notes

  • Canned cream of chicken soup: This is our secret weapon for these crock pot Hawaiian haystacks. It’s the key ingredient for the flavorful chicken gravy and will help the slow cooker chicken cooks up nice and tender. 
  • Chicken breasts: Chicken is always used for this dinner recipe. In keeping with our theme of easy comfort food, you can use fresh or frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts. No need to remember to thaw! Chicken thighs will also do in a pinch.
  • Italian dressing mix: Note that Italian dressing mix is NOT the same as regular Italian seasoning! Italian dressing mix includes extra flavoring elements such as salt, sugar, and vinegar, which adds to the flavor of the Hawaiian haystacks sauce. You can add an additional ½ teaspoon of Italian seasoning if you’d like more of an Italian kick, but you CANNOT substitute regular Italian seasoning for Italian dressing mix.
  • Evaporated milk: After the chicken is cooked and shredded, evaporated milk is mixed in to make a creamy sauce.
  • Rice: Hawaiian haystacks gravy is typically served over rice, but I’m sure it would be delicious over pasta or mashed potatoes, too. 
  • Toppings: Hawaiian haystacks toppings are where the real magic happens, in my opinion. While toppings are totally optional, I hope you don’t skip them! Everyone can customize their Hawaiian haystacks to their taste. I’ve included a list of our favorite toppings in the recipe card.
Crock Pot Hawaiian Haystacks ingredients on a white marble surface with Hawaiian haystacks topping ideas.

How to Make Hawaiian Haystacks

  1. Prep your crock pot. Spray the inside of your crock pot with nonstick cooking spray. 
  2. Add the first three gravy ingredients. Empty one 10.5 oz can of cream of chicken soup into the crockpot. Lay 1.5 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts on top of the soup—fresh or frozen, either one will work. Finally, sprinkle a 0.7 oz package of Italian dressing mix over top of the chicken. For more Italian flavor, add an additional ½ teaspoon of Italian seasoning.
  3. Cook chicken. Place lid on crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours.
  4. Shred chicken. Half an hour before you plan to serve your haystack dinner, shred the cooked chicken. I like to use two forks to do this. You can do this inside your crock pot or take the chicken out and shred it on a plate then add it back to the crock pot.
Four photos showing how to make Hawaiian Haystacks in the crockpot, first image is raw chicken in cream of chicken, then Good seasons mix overtop, then cooked, and then shredded chicken in the crockpot.
  1. Add evaporated milk. Add a 12 oz can of evaporated milk to the shredded chicken in the crock pot and stir to combine. Allow the gravy to warm through and thicken. 
  2. Prep rice and toppings. Cook rice and prep any Hawaiian haystacks toppings you’d like.
  3. Enjoy! Serve the creamy chicken mixture over a bed of rice with your favorite toppings.
Three photos showing Crock Pot Hawaiian Haystacks made in a slow cooker and then topped with Hawaiian haystacks toppings: green peas, tomatoes, olives, coconut.

Recipe Tips

To give the Hawaiian haystacks gravy a stronger Italian kick, add a ½ teaspoon of regular Italian seasoning to the crockpot. 

Hawaiian haystacks are traditionally served over white rice, but you can use brown rice as well. Just be aware the cook time for brown rice is longer. The gravy sauce would also be delicious over quinoa, pasta, or potatoes.

This recipe can easily be doubled to make Hawaiian haystacks for a crowd, making it the perfect recipe for family reunions or other large gatherings! You can even serve it casserole-style by layering the rice and gravy in a dish.

Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing

Make Ahead: The chicken gravy for this haystacks dinner will stay good for 3-4 days, so you can make it one or two days in advance for dinner, or meal prep it for lunches at the beginning of the week.

Storing: I prefer to store leftover Hawaiian haystacks toppings, gravy, and rice in separate containers. That way, you can continue to mix and match when you reheat leftovers. Store each element in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. 

