Muffin Tins Are A Game Changer For Cheesy Potatoes

Sometimes the best shortcuts are staring us right in the face. Take for instance muffin tins. Often relegated to a forgotten corner of an overstuffed cupboard, they can do a lot more than their name suggests. Designed to turn a party-sized treat into individual portions, they work just as well on savory dishes as they do sweeter fare.

This is especially true at breakfast time, when the specialized tray can stretch far beyond muffins. They can also make perfect shredded potatoes, a beloved side that can otherwise be a surprisingly fussy addition to a brunch spread. To reduce the stress and fuss of cooking up hash browns, you can make individual crispy portions in a muffin tin.

Typical stovetop hash browns might stick to the pan and refuse to flip, or remain soggy despite your best efforts. This easy technique using the baking tool removes the stress and adds creamy, cheesy flair to the baked bites. Simply layer a defrosted spud mixture, a tablespoon of heavy cream, and shredded sharp cheese into each greased tin before baking for roughly a half-hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit and you'll have your favorite breakfast side in no time.

Baking better breakfast potatoes

First, let's talk about cheeses for these individual-sized potato bakes. We're partial to a sharp semi-hard option like gruyere or Swiss cheese, but cheddar and even Parmesan will work for the cups. For a kick, try mixing in a quick-melting pepper jack, which brings welcome heat that will cut through the rich dairy.

There are many reasons to love these easy cheesy potatoes, but anyone on-the-go will especially appreciate the shortcut of using frozen hash browns to do the trick. The pre-cut potatoes save time and are an easy win when you've run out of groceries. If you stash leftover cooked bacon in the freezer too, this is a dish that will benefit from a crumble of the smoky ingredient.

If you prefer a lunch version, you can also take a page from funeral potatoes, a rich potluck dish featuring cheesy potatoes. Alter the breakfast recipe by swapping fresh cream for a creamy canned soup, add sour cream and onions, and mix in a bowl before portioning into the individual muffin tins. The casserole typically features a crunch cornflake topping for extra crunch, but you can also test out crushed potato chips or a sprinkle of chives.

Brunch in a muffin tin

If you're the person who exclusively eats crispy corner pieces of baked goods, the muffin tin needs to get a starting spot in your lineup of kitchen tools. Baking in cups, rather than a wide dish, allows more of the ingredients to stay in contact with the hot metal. And more surface area means more crisped edges.

This has an especially delicious impact on cheese and potatoes, as both are quick to caramelize in the oven's steady heat. The shape of the muffin tins have the added benefit of pre-portioning the dish, so the potatoes are easy to serve and transport. To take up a notch further for a full meal, try filling the cups halfway and then, about 20 minutes into baking, crack an egg onto each potato nest before returning the tin to the oven. Now that's breakfast in a bite.

Once you start baking with a muffin tin, you'll find the pan's shape is helpful for making fluffy mini-quiches and even hard-boiled eggs. If you choose to make quiches sans crust with the baking tool, there's one important mistake to avoid when making these egg bites. Make sure to thoroughly grease the tin, just like when making cheesy potatoes, to guarantee the breakfast slides free with ease.