14 Ways To Upgrade Frozen Hash Browns

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Frozen hash browns are such a great freezer staple to have on hand and perfect for when you want an easy breakfast side dish or a snack. But let's be honest — they can be a bit boring. After all, they're just shredded or diced potatoes. You may find frozen hash brown brands that include ingredients like onions or peppers in the mix, but that doesn't exactly make them a gourmet meal. Fortunately, there are numerous ways you can jazz up the potatoes to make them more exciting.

One thing that frozen hash browns have going for them is their versatility. The neutral flavor profile means they pair well with pretty much any ingredients you want to combine them with. Plus, the texture changes depending on how you cook them, so they can add crispiness, creaminess, or bulk to a wide range of dishes. If you're looking for ways to upgrade your frozen hash browns, consider creating some of these dishes. You may just discover that you've been making hash browns wrong all this time.

1. Use them as a base for okonomiyaki

Give your frozen hash browns a Japanese twist by using them as a base for okonomiyaki. The dish is often referred to as a Japanese pancake because it consists of a batter mixed with cabbage and pan-fried. Unlike American pancakes, it's not sweet and typically contains savory ingredients like pork, shrimp, or beef topped with a tangy okonomiyaki sauce and mayo. "Okonomi" means "what you like" and "yaki" means grilled, which means the dish can include anything your heart desires.

Shredded frozen hash browns are a great addition to okonomiyaki batter because they add firmness and crisp up nicely when fried. If you want some inspiration for your hash brown okonomiyaki, Central Provisions in Portland, Maine, does a rendition of the dish that diners rave about. It features a crispy hash brown base topped with suckling pig, bonito aioli, and a sweet soy-based kabayaki sauce. Don't be afraid to get creative and include ingredients such as octopus, bacon, cheese, green onions, or kimchi.

2. Blend them into soup

Is there anything more comforting than a bowl of hearty potato soup? The only problem is potato soup can be a bit time-consuming to prepare because you have to peel, dice, and boil the potatoes. Why bother with all that prep when you can use frozen hash browns instead? The shredded variety will soften quickly, cutting down your cooking time. Frozen diced hash browns also work well and can be added before blending the soup or tossed in afterward to give it some extra texture.

It's not just potato soup that can benefit from frozen hash browns. You can also use this freezer staple in other types of soups as a thickening ingredient. As the potatoes cook down, they release starch to give the soup a smooth, creamy consistency. It's a great alternative to cream for anyone who is lactose-intolerant or just wants to cut back on dairy. Frozen hash browns work best in soups that are pureed because the blending process helps fully incorporate the potatoes into the mix. However, you can also cook the soup in a slow cooker or over a low flame until the potatoes break down and the soup becomes velvety.

3. Add them to a breakfast burrito

Frozen hash browns make for a great addition to breakfast burritos because they provide additional texture and flavor. You can use any type of frozen hash browns in your breakfast burrito recipe, including shredded, diced, or patties. Just cook the hash browns as you usually would on the stove or in the oven. The trick is to get them nice and crispy before you add them to the burrito so they don't turn it into a soggy mess.

While hash browns can add the perfect crunch to a breakfast burrito, they are also slightly bland. Therefore, you'll want to add other ingredients to the wrap beyond just eggs and cheese to bring complexity to the flavor profile. Think colorful red or yellow peppers for a touch of sweetness, bacon for saltiness, or salsa for a hit of acidity. If you can handle spice, consider adding chorizo, jalapeños, or hot sauce. Season everything liberally with salt and pepper to make the flavors pop.

4. Make homemade Tater Tots

Have you ever wondered why Tater Tots always taste better at a restaurant than at home? Usually, it's because chefs make their own versions from scratch and add tasty seasonings. Homemade tots are pretty easy to make, especially if you have a bag of frozen shredded hash browns on hand. This shortcut means you don't have to worry about peeling, boiling, and shredding the potatoes, because frozen hash browns come prepped and are usually blanched before being flash frozen.

A basic homemade Tater Tot recipe could include frozen shredded hash browns that have been thawed, tossed with flour, seasoned with garlic salt, formed into nuggets, and deep fried or baked. You can also cook the tots in an air fryer. If you want to get creative with your seasoning, you could add dried onion flakes, bacon bits, parsley, or Parmesan cheese. Want to take your tots one step further? Use them to create other dishes like a Tater Tots casserole or loaded tots smothered in meat and cheese.

