Why Hash Browns Always Taste Better At A Restaurant

Great hash browns can make or break a breakfast. They add a crispy carb bite that tastes indulgent because it's fried. However they are shaped and cooked though, hash browns pair perfectly with bacon, sausage, and eggs. The classic style you find at most restaurants seems to be the type made from grated potatoes. And this side has been part of American diets for just under 200 years. Whether you chow down on this much-loved morning side at your local diner or a fast food joint hash browns always seem to taste better at a restaurant.

If you're wondering why, then you need to explore how the hash browns are made and if there are any techniques and ingredients that add to the flavor and texture. The size and shape of different hash browns makes a difference, too. If you've only got some frozen hash browns at home, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy a tasty meal, either. Try our hash brown casserole made with cheese soup, cheddar cheese, and Colby Jack, creating a creamy sauce. Add this to thawed-out hash browns before baking in the oven. Remember, you don't have to only eat hash browns at breakfast. Make a slow cooker potato soup recipe with Southern-style diced hash browns from the freezer. Cook with chicken broth, mushroom soup, and evaporated milk. Add shredded cheese, green onions, and bacon bits as toppings. Read on for more inside info on how to achieve restaurant-level hash browns at home.

McDonald's hash browns are fried with beef flavoring

It's early in the morning, and as the day breaks, all you need is a breakfast on the go that's tasty and fills you up. Sometimes nothing will satisfy quite like a McDonald's breakfast, with a menu that doesn't seem to have changed in decades. Whether you like a sausage and egg McMuffin sandwich or bacon and egg with a cup of coffee, you can't beat the crispy, greasy bite of the restaurant chain's hash browns served in cute little sleeves. Back in the day, McDonald's hash browns were fried in beef tallow to give them a super tasty, moreish flavor. However, this created a side that was high in saturated fat.

Fast forward to today, the 140-calorie hash browns from the fast food giant contain a single gram of saturated fats. The potato snack and the fries are still fried in oil with beef flavoring before being frozen and sent to restaurants. What's different is that beefy essence doesn't come from rendered fat nowadays. In fact, it doesn't come from meat at all. The savory taste comes from hydrolyzed ingredients which include milk and wheat. If you love your hash browns with a burger rather than a McMuffin breakfast, you can try ordering just as breakfast finishes. Then you can order a burger too. In 2021, a Mashed poll revealed that over 39% rated McDonald's hash browns above five other popular fast food versions serving this all-American classic breakfast staple.

McDonald's blanches the potatoes first

McDonald's hash browns are a breakfast-time must-order: Crispy on the outside, soft inside, a little greasy without being soggy, and have a solid savory taste. Compared to the softness of a McMuffin bun, sausage patty, and perfectly round eggs, the hash browns from the famed golden arches are a welcome crunch that wakes the senses in the morning. So what gives them their unique taste and texture? It could be what they do with the potatoes.

After making sure the potatoes aren't marked in any way, they're cut up into lengths. An important step that you won't see in all hash brown recipes comes next. The potato pieces are blanched. This trick can be used with fries to make them extra crispy on frying, so it could be this that makes the hash browns so good. After being in boiling water for several minutes, the potatoes are cut up and seasoned, with cornflour and potato flour added. After being shaped into individual servings, they are then fried and frozen. If you never make it in time for this menu, then you could try our copycat McDonald's hash browns at home. You blanch the grated potato for this recipe before running it under cold water to stop it from cooking too much.

Dunkin's hash browns are soft and tasty

Daily Meal ranks Dunkin' Donuts hash browns sixth out of an ultimate listing of 14 different fast food variations of the breakfast favorite. It was noted that what makes this sweet restaurant chain's version stand out is the flavor. Although the star of any hash brown has to be potato, Dunkin' ones are noticeably flavorsome because of the herby seasonings added to the recipe. Sage and parsley are added to the mix, and garlic also gives the taste an umami boost.

Many hash browns are celebrated for being super crunchy with a less crispy middle. It's that perfect contrast that makes all the difference. However, the little Dunkin' hash brown discs are celebrated for being deliciously soft and a little squishy rather than hard and crunchy. Of course, you may love the taste and the size, but not the softness. If that's the case, then there's nothing stopping you from ordering them a little more well done next time you're stopping off at the donut restaurant chain. Unlike McDonald's hash browns, Dunkin' ones are also suitable for plant-based customers as they're not made with any animal products.

Dunkin' hash browns pair well with its donuts

When you need a sugar pick-me-up, there's nothing better than sinking your teeth into a sweetly glazed Dunkin' Donuts delight. At other times, you need a savory bite that satisfies the senses. Try combining both, which the renowned restaurant did in 2020, with hash brown and donut meals aimed at students powering through their finals. You can't beat a little bag of Dunkin' hash browns with a strawberry-frosted donut. Add an oat milk latte and a breakfast sandwich to give some energy to your morning. The hash browns are also recommended by Dunkin' to be eaten with a classic, old-fashioned style donut, sourdough breakfast sandwich, and a cold brew.

