Visit a restaurant that boasts a great breakfast and you're likely to find hash browns as the favorite side with eggs. Steak-and-chop houses also indulge diners with sides of crispy, golden shredded potatoes. Hash browns, also called hashed brown potatoes, have been around in the United States since at least the 1890s. According to the Idaho Potato Commission, hash browns were a popular breakfast dish in New York and served in the city's top hotels as well as in railroad dining cars. Some historians believe they became popular as a way to use leftover potatoes, while others speculate that they are based on the centuries-old Swiss rosti potato recipe – shredded-potato pancakes browned on both sides. Hash browns are quick, simple, and economical when made from scratch. They can be flavored with a variety of ingredients or used as the starting point for popular casseroles. Our basic recipe offers options for both shredded and chopped potatoes, plus ideas for add-ins.
How to Make Hash Browns
1. Prepare the Potatoes
This recipe makes four side-dish servings.
- Peel 1-1/2 pounds potatoes (about 4 medium). You can use any kind, although many people prefer the softer texture of russet or Idaho potatoes. If you won't be using the potatoes for a while, prevent them from darkening by covering the peeled potatoes with water in a large bowl.
- Coarsely shred the potatoes to make 4-1/2 cups. As an alternative to a box grater, you can use a food processor fitted with a shredding blade.
- Rinse the shredded potatoes and pat dry with paper towels. Combine the shredded potatoes with 1/4 cup finely chopped onion, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.
2. Fry the Potatoes
- In a 12-inch skillet melt 3 tablespoons butter or margarine over medium-low heat. Using a pancake turner, pat the potato mixture into the skillet. Cook over medium-low heat about 10 minutes or until the bottom of the mixture is crisp.
- With the pancake turner, turn over the potato mixture in large sections. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes more or until golden.
Tip: If you prefer, you can cook the potatoes in batches in a smaller skillet. Keep potatoes warm in a baking pan in a 300°F oven.
How to Make Chopped Hash Browns
Some people prefer the chopped form of hash browns. These are made similarly to shredded hash browns. However, because the potatoes are cut a bit larger, they are cooked for a few minutes first. This method makes four servings.
- Fill a medium saucepan one-third full of water; add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Coarsely chop 4 peeled or unpeeled potatoes by slicing lengthwise into strips, then cutting crosswise. Place the chopped potatoes in the saucepan.
- Bring the water to boiling over high heat; reduce heat. Cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; drain well.
- In a medium bowl combine the potatoes, 1/4 cup finely chopped onion, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.
- In a large nonstick skillet melt 3 tablespoons butter or margarine. Add the potato mixture and cook over medium heat, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and as brown as you prefer.
Before cooking, stir in one of the following combinations:
- 1 shredded medium parsnip and 2 to 3 teaspoons snipped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried sage leaves, crushed.
- 1 cup finely chopped zucchini and carrots.
- 1 cup corn, 1/2 cup finely chopped red sweet pepper, and 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped. About 5 minutes before potatoes are done cooking, sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese; cover and continue cooking.
- 1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced, and 1 to 2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil. About 5 minutes before potatoes are done cooking, sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese; cover and continue cooking. Serve with marinara sauce.