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Is the Proper Hash Brown Shredded or Diced?

Hash browns are a popular breakfast item around the world. Fried potatoes are certainly the ultimate comfort food to eat in the morning to ensure you stay full all day.

But the question remains, is there a proper definition of hash brown?

We’ve got the answer, plus tips for making your hash browns nice and crispy.

Grab a fork, and let’s dive in for a bite!

What Are Hash Browns?

Hash browns are a breakfast dish made by shredding potatoes and frying them until they’re golden brown. 

People enjoy these crispy, shredded fried potatoes around the world and often serve them with eggs, bacon, or sausage. In England, you’ll find them as part of a full English breakfast. In Australia, they typically add eggs and flour to create a fritter. 

Hash browns are a favorite food for Americans, and you’ll find them on breakfast and brunch menus throughout the country. 

Are the golden arches of McDonald’s responsible for America’s hash brown obsession? When McDonald’s added breakfast items to their menu in the 1970s, the oval-shaped potato cake version became the standard side with each combo. Now, over 13,000 McDonald’s in the US serve millions of hashbrowns each year. 

Some think the shredded spuds were first made in the 1930s at a restaurant called the Brown Derby in Los Angeles. Other people believe a cook at a New York City hotel created them. 

The dish and method of preparation had been around for a long time. But, the term was first used by a food writer named Maria Parloa in 1888. 

No matter where they originated, people worldwide enjoy eating hash browns for breakfast.

Pro Tip: Do McDonald’s hash browns take the top spot when comparing Which Fast Food Chain Has the Best Breakfast? Find out!

Hash browns on a plate
Hash browns are the perfect pairing with eggs and bacon.

Great Ways to Use Frozen Hash Browns

There are so many great ways to use frozen potato shreds.

You can cook them in a pan on the stove to use as a side dish for breakfast. Heat a little oil or butter in a pan, then add the frozen hash browns. Cook for about 5-7 minutes or until they’re crispy and browned on both sides.

Use your waffle maker to make shredded potato waffles. Mix 3 beaten eggs, 1.5 cups of shredded cheese, 8 ounces of your favorite breakfast meat, and seasoning with a bag of frozen hash browns. Spray your waffle maker with cooking spray. Cook ½ cup of the mixture at a time for 4-5 minutes until crispy.

Another option is to add them to a casserole. Combine the frozen hash browns with diced cooked meat, vegetables, and a creamy sauce. Spread the mixture into a baking dish and bake until it’s hot and bubbly.

Finally, you can use frozen shredded potatoes to make breakfast sandwiches or burritos. Cook them in a pan until they’re crispy. Then, place them on a toasted English muffin or a tortilla with eggs, cheese, and breakfast meat. This makes a perfect, quick breakfast.

How Do You Make Them Crispy?

Crispy hash browns can be tricky to make from scratch. Use these tips and tricks to keep your potatoes from getting soggy.

Russets are the best, and shredding them with your food processor makes that task super simple.

Once they’re ready, soak them in a bowl of cold water to release the starch. Swish them around really well. Trust us. They’ll cook better.

Then dry your spuds by squeezing them in a clean dish towel. Seriously. Keep going until they’re as dry as possible.

You’ll want to cook them at a high heat, so use ghee or a high-smoke point oil like avocado. Pure butter or low-temperature oils can burn, and you certainly don’t want charcoal bits in your lovely hash browns.

Non-stick pans work best, but cast iron is a great alternative. Either way, use plenty of your clarified butter or oil. You can even add more while cooking if it needs it.

Try not to fuss with the shreds while you’re frying them. Breaking them up a little after each flip is good enough. That way, you get a lovely soft interior with a nice golden-brown crunchy exterior. 

Little boy eating hash browns for breakfast
The great breakfast debate between hash browns and home fries will live on for generations.

Are Diced Potatoes Really Hash Browns?

Home fries, southern-style potatoes, and shredded hash browns are all potato dishes people commonly serve as sides with breakfast or brunch. However, these dishes have some key differences.

For home fries, you dice the potatoes, then typically pan-fry them with onions, bell peppers, and spices. They’re often served as a side dish with eggs and bacon.

In contrast, you season southern-style spuds with paprika and other spices and cook them until crispy. They’re often served with breakfast meats such as sausage and bacon.

Overall, the main difference between these dishes is the potatoes’ shape. You dice home fries and southern-style potatoes, but you shred hash browns.

So, the verdict is in! 

Regular and southern home fries are fantastic side dishes. But, they use potatoes that are diced, not shredded. And diced potatoes are NOT hash browns.

Similar to American hash browns, Rösti is a Swiss dish of grated potatoes fried until crispy and golden brown. People often eat this popular dish after a long hike in the mountains of Switzerland. However, rösti and hash browns have some differences. 

Rösti is usually larger and shaped into a round patty. You compress the shredded potatoes while cooking to make a thick potato pancake. It’s denser and more compact. People top Rösti with eggs, vegetables, meat, and cheese to make a complete and filling dish. 

Hash browns are smaller, loosely sauteed, and cooked in individual servings. They’re lighter and typically served as a side dish at breakfast. Any ingredients, such as onions or bell peppers, are usually added during the cooking process. 

Pro Tip: In need of some coffee to pair with your hash browns? We uncovered What Fast Food Chain Has the Best (and Worst) Coffee?

So, What Is a Proper Hash Brown?

Hash browns can take many forms. As long as you prepare the dish using shredded potatoes, you can call it a hash brown. 

Many people like theirs scattered on a flattop grill, smothered with onions and cheese. Some top them with ham and eggs or cover them with chili. 

Regardless of how you like your hash browns, they’re an iconic piece of Americana.

How do you like your hash browns? Tell us in the comments!

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