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7 Tips for Perfectly Crispy Hash Browns Every Time

7 Tips for Perfectly Crispy Hash Browns Every Time

There are two schools of thought when it comes to hash browns. For some, the perfect hash browns are made by frying diced potatoes and onions in a skillet until the potatoes are relatively crispy on the outside and still creamy on the inside, and for others, hash browns are all about the crunch — shredded potatoes fried to golden-brown perfection with just barely a hint of fluffy potato left on the inside. If you’re a crispy hash brown aficionado, there are a few things you should know before you make these delicious fried potatoes at home.

Click here for the 7 Tips for Perfectly Crispy Hash Browns Every Time (Slideshow)

There are certainly pros and cons to both styles of hash brown. The version made with diced potatoes has a nice balance of textures (you can get a decent crust on the outside of the potatoes without losing the soft, fluffy interior) and flavors (often, this style of hash brown is cooked with diced onions, which add a sweet and savory note to the dish), but they can quickly become soft and soggy thanks to the extra moisture from the onions and the steam that gets trapped in the pile of diced potatoes on your plate.

While shredded potato hash browns lack a noticeably light and creamy texture under their crisp outer crust, they more than make up for the monotony in texture with a crunch that’s difficult to achieve in a diced-potato hash brown. If you use the right potato and the right set of techniques, these hash browns fry up golden-brown and with the perfect amount of crackling crust every single time. And, since they use little more than starchy potatoes, a neutral-flavored cooking oil (like canola), and some salt, they’re easy to make whenever the super-crunchy-hash-brown craving hits.

If you’re ready to whip up a batch of these crunchy fried potatoes at home, here are a few tips to know.

When it comes to really crispy hash browns, choose a starchy potato instead of a waxy one; it will crisp up much better. Avoid varieties like Yukon Gold or red-skinned potatoes and opt instead for high-starch russet or Idaho potatoes.

There are different schools of thought when it comes to cutting the potatoes for hash browns. Though some prefer diced potatoes, the crispiest hash browns are the ones that are made with shredded potatoes. If you’re going for maximum crunch, shred your starchy potatoes on a box grater (using the largest holes) rather than dicing them.

Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.

The BEST Crispy Hash Browns (Restaurant-Style!)

After extensive testing and days of eating more than our fair share of potatoes, we’ve come up with a recipe for the BEST crispy hash browns! We tested russet and Yukon gold potatoes, various seasonings, steaming vs. boiling vs. raw, and too many methods to count. The result is homemade hash browns that taste just like diner-style potatoes, but healthier and less greasy!

They’re perfect for weekend brunch or making ahead and freezing for quick and easy breakfasts. This step-by-step recipe yields foolproof hash browns with just 4 ingredients required. Let us show you how it’s done!

In summary:

1. Shred your potatoes and immediately put them into a bowl of cold water. Let soak for a few minutes.

2. Place the potatoes on a (clean) dish towel, wrap them up and squeeze out any excess water.

3. Heat a large cast iron skillet (or griddle) over high heat. Add a few tablespoons of butter. Once it&rsquos melted, add the potatoes in a thin layer and turn the heat down to medium-high.

4. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Cook until very crispy and brown on the bottom, then flip and cook on the other side.

My husband likes to add more butter halfway through the cooking process. Yes, he is an unabashed butter addict.

Shred potatoes on the largest holes of a box grater.

Wrap potatoes in a kitchen towel or several layers of cheesecloth and twist to squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

Transfer potatoes to a plate lined with 2 layers of paper towels. Cook in a microwave on high for 2 minutes.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add shredded potato. Season with a large pinch of salt and pepper. Using a spatula, press potato into an even layer. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip potatoes with spatula and brown on the other side, about 2 minutes longer. Remove and drain on a paper towel–lined plate. Serve immediately.

Remove Excess Water Before Cooking

Most recipes will tell you to rinse your shredded potatoes and dry them before baking or frying. If you've ever wondered why, it's because the rinse removes most of the starch from the potatoes. Starch-free potatoes won't clump together, which allows potatoes to get crispy quickly in the oven or stove.

