This easy homemade dish beats your local diner’s version
We love breakfast potatoes. And we can eat them any style. But given our druthers, we’ll go for hash browns every time.
We particularly crave the kind of hash browns you can find at any diner. It’s hard to beat those thin, crispy cakes of shredded potatoes. Especially when they’re cooked until both sides are crusty brown.
So serve up these hash browns on Thanksgiving morning (or the day after). And bask in the happy smiles of your guests.
Recipe: Crispy Shredded Hash Brown Potatoes
There are just a few secrets for making crispy hash browns. First, choose mature potatoes, preferably russets. Second, immediately after shredding the potatoes, soak them briefly in cold water, then rinse. Third, squeeze-dry them (we use a towel). Finally, cook the shredded spuds in lots of fat (bacon grease and butter are our favorites) until crisp and brown.
You can make hash browns without soaking them (see Notes). But they do turn out better if you soak.
In the recipe below, we suggest measurements for ingredients. But it’s almost impossible to specify exact quantities. After you cook a batch of hash browns or two, you’ll figure out what ingredient quantities suit your needs.
Our recipe yields 2 to 3 servings, but it’s easy to scale up for a crowd. So feel free to double, triple, or whatever.
BTW, if you’re serving a lot of guests, we suggest cooking the hash browns on a griddle or in a large electric skillet (so the cooking surface will provide generous real estate). Because our recipe is for a smaller batch, we use a stovetop skillet. But in the Notes, we provide instructions for using an electric griddle.
Prep time for this recipe is about 10 minutes. Cooking time adds another 10 minutes or so (for each batch).
- ~1 pound russet potatoes (1 or 2, depending on size; exact quantity not critical)
- salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon of Kosher salt for us; half that amount if using regular table salt—see Notes)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (5 or 6 grinds for us)
- cayenne pepper to taste (2 or 3 big pinches for us; very optional and not traditional)
- fat as needed (bacon grease, butter, or olive/vegetable oil; use a tablespoon or two—see Notes for more info)
- chopped parsley, green onions, or chives as garnish (very optional)
- Wash the potatoes and peel them (or leave them unpeeled if you wish; see Notes). Shred the potatoes using the shredding disc of a food processor (by far the easiest way) or the largest opening on a food grater. Immediately after shredding the potatoes, immerse them in a large bowl of cold water.
- Soak the shredded potatoes for a few minutes, stirring them until the water becomes cloudy. Drain the potatoes into a colander or strainer, then rinse them with cold water.
- Move the rinsed potatoes onto a large tea towel or kitchen towel (if you're doubling the recipe you want to do this in stages). Fold the towel over the potatoes and squeeze hard to remove as much liquid as possible. We often move the potatoes onto a second clean towel at this point, then squeeze again to extract even more liquid.
- Toss the shredded potatoes with salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper (if using).
- Place a medium-sized skillet (one with a diameter of about 10 inches) on medium stovetop heat. We like to use a nonstick skillet, but cast iron works quite well too. When the surface is hot (about 2 minutes), add enough fat to the skillet so that it covers the cooking surface with a thick film—every part of the griddle that the potatoes will touch should be wet. Heat the fat until hot (it’ll start to shimmer).
- Add the shredded potatoes to the skillet. Then, using a flat spatula, firmly flatten the potatoes into a thin cake (about ¼ inch or so). Push down hard with the spatula to form the potatoes into a solid cake. (You can make hash browns in thicker cakes, but the thinner ones cook faster. They are also more crispy.)
- Cook the shredded-potato cake until the first side is crispy and brown—about 5 or 6 minutes. If the cake is cooking too quickly, reduce the heat somewhat. When the first side is cooked, use a spatula to flip the cake and cook the second side. (Or if you’re feeling lucky, just flip it in the pan.)
- Cook the second side until it’s brown—usually 2 or 3 minutes. Then, using the flat spatula, divide the hash brown cake into serving sizes, and transfer the pieces onto serving plates.
- Add a garnish of chopped parsley, green onions, or chives (if you wish). Serve.
- Why soak the shredded potatoes? Because cold water helps prevent oxidation—which can turn freshly cut potatoes an unappetizing brown. Soaking also removes some starch from the potatoes, which makes for crisper hash browns.
- And why squeeze the shredded potatoes to remove moisture? Because wet potatoes don’t brown well. Remember that all potatoes (even unsoaked ones) naturally contain lots of moisture.