5. Transform them into a crust for quiche

Quiche is brunch comfort food at its finest. The egg and cheese tart is easy to throw together and can include a wide array of ingredients. The only thing is it can be pretty calorie-heavy thanks to the shortcrust, cheese, and cream. One way to cut back is by using frozen hash browns for the crust instead of buttery, floury dough. The hash browns also save you from having to mix, knead, and roll out the dough. 

To make the crust, simply thaw the hash browns, squeeze out any water, add melted butter, and press the mixture into a pie pan or dish. You can also use muffin tins if you want to make mini-quiche cups. Some recipes call for adding egg to the hash browns to help bind them together. Keep in mind that you'll be pouring eggs in later anyway, so this step is optional. Bake the crust until the hash browns are golden and beginning to crisp up, then add your egg mixture and bake until the filling is fluffy and set.

6. Mix them with cheese for a shepherd's pie topping

There's no need to relegate frozen hash browns only to breakfast. They can also be used in meat and potato dishes like shepherd's pie, which typically consists of ground lamb simmered in gravy and topped with mashed potatoes. You can use ground beef instead, but then it's called cottage pie. Either way, the potato topping can be upgraded with frozen hash browns. The crispy spuds provide a nice departure from the smoothness of the mashed potatoes.

There are a few different ways to use frozen hash browns to top your shepherd's pie or cottage pie. Most people use shredded hash browns and mix them with cheese and a binding ingredient like eggs or sour cream. The mixture can then be spread over the top of the pie filling and cooked until golden brown. You can also break up hash brown patties and scatter them over the top of the pie. This method will give you plenty of crunch, but without the oiliness of the cheese.

7. Make hash brown waffles

For a unique twist on a classic breakfast dish, take your frozen shredded hash browns and transform them into crispy waffles. Just thaw the hash browns and squeeze out any water, season, and mix them with eggs to help bind the mixture. You can also get creative with your hash brown waffles by adding tasty ingredients like cheese, deli meats, or shredded vegetables. Be sure to grease or spray the waffle maker before adding the mixture just like you would with regular waffles.

For a breakfast that's truly fit for a champion, give Shaquille O'Neal's loaded hash brown waffles a try. In his cookbook titled "Shaq's Family Style: Championship Recipes for Feeding Family and Friends," the basketball star wrote that the dish "might be one of my greatest contributions to the world." The recipe includes frozen hash browns mixed with bacon, cheddar cheese, scallions, melted butter, flour, baking powder, and eggs. The mixture is cooked in a waffle iron until crispy and then topped with sour cream and chives.

8. Turn them into crab cakes

If you love seafood, frozen hash browns are the perfect addition to classic New England crab cakes. You may not know that crab cakes date back centuries. It is believed that Native Americans from the Chesapeake Bay area were eating crab cakes long before European settlers arrived. Modern-day crab cake recipes typically call for mayonnaise and bread crumbs as binders. However, starchy potatoes like the ones used in frozen hash browns make for a slightly healthier binding agent.

The simplest way to make crab cakes with frozen hash browns is to thaw the potatoes, mix them with the crab meat and seasonings, form them into cakes, and fry them in a pan. You could mash the hash browns first to create a smooth consistency, however, if you want a bit of crunch to your crab cake, leave them as is. Seasonings are important here because hash browns have a neutral flavor. Plus, crab meat has a very mild, sweet flavor that can benefit from a boost. Common crab cake seasonings include parsley, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, and Old Bay seasoning. 

9. Whip up a batch of party potatoes

No Midwestern potluck is complete without a serving of party potatoes. Also known as funeral potatoes, this cheesy potato casserole dish is the epitome of comfort food. It's easy to make, packed with flavor, and manages to be creamy, gooey, tender, and crispy all at the same time. It has its roots in Mormon communities where it is often served at gatherings after funerals, hence its rather somber alternative name. We much prefer the lighter party potatoes moniker, which brings to mind happier get-togethers with family and friends.

One of the main ingredients in party potatoes is frozen hash browns, either diced or shredded and thawed. The hash browns are typically mixed with cheddar cheese, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, butter, and onion powder or flakes. Everything is poured into a casserole dish and topped with more cheese and a layer of crunchy bits like corn flakes or potato chips. Pop it in the oven to let it all bubble together and you have a decadent dish that not too many people can resist.