A cheesecloth or paper towel is usually recommended to squeeze out the excess water both methods work just fine, but they are messy and time consuming. Enter the salad spinner.

Just throw your shredded potatoes into your salad spinner and crank it to get all of the extra water out. If you enjoy salt, pepper, or other seasonings, add it to the salad spinner after the initial spinning and spin a few more times. The salad spinner distributes the spices evenly and saves time.

The salad spinner also comes in handy for making other thin potato recipes, including tater tots, latkes, and even potato sticks.

Fast food places like McDonalds usually serve up hash browns in a convenient patty shape. You can easily make these homemade hash brown patties using real potatoes at home! By mixing in an egg and some flour, your shredded seasoned potato mixture will stick together and form patties. Fry them in a little bit of oil, sort of like you would a hamburger. When they are nice and golden brown on one side, flip them over and cook them until they are crispy and cooked through.

Freezing potatoes to use later is easy and can save you lots of time on busy mornings. Once the potatoes are par boiled and shredded, allow them to cool completely. To keep them from clumping together, spread the potato shreds on a large baking sheet and freeze in a single layer. Transfer frozen potatoes into freezer containers or Ziplock bags and place back in the freezer. Stays good for up to three months.

The Secret to the Crispiest (and Easiest) Hash Browns Is Boiling Potatoes in Advance

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Like any child of the internet, I am quite good at conducting reconnaissance missions online. But while others may track the relationship status of their acquaintances through Venmo or cross-reference LinkedIn and Twitter to locate a dating app match, I tend to use my powers for one very specific purpose: to determine whether or not a restaurant is going to serve me a decent plate of hash browns.

If hash browns are a top-five food for you (as they are for me), being a spy online is the only way to guarantee you won’t get burned at the table. Diners and brunch establishments across the country play fast and loose with the phrase, placing it on their menus with abandon, and then, to my total devastation, serving breakfast potatoes instead. When going out to eat was still on the agenda, I would dive deep into a restaurant’s geo-tagged photos on Instagram and user-submitted pictures on Google Maps in advance of my visit, looking for any clue that I would get hash browns—actual, beautiful, shredded hash browns—and not a scoop of cubed, sometimes herby, sometimes pepper-and-onion-studded chunks. A totally fine food, but they’re not hash browns. Not even close.

Perhaps you’re thinking that the solution to my problem is to get my fix in my own kitchen, which is a reasonable idea! But making hash browns at home is—I’ll just say it—so annoying. 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. If you don’t eliminate enough liquid (from the potatoes that you, again, just soaked in water), they will get soggy instead of crispy, a.k.a. a total bummer. It wasn’t until I experimented with a few boiled potatoes left over from some other project, cold and straight from the fridge, that Cheater’s Hash Browns came into my life—and they aren’t going anywhere.

Leftover boiled potatoes are the key to Cheater’s Hash Browns—the crispiest and easiest HBs in the game.

Hash browns made from partially boiled potatoes are softer and creamier on the inside than your average diner hash browns (I consider this a good thing) and also get extremely crispy on the outside. The key is to cook your spuds just long enough that you can easily stab them with a utensil but not so long that you can crush them with your fingers you want the shreds to hold their shape while you fry. This means that if you’re boiling potatoes for some other purpose (mashed? crispy smashed?) and want to throw in a few extra for hash browns at a later date, you need to pull them before the rest of the batch is ready to go. I often boil potatoes—Yukon Golds, which I find work best for this technique—specifically to become hash browns. Once cool enough to handle, you can grate them right away, or cover and refrigerate them for up to three days, for hash browns at a moment’s notice.

Here’s how to make easy, crispy hash browns at home: Start by boiling two pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes, which is about six medium-size spuds, until just barely fork-tender, 15 to 20 minutes depending on the size of your potatoes. Drain and set aside to cool.

When you’re ready to get your HB on, grate the cooked potatoes on the large side of a box grater into a bowl. The skins will peel off as you grate, but if you get some pieces in the final mixture, that’s okay. Add lots of black pepper, one teaspoon of kosher salt, and a pinch of whatever else you feel like—garlic or onion powder is good, cayenne is classic, but I always use about ¼ teaspoon of smoked paprika. Gently toss with a fork to coat.