- BTW, russet (mealy) potatoes have lower moisture content than red/boiling (waxy) potatoes. So they’re the potato you want to use in this dish.
- We suggest squeezing the potatoes in a towel. But some cooks do the job with a potato ricer. Use whatever works for you.
- If you’re cooking for a crowd, you may need to squeeze the potatoes in batches.
- Even if you elect not to soak the potatoes, we still suggest squeezing the moisture out of them. You’ll get crisper hash browns that way.
- We usually peel potatoes when making hash browns, but you needn’t bother if you don’t want to. They’ll be just as good with the skins (maybe even better).
- We sometimes cook individual servings of hash browns in 6-inch nonstick skillets. (That’s what you see in the pictures accompanying this post.)
- If using an electric griddle or skillet, heat it to 350 degrees F. When hot, add enough fat to cover as much of the surface of the griddle as the potatoes will occupy. Add the shredded potatoes to the griddle or skillet, then flatten them into a large cake of ¼ inch or so. Cook the shredded-potato cake until the first side is crispy brown (5 or 6 minutes), then turn the cake over. You can flip the cake in one piece using 1 or 2 flat spatulas (though this can be difficult with a large quantity of potatoes). If the shredded-potato cake is too large to turn in one piece, use a flat spatula to divide it into smaller cakes, then flip them over individually. Cook the second side(s) until brown, then serve.
- If you’re making a very large quantity of hash browns and need to do several batches, you can stash the first batches in a warm oven while you cook the rest: Heat the oven to 250 degrees F. As each batch of hash browns is done, just place them on a paper towel-covered baking tray and move them to the oven. The hash browns may lose a bit of crispness if they wait too long, but they’ll still taste good.
- So how much fat to use in cooking the potatoes? The more fat you use, the browner and crisper the potatoes will be (particularly the first side, which—when flipped—is the side the diner sees). You should add a generous coating of fat to the cooking surface—no part of the surface that the potatoes touch should be without fat. If you don’t use enough fat, the hash browns won’t get as brown or crisp.
- Remember that the potato cake will absorb some of the cooking fat—so use fat that tastes good. Butter is superb (but make sure you don’t burn it; or use clarified butter, which prevents that from happening). Bacon fat or lard is also wonderful. Otherwise, use a mild-tasting olive oil, or a neutral-tasting oil. We sometimes use half butter and half oil.
- If you use flavorful fat, the hash browns will taste better than those that most restaurants serve. Why? Because restaurants use commercial liquid shortening (often called something like “griddle fry”) to cook hash browns. This commercial-grade cooking oil is cheaper than what you’ll be using—and it generally doesn’t have much flavor. Need we say more?
- How much salt and black pepper should you use? Really, whatever tastes good to you. Becoming a good cook means learning how to season food to your taste. If you’re unsure at first, start by adding less salt than you think you’ll need (you can always add more at table). We find that we end up using less salt if we season as we cook.
- We always use kosher salt for cooking. Kosher salt has big flakes, so it doesn’t fill a measuring spoon as “tightly” as regular table salt. Hence, it’s usually less salty by volume. So if you’re using regular table salt rather than kosher salt, use only about half as much.
- Some people like to cook hash browns with onion. These taste good, but onions and potatoes don’t cook at the same speed. So we prefer to brown the onions separately, then pile them on top of the hash browns when serving.
- You can find frozen hash browns at the grocery store. They’re not bad—and the companies that sell them do the soaking and squeezing for you. But your own hash browns will taste better.
- What to serve with hash browns? The classic accompaniments are bacon and eggs (as shown in the photos accompanying this post). But really, the possibilities here are limited only by your imagination.
Hashing it Up
“Love me some spuds,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs, forking her hash browns.
“I made a hash of these,” I said.
“That pun went out of bounds,” said Mrs K R. “I’m moving it back to the hash mark.”
“Sorry,” I said. “Don’t want to brown you off.”
“Nevermind, these hash browns are delicious,” said Mrs K R. “You’re a real hash-slinger.”
“I actually worked at a hash-house years ago,” I said. “I can cook some mean short-order.”
“We should think of a hashtag for this post,” said Mrs K R.
"We’ll need to hash out that idea,” I said.
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Hmm looks so appealing. I've never made my own I usually eat them out :) or even buy the boxes .. Now I'm ashamed that I did not try making my own it is super easy.
