LeAnne’s Chicken Salad Honolulu

One of the more credible foods from mid-century mainland luaus. While coconut, pineapple, and mayonnaise were all available in Hawaii, every mention of this recipe I’ve found is from the contiguous 48 states during the boom in faux-Hawaiian culture.

Although this recipe screams 1960s, and it’s in a handful of 1960s publications, the earliest mention I could find is the Aug 20, 1959 edition of the (Long Beach, California) Press-Telegram:

Chicken Salad Honolulu

2/3 cup packaged pre-cooked rice
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup boiling water
3/4 to 1 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. grated onion
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1-1/2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cup diced celery
1 cup drained diced pineapple (fresh or canned)
1/2 cup flaked coconut

Add packaged pre-cooked rice and 1/4 teaspoon salt to boiling water in saucepan. Mix just to moisten all rice. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Then uncover and let cool to room temperature.

About 1 hour before serving, combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, onion, 1 teaspoon salt, and the pepper, mixing well. Combine chicken, celery, pineapple and coconut in a bowl. Stir in the mayonnaise mixture. Then add the rice and mix lightly with a fork. Chill. Serve on crisp lettuce and garnish with warmed peach halves. Makes about 5-1/2 cups, or 5 to 6 servings.


From the box of F.J. from Sun City, Arizona. Some cards suggest a family history in Missouri.

LeAnne’s Chicken Salad Honolulu

  • 6 large chicken breasts
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 slices onion
  • celery top
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground pepper

Place chicken breasts along with other five ingredients in large saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer one hour. Drain. Remove chicken from bones and dice. [Important note: see suggestion below.]

Combine in large bowl:

  • diced chicken (about 4 cups)
  • 2 cups finely diced celery
  • 2 (13-1/2 oz.) cans pineapple tidbits
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 2-2/3 cups cooked cold rice

Mix together in smaller bowl:

  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. grated onion
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

Add mayonnaise dressing to first mixture. Toss lightly. Chill.

Yesterdish suggestion command: Do not, under any circumstances, ever, EVER, cook chicken breasts in simmering water for an hour.

I am serious. DO NOT EVER DO THIS. No matter what the chicken did to you, once it’s dead, you’re only hurting yourself.

If you’re using the recipe’s suggested bone-in chicken breasts, 30 minutes absolutely plenty of time to poach them. Even in the 1960s, we knew that.

The more modern method is to bring the liquid to a boil, simmer for 15 minutes, then cover the pot, remove it from the heat and let it sit undisturbed for an additional 20 minutes. If you’re using boneless and skinless breasts, a 10-minute simmer with a 10-minute rest should do the trick.

Don’t overthink it. You’re going to cut it before you serve it, so you don’t have to believe me that it’ll work.

If you feel unable to comply with these methods, go and buy a grocery store rotisserie chicken, because even though the breast on that is probably overcooked, it’s far less overcooked than chicken that’s been simmered for an hour.

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