How To Turn Potato Skins Into Makeshift Hash Browns

Among the many recipes you can make with the humble potato, the baked potato is surely one of the easiest and the most versatile. The fluffy interior of a fresh baked potato is a veritable blank canvas for all kinds of seasonings and garnish. A pad of melting butter makes for a simple and delicious side dish alongside grilled meats, while a potato loaded with cheese, bacon, scallions, and sour cream can serve as a hearty lunch on its own. In fact, the baked potato is so popular that there are restaurants that focus on this singular item, offering dozens of different fillings for the humble baked spuds, everywhere from Los Angeles to Hong Kong.

More often than not, eating a baked potato leaves you with a potato skin, and its thin layer of still-attached potato flesh, when you are done eating. Rather than putting these potato skins in the trash, you should save them to make another dish, especially considering that the potato skin is rich in vitamins B and C, calcium, iron, potassium, and other nutrients. Save these leftover potato skins to make delicious and crispy hash browns the next day.

How to make potato skin hash browns

To make potato skin hash browns — assuming you do not have leftover baked potato skins on hand — you will first need baked potatoes. Almost any potato can be baked, but russet potatoes are the best type for baking. While scrubbing and cleaning the potatoes, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and melt a stick of butter in a small pan. Poke holes in the potatoes' skin with a fork to allow steam to escape in the oven. Brush melted butter all over the potatoes and sprinkle kosher salt all over the skin. Place them inside the oven to cook for 45 to 60 minutes, depending on their size.

Once the potatoes are done, split the baked potatoes in half and scoop out most of the inside flesh until there is about between a quarter to a half inch of flesh attached to the skin. Let the potato skins cool down, then cut them into squares. When you are ready to cook breakfast the next morning, simply fry these potato skin squares in oil (or fat leftover from frying bacon) until crispy on all sides and serve with your eggs.

One baked potato, many uses

Potato skin hash browns are crispy and delicious, but there's a lot more we can do with potato skins. For instance, you can load up halved potato skins with cheese, bacon, and chives, bake in the oven, and serve with sour cream for classic potato skins. 

As for the scooped-out insides of baked potatoes, a fun way to utilize them is to make potato pancakes. For that you need flour, eggs, and shredded cheese. Mash the potato flesh or pass it through a potato ricer. Mix in the egg, flour, and cheese until well combined. You can also add finely chopped onion or scallion into the mix. Form the mixture into thin patties and fry them in vegetable oil until browned on both sides. The result is a mashed potato pancake that is perfect when garnished with sour cream, chives, and luscious slices of smoked salmon. Alternatively, try this Japanese potato salad recipe, loaded with quail eggs and vegetables for an Asian twist to a perennial favorite.