Freezing: Crock pot Hawaiian haystacks make a great freezer meal! After making your gravy, let it cool, then spoon it into zip-top bags (as many as it takes). Lay these bags flat in the fridge and allow them to cool completely before transferring them to the freezer. It will keep in the freezer for 1-2 months. To defrost, simply take the bag out and put it in the fridge the night before.

A white plate loaded with the best Hawaiian Haystacks recipe and toppings including tomatoes, pineapple, coconut, olives, and chow mein noodles.

Recipe FAQs

Are Hawaiian haystacks Hawaiian?

Despite the name, Hawaiian haystacks have no connection to Hawaiian cuisine. This dish was likely created in Midwest America around the 1950s and probably got its name from some of the toppings traditionally included, like pineapple (which, interestingly, is not native to Hawaii either) and coconut.

What is a haystack dinner?

I thought that the term “haystack” referred to the traditional topping of crunchy chow mein noodles. It kind of looks like a haystack, right? But as it turns out, the term “haystack” in this context simply refers to a dinner that is layered. Here, Hawaiian haystacks are a layer of rice, gravy, and then toppings.

Can I make Hawaiian haystacks vegetarian?

I have not tested a vegetarian version of this recipe, but you could try this with a vegetable-based cream soup like cream of mushroom soup and your favorite meat substitute. If you do try it, please let me know how it turns out!

What toppings go on Hawaiian haystacks?

The sky is the limit when it comes to toppings for Hawaiian haystacks, but some of my favorites include pineapple tidbits, crunchy chow mein noodles, shredded coconut, diced tomatoes, sliced olives, slivered almonds, peas, mandarin oranges, and shredded cheddar cheese. I’ve also seen people include green onions and bell peppers.

More Crock Pot Dinner Recipes

Loaded Slow cooker Hawaiian haystacks with the best Hawaiian haystacks toppings on a white plate on a white background.
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Crock Pot Hawaiian Haystacks

This Hawaiian Haystacks recipe is the one my mother made for me growing up. It's a family treasure and so yummy! Especially when you add all of the yummy toppings! My favorite part about this recipe… the fact that you can make it in a crock pot!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 6 servings


  • 1.5 lbs chicken breasts - frozen or thawed
  • 10.5 oz cream of chicken soup
  • .7 oz Good Seasonings Italian Seasoning Mix - (1 packet = .7 oz)
  • 12 fl oz evaporated milk
  • cooked white rice - for serving

Hawaiian Haystack Topping Ideas

  • chopped tomatoes
  • sliced olives
  • chow mein noodles
  • shredded cheese
  • slivered almonds
  • pineapple pieces - fresh or canned (drained)
  • sweetened shredded coconut
  • peas
  • mandarin oranges - fresh or canned (drained)



  • Spray the inside of a crock pot with nonstick cooking spray. Empty the can of cream of chicken soup into the crock pot, followed by the chicken and then sprinkle the Italian seasoning mix overtop of the chicken. Place the lid on and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours. 
  • 30 minutes prior to serving shred the chicken using two forks. Then stir in a can of evaporated milk and let warm up again. 
  • To serve, spoon the creamy chicken mixture overtop a bed of cooked rice. Add your desired toppings. Enjoy!


Nutritional information is an estimate. It does not include toppings or cooked rice in the calculations.
For a stronger Italian kick, add an additional 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning to the gravy.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. I prefer to store all the elements separately, especially toppings. 
You can freeze the gravy to use in advance. Allow the sauce to cool, then transfer it into zip-top bags. Lay the bags flat in the fridge to cool further before transferring them into the freezer. The sauce will keep in the freezer for 1-2 months. To thaw, let it sit in the fridge the night before you plan to serve it for dinner.


Calories: 259kcal (13%)Carbohydrates: 10g (3%)Protein: 30g (60%)Fat: 11g (17%)Saturated Fat: 4g (20%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 95mg (32%)Sodium: 547mg (23%)Potassium: 635mg (18%)Sugar: 7g (8%)Vitamin A: 275IU (6%)Vitamin C: 3mg (4%)Calcium: 177mg (18%)Iron: 1mg (6%)
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
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