How to Make Homemade Hash Browns, Recipes and Tips

Hash browns are a staple addition to a full size breakfast of sausages, bacon, eggs and toast. They are also popular at most fast food restaurants and breakfast outlets. While they look so simple and easy to make at home, there are some tricks and tips to making and cooking the perfect homemade hash browns. Many attempts end up being soggy inside, tasting like bloating paper soaked in oil or they disintegrate when you try to pick them up.

This article provides a fool-proof method for preparing delicious hash browns from scratch and cooking them perfectly. There is some basic equipment required and some key ingredients but most people will have these items. Make your own delicious hash browns at home. There are many tips and suggestions for variations to try.

Equipment

  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Good quality and effective potato peeler
  • Shredder - a good quality cheese shredder will do
  • Spatula or other flat device for turning the hash browns when frying.
  • A timer
  • Paper towels

Basic Ingredients

  • 2 Russet or Red Pontiac Potatoes
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped onions
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of high temperature vegetable frying oil
  • Optional herbs and flavor items

Preparing the Potato Hash Browns

First wash and peel the potatoes using a good quality peeler to remove all the skin from the potatoes.

Next you need to shred the potatoes using a cheese shredder or some other vegetable shredder. You need coarsely shredded potatoes that are evenly sliced in to very thin strips.

The first major tip is to thoroughly dry the shredded potato using to and bottom layers of paper towel. If the shredded potato is too moist the hash browns will be too mushy inside and will not develop a crisp brown outer layer.

Just before drying it is also a good idea to wash the shredded potato strips with water to remove any remain skin and starch particles. Place them in a colander and rinse the starch from the shreds while moving with your fingers. Once washed, place a layer of paper towel on a cutting board and another on top. Press down on the shreds with the paper towel and move them around.

Make sure that the shreds are dry before drying. place in fridge, still wrapped in paper towel, for about 10-20 minutes. The shreds can also be dried in a potato ricer by squeezing (without putting through the ricer), turning upside down and letting the liquid drain.

Cooking the Potato Shreds

The crucial rule for cooking hash browns is not to play with them once they are on the griddle and to turn only once, and brown both sides. Hash browns should be slightly al dente just like pasta, but cooked not raw.

Pour the 2 tablespoons of oil into a hot skillet. The surface of the skillet should be coated in a thin layer of oil. Butter is popular but is not as a good grape seed oil or olive oil as a second choice. You can also use goose fat and other lards. You need a moderate to high temperature frying oil that does not have a strong flavour and grape seed is excellent for this. Non-stick vegetable sprays can also be used, but the hash browns have a tendency to burn and so need to be monitored closely.

Wait until the oil in the pan starts to shimmer, but is not smoking. Add the grated potatoes, and spread them over the bottom of the pan. Cook in batches so that the shreds are less than half an inch thick (10mm). Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add spices and herbs if you like. Cook over medium heat until a light brown crust has formed on the bottom. This generally takes about 5-7 minutes. Check after a few minutes by lifting one side up gently. When golden brown on the bottom, they are ready to flip. Use a large spatula to turn the potatoes over. You can divide a large potato cake into portions and flip individually. Keep cooking until they are golden brown on the bottom. Season with salt and pepper.

Tips and Variations

  • Add 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • Add 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • Bacon finely chopped
  • Paprika and parsley
  • Cook on medium to low heat for a while, with the lid on, which cooks the potatoes throughout. Then increase the heat to medium and brown on both sides.
  • Use the correct pan which is a cast iron skillet.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh onion to the pan and fry them for about 2 minutes before adding the potatoes.
  • Chopped bell peppers, zucchini, garlic and fresh herbs, as well as cooked bacon add a lot of flavor.
  • Flip only once.
  • Add a sprinkling of salt and pepper to one side of the hash browns only.
  • Cut the potatoes into tiny cubes rather than grating. This provides a texture contrast between the crispy outer crust and soft creamy center, provided they are cooked correctly.
  • Sweet potato hash browns are excellent, but you need to use a lot of spices, otherwise they're a little too sweet
  • You can use olive oil at moderate temperatures using a non-stick pan
  • Add some shreds to the bottom of the pan as a single layer, add some garlic salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on finely chopped onions. Then add the rest of the shreds.

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© 2012 Dr. John Anderson

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Comments 1 comment

Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Hash browns....a yummy treat...and this one looks less greasy than restaurant style...I usually pat the finished cooked hash browns between two layers of paper towel to remove even more and they are still awesome. Thanks for the great tips!

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