My hash browns suck. Please help.

I love hash browns. The old custom was going into the grocery store and picking up several bags of frozen, shredded browns. However, after investing in a cheese grater, and stopping by the produce aisle, I decided that rather than buying pre-shredded hash browns at $1/pound, I’d much rather buy a 10 pound bag of potatoes for 89 cents and shred them myself.

Now, when I cut up my potatoes (in slices or cubes) they turn out just fine. I heat a bit of oil in a frying pan and toss in the potatoes and they cook and are good. I like my potatoes shredded, though, and when I shred them they get soggy and crappy, turn brownish-grey in the pan, stick together and basically just turn into a mushy mess. I still eat them, though, I’d just hate to see a potato go to waste even if it only cost me about 3 cents. How can I shred my hashbrowns and have them turn out like those you buy in the store (or at a restaurant)?

Advice/recipies/suggestions/methods/insults/stories would all be greatly appreciated.

Well, I would blot your shreded browns before tossing them in the pan.

This will absorb the extra liquid and avoid the mushyness.

(I’m all about the browns.)

Bake the potatoes and let them cool before you shred them.

I don’t have the answer. I had the exact same problem. They started out looking really good, and then they went to hell. I’ll try baking and cooling next time, but I don’t think that’s how they do it in restaurants. Because one time I had some that weren’t thoroughly cooked, so they had to be raw at the beginning of the frying process.

My mother made what she called “potato pie”, which was basically hash browns.
The key to this recipe was shredding the potatoes, then putting them in a strainer and rinsing them with cold water until the water ran clear. They’re then dried well in clean kitchen towels, and cooked up. I don’t remember them ever being mushy.

Lsura, I’d bet dollars to doughnuts your mom’s hash browns weren’t the only great recipe she had. Methinks she was a d@mn fine cook.

They’re also damn good deepfried, but then I’d eat cat poop if it were deepfried.

Actually, she still is. Makes her own biscuits from scratch (and I’ve never been able to get mine to come out anywhere near as well), I almost never see her use a recipe, but then again, almost nothing is written down for us to use now that we’re all out on our own. So we all fumble along. :slight_smile:

Excellent. Thanks everyone.

…and a special thanks to Zenster, for pointing out a great thread that I missed because I was impatient and only searched Cafe Society. Lack of good hash browns will do that to you.

No problem: immediately after shredding or grating the potatoes, toss them in a big bowl of cold water until you’re ready to fry them. Chop a bunch of walnuts (yes you read that right, walnuts) & garlic together, squeeze all the water out of the potatoes, throw them in the pan you’ve heated the oil in and mix them all together with a couple pinches of tarragon. Flatten them out, do not stir them again. Let them cook on one side until you can flip the whole thing like an omelet. Brown on other side, and then enjoy the best damn hashbrowns you have ever tasted.

Don’t say I never did anything for you! :slight_smile:

OK, I know this thread is about dead but… I must impart the:

Kick Ass Breakfast Potato Recipe
Most hash brown recipes include a lot of labor for grating and soaking and washing. Most home fry recipes use easy to dice diced potatoes, but they taste bland. These are easy and yummy.

2-3 medium potatoes, washed and peeled
Butter or margarine to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice the potatoes paper thin. This is essential, they should be sliced as thin as you can possibly make them. Throw away ends and slices that are too thick, or feed them to the gerbils. Do NOT use a food processor. But if you have one of those Deli Slicers, that would be perfect.

Melt some butter in the bottom of a cast iron or other heavy skillet, and add a bit of black pepper to the butter. Remove the skillet from heat and layer the potato slices, covering the pan. After each layer, dot with butter and add salt and pepper. Keep layering until you use all the potatoes. You can layer as thick as you like, up to about an inch deep.

Cook with a cover cracked slightly over medium high heat until the bottom layer of potato slices gets a deep, golden brown (if you have a lot of potatoes in the pan, then you might have to cook the bottom layer to nearly burnt). Flip the whole mess and cook until the whole mess is done all the way thru. Cut into serving size slices. Serve hot!!!

Makes 2 servings.


  • Use olive oil or peanut oil instead of butter to start if cooking a lot (more than about 3/4" thick). Add butter to the layers inside.

