Maple Syrup

Hash Browns are Far Superior to Breakfast Potatoes

October  5, 2015

Shout it with me: Down with breakfast potatoes! Bring back hash browns!

At some indeterminate moment in the fairly recent past, the reign of hashbrowns ended, and that of breakfast potatoes began. It was a sweeping replacement: Bougie brunch joints and greasy spoons alike forewent their box graters in favor of roasting pans and delicately sprinkled herbs. Menus were edited and no one looked back. In an instant, morning time tuber consumption was utterly transformed. 

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I have to say, I’m not loving it. 

Eating potatoes immediately upon waking is probably inadvisable from a health standpoint, so if we’re going to do it, we should do it. Why are we not always running full-speed toward a butter-laden frying pan and maximizing surface area for crispiness? Huge chunks of soft potato flesh are not appetizing, but the few untouched grated bits that are sandwiched between crunchy outer hashbrown layers are wondrous. Who are we kidding with this prim breakfast potato business? Are we at a dinner party in France?!

A few weeks ago I left my apartment in search of a restaurant that would feed me hashbrowns in exchange for money and could locate no such establishment. I was basically waving cash in the air, a Hamilton in each hand in the middle of the street, willing somebody, anybody, to shred and fry me some potatoes. But to my despair, Williamsburg* was on the breakfast potato train, and I, hungry, was being abandoned at the station.

So I went to the grocery store, picked up a box grater, and provided for myself like the grown woman I am. 

To up the ante slightly, these bad boys are sweet potato-based and maple-spiked, perfect on their own or topped with a fried egg. Throw some greens on the side if you’re feeling guilty about it, but one bite in and you’ll forget your qualms.

*If you know a place in Williamsburg that serves real, actual hashbrowns, GET AT YOUR GIRL. I’m serious. I will shower you will love.

Sweet Potato Maple Hash Browns

Serves 2 as a side

1 large sweet potato, peeled and grated with a box grater
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for sprinkling
A few turns of fresh ground pepper
A pinch of chili powder
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
4 tablespoons butter, divided 

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Bobbi Lin and James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Nicole Otis
    Nicole Otis
  • NWB
  • Sara
  • alison
  • amysarah
A fan of female driven comedies, a good beat, your hair today, and making foods for friends.


Nicole O. October 6, 2015
I've got to say that I really like the technique that Amy Thielen uses in her recipe: She cooks them first before grating! I have simplified and use the microwave to zap the potatoes. The whole cake couldn't be crisper! Never mind the copious amounts of butter.... :-)
NWB October 6, 2015
Walter Foods on Grand St has great hash browns, and an all around very good breakfast.
Kendra V. October 6, 2015
this is fantastic news, thank you for being a hero
Sara October 5, 2015
I haven't had them myself, but looks like Egg, Walter Foods, and Roebling Tea Room might have hash browns!
alison October 5, 2015
Diners still serve real hash browns. Try Kellogg's on Metropolitan & Union.
Kendra V. October 5, 2015
kelloggs has gone breakfast potatoes :( :( :(
amysarah October 5, 2015
Can't direct you anywhere in Williamsburg, but if the hash browns won't come to the girl, the girl must go to the hash browns. Leave Williamsburg and go to practically any old school diner (not a hip ironic interpretation of a diner, an actual diner) and you'll find the real thing, properly finished on the flat top for maximum crispness as God intended.