Next melt four tablespoons of unsalted butter with one tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Using your hands, sprinkle the seasoned potatoes across the surface of the pan in a relatively even layer. Cook, undisturbed (seriously, don’t touch them!), until deeply browned on the bottom, 5 to 7 minutes.

Using a flexible heatproof spatula, gently break the potatoes apart and toss in the pan. A scooping and flipping motion is best resist the urge to chop-chop-chop up the hash browns as they cook as par-boiled shards are less sturdy than raw ones and you want them to generally hold their shape. Cook, tossing sections with the spatula, about 8 minutes more (if at any point the pan looks dry, drizzle in a teaspoon or two of olive oil). The finished product should be well-browned and delightfully crisp in spots with tender shreds throughout. Transfer to a plate and immediately season with salt.

My guess is that after your first audibly crunchy bite, you’ll be Team Cheater hash browns for life—with the social media to prove it.

Make Ahead Directions:

Shred potatoes as directed in Step 1. Place shredded potatoes in a bowl of cool water. Chill in the refrigerator overnight. Rinse and continue with Steps 2 through 4 as directed.

To get potatoes to brown properly, it is important to dry them well before cooking. If you don't have a salad spinner, dry the potatoes by pressing the water out with a potato ricer or by patting the shredded potatoes dry with paper towels.

A skillet with sloping sides works particularly well.

Tips for making perfect hash browns?

They're ubiquitous at diners all over the place, but I can't reproduce them in my own kitchen.

It seems like it should be simple. Shred potatoes, form patties, fry in a skillet until a crispy golden brown crust and smooth, soft well-cooked center is achieved. Salt lightly and serve hot.

Mine turn out too starchy, with a gluey texture. They're grayish brown throughout , and alway retain a raw potato taste in the center.

Pick the right potato. You want a fully grown (not new) russet potato for hash browns - they've got less of the starch that makes potatoes gluey yet they will hold together well in the pan. No golds, no redskins, no wax, no purples, no nothing but good old fashioned russets.

After you grate the potato, it needs to be dried. Some folks will par cook them (boil briefly in water) to remove as much starch as possible and then dry them, some salt them to draw out moisture then dry them. Yesterday's bakers can be used but they will turn out kinda grey. In either case, they can be dried by wringing them out in a sturdy towel - hard - or by squeezing them - hard - in a ricer but they have to be dry. Really dry.

Hot pan. Hot oil. Form the potatoes into a patty (not too thick and not too tight - you want them to fry, not steam) and drop them in the oil. Leave them alone for several minutes, until a crusty fond begins to develop on the bottom. Flip, once, and cook on the other side till you get that crispy fond going again.

Bingo, you're done. Season to taste and serve immediately.

You need to remove as much excess water from the potato as possible. First, press out as much water as you can from the shredded potatoes between paper towels or some other absorbent material. Season the potatoes liberally with salt and put them in a colander. This not only seasons the potatoes but also draws out even more water, promoting browning. Squeeze them out and dry them as much as possible, use a ton of black pepper, form into a bigass patty and shallow fry them in a skillet with some neutral oil. Use low/medium heat, and flip when the bottom side is crispy, beautiful, and golden brown. Repeat until both sides are extra tasty, season to taste if more salt is needed, and enjoy!

Thanks! I'm obviously missing some critical steps.

In order to remove enough water, how long should the salted potatoes to sit in the colander prior to cooking?

Par cook whole potatoes and chill overnight. Grate potatoes and pan fry. That's the short answer, guarantee the results here. 30 years a chef. I could go into the science if needed.

do you have a step to remove water, or just work with the grated cold potatoes?

This comes up from time to time. This is my recipe and it turns out great every time.

Get a large russet potato

Add the potato to a pot of cold water and bring to a low simmer. Simmer until the potato is cooked through.

Take the potato out and let it cool to room temp

Put the potato in the fridge over night. This is where the magic happens. Something happens to the chemistry of the potato starches after they have been cookee that makes the texture great.