Try our copycat Dunkin' Donuts hash brown recipe by creating a potato-like dough. Grate a par-boiled russet potato and mix it with egg white, dried parsley, corn flour, and season with garlic powder, onion powder, and salt and pepper. Use a small cookie cutter to cut our rounds. Cook them in an air fryer, skillet, or oven. These super-cute hash browns are so good with bacon, ham, and any type of egg, an egg sandwich, or a frittata. Why not make some copycat Dunkin' chocolate glazed donuts to serve simultaneously?

Del Taco serves crispy potato sticks

With its menu of American-style Mexican foods, it's not a huge surprise that Del Taco serves hash browns. However, given that they don't focus on traditional dishes from across the U.S., it's not surprising that the hash browns are pretty different too. For starters, they're not flat and round. Daily Meal includes them in an ultimate ranking of fast food breakfast hash browns. And one fan on Reddit compared them to being like "long rectangular tater tots" that are "always cooked to the right amount of crunch." What makes them stand out is the fact that they're shaped like sticks. And you get five sticks per 230-calorie portion.

The shape makes them perfect for dipping into the many different sauces the restaurant offers. You might want to give ketchup mixed with hot sauce a try with these to add a little heat to the morning. They are a good shape and size for adding to wraps and sandwiches too. They are a star ingredient in the chain's Breakfast Toasted Wrap which offers a choice of egg and cheese, bacon, or carne asada steak. Hash brown Sticks are added to a warm tortilla with scrambled egg, cheddar cheese, and pico de gallo. The restaurant's Salsa Casera adds some tang too. The combination of flavors is incredible. You could try to make your own carne asada at home, although you might have to get a takeout of Del Taco Hash Brown Sticks. 

Carl's Jr. makes them small and round

Do you love a hash brown that stands alone as a substantial side? Or do you prefer a little crunchy something-something that won't detract from your main fast food order? When you make hash browns at home, they can be a bit of a palaver to prep and cook from grating the potato, forming the shapes, and frying them. It's so much easier to order some "crispy, poppable potato rounds" from Carl's Jr. instead.

The chain's Hash Brown Nuggets aren't the same as traditional hash browns made up of grated potato and are bite-size. If you love a soft hash brown center or varieties with bold flavors, they might not be your first fast food choice. However, they offer a nice change from a stodgy side that will weigh you down for the rest of the day. You might want to share a portion, though, as a small size is 350 calories and contains 23 grams of fat. They may not be the healthiest option for your first refueling session when you wake up. But they could be a tasty treat once in a while. They also make a star appearance stuffed into a 760-calorie Carl's Jr. Loaded Breakfast Burrito with bacon bits, scrambled egg, sausage, cheese, and salsa. Or try our breakfast burrito recipe with hash browns, scrambled eggs with onions and peppers, cheese, pico de gallo, and cilantro. Is it morning yet? 

Chick-fil-A are fried in canola oil

In a ranking of five fast food breakfast orders by Insider, Chick-fil-A was given the top spot. The other contenders were McDonald's, Carl's Jr., Wendy's, and Burger King. If you associate chicken sandwiches and tenders only with the chain, you might also want to consider trying their hash browns. The small, round snacks can be ordered with bacon, scrambled egg, and cheese between breakfast biscuits.

The size and shape of the Chick-fil-A hash browns make them ideal for dipping too. They are crunchy on the outside with enough inner potato fluff to make them moreish. This all adds to the taste sensation, as is the fact that they are cooked in canola oil. This gives the 270-calorie side a crispy finish while cooking them in oil that doesn't add its own overpowering taste. Because of this, you can taste the potato medallions in all their glory. You have a lot of flavorful dips to choose from, too, including Sweet & Spicy Sriracha, Polynesian, and Zesty Buffalo. You can also order the Chick-fil-A Hash Brown Scramble served in a breakfast bowl or a soft flour tortilla with jalapeño salsa on the side. Hash browns are combined with scrambled eggs and either sliced chicken nuggets or sausage, mixing Monterey and cheddar cheeses.

Jack in the Box makes them thin and crispy

Have you ever bitten into a thick hash brown that's too greasy for breakfast food? What's super different about the Jack in the Box variety is that they are deliciously thin. While this may remove some of that inner potato softness, the flatness may appeal if you pair it with a substantial breakfast sandwich or wrap. You can also dip them in ketchup or a mustard sauce for some classic flavors. 

