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The traditional way is to panfry hash browns, though many overlook steps and end up with gummy, soggy, unappetizing meals. We will share how to get that crisp, mouth-watering hash brown, but let us define what we mean by “hash brown.”
Companies name different potato products “hash browns.” Hash browns are shredded potato or neat patties of finely chopped potato cooked to a golden crisp. Calling diced, pan-fried potatoes “hash browns” in some parts of the US is as bad as telling a Texan that chili has beans.
We will cover two ways to cook frozen hash browns from the store (making fresh hash browns is for another day), but frozen homemade hash browns cook the same way. The first is pan-frying with a cast iron skillet, and the other is baking. We’ll end with some FAQs and final thoughts.
How to Cook Frozen Hash Browns
Frying in a Cast-Iron Skillet
Everyone and their neighbor’s poodle seem to suggest a cast iron skillet, so are they that great? Yes, yes they are. A properly seasoned cast iron skillet will get you that even heating and the coveted golden crisp of a dream hash brown.
Thaw the hash browns overnight in the fridge or leave them out at room temperature for 30-40 minutes (see FAQ below). You can also use the defrost feature in a microwave or set it at 50% power for 1.5 minutes, stir and repeat once.
Remember to remove any excess water as you thaw and use a cloth to pat them down to remove more water.
Season the surface of your cast iron skillet with 3-6 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Proper seasoning prevents sticking.
Pre-heat the skillet with medium-high heat.
Add the hash browns, either loose or as a patty, and put the cover on.
Cook for five minutes before flipping to cook the other side for five minutes. Don’t set a timer and leave. If a side reaches that golden-brown goodness in four minutes, flip it.
Watch closely so that when the hash browns have that golden crisp on both sides, pull them from the stove. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Baking Hash Browns
Cooking hash browns in an oven is slightly healthier than frying. This takes more time, but they will be less oily and just as delicious.
Thaw the hash browns (see “Step 1” above).
Preheat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 C).
Cover a cookie sheet in aluminum foil and lightly coat it with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Dabbing a paper towel in cooking oil and applying a thin layer works in a pinch.
Spread your thawed hash browns in a ½ inch thick layer on the foil. You don’t want a thick layer.
Lightly spray the top of the hash browns with cooking spray.
Bake the hash browns for 15 minutes, turn them over, apply a light coating of cooking spray to the top and put them back in for another 15 minutes. They should be crisp with a nice golden color to them when they are ready.
Remove them from the oven, season with some salt and pepper for flavor and serve.
Should I thaw frozen hash browns before cooking?
Yes, many forget to properly thaw them. It lets you get any extra moisture off your hash browns so they do not become soggy (see below) in the pan. It also ensures that they will cook completely through and not have a cold or soggy center.
How do you fry frozen hash browns without sticking??
Try the following:
- Rinse off any extra starch on the thawed hash browns and dry them with a towel.
- Properly season your cast iron skillet
- Check your frying pan for scratches that can collect food residue.
- Cook to a golden brown before flipping them
Why are my hash browns soggy?
The short answer is that you probably had excess water or starch on them. Make sure that you soak and rinse your hash browns to remove residual starch. Patting them down with a towel helps to get that extra moisture.
Extra starch gives them a gummy texture. Extra moisture becomes steam, and steam leads to soggy hash browns. Dry them out for that delicious, golden brown crispiness.
How long do you deep fry frozen hash browns?
The exact time depends on multiple factors. Do not fill your fryer basket more than halfway with hash browns. Cook them until they are a nice light gold color.
Moisture control is the key to crispiness. Follow the recipe and check your food to make sure it cooks properly, and you’ll be fine. Once you have it down, experiment with some variations, like melting some cheese on top or a casserole.
Mistakes happen. Learn from them. And enjoy cooking!