  • If you can find a pair of mated cast iron omelette skillets, these are ideal. One can serve as the pan, and the other as the lid, and then when it’s time to flip, just turn the whole stack over (over the sink - hot grease may run out!) and return to the burner.

  • The bottom layers of potatoes should fuse together into a continuous mat of yummy, crispy, golden brown decadence, while the insides should be cooked to a smooth and creamy consistency. You’ll know when you’ve done this correctly, because you’ll be spoiled for other potatoes.

  • Start with good, fresh potatoes, but not the tiny little sweet ones: they have too much sugar and will burn too quickly.

Cast Iron Skillet. I didn’t see where anyone mentioned a cast iron skillet. If you don’t have one, get one.


This is what I was going to say. Crazy Otto’s in Lancaster, CA has the best hashbrowns I’ve had. They use a coarse shredder (like the biggest holes on a cheese shredder) and keep them in five-gallon buckets of cold water until they’re ready to use them. At some point they get rid of the excess water, but I never paid attention to how they did it. (Maybe squeezed them out before putting them on the cooktop?)

Washing and rinsing the potatoes get rid of the excess starch and allow them to fry up very nicely.

How about making sure the oil is very hot, and covering them with an undersized lid when in the pan? The lid should be in contact at best, or less that 1" of room at the worst.

Cast iron is very good, but I make mine in an aluminum wok, and they turn out fine.

The easiest way to dry the shredded potatoes is by wrapping them in a clean cotton tea towel. Gather up all corners of the cloth into a pouch and twist. Spin up the bundle of spuds until liquid begins to wring out of the mass. Alternately, you can spool off a half dozen paper towels and do pretty much the same thing. (I save the wet paper towels, dry them out, and mop up spills with them afterwards.)

Some other critical bits of advice:


Doing so will only guarantee you a batch of library paste! Yes, they will sizzle more from being forced into intimate contact with the frying pan, but you will have congealed the entire batch into a massive gooshed bunch of oily crap.

I very loosely pile the washed shreds in a fairly tall heap. Leave about a 1" perimeter around the edge of the pan. Salt liberally before and after turning. If you do not salt them while they cook, once they reach the table no amount of salting will make any difference.

A cast iron pan is one of the few ways to avoid sticking or scorching. I use French Le Creuset pans which are enameled cast iron and they deliver superb results. You must work at a fairly high heat. Low temperatures will tend to steam the interior of the mound and nearly liquify them into paste. DO NOT cover the pan with a lid. That sort of steaming action will provide you with the aforementioned library adhesive.

We are not talking about any kind of diet or low fat dish here. I use a 50/50 combination of butter and oil. Permit the spuds to form a good crust before running the spatula around underneath them. Doing so prematurely will tend to fold raw potatoes beneath the ones that are cooking and make a gooey mess of things.

It is nearly impossible to turn a large multi-person batch using a spatula, without breaking up the crust. For the best results, learn how to flip the entire batch like a restaurant chef turns a pancake. It takes a little practice. You must first release the entire mound of spuds with your spatula. Make sure the batch slides around in the pan freely. The trick to aerial flipping is tossing the entire batch into the air and then quickly dropping the pan below your launch horizon. This will give you the range needed in order to gauge precisely where the somersault will complete. Bring the pan slightly upwards to intercept the potatoes just as they finish their flight rotation. Keep the pan at an angle dropping away from you to avoid any backsplash of hot oil or butter.


I managed to burn myself quite seriously once due to carelessness. Another trick is to place a pat (or three) of butter on the uncooked side just prior to flipping the spuds. This guarantees that the uncooked side will see a well lubricated pan as it begins to fry. Again, leave the spuds alone as they continue to fry. A nice crust will form and towards the end, tilt the pan at an angle before removing the batch in order to drain it. Gloat secretly to yourself because any diners at your table will be so happy their ears will start clapping!

I top my spuds directly with either soft poached or sunny side up eggs. Those of you who’ve never mashed liquid egg yolk into your hash browns have yet to live. Trust me on this, it is food for the gods.

Use russet potatoes. They have the right texture and starch content for frying. Old potatoes work better than fresh ones - flabby potatoes that have started to sprout are great for hash browns.

I’m echoing the tip of a very hot pan. That’ll make your taters crispy on the outside like hashbrowns should be.