Hash browns are a common addition to a morning fry-up, served as a welcome treat in restaurants and homes across the globe. In America, they’re the seventh-most popular dish overall, with 81% of people saying they enjoy them.
Diners love the fluffy interior wrapped in a crispy outer shell, fried to perfection in flavorful oils, and presented alongside bacon and eggs.
The fast food version of hash browns might be popular, but it’s a far cry from the real deal. Stick with us while we describe how to make crispy hash browns that you’ll want to add to every meal.
Types of Hash Browns
Hash browns first appeared in recipe books during the 1830s, where chefs described them as hash potatoes, brown hashed potatoes, or brown creamed hash potatoes.
These first dishes simply comprised finely chopped potatoes cooked together to create a hash. By the 1890s, hash browns appeared on the breakfast menus of every notable New York restaurant.
From there, they made their way around the world, as fast-food franchises followed suit. Nowadays, you can enjoy hashbrowns almost anywhere breakfast is served.
In the UK, the English Breakfast Society recently snubbed hash browns as a breakfast food, declaring they have no place on any traditional morning plate.
That’s because you get different types of hash browns. You get shaped, soggy hash browns – as served in fast food chains, and the golden, crunchy varieties that appear in top-class restaurants.
If you’ve recently subjected yourself to mass-produced, carelessly-made hash browns, you might agree with the Brits in the hash brown debate. Here’s your chance to give hash browns a fighting chance by learning how to make crispy hash browns from scratch.
Sourcing the Best Ingredients
The best hash browns come from using high-quality ingredients and sticking to simple, traditional recipes. These are the things to consider while shopping for your hash brown ingredients:
Which Potatoes are Best for Hash Browns?
You probably think it’s okay to use whatever potatoes you have in your pantry when making hash browns. Perhaps you didn’t know that there were different types of potatoes at all.
There’s nothing to stop you from using what you have in a pinch, but any old potato won’t do in your quest to create the perfectly crisp hash brown.
Different types of potatoes affect the texture of your hash browns. Moisture is the enemy of crisp hash browns, so you need to choose potatoes with a high starch content to ensure a crispy outcome.
Waxy potatoes, like red potatoes with smooth polished skin, aren’t a good fit for making homemade hash browns. Russet potatoes are an ideal choice for the dish thanks to their high starch and low moisture content.
This combination ensures your hash browns turn out crispy and golden with classic lace edges. Starchy potatoes don’t stick together as well as waxy ones do, so you’ll need to treat your russet potatoes with care during cooking.
If you don’t know which potatoes you’re looking at while at the store, pick one up.
Waxy potatoes always have a smooth outer skin. Rather, choose potatoes with textured skin; they have a higher starch content.
If you can’t get your hands on russet potatoes, Yukon Golds are the next best thing. These all-purpose potatoes fall in the middle of the starch spectrum, so you can still make decent hash browns using them.
What Else Can You Add to Hash Browns?
You don’t need many other ingredients to make traditional hash browns unless you want to add onions. White onions, sweet onions, or yellow onions are all good for making hash browns.
Remember, onions contain a lot of moisture, so if you want super crispy hash browns with an onion flavor, you should use dried onion flakes or onion powder instead.
Ingredients For Crispy Hash Browns
There are two ways to make crispy hash browns. The traditional way involves little more than potatoes, while the alternative adds a binding agent to create individual patties.
Before you get cooking, assemble all the ingredients for your hash brown recipe and make the necessary preparations. You’ll need:
The key to crispy hash browns is to make them between one-third and half an inch thick. If you make them thicker, the potatoes won’t cook through or crisp up.
For a 10-inch skillet, you’ll need 1.25 lb. of potatoes, and you should use 1.5 lb. of potatoes for a 12-inch skillet. If you’re cooking hash browns on a griddle, you’ll need about 2 pounds of potatoes.
Oils for Cooking
Frying your hash browns in the fat from baked bacon adds a delicious flavor. A little butter added to the mix increases crispiness and elevates the taste to another level.
To make individual crispy hash brown patties, you’ll need one egg and ¼ cup of flour per pound of potatoes. The binding agent helps keep the smaller portions of potato together during cooking.
Chopped onions may burn when you cook them as part of your hash browns. This infuses the dish with a burnt onion taste.
Rather, use onion seasoning if you desire an onion flavor. Otherwise, all you need to season your hash browns is a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Some varieties of hash browns include cayenne pepper, garlic seasoning, or cheese. You can use cheddar cheese or tasty pecorino cheese for an extra treat.
Preparing to Cook Hash Browns
Creating the perfect hash browns begins with careful potato preparation. Peel the potatoes and grate them using the large holes of a box grater.
Next, squeeze the moisture out of the potatoes using one of the following methods:
Squeeze the potato shreds in your fist, one handful at a time, holding them over a colander. When you’ve removed as much liquid as possible, place them in a bowl lined with paper towels and pat them dry.
