Copycat McDonald's hash browns recipe you can make at home

McDonald's hash browns are iconic: Oval-shaped patties that are crispy on the outside but perfectly soft inside. They satisfy in a way that regular hash browns simply can't. We were stoked when McDonald's started doing all-day breakfast, but many locations ran into an issue. The same fryers that are used to make the hash brown patties were occupied with the non-stop orders of french fries. Neither item does well when it sits under the heat lamp, as once-crispy deep-fried food gets soggy and unappetizing very quickly after it leaves the fryer. It was sad times to drive all the way to the drive-through to be disappointed with no hash browns, but many locations didn't carry them outside of breakfast hours. 

Luckily, it's super easy to make a copycat McDonald's hash browns recipe. Our copycat uses authentic ingredients, so it's gluten-free and vegetarian. But, unlike McDonald's, our recipe is made with all plant-based ingredients, so it's vegan-friendly, too. It's important to note that the key to pulling off this recipe is putting the hash browns in the freezer for a few hours before they're ready to cook, so we recommend planning ahead. Make a double or triple batch, and store the extra hash browns in a freezer-safe bag so you'll always be able to get your hash brown fix.

Gather the ingredients to make this copycat McDonald's hash browns recipe

Our first stop in creating a copycat McDonald's hash browns recipe was to peek at the ingredients listed on McDonald's website. We were surprised to find that their hash browns didn't contain any eggs or flour, two ingredients common in most copycat McDonald's hash brown recipes. With that in mind, we decided to keep things traditional and use the ingredients found on their website.

We started with russet potatoes — a starchy variety that would create hash brown patties that were soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside. If we used a waxy potato (like red potatoes), the texture wouldn't turn out the same. To hold the potato patty together, we added corn flour and potato flour (but mashed potato flakes or any other form of dehydrated potato would work here, too). Finally, for seasoning, we included salt, sugar, onion powder, and white pepper.

Scroll down to the directions section for the full list of ingredient quantities and step-by-step instructions.

There is one ingredient we don't have to make a copycat McDonald's hash browns recipe

One of the ingredients listed on McDonald's website was really hard to find and replicate: Natural Beef Flavor. According to Better Homes & Gardens, McDonald's uses this ingredient because their fryer oil used to contain beef tallow. That's why you may remember their french fries tasting different when you were younger.

Today, McDonald's deep-fries in vegetable oil — a mixture of canola oil, soybean oil, and hydrogenated soybean oil. To try to recreate the flavor of the tallow-fried items, they include a natural beef flavor additive to the fryer oil. It contains wheat and milk derivatives, so their McDonald's hash browns are vegetarian but not vegan-friendly or gluten-free.

We were unable to find anything close to this ingredient. The closest possible option would have been beef bouillon, but that would make the hash browns non-vegetarian, so we just skipped it. If you really want to make this copycat McDonald's hash browns recipe taste like old-school McDonalds, feel free to fry in beef tallow instead of canola oil.

Why do we use corn flour and potato flour to make this copycat McDonald's hash browns recipe?

Corn flour and potato flour might seem like odd ingredients to add to a copycat McDonald's hash browns recipe. They're not typical ingredients in most home pantries, but we know McDonald's uses them in their hash browns recipe from a FAQ on the website. The company confirms that "the [grated potato] pieces are... mixed with salt and pepper, corn flour and potato flour, before being formed into the distinct hash brown shape."

You should be able to find these ingredients at a regular grocery store, perhaps in the aisle where the gluten-free flour is found. If you can't find them at all, you can use cornstarch instead of corn flour. Don't substitute cornmeal, polenta, or grits, as these grains have a coarser grind. 

Instead of potato flour, you could use all-purpose flour. The resulting hash brown will be a little denser, so it won't be as light and fluffy inside as McDonald's hash browns, but the flour will work to bind the potato shreds together.

Start by grating the potatoes to make this copycat McDonald's hash browns recipe

The first step in making a copycat McDonald's hash browns recipe is to turn whole potatoes into tiny little shreds. Peel the potatoes and discard the skins, placing the potatoes in a bowl of cold water to keep them from discoloring. Grate the potatoes through the large hole of a box grater and cook them for three minutes in three cups of boiling water with salt and sugar. It will seem like a lot of salt, and the sugar seems like an odd addition, but these ingredients season the potatoes while they parboil. When they come out of the water, they'll be perfectly flavorful.

This step is crucial to creating our copycat McDonald's hash browns recipe. Parboiling the potatoes rids them of their excess starch while cooking them most of the way through. That way, they turn out crispy on the outside but soft on the inside.

