What's the trick to hash browns from scratch? I'm trying to get the nice golden crust found in diners, but don't have consistent results.

I shred them with a julienne slicer, squeeze out as much moisture as I can, use Canola oil and butter over med-high heat, but don't get the "crispy on the outside, soft on the inside" results that restaurants do. Instead, they come out a bit greasy and soggy. What can I do to improve them?

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21 Comments

NOLA I. March 14, 2012
Thanks for the advice, everyone! Think I finally found the trick: shred them on a box grater, wring the moisture out with a potato ricer, toss with some flour, and fry in a combination of canola oil and butter. Haven't tried the clarified butter yet, but the combination of suggestions has made them a lot better!
 
em-i-lis December 12, 2011
Use russets, grate them and then wring them out in a towel. I dont get a good crust unless mine are pretty dry!
 
Chefbaltz December 12, 2011
shred, rinse, pat dry, and place on a microwave-safe glass dish that has a lid. heat for 3-5 minutes per 1-inch of depth of potatoes in the dish. you want them to feel like the bagged, frozen hash browns. so, not soft but still mostly raw. it's faster than par-boiling but accomplishes the same thing in way less time and way less hassle. i agree about the clarified butter...a must! what a difference it makes. cast iron skillets work really well for any type of hash browns too to guarantee a crust on both sides.
 
keel December 11, 2011
I just shred the potato and then put it in a ricer to squeeze all of the extra water out. Fry it with a little butter, salt and pepper and enjoy!
 
Sam1148 December 11, 2011
I hate to say it here..with 'home cooking' being the touchstone.

But the Ore-Ida brand of hashbrowns (either shreaded/or the southern cubed style). In the freezer section cook up great. They're minimally processed, lightly steamed cooked with a touch of cornstarch coating and citric acid to keep them white and flash frozen.
And if you're eating hashbrowns fried that should be least of your worries.

Hashbrowns to get them right from scratch can be labor intensive. Precooking, cooling, draining, drying, dusting with cornstarch etc..etc...and that's before you get down to actually frying them.
 
lorigoldsby December 12, 2011
Sam...agree with you about the Ore-Ida potatoes! I usually skip the freezer section but do like these potatoes. If catering a large brunch...I use them for my latke omelet cups!
 
lorigoldsby December 10, 2011
Pre cooking the potatoes is key as several have mentioned here. My husband actually prefers the dice style "home fries" of hash browns and I either use leftover baked potatoes or I will put them in the microwave that morning.
 
amysarah December 11, 2011
I have better luck with the small dice - rather than shredded potatoes - too.

Also, don't crowd the pan or the spuds will steam instead of crisp - do them in batches if you don't have a big enough. And be brave with heat - obviously you need to watch so they don't burn, but it often seems the cook has been scared off and turned the flame too low, when there's a problem getting something crispy/brown.

Not sure if this will work with hash browns, but when I do oven fries, they come out extra crispy and tasty when I soak the pieces in salted very hot tap water for a half-hour or so, then dry them on paper (or a clean) towel before cooking with oil, s&p, etc.
 
mainecook61 December 10, 2011
Parboil the potatoes the day before and let them get cold in the frig. overnight . Shred them on a box grater and add a little salt. Clarify some butter ( a pain, but do it). Put some butter (save some) in the heated pan and spread out the potatoes. Cook until a nice crust forms--it will, I promise--takes about 15 min. of medium heat. Put a plate over the pan and flip the potatoes onto the plate, then back in, unbrowned side down. Send the rest of the butter trickling down the sides and brown again. I take no credit. Sam Sifton ran this recipe in the NY Times a few months ago and it is "genius." You can probably find the details, with exact measurements, in the Times archive. I've made them lots and his technique is the answer to your prayers.
 
bigpan December 10, 2011
I use russet potato and rinse the starch off and dry on paper toweling. I also add a bit of shredded onion because onion goes with everything. Fry in a hot pan with butter (not margarine) with some canola oil to help raise the smoke point. Make "patties" for nice plate appeal instead of just a big pile.
 
gt9 December 10, 2011
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Traditional-Hash-Browns-21-Club-10869. Here is a great recipe for the 21 club hash browns. I have made these for years. Never had anybody not love.
 
gt9 December 10, 2011
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Traditional-Hash-Browns-21-Club-10869. Here is a great recipe for the 21 club hash browns. I have made these for years. Never had anybody not love.
 
gt9 December 10, 2011
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Traditional-Hash-Browns-21-Club-10869. Here is a great recipe for the 21 club hash browns. I have made these for years. Never had anybody not love.
 
Panfusine December 10, 2011
I thought potatoes were gluten free.
 
MarcusV December 11, 2011
You are right, I'm wrong. The thing that makes potatoes gluey has nothing to do with gluten.
 
Panfusine December 11, 2011
but, now you've piqued my curiosity.. what is the element that makes the potato gluey.. (I always assumed that it was the starch cells that absorb water & heat & get swollen)
 
MarcusV December 12, 2011
I think it has something to do with physically rupturing the cell walls of the uncooked potato and creating a slurry of starch and water. Rinsing, then drying helps reduce the gluey consistency, but why does boiling help? It seems this would burst the cells as well ...
 
MarcusV December 10, 2011
The trick is to parboil the potatoes before you shred them. The potatoes that you get at many restaurants are mostly cooked in the factory, shredded, and flash frozen.
Use russet potstoes. You only want them about 70% done when you shred them. Also, parboil them skin-on and peel them before you grate them. Then hand grate them on a box grater. I have a cheap box grater; I expanded the holes with a closed pair of needle nosed pliers. This gives larger shreds.
Also, the food processor is too hard on the potatoes and develops the gluten, which makes them gummy.
 
ChefJune December 12, 2011
I shred potatoes in the food processor all the time with no problems. Not sure what you're talking about!
 

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Panfusine December 10, 2011
Try dusting them with some rice flour while frying, I use it to get a crisp finish on roasted potatoes.
 
Sam1148 December 10, 2011
Cornstarch works too....just a dusting as you say. It makes them dry and able to crisp up.
 
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