10. Make breakfast stuffed peppers

Stuffed peppers are often considered a dinner dish, but there's no reason you can't have them for breakfast too. A typical stuffed bell pepper recipe includes ground beef, rice, and veggies, like tomatoes and corn. If that's a little too supper-like for breakfast, adapt the dish to include ingredients that are better suited to a morning meal, like eggs, cheese, sausage, and frozen hash browns. It's like having a complete breakfast plate wrapped up in a colorful pepper package.

Making stuffed peppers is a breeze. You just cut the tops off the peppers, stuff them with your preferred ingredients, and stick them in the oven. If you're looking for inspiration, Paula Deen adds thawed hash browns to the bottom of the peppers and tops them with an egg mix that includes bacon, cheese, green onion, and biscuit mix. Other recipes suggest incorporating the hash browns into the egg mix. You can also add the potatoes to the top of the peppers with some cheese for a crispy top layer.

11. Add them to chicken pot pie filling or crust

Chicken pot pie is often a labor of love. There are so many elements to prepare, from the pie crust to the chicken, gravy, and veggies. Frozen hash browns can save you some prep time and actually improve the dish. The starchy potatoes absorb some of the liquid, which helps to prevent a soggy crust. Shredded or diced hash browns can also add a pleasant texture to the filling that complements the chicken and other vegetables like carrots, peas, and celery.

Besides adding frozen hash browns to your chicken pot pie filling, you can also use them to create a crispy potato crust. Just like with the hash brown quiche, you can toss thawed, shredded hash browns with melted butter and press them firmly into your baking dish. Just be sure not to leave any holes where the pie filling could leak through. Pre-bake the crust and then fill the pie as you normally would. Top it with more hash browns and some cheese, then bake it until bubbling and golden brown.

12. Create unique pizzas

It's common to turn to cauliflower to create a gluten-free pizza crust, but frozen hash browns can work just as well. Some might say they're even better. The trick is to mix the hash browns with a binding agent to ensure the crust stays together and can hold its own against the toppings. Some people whisk shredded hash browns with eggs and cheese and then bake the crust until it's crispy. Others omit the cheese and just use eggs or butter, although this may not provide enough sticking power to make a cohesive crust.

Frozen hash browns can also be used as pizza toppings. For example, shredded potatoes can add crunchiness to the pizza if they're not drowned in too much cheese. The thinness of the potatoes allows them to take on the flavors of the other toppings. Meanwhile, diced hash browns will be more tender than crispy and can help break up the richness of heavier toppings like spiced ground beef or tangy cheeses. You can also make a breakfast pizza with ingredients like frozen hash browns, sausage, eggs, and cheese. The sky is the limit when it comes to combining hash browns and pizza.

13. Make hash brown sandwiches

Are you bored of the same old breakfast sandwiches? Frozen hash browns may be the solution you're looking for to give your breakfast sandwich an upgrade. The crispy hash browns add textural complexity to softer ingredients like fluffy scrambled eggs and pillowy bread. When you pair those components with the rich flavors of smoky bacon and tangy cheese, you've got a match made in heaven. You can add shredded hash browns or hash brown patties inside the sandwich or ditch the bread altogether and use hash brown patties in its place.

If the patties are a bit thick and greasy for your liking, there's another genius hack: Just fry up thin layers of frozen shredded hash browns in a pan and use them in place of bread. If you want, you can incorporate cheese to help hold the hash browns together and add another level of crunch. Don't be afraid to go beyond breakfast sandwiches either. You can pack those babies with all your favorite fillings for a unique sandwich twist.

14. Experiment with different versions of rosti

Rosti is a beloved Swiss comfort food dish. It's basically a potato pancake that is similar to a latke, but bigger and without binders like egg or flour.  A classic potato rosti recipe consists of grated and seasoned potatoes formed into a disc and pan-fried until crisp and golden on the outside but tender on the inside. If you're short on time or don't want to make a mess grating potatoes, you can use frozen hash browns to create your own version.

Unlike regular hash browns, which are typically served as individual sides, rosti is meant to be a substantial dish that can be a meal in itself. One of the best things about the recipe is there is no end to the toppings you can pile on top. Some common options include smoked salmon and crème fraîche or eggs with bacon and cheese. You can use your rosti as a base for eggs benedict or top it with a creamy mushroom sauce. Rosti also works well as a side dish for meats like ham, roast chicken, and sausage.