How to Make (the Best Ever) Hash Browns Without a Recipe (2024)

Here at Food52, we loverecipes-- but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don't always need a recipe, you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.

Today: Food52 alum Catherine Lambis showingyou how tomake hash browns miles better than your nearest diner, without a recipe.

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You sit down to brunch. You're starving. You're sleepy. You're possibly hungover. You order the breakfast special, the biggest plate on the menu -- the one that comes with eggsandtoastandbacon cooked just the way you like itand, of course, hash browns. Your food arrives, you pick up your fork, and halt midair. What do you eat first?

There's only one correct answer to this question:hash browns. Crispy, starchy, salty, and begging to be dragged through a pool of ketchup, hash browns are the perfect weekend breakfast food. In fact, they might be the perfect food, period. You've probably had to suffer through a lot of sub-par hash browns in your life -- ones that were soggy and limp andsort of sad-looking. But now it's time to reclaim hash browns as the ultimate breakfast item they were meant to be.Stick these tips in your back pocket and start dreaming of breakfast right now. Or go ahead and have hash browns for dinner. We don't judge.

Here's how to make the best, crispiest hash browns, without a recipe.

1. Gather some potatoes (I like Idaho), a yellow onion, nice flaky salt, and some neutral-tasting oil (make sure it has ahigh smoking point). You can suss outyour own preferred potato-to-onion ratio (or even leave out the onion altogether, though you'd be missing out), but I typically use one onion for every two large potatoes.

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2. Grate your potatoes and onion by hand or, if you have on of those cool time-saving attachments, in a food processor.

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3. Wrap your grated potatoes and onion in a cheesecloth or a clean dish towel, then squeeze the life out of them. Once you've wrung out all the liquid you can, set the whole bundle in a strainer and place it in the sink or over a large bowl. Leave it for a few minutes to allow all the excess liquid hiding in your potatoes to seep out. While it is extremely difficult to wait for hash browns, don't skip this step: Itwill ensure that your hash browns have a lovely, shatteringly crispy lid.

More: Use this same technique to make no recipe latkes. Just don't forget to play a rousing round of dreidel!

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4. Coat a non-stick or cast iron skillet with a thin layer of youroil, about a tablespoon. Crank the heat up to medium-high. After a minute or so, test to see if your pan is ready by dropping in a few strands of potato. If it instantly starts to sizzle angrily and spit at you, it's time. Spread out some of the potato mixture in a thin, even layer along the pan. Don't make it too thick or you'll have a lot of potato to cut through -- I'd say about 1/4-inch thick is a good bet.

Now here's the real secret to cripsy hash browns: Place an aluminum foil-wrapped pan (or other heavy item of roughly the same size asyour original pan) on top of the potato layer. Weigh it down with something (like a can of tomatoes) if it's light. Then, walk away, change your laundry, and/or drink a mimosa. Come back and remove the top pan, then use a spatula to peek at the underside of the hash brown. If it's that telltale hue of brown and deliciously crispy, you're ready to flip. You can either execute this move with a suave chef-like flick of the wrist or, if you want to play it safe, turn the hash brown out onto a plate and carefully slide it back into the hot pan, crispy side-up. Weigh the whole thing down again.

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5. Once your hash brown is golden brown on both sides,you're ready to eat. Slide it onto a plate, hit it with a pinch of salt, and make sure your ketchup is at arm's length. You're going to need it.

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Do you have any tricks for the perfect hash browns? We want to hear them in the comments!

How to Make (the Best Ever) Hash Browns Without a Recipe (2024)


What is the trick to cooking hash browns? ›

Squeezing the shredded potato in a towel or cheesecloth to remove as much moisture as possible helps it brown more evenly. Cooking the shredded potato briefly in the microwave helps it develop a better crust that remains crispy for longer.

What is traditionally the main ingredient of hash browns? ›

Hash browns, also spelled hashed browns and hashbrowns, are a popular American breakfast dish consisting of finely julienned potatoes that have been fried until golden browned.

Should you soak potatoes before making hash browns? ›

Most recipes require soaking your raw, shredded potato in cold water to rinse off the excess starch, then squeezing every last bit of moisture out before tossing it in a pan.

Is it better to cook hash browns with butter or oil? ›

Using a drier, starchier potato such as Idaho, and rinsing away the excess starch is a sure-fire way to crispy, golden hash browns. Butter helps both browning and flavor, while oil lowers the smoke point, allowing your pan to do the steady, even cooking needed for perfectly crisped potatoes.

Why won't my hash browns get crispy? ›

Remove as much moisture as possible. In order to get evenly crispy hash browns, you need to squeeze out as much water as you can. I prefer to do this using my salad spinner- it works GREAT for removing water! But you can also use a cheese cloth or even paper towels to squeeze it out.

Why do McDonald's hash browns taste so good? ›

To make their fried menu items healthier, McDonald's began cooking potato sides with vegetable oil in 1990. But the fast-food joint wasn't willing to sacrifice that signature flavor: McDonald's added natural beef flavoring to the oil to preserve the taste customers had come to love.

What seasoning is good on hash browns? ›

Sprinkle shredded potatoes into hot butter in an even layer; season with cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, and black pepper. Cook potatoes until a brown crust forms on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Flip or stir and continue to cook until potatoes are browned and crusty all over, about 5 more minutes.

What are dirty hash browns? ›

Indulge in the ultimate breakfast delight with our Dirty Hashbrowns! Picture this: seven golden, crispy hashbrowns, deep-fried to perfection, and then generously topped with sizzling bacon strips, a drizzle of savory nacho sauce, and a sprinkle of irresistible crispy onions.

What are the two types of hash browns? ›

Remarkably, there are four different styles in the hash brown category: shredded, patties, country-style (aka cubed potatoes), and O'Brien (cubed potatoes mixed with onions and bell peppers). Because plain shredded hash browns are super versatile, I zeroed in on this style.

Why are my homemade hash browns soggy? ›

Another thing to keep in mind for crispy hash browns is that you shouldn't salt the potatoes until you are about to flip them. She Loves Biscotti explains that salting too soon will also cause the potatoes to release water which can cause them to steam and be soggy, too. So, in essence, soak, squeeze, salt.

How do I get my hash browns to stick together? ›

If you use a waxy potato, they'll stick together nicely, but they won't get as crispy as you might want. Another option is to add more ingredients that will act as binders. Try adding cheese to your hash browns because when the cheese melts it will be like a gooey glue that holds your potatoes together.

What happens if you don't soak potatoes before cooking? ›

Soaking potatoes in water helps remove excess starch. Excess starch can inhibit the potatoes from cooking evenly as well as creating a gummy or sticky texture on the outside of your potatoes.

How to make hash browns that aren t mushy? ›

Tips for the Crispiest Hash Browns

Squeeze out moisture: Use a potato ricer, orange or lemon press, or a tea towel to wring out excess moisture from the shredded raw potato. Some people find a salad spinner can work well too.

Should you cover hashbrowns when cooking? ›

Cover and cook just until the perimeters start to get golden, about 5 minutes. Use a spatula to press the top down. Season with salt and pepper and flip. Cook, uncovered, until the bottom is golden and crispy, another 3 to 5 minutes.

How do you cook frozen hash browns without sticking them? ›

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Alternatively, you can use a non-stick baking sheet if available. This will prevent the hash browns from sticking to the pan and help them become crispy.

How do you make homemade hash browns not stick together? ›

The biggest culprit that's making your hash browns come apart is moisture. You need to make sure the potatoes are dry before adding them to the flour and egg mixture. Whether you squeeze them out in a dish towel or use a salad spinner, get the potatoes as dry as they can be.

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