Next day shred the potato and place the shave bits on a sheet pan on some parchment paper. Make sure it is in a nice even layer and as little touching as possible.

Freeze the shredded potatoes. This is an important step. This will make the small bits of potato nice and fluffy. When you freeze something the ice crystals formed make sharp edges. These edges will puncture the cell walls that enclose them. So when the item is heated again, the water can escape easily.

After they've frozen solid, portion out what you want in freezer bags or vacuum seal bags and store. Can last up to 6 months.

In a non-stick or cast iron pan add some vegetable oil and butter on medium heat. Get the mixture to where the butter fats have separated but the oil isn't smoking. It needs to be hot.

Add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. If you like add a bit more butter to the top of the potatoes.

Do not press on the potatoes. They will be fluffy based on the preparation.

Once one side of the potatoes are crispy, carefully flip them over. You won't get as good a crispy side on the second side, but it will set nicely. That is the side towards the plate.

I tend to make several pounds of potatoes at a given time, then vacuum seal portions and keep them. It's very convenient and works like a charm.

Yes this. I also like the idea of freezing, never bothered but totally makes sense.

Parcooking and making sure your potatoes are dry before frying is the key to a good crisp. Rinse and pat the shreds dry, then I microwave them for a bit, let the steam come off and pat them dry again before frying.

Ok, here's what you do if you wake up on Saturday and suddenly want hash browns. Shred the potatoes as normal. form them into thin (

1cm) patties on a plate. Microwave them for about 2 minutes (cooking time will vary by oven and thickness). What you are shooting for, is for the potatoes to basically be cooked. They will also be pretty sticky and should be holding together really well. I've only gotten to do this once, but I anticipate that it could be hard to get them off the plate in one piece sometimes. You'll want to flip them over as soon as they come out. The microwave will do an excellent job of driving off moisture as well. Prepare all your patties like this then just lay them in the hot skillet with oil as normal until golden brown on the bottom and flip them to cook on top. Season with salt as they come out of the pan.

This is the fastest way I've found to make really good hash browns. There's no straining, rinsing, air drying, or overnight prep to do, and they hold together really well. And since you shape the patties by hand on a plate, this opens the door to exciting/obscene hash brown shapes.

How to make crispy shredded hash browns part of your breakfast rotation

I love all forms of fried potatoes. If I could have french fries or tater tots for a meal every day without concern, I would. However, I tend to regulate these iterations of crispy spuds to lunch and dinner these days, thus filling me with joy and exuberance anytime I’m able to enjoy crunchy taters in the morning. Enter hash browns.

My childhood mornings regularly featured diced and pan-fried potatoes prepared by my mom, but I consider those “home fries” and not “hash browns.” To me, the latter are shredded rather than diced and are a staple at diners and fast-food restaurants across the country, not necessarily something made at home from scratch. I’ve even made hash browns numerous times during my line cook days, but until I revisited them for this recipe, I forgot just how easy they are to make in your own kitchen.

Here are a few fun facts about these beloved taters and some useful tips for making them at home.

Hash brown history. The word “hash” comes from the French “hacher,” which means to chop, so “hash brown potatoes” translates to “chopped and fried potatoes.” Before being shortened to “hash browns,” the dish was called “hashed and browned potatoes,” the first known mention of which comes from “Miss Parloa’s Kitchen Companion,” published in 1887. The cookbook features a recipe for “cold boiled potatoes, cut into cubes” heated in a brown gravy and then pan-fried until browned and has a texture that can be “fold[ed] like an omelet,” very different from the recipe many of us know and love today.

Shredding overtook dicing as the preparation of choice in the 1970s, according to “Breakfast: A History” by Heather Arndt Anderson, which was “likely inspired by Swiss rӧsti, the traditional farmer’s breakfast from Switzerland’s capital, Bern.” But when it comes to shredded fried potatoes, there are numerous iterations around the world, with some of the most well known coming from Europe, including rӧsti, pommes darphin and potato latkes.