Hi Amira, these are fun to order in a restaurant! But your own will be better -- there's a noticeable difference. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi John , my mouth is watering , lots of company is coming , I I will serve this dish Friday for brunch , two batches , one as you prepared , another with jalapenos and diced onions , I know it will be a hit .
As everyone know home-made is better , these are so easy . Thanks John . Happy Thanksgiving to you , Mrs. KR and all the little Kitty Riffs from my family to yours . Nee :)
What a great idea. I love hash browns and I like the way you make yours. Especially the touch of cayenne pepper, that would add a dimension of flavor. I have never soaked mine before, have washed them and put them in a clean towel, but never soaked..so now I have to try that. Thanks for the tips...I also love the way your plate looks so very appetizing! Thanks for sharing...I wish you and Mrs Riffs a beautiful and delicious Thanksgiving! We all have so much to be thankful for....
Now that's the perfect breakfast! All you need is a smothering of green chile. :) This does make the perfect hashed browns especially when I don't get in a hurry and forget to soak the potatoes. That's such a crucial step. I hate it when they're gummy. Now you have me wanting to go in the kitchen and cook up a batch! Yours look so good!
Hope you and your family have a wonderfully Happy Thanksgiving!
Hi John, these are my favorite kind of breakfast potatoes too and they look perfectly cooked. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Mrs. Riff!
oh loving these crispy hash browns: magic keywords crusty brown! Where I live it is not something one finds commonly in menus but when heading south to where they are common I love to indulge. I may have tried 1-2 times unsuccessfully. Great tips here for my next try!
Hi Dottie, I've rinsed the potatoes too, but find soaking works a bit better. Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for the comment.
Hi MJ, how could I have forgotten the green chile? :-) Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for the comment.
Hi Cheri, aren't hash browns great? Can't get enough of them! Thanks for the comment and Happy Thanksgiving!
Hi Evelyne, crusty and brown are indeed the keywords! I think you'll find if you use this method of making them, they'll be really good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Nee, these make a wonderful brunch dish! And what you make at home is always better. :-) Thanks for the comment, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Love your quotes at the end. And um, this sounds DELICIOUS!!! I want to have a brinner (brunch and dinner!) and make these tonight. I have some hickory smoked bacon we could use. :) Thanks for sharing!
Looks great, John.....no wonder my hash browns from scratch are soggy, now I know how to fix that. :) Thanks
I've been so wound up concentrating on French food that I've forgotten about how delicious the 'basics' are (such as hashed brown spuds). My favourite diner used to be Keith's Waffle Shop in downtown San Diego, during the 60s- for 50c I used to order 2 eggs over medium with toast and hash browns. Your hash browns look just like Keith's- if I only could go back to the 60s!
Hi Pamela, brinner is wonderful, isn't it? We do it all the time! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Pat, try this method and you'll never have soggy hash browns again. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Unknown, Keith's sounds like our kind of place! Don't forget, the 60s were also the days of canned green peas. :-( Thanks for the comment.
Hi Lizzy, definitely! :-) Thanks for the comment.
So I was on a hash brown kick recently and have got to post my creation. Well not really a creation and now I'm letting the cat out of the bag...but I made them in my waffle iron and they were SO good. Crispy too...and when I poured a bit of maple syrup on them pretending they were waffles they were even better. I'm sort of hash brown obsessed lately...wish I had that plate of them right NOW!
Hi Barb, I've never made waffled hash browns, but I've had them before. Fun idea! Can't wait to see yours. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love breakfast, John and yours looks great! This is exactly what I am serving Friday morn for breakfast after Thanksgiving, I make hash browns pretty much the same way, except for cayenne and will add that this time. Potatoes, bacon and eggs, toast, plus sausage and cinnamon rolls Friday. Happy Thanksgiving!
This is what I call A BREAKFAST... the perfect plate to start the day smiling. Happy Thanksgiving, John!
Hi Pam, the cayenne adds a nice little touch of heat -- worth a try. Your breakfast sounds wonderful -- can never resist cinnamon rolls! Thanks for the comment, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Hi Denise, yup, we always smile after a feed like this. :-) Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for the comment!
Hash browns are such a treat! And so often when you order them out, they are disappointing. Not crispy enough or the potatoes cut too thick. These look amazing. Hash browns 101!
Hi Carolyn, once you know the tricks, hash browns are so easy to make. And you're right -- usually better homemade than what so many restaurants offer. Thanks for the comment.