When the potatoes are finished boiling, remove them to a strainer and run them under cold water to stop the cooking process.

Mix the ingredients and form the patties to make our copycat McDonald's hash browns recipe

Transfer the potatoes to a cheesecloth-lined strainer and squeeze out most of the excess water. You want to have a little water remaining to help bind with the flour, but not so much that they're dripping wet. Place the potatoes in a bowl with the rice flour, corn flour, onion powder, and white pepper. Mix well until the ingredients are well incorporated.

Divide the mixture into four, 1/4-cup portions and form them into large ovals. The easiest way to do this is to place the potato mixture on a piece of wax paper and use a biscuit cutter or another round container to create a large circle. Then, press the circle down with your palm. Use your hands to shape the edges of the flat circle until they're smooth.

Freeze the patties for one to three hours, until they're hardened all the way through. If the patties are partially thawed, they will fall apart in the fryer oil, so it's important that they become completely frozen before you move on to the next step.

Fry the frozen patties to finish this copycat McDonald's hash browns recipe

When the copycat McDonald's hash browns are completely frozen, you can start heating the frying oil. Grab a large sauté pan and heat an inch of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. You can use any high-temperature frying oil, like canola oil and peanut oil, or you can use beef tallow or pork lard.

When the oil is hot, carefully add the hash brown patties. If you don't have enough space in the pan to add all four, split the frying into two batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Cook the hash browns for four to five minutes per side, flipping once, until they're golden brown and crispy on both sides. Remove the hash brown patties to a paper towel-lined plate to remove any excess grease. They shouldn't need any finishing salt, but feel free to add a sprinkle of salt to taste if desired. Serve them hot by themselves, or with a side of ketchup if that's your thing.

How close did we get to the original McDonald's hash browns?

For the most part, we were super pleased with this copycat McDonald's hash browns recipe. To start, the hash brown patties were perfectly seasoned. They were just on the border of being salty, but the sugar did a great job of creating balance. The small amount of onion powder and white pepper went a long way to make these hash browns taste fantastic.

We will say that the freezing part of this recipe was a bit of a pain. It would have been much simpler to combine shredded potatoes with egg and fry them right away. But it was worth it because the texture turned out spot-on. The hash browns were soft and creamy on the inside but super crunchy on the outside.

If we're being completely honest, our first batch turned out to be a bit of a fail. We only waited an hour after putting the hash browns in the freezer, and the patties weren't frozen all the way through. They fell apart in the frying pan, so they still tasted delicious, but they weren't true McDonald's patties. The resolution was easy: When we waited the full three hours, we had much better success with this recipe. So patience is key with this copycat recipe!

Copycat McDonald's hash browns recipe you can make at home
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McDonald's hash browns are iconic, and super easy to make at home. Make a double or triple batch, and store the extra hash browns in a freezer-safe bag so you'll always be able to get your hash brown fix — without getting up at the crack of dawn or waiting in a long drive-thru line.
Prep Time
10
hours
Cook Time
15
minutes
Servings
4
hash brown patties
Copycat McDonald's hash browns recipe directions
Ready in 10.25 hours
Ingredients
  • 10.5 ounces russet potatoes
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons potato flour
  • 1 tablespoon corn flour
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • Canola oil, for frying
Directions
  1. Peel the potatoes and discard the skins, placing the potatoes in a bowl of cold water to keep them from discoloring.
  2. Meanwhile, bring 3 cups of water to a boil with the salt and sugar in a medium saucepan. When the water is boiling, grate the potatoes through the large hole of a box grater and add them to the boiling water. Cook for three minutes.
  3. Remove the potatoes to a strainer and run them under cold water to stop the cooking process.
  4. Transfer the potatoes to a cheesecloth-lined strainer and squeeze out most of the excess water. There should be some water remaining to help bind with the flour, but the potatoes should not be dripping wet.
  5. Place the strained potatoes in a medium bowl and mix with the rice flour, corn flour, onion powder, and white pepper.
  6. Form four patties about 1/4 cup each and shape them into large ovals.
  7. Freeze the patties for one to three hours, until they're hardened all the way through.
  8. In a large sauté pan, heat an inch of oil over medium-high heat until it's shimmering.
  9. Carefully add the potato patties to the hot oil, splitting them into two batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan.
  10. Flip the hash brown halfway through, cooking for 4 to 5 minutes per side until they're golden brown and crispy on both sides.
  11. Remove the hash brown to a paper towel-lined plate.
  12. Serve hot.
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