Mexican Haystacks

Mexican Haystacks

I have debated as to whether or not to post this recipe; it is just so very ordinary.  As I thought about it, though, I decided that what I am really posting is a happy food memory.  This type of food is at the heart of family dining and every time I have made or eaten Mexican Haystacks it has been centered around good times with family.

The first time I had this dish was at girl’s camp when I was a teenager.  Everyone except me seemed to know all about Mexican Haystacks.  I felt at a disadvantage and just stood back and stared as everyone made their ‘haystacks’.  Frankly I thought that it was one of the stranger things that I had seen and I couldn’t wrap my mind around the conglomeration of food items served up all on top of each other.  Finally, more out of peer pressure than anything else, I made my own haystack and then tasted it.  This was new and different and I quite liked it.  I liked it a lot.

I remember coming home from camp and trying to explain it all to my mom…didn’t fly.  We never ate it at my house.  However, when I went away to college I found that all of my roommates had been raised on this simple and fun family centered dish.  So, it became a favorite at college and when I got married I made it for my own family.

Mexican Haystacks are VERY flexible.  They can be served with many components or just a few favorites.  The protein portion can be anything from seasoned ground beef to homemade chili to chili out of a can.  The rice can be plain old white rice, brown rice, or have a Hispanic flair.  The chips range from Fritos (my personal favorite ) to Doritos to homemade tortilla chips to whatever brand of tortilla chip is on hand.  Other components include black olives, shredded lettuce or cabbage, tomatoes, green onions, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and taco sauce.

The following recipe is how I made Mexican Haystacks one night last week.  I had my two grandsons and my son in-law for dinner that night.  My daughter had gone out to dinner with a friend who was in town from Texas.  Too bad; she missed out.  As you will see from the pics at the bottom of this post, Mexican Haystacks lend themselves well to individuality and there is something for everyone.

Note: I chose to make a simple chili for this recipe.

Print green and blue-1Mexican Haystacks

Prep Time: 20 minutes | Cook Time: 40 mins | Total Time: 1 hr | Yield: 8 servings

Similar in structure to Hawaiian Haystacks, this easy, family friendly meal allows each person to build their own version of a “Mexican Haystack”.


For the Simple Chili:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1-2 tablespoons regular chile powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (28 ounce) can tomato puree
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chiles
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pinto or black beans, rinsed and drained

For the Toppings:

  • black olives, sliced into rings
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced crosswise
  • tomatoes, diced
  • chopped lettuce
  • sour cream
  • guacamole (ready made or homemade)
  • tortilla-style chips of your choice (Fritos®, Doritos®, or tortilla chips of choice)
  • cooked rice (suggested: long grain white or brown or basmati white or brown)
  • taco sauce of choice (red or green work equally well)


For the Simple Chili:

  1. Brown ground beef with chopped onion and garlic. Drain, if needed.
  2. Add the remainder of the chili ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes. Add a little water as necessary to keep chili moist enough for simmering. Towards the end of cooking, allow the water to cook off until the chili is of desired consistency. 

To Assemble Haystacks:

  1. The haystack can be assembled any way you want, but in general it is best to start with a base of either chips or rice. When I use Fritos, I start with them on the bottom because they are sturdy. However, when using other taco-style chips, I crush them and put them in one of the middle layers.
  2. After the rice, put on the chili.
  3. Add the rest of the toppings in any order that you prefer. I often put the cheese on top of the chili because the heat from the chili melts the cheese.


  • Canned chili can be substituted for the homemade chili.


Here’s how some of the people at my house recently built their haystacks…

The Kade version:  I like food, especially on my face–

The Gavin version: Green is my favorite color, but not on my plate–
 The Tim version: Father of mayhem–
The John version:  I like it all, but in predictable computational order 0101010101010101010101010101–

You may also like:

Hawaiian Haystacks {Thai-style}
Hawaiian Haystacks {Thai-style}
Navajo Taco
Navajo Taco
Soft Shell Tacos {Tricia's Favorite}
Soft Shell Tacos {Tricia’s Favorite}




  1. says

    This does not seem ordinary to me…so I’m delighted you posted this! YUM! And I’m cracking up at all the family photos…great pictures 🙂

  2. says

    Thanks for attending my link party. Make sure and return this weekend to vote for your favorite recipe. The recipe with the most votes will be guest featured on Monday. -Savannah

  3. says

    This is very similar to a dish I have enjoyed for many years (it is definitely “a happy food memory”). Since I am vegetarian, I do not use the ground beef, just beans. Also I have never tried it with rice, only tortilla chips as the base but it certainly gives me something new to try. Thanks

  4. Marcie from Palau says

    Thank you very much for posting this recipe of yours. I just can’t wait to try it out with my kids! 🙂

  5. Bonnie says

    On the bottom instead of rice, or along with the rice, have just regular FRITOS scrunched up! Absolutely divine! This is no ordinary meal either!!! I grew up on these! The BEST after church lunch you can have!!! Glad you posted it! The world needs to know about this stuff!!!

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