Using Cheesecloth or a Dishtowel
Wrap the grated potatoes in a cheesecloth or dishtowel and wring out as much water as you can. Then place them in a bowl lined with a paper towel, a clean dishcloth, or cheesecloth.
You can use a potato ricer to squeeze out the water in small portions, but this is a time-consuming method.
When you’ve removed as much water as possible, sprinkle onion powder over the potatoes and stir them gently. Finally, it’s vital to pre-heat the skillet or griddle over medium heat before adding the oil and butter.
It’s best to use a cast-iron skillet to prevent the hash browns from sticking to the bottom.
How to Make Crispy Hash Browns Like a Pro
You’ll follow a slightly different method depending on which type of hash browns you’re making. This is the classic method:
Once your oil and butter are sizzling gently over the heat, you can add your potatoes. Spread them in an even layer about one-third of an inch thick.
Sauté the potato for about six minutes until the bottom is golden and crisp. If your potatoes start to darken too quickly, turn down the heat a little.
Sprinkle salt and pepper over the top of the potatoes, and then cut the potato shape in half or into quarters.
This makes it easier to turn the hash browns over to cook the other side. Once you’ve flipped them over, dot the edges with more butter and drizzle extra oil around the edges.
The butter will melt under the hashbrowns, creating a delicious, crisp base, while the extra fat ensures extra crispy edges.
Sauté the potatoes for another six minutes and serve them with your favorite breakfast items.
To make hash browns with a binding agent, you follow the same steps, except you’ll add your egg and flour after squeezing the moisture out of the potatoes.
When you’ve added the binding agents, stir the ingredients and place piles of the mix in your sizzling oil, keeping them around one-third of an inch high.
The hash browns should start to brown after about five minutes in the skillet. Flip them over and cook the other side.
If you’re adding cheese, you should place it on the cooked side of the hash brown at this stage. It will melt over the top of the potato to create a delicious, gooey layer.
You can also cook this type of hash brown in one piece and cut it into quarters before flipping it.
Common Mistakes When Making Hash Browns
One of the most important cooking tips for hash browns is to choose your potatoes wisely. Waxy potatoes work best. Starchy potatoes won’t give you the crispy texture you crave.
Moisture creates a barrier between your potatoes and the pan, so make sure you get as much moisture out of your potatoes before you start cooking your hash browns. Watery potatoes won’t become crisp and golden.
Apart from these two significant errors when cooking hashbrowns, they’re easy to make as long as you watch them and monitor the heat of the pan to stop them from burning.
What to Serve With Hash Browns
Now that you’ve prepared your crispy, delicious hash browns, you need to complement them with something tasty to make all the effort worthwhile.
Eggs are an excellent source of lean protein and the perfect match for hash browns.
Fluffy scrambled eggs are a classic companion for hash browns and highlight the crispy texture and savory flavor of the potatoes.
Traditional diners prefer soft fried eggs with bacon alongside their hash browns, but this simple dish also lends itself to more interesting flavor combinations.
Nutty, sweet Brussels sprouts and bacon work well with hash browns, and stuffed mushrooms are a treat, too. For a unique twist that caters to fans of Mexican food, you can serve cheesy quesadillas with hash browns.
A fresh garden salad or Greek yogurt with fresh fruit adds a healthy twist to this fried dish. Other interesting foods to enjoy with hash browns include:
- Oven-roasted tomatoes
- Baked beans
- Chicken salad
- Corned beef hash
With so many options to choose from, you could enjoy hash browns as often as you like.
Hash Brown FAQs
Hopefully, we’ve answered most of your questions about how to make hash browns crispy already. If you’re still wondering about the finer details, here are some common hash browns questions for easy reference:
Are Hash Browns Healthy?
Potatoes are a healthy food, full of carbohydrates, fiber, and a range of vitamins and minerals. They contain magnesium, riboflavin, thiamin, and vitamins B1, B3, and B6.
As long as you don’t cook them in too much oil, you can eat your hash browns guilt-free. Without added oil, potatoes are fat-free and have no cholesterol.
If you’re following a low-carb diet plan, hash browns are a no-no for you.
Should You Stir Hash Browns?
You don’t need to stir hash browns. You must make sure you give the potatoes a chance to crisp up and keep tabs on them to make sure they don’t burn.
Can You Freeze Uncooked Hashbrowns?
You can’t freeze raw, peeled potatoes. They’ll oxidize and turn black in time. Oxidized potatoes are safe to eat but they don’t look very appetizing.
It’s also very difficult to shred cooked potatoes as they fall apart. Commercial packers steam the potatoes, shred them, and then individually freeze them.
So, unless you have the facilities to duplicate this process, you’ll have to cook your homemade hash browns from scratch every time.
Cooked hashbrowns freeze well and will last for up to three months in the freezer, provided you let them cool thoroughly first.
Enjoy Homestyle Meals Without the Effort
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