how to make a haystackThis post will teach you how to make a haystack (the kind YOU eat, not your livestock). This easy haystack recipe should NOT be confused with a taco salad.

How to Make a Haystack

easy haystack recipeI write this post tongue-in-cheek. Mostly. Haystacks were a staple in our home growing up. So by the time I entered the work force and had my first conversation about haystacks, my preferences had set in cement.

“What will you serve for bunco next Thursday night?” my colleague asked me.

“Haystacks, I think. They’re easy to prepare and everyone can fix them they way they like them.”

“What’s a haystack?”

“You know, you start with corn chips, add cheese, rice, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, and other toppings.”

“Oh. You mean a taco salad?”

“I don’t know. What’s a taco salad?”

“You mix corn chips with cheese, a can of kidney beans, lettuce, and tomatoes.”

“You MIX it?” I questioned in shocked disbelief. You don’t MIX a haystack. Do you heat the beans up?”

“No.” My friend shook her head. “You just drain them first.”

“Oh. Trust me, a taco salad and a haystack are NOT the same. I’ll show you how to make a haystack at bunco on Thursday!”

A haystack is NOT the same thing as a taco salad. Learn how to make a haystack the right way ;). #prepareahead #feedacrowd #vegetarian Click To Tweet

Easy Haystack Recipe

Now that we have that out of the way, let me explain why I build my haystacks the way I do. I rarely use corn chips these days, because now that I’m older and more health conscious, I try to avoid foods laden with fat. I opt for organic corn tortilla chips instead.

It’s important that the cheese goes on next. Why? You may ask. It’s simple. I can’t stand cold, wet, soggy cheese (which is what happens if the cheese comes in contact with the lettuce). Cheese tastes best hot and melted (that’s why we all love pizza, right?).

Next I like to add brown rice, basmati is my favorite because it cooks in no time at all in my Instant Pot. After the rice, I pour on some piping-hot black bean chili.

Some people mistake the ‘hay’ in the stack as being the chips. I disagree. The lettuce is the main part. Nothing’s worse than having the serving lady offer you a paltry portion of lettuce for your haystack. I work at a school that serves haystacks biweekly, so you may never have to beg the serving lady for a heartier portion of lettuce. Remember, this is supposed to be a healthy haystack.

What you put on top of the lettuce is up to you. I like fresh tomatoes, olives, and fresh, homemade salsa. Some people add sour cream, but since I don’t like sour cream I don’t use it.

Make Ahead and Feed a Crowd

My favorite way to eat haystacks is to use the chips to pick things up with. I guess that makes it more like nachos than a taco salad. If you plan to act all civilized and use a fork, I highly recommend breaking the chips up in step one.

Caution: Start small. If you take too many chips, you’ll soon discover that your haystack has outgrown your plate.

Another benefit of the haystack? You can make everything ahead of time, come home from church or school, and feed a crowd. Since everyone prepares their own place, people who like cold, soggy cheese can put it on top of their lettuce of they want to. Just sayin’.

clock clock icon cutlery cutlery icon flag flag icon folder folder icon instagram instagram icon pinterest pinterest icon print print icon squares squares icon
how to make a haystack

Easy Haystack Recipe

  • Author: Anita Ojeda


Here’s a healthier version of the classic haystack (not to be confused with a taco salad or a place for farmers to store hay).


  • tortilla chips
  • shredded cheese
  • brown rice
  • black beans
  • lettuce
  • tomatoes
  • onions
  • olives
  • salsa
  • jalapeños
  • sour cream


This is a great prepare-ahead meal. Make sure the beans and rice are hot and you’re ready to go. Let everyone build their own haystack.

Recipe Card powered byTasty Recipes

Are there any toppings that you love on your haystack? Are you a ‘cheese under the hot stuff’ or a ‘placement doesn’t matter’ kind of person? We can still be friends, no matter what your preference.

easy haystack recipe

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your favorite posts from last week!

2. Visit TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer—just do it!

A bonus for you!

Subscribe to receive weekly reminders about the Inspire Me Monday Link up, and I'll send you Ten Quick Ways to Make Your Blog Better.

Powered by ConvertKit
 Loading InLinkz ...


  1. Great recipe (if you call this a recipe – more like a set of instructions). I think I will serve it to book club the next time I host. I love the simplicity and the way they can be individualized.

    I always use Basmati rice. Just tastier and better texture than regular long grain. Thank you!
    Laurie recently posted…Weekly Wrap – the Running EditionMy Profile

  2. We call this nachos. We start with tortilla chips and taco meat, and then every adds whatever other toppings they like in whatever order they like. Except we usually have Spanish rice on the side rather than in the stack. Good stuff!
    Barbara Harper recently posted…Why should we sing?My Profile

  3. As a kid, we had a snack called haystacks. Peanut butter, pretzels and chocolate if I’m remembering correctly. So the title intrigued me, and look at that not the type of haystack you were talking about.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

You may also like

%d bloggers like this: