By Christie Vanover | Published May 7, 2011 | Last Updated December 1, 2022
To me the perfect hash browns are the ones that are super crispy on both sides with a thin layer of soft potatoes in the middle.
It took some trial and error, but with some research, some failed attempts and a few simple ingredients, I’ve mastered making crispy hash browns with this super simple recipe and technique.
A friend sent me a message on Facebook because she was having trouble making a crispy hash brown.
She tried frozen hash browns. She tried soaking the potatoes in ice water, and she tried using different pans, but she couldn’t get it quite right, quite like Waffle House.
After some research, it appears that Waffle House uses dehydrated hash brown potatoes.
So, my first stop was to the grocery to see if they even sold dehydrated hash brown potatoes to regular folks. I was afraid they might have been a wholesale, restaurant supply store type of item. But nope!
What are dehydrated potatoes?
When I first wrote this hash brown recipe post, Hungry Jack had just come out with a product that can be found near the instant mashed potatoes called Hashbrown Potatoes.
The dehydrated shredded potatoes are packaged in what looks like a small milk carton filled with dehydrated potatoes. Now, you can find this item from several different brands.
Dehydrated potatoes are 100% real potatoes that have been peeled, cooked and then dried to remove all of the moisture. Most of the time, salt and sugar are added to help preserve the potatoes, so they have a long shelf life.
Once you add water to the carton, the potatoes come back to life and and are soft and fluffy.
Substitutions: Instead of bacon grease, you could also use sausage drippings, olive oil or vegetable oil.
How to cook the best crispy hash browns
- STEP ONE: Open the carton of hashbrown potatoes and pour hot water inside. Close it back up. Give it a little shake, and let the potatoes rehydrate for 12 minutes.
- STEP TWO: Pour the carton into a strainer or colander. Then, using paper towels, press out as much excess water as you can. This is the most important step to getting crispy potatoes. If there is too much moisture, the potatoes will steam.
- STEP THREE: Heat 1 tablespoon of bacon grease or oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add one-third of the rehydrated potatoes to the pan and press it into a thin, even layer. Let them cook for 4-5 minutes without cooking. This way they form the golden brown, crispy crust.
PRO TIP: It’s important that you only use one-third of the mixture. You need the layer in the pan to be as thin as possible. If it’s too thick, the potatoes will be soggy and soft.
- STEP FOUR: After 4-5 minutes, flip the potatoes. Try to keep them together as one pancake as much as possible. Cook for another 3-4 minutes, until brown. Repeat with the remaining hash browns, adding a little more bacon grease or oil, as needed.
How to serve crispy hash browns
Right after the crispy hash browns are done cooking, I sprinkle them with a little bit of kosher salt. You could also add a touch of onion powder, garlic powder or black pepper. The potatoes already have some sodium in them, so you don’t need too much.
Serve the breakfast potatoes alongside your favorite breakfast dishes like eggs and crispy bacon or breakfast sausage. I’ve included a few recipes below. You may also want to try my tender, buttery, flaky homemade biscuit recipe over at GirlsCanGrill.com.
You can save crispy hash browns in the fridge for a couple days, but they won’t really stay crispy. Once they’re stored in an airtight container, they’ll start to pick up more moisture.
If you want to reheat them, it’s best to do it in a skillet with more oil to crisp them back up.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can rehydrate the potatoes in warm water and then drain them and store them in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap for up to 24 hours. Then, you can fry up the shredded hash browns the following day. Just be sure to press out as much excess moisture as possible once you remove them from the fridge.
Yes. You could grate up fresh russet potatoes and make homemade hash browns. But raw potatoes have a lot of moisture, so they tend to steam more than crisp. I get way better results with the dehydrated potatoes. If you want to try using fresh potatoes, use a box grater or shredder attachment on a food processor to get even shreds.
Frozen hash browns have a lot more moisture than dehydrated potatoes, so I’ve never had success getting them crispy.
After you make each batch, move them to a baking sheet and place them in an oven set to the lowest setting. This will keep the golden hash browns warm and will prevent you from having soggy hash browns.
They won’t quite stick together like Waffle House hash browns, and they won’t have the pillowy center surrounded by the crispiness, but they will get crispy. Once you press out all of the moisture, press the shredded potatoes into a small pancake in your air fryer basket. Set the temperature to 375F and cook them for 8-10 minutes.
More Breakfast Recipes
Crispy Hash Browns
- 1 carton Hungry Jack Hashbrown Potatoes dried
- 2 cups Hot Water
- 2 tablespoon bacon grease
- Kosher salt
- Rehydrate: Open the carton of potatoes. Pour hot tap water up to the fill line. Close the box for 12 minutes (don't go longer than that).
- Remove Moisture: After 12 minutes, pour the carton into a strainer and press out all of the water you can.
- Cook: Heat 1 tablespoon of bacon grease in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add one-third of the rehydrated hash browns to the pan and press into a thin even layer. Let cook for 4-5 minutes, without touching. Flip; cook for another 3-4 minutes, until brown. Sprinkle with kosher salt and serve.
- Repeat: Repeat with the remaining hash browns, adding more bacon grease or oil as needed.
- Serve: Remove from the skillet and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt.
The nutrition information is an estimate created using an online nutrition calculator