Why have I never thought to try this at home? I devour the hash browns first whenever I'm out for breakfast! I've tried the frozen kind and never had luck, so I'm excited to make these, your tips are really helpful. Have a wonderful day tomorrow John!
YARM! We make hash browns at home, but they dont look as golden and delicious as yours, must be the potatoes I am using. Looking forward to trying your recipe. :)
Hi Sue, you'll love making these! They're really easy. And good. :-) Thanks for the comment, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Hi Anna, could be the potatoes; could be you need more fat. It'll be fun to experiment, won't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Breakfast just isn't a really good breakfast without a pile of crispy hash browns. Yours look exceptional!
Hi Karen, these are such a breakfast staple, aren't they? And really, really good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
You and Mrs Riffs are very funny. I wish I was having breakfast at your house - this would be a fantastic way to start the day. I do love hash browns and these are so much better than the ones you get at a diner. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Mrs Riffs xx
Hi John, your comfort breakfast look so good. Beside the awesome hash brown, the egg and bacon look delicious too. Excellent combo, homemade is still the best. Great pictures.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and family.
Hi Charlie, we'd love to have breakfast with you! And serve you these. ;-) Thanks for the comment and holiday greetings!
Hi Amelia, don't eggs and bacon go so well with hash browns? We love that combo! Thanks for the holiday greetings and comment.
Hmmmm with a bit of turkey too - this = BOMB!!!
Thank you for sharing such a lovely recipe. yummy and mouth watering. Happy Thanksgiving!
Hi GiGi, these would be wonderful with turkey, wouldn't they? Maybe with a bit of gravy, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Kushi, Happy Thanksgiving! Glad you like this recipe -- it's one of our favorites. Thanks for the comment.
I love breakfast potatoes ... even fore dinner. You made my favorite kind with all that crispy golden brown goodness.
We seem to eat hash browns more for a dinner side than for breakfast---but they're really a nice addition to ANY meal. It looks like you have the perfect formula!
Your hash brown looks so thin, golden and crispy!! I would love to dive right in, your wife is certainly a lucky lady... I wouldn't mind a breaky in bed like that ;p
Thanks so much for sharing
Hi Laura, we love these for dinner, too! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Liz, these make a really nice bed for a poultry or meat dish. Perfect for dinner, too. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Julie, don't these look nice? Really tasty stuff! Thanks for the comment.
I will be giving these a try. I do find the river superior at getting the moisture out of the potatoes and doesn't leave a bunch of towels to wash.
Hi Food Junkie, washing the towels doesn't really bother us, but you've raised a really good point. And the ricer does work well. Thanks for the comment.
I've tried making shredded hash brown and I looove it!
I adore hash brown potatoes that are golden and crispy and perfect! These look delicious. I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving!
Hi Lux, aren't hash browns wonderful? We love them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Amy, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and hope yours was the same. Now we need to make some hash browns! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I think one of my first ever kitchen disasters was hash-browns. These tips would have made all the difference. GREG
Hi Greg, although hash browns are really easy to make, they're also really easy to screw up. Alas. But this recipe works. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Yum, great tips for a delicious looking treat. I would love these hash browns for breakfast, lunch or dinner!
Hi Chris, we'll happily eat hash browns for all of those meals. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Ooh ... hash browns ... I love hash browns! Thanks for all your great suggestions about making them even better. And I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Hi Beth, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Our favorite holiday. :-) And we need to continue the celebration by making hash browns this weekend! Thanks for the comment.
Thanks for the tips! My hash browns never come out as good as they do at the diner. I'm going to have to try these though. Especially now that I'm craving hash browns.
Hi Pamela, once you get the hang of it, you'll be producing better hash browns than you get in restaurants. And it's pretty easy, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I'm so doing it! It looks amazing and I am a big fan of breakfasts :)
Hi Marta, breakfast is indeed your thing! So these will be, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Druthers? I will have to google this unless you can please explain John. What perfect hash cakes, these are certainly crispy and adding cayenne pepper is a unique twist, I wished mine look as good as yours :D
Hi Merryn, druthers = preference or choice. Not widely used these days, I guess (and probably an Americanism anyway). Hashed browns are great, aren't they? The cayenne really is nice. :-) Thanks for the comment.
These look so yummy, John. I'm all about texture in my food and crispiness is best! I have to confess I've never made them, lol. Now I will with this delicious recipe in hand :)
Hi Robyn, crispy is good. :-) You'll love these -- and make them once, I'll bet you'll make them again. Thanks for the comment.