If you are running late at the weekend, you might struggle to make it to a restaurant for hash browns in time. Take the lie-in and head to Jack in the Box whenever you like for hash browns, as they are part of the chain's all-day breakfast menu. They also make up a massive platter with bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, and French toast with syrup. A serving of hash browns contains 190 calories, with 13 grams of fat made up of a gram of saturated fats. If you like toppings on hash browns, then the square, plank-like shape of this fast food joint's offering is ideal. For example, the contrast between a potato crisp base and a softly poached egg with hollandaise sauce is simply divine.

Diners often cook hash browns on a griddle

Fast food places serve up their own versions of hash browns and often create interesting breakfast orders with them. However, there's nothing new about serving potatoes with the day's first meal, and classic, crunchy hash browns always taste better at your traditional mom-and-pop style diners. Hot potato sides and other breakfast goodies are often crisped on a big griddle. There's no messing about, and with orders flying into the kitchen, the potato is virtually thrown on the heat. There's nothing fancy about this style of old-fashioned hash brown. It's not adding any ingredients that make them so darn good, but how you cook them to create a crunchy brown exterior without drying the potatoes inside. 

To recreate this breakfast-plate winner at home, fry your potatoes in a cast iron skillet. The key is getting your pan nice and hot and squeezing your grated potatoes out. To get that flat diner-style hash brown, simply shape and flatten it down with your hands. Once they are sizzling, press them down so that they turn a lovely golden color and the hash brown doesn't fall apart. You don't want them to be sloppy. You want them to be a little frazzled. You should be able to flip them in the pan without separating the potato pieces. You'll know they are ready when they feel solid and look crispy and golden.

Diners often use a good amount of oil and butter

If you're content cooking frozen hash browns in your air fryer for a laid-back breakfast at home, then no judgment. Another matter is whether they taste quite as good as they would at your favorite greasy spoon diner. Diners often cook breakfast in a timeless way, and that's why they are so loved by those who love down-to-earth, home-style cooking. There's no giving into the latest food fads or diet craze. You won't find traditional sides like hash browns cooked with a gourmet edge without any carbs and fat.

If you're wondering why diner hash browns can taste so darned delicious, that's because they often don't scrimp on using a good amount of oil and butter. Dieters look away or stay home with some homemade granola. In fact, aside from a potato, these are the only ingredients you need. Add a minimum of a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil to a frying pan on medium-high heat. Add a good dollop of butter, too, and then cover the base of the skillet with the dried-out grated potato. This can look like a lot of oil for today's modern home chefs, but you need this amount to get that restaurant-style crispy, golden texture. You don't want your hash brown to stick to the pan, either. A good tip is to cover the pan so that the potatoes cook while they are browning and leave them alone before flipping.

Diners often rinse and dry grated potato

Are you wondering how diners fry up one crispy hash brown after another without making a meal out of it? Two essential steps are what they do with the potatoes before they even hit the pan. If you're used to grating potatoes and then simply frying them in hot oil, you're missing out on vital stages. Follow these, and the texture of your hash brown could be transformed from a little limp to spectacularly crunchy.

The trick is rinsing the grated potato in cold water several times. This removes the starch, and once the water turns cloudy, you'll know they are ready. You might be under the impression that starchy potatoes create a stiffer, less sloppy hash brown. However, it actually has the opposite effect when frying. A good tip is to grate your potato straight into a water bowl. That way, there's no time for the vegetable to oxidize and change color either. You need to dry them out after rinsing too, and one of the best ways is to fold them up in a tea towel to absorb any moisture. Lay them on a dry tea towel, lift them, and let them fall to get more air circulating. Leave them for 10 minutes so they aren't soggy when you add them to your hot pan. Follow our easy hash browns recipe by also adding in Everything but the Bagel seasoning and some black pepper.

Cracker Barrel turns hash browns into a casserole

Who says a hash brown has to be served up fried on a plate? It can also be turned into a creamy casserole that's crunchy on top. This is one of Cracker Barrel's signature dishes, and they make it with onions, cheese, and frozen hash browns. In 2021, Cracker Barrel delighted breakfast fans with a Bacon n'Egg Hash Brown Casserole with Hickory smoked bacon, Colby cheese, and scrambled eggs added to griddled hash browns. Served with buttermilk biscuits, the dish comes with green onions, tomatoes, and fried onions. The country-style restaurant also serves Loaded Hash Brown Casserole Tots with bacon and cheese for a bite-size twist on hash browns and loaded tater tots.

Try recreating the restaurant's classic dish at home with our copycat Cracker Barrel hash brown casserole recipe. Shred frozen hash browns and combine with cream of chicken soup, onion, shredded cheese, and sour cream. Bake in the oven and ensure you have enough cheese left over to melt on top. To follow another Cracker Barrel copycat recipe for the casserole, combine frozen hash browns with sour cream and shredded cheese. Add this to a cooled half-and-half sauce made from a roux seasoned with onion powder, celery salt, and salt and pepper. Serve with bacon bits on top to mimic the restaurant's breakfast casserole.