Potatoes first hit European shores in 1589 when Sir Walter Raleigh brought them to Ireland, and they took four decades to spread to the rest of the continent. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact birth of the rӧsti, but I would posit it is the first in the category and originated sometime around the 18th century when “the potato had taken hold in Switzerland,” the Chicago Tribune reported. One of the most popular potato pancakes in the United States is the latke, which, per PBS, originally didn’t contain potatoes at all but was instead made from cheese. However, potato latkes became popular with Ashkenazi Jews in Eastern Europe during the mid-1800s. Later, the French pommes darphin is believed to have been invented by its namesake, François Darphin, sometime around 1900.

So what's the difference between them? Hash browns, rӧsti and pommes darphin are typically just seasoned potatoes, but potato latkes also often include onion, egg and extra starch. Some of the recipes traditionally called for pre- or par-cooked potatoes, but all can be cooked from raw spuds. And when it comes to size and shape, rӧsti and pommes darphin are much thicker, sometimes clocking in around an inch or so, and formed into perfectly round circles, whereas hash browns and latkes are thinner, often with free-form, frilly edges. So while there are minor differences here and there, at the end of the day, they're all the same in my book — delicious fried shredded potato pancakes.

Po-tay-to, po-tah-to. Not all potatoes are created equal, and the choice of potato in hash browns will affect the final product. The main two types of potatoes are mealy and waxy, which have high and low starch contents, respectively. “Though the Swiss use waxy potatoes [for rӧsti], those in the U.S. do not brown as well as Idaho baking potatoes,” according to a recipe in the Chicago Tribune. It’s the extra starch in mealy potatoes that helps them get nice and crispy, making russet potatoes ideal for hash browns.

Fat choice. In theory, you could use any fat you wanted to fry hash browns. A neutral oil such as vegetable or canola is pretty standard, but as its name implies, it doesn’t contribute anything in the flavor department. You could use a good olive oil, but its flavor doesn’t fit my idea of standard hash browns. Bacon or other animal fat can be a great flavor booster, but some may find that it can overpower the potatoes. And last but certainly not least, there’s butter. Some recipes do instruct you to use it as the sole fat for frying — the Kitchn exclaims, “Yes, you can use butter for simple pan-fried recipes!” — but I still worry about it burning over the medium-high heat and cook time called for in this recipe. Using clarified butter or ghee would erase this worry, but those are items that I don’t tend to keep on hand.

I chose to use a combination of vegetable oil and butter based on memories making hash browns as a line cook (looking back, they were technically rӧsti or pommes darphin) and wanting to impart some butter flavor without the anxiety that comes with using all butter. I initially thought using a mix of the two raised the overall smoke point, but my research taught me that is a myth. However, there are still benefits. Per Serious Eats, “Though the milk proteins will still burn,” which I didn’t notice in any of my recipe testing, “if you cut the butter with oil, they’ll at least be diluted, meaning that you won’t have as much blackened flavor in that mix.”

How to cook hash browns. I chose to peel the potatoes, but you could certainly keep the skin on and just give them a good scrub instead if you want the extra nutrition. Then, with a handheld grater or the grating attachment of a food processor, shred the potatoes. Next comes the most important: Get rid of as much moisture as you can to achieve shatteringly crisp potatoes. I like to gather the shredded spuds in a clean dish towel and wring out all of the water — nearly 1/2 cup in my trials — but you could also use cheese cloth, paper towels, a ricer or even just your hands. While some recipes instruct you to rinse the potato under running water, don’t. Doing so removes the starch that helps the vegetable strands stick together and also aids in crispiness. Toss with salt and pepper so the seasonings are evenly dispersed throughout, and then it’s time to fry.

Grab a large skillet — nonstick is preferable to cast iron due to the latter’s issues with uneven heating — that is big enough to spread the potatoes into a very thin layer. Heat a small amount of fat in the pan, add the potatoes, press them into a thin, even layer, and then cook until golden and crisp. (Pro tip: I like to regularly press the potatoes with my spatula as they’re cooking to help them stick together and ensure the hash browns get good contact with the pan to encourage browning.) Then flip, let them brown on the other side, and you’re good to go.

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