I love them crispy! They look perfect John.
Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Those are some wonderful tips to get a crispy hashbrown. I have a major weakness for potatoes and crispy ones. They look gorgeous and that egg, yum.
Btw, love your conversations, you both are funny and adorable.
Hi Pam, we really like them crispy too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Asha, glad you like the conversations! We enjoy writing them. :-) And hash browns are terrific, aren't they? Can never resist them! Thanks for the comment.
Wow your hashbrowns look perfect!! I love hashbrowns for breakfast, and can't wait to make these soon!
My daughter would love this for breakfast!
These look perfectly cooked John - I would enjoy these anyway - breakfast or dinner. Golden brown and crispy - perfection!
Hi Kristi, it's hard to get enough hash browns, isn't it? Such good stuff! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Peachy, you owe it to her to make some. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Tricia, we'll eat these for any meal, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I'm with you - I adore hashbrowns. Lucky for me, my hubby can take them or leave them, so I get his and mine. I've never had good luck getting that crusty golden color that makes them so delicious. I'm pinning your recipe so I can give it a try this weekend! Thanks!
I love, love, love hash browns. I will eat the frozen kind. The refrigerated kind. The diner kind. Your kind. My kind. I will eat any kind. I love hash browns!
Hi Kristi, hash browns are so good, aren't they? Totally love them! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Abbe, gosh, I get the impression you like hash browns. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Love, love, love me some hash browns, John. I've made them using some of your techniques but not all. I really must try them using the complete Riffs Methodology. I see some mighty fine breakfasts in my future. Thanks!
Hi John, love me some hash browns, too. Such tasty stuff! Hope you enjoy using the complete Riffs Methodology. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love "good" hash browns. I bet you have a lot of guest for breakfast/brunch.
I would definitely like my hashbrowns like this
Hi Madonna, good hash browns can be hard to find, can't they? Too many restaurants don't cook them long enough, making them kinda soggy. :-( Thanks for the comment.
Hi Raymund, they're at their best this way, aren't they? Thanks for the comment.
These look so crispy! Simply perfect!
This is a classic, but sometimes hard to achieve the crispness. Thanks for all the great tips. Now I can make my hashed brown very crisp and delicious.
Yes, I love this hash brown...and you just reminded me that I have not made this for a while...yours look just perfect, light and crisp!
Have a great week John :)
I never make or eat hash browns anymore but would love to. I avoid them but I'm thinking this holiday I'll have to try just a small bit of them. Your recipe looks perfect and of course you leave no room for the imagination with all your great tips. Have a wonderful holiday!!!
Hi Melanie, they're really good! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Holly, it's fun cooking classic dishes, isn't it? This one is such a winner! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Juliana, these really are crisp -- just the way we like them! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Vicki, these can be a lot of food at breakfast, so we often serve them at dinner. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Homemade harshbrowns are always so crispy and better than the packet ones. I would say that REALly good :D
Hi Zoe, love crispy hash browns! And these are crispy. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I really love hash browns. These look excellent. I never had them fried in bacon grease and butter before, sounds so yummy. Thank you for sharing this.
My husband says there's nothing better than diner hash browns! I have to make these for him! I've been looking for a recipe that tastes like the diners :)
Hi Dawn, both butter and bacon grease make everything taste better. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ashley, this recipe should do the trick! It's really good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Thanks for sharing the tips to get crispy hash browns! The picture tells it all and I am ready to try it for bf soon :)
Hi Shibi, these are great! And soooo good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I think Homemade Hashbrowns are hard to make. I remember posting several failures on my blog and finally got one method right. I'll have to go back and see if I did the water soaking thing. And by the way, our local Waffle House has the best damn hash brown. Now I'm craving them. :)
Hi Lea Ann, so easy to crave hash browns, isn't it? Just mention them, and I'm ready to eat! This method really works. Makes really good -- and crispy! -- hash browns. Thanks for the comment.
Soaking homemade french fries before frying make the best fries ever, so I'm not surprised it works for hashbrowns too! They crisp much better. A poached egg on top would be nice too. Now I'm hungry!
Hi Paula, yup, soaking hash browns/French fries has a similar effect. A good one! :-) Thanks for the comment.
That's MY kind of breakfast. We can't buy frozen hashbrowns and nearly every recipe calls for them. Thanks for making your recipe for humans like me. :)
Hi Maureen, just love these crispy goodies! So much fun to make. And eat. :-) Thanks for the comment.
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