The Best Type Of Potatoes For Crunchy, Golden Hash Browns

Hash browns are a pretty universally beloved food item. Although they seem fairly simple to make, there are common mistakes everyone makes with hash browns — one being the choice of potato. You might think any type of spud would work, but it turns out there's an ideal potato for making this crunchy, golden dish. The key to achieving crispy hash browns is high starch content, and the best potatoes for this are russets.

Generally, potatoes fall into three categories — starchy, waxy, and all-purpose — but starchy russet potatoes are the way to go when it comes to hash browns. Unlike their waxy and all-purpose counterparts, their combination of high starch and low moisture makes them perfect for crisping. If your local grocery store is out of russets, feel the skin of the other potatoes available. You'll want to choose one with a textured skin over a smoother variety. Yukon golds, which are normally used for mashed potatoes, will work for hash browns in a pinch.

What are some other hash brown tips?

So you have the right potatoes, what are some other tips for the perfect hash browns every time? Hash browns, unlike their home fry counterparts, are best crisped when they are shredded. The fastest way to shred your potatoes is with a special attachment for a food processor, but a box shredder will do the trick as well. Another essential step is to make sure you squeeze the potatoes dry, so they're not soggy. If you end up with too much water in your hash browns, they won't achieve that ideal brown crust we all crave.

You can season hash browns however you like, but salt and pepper are simple go-tos for perfect taters. Additionally, if you want to fry your potatoes in butter, make sure to clarify it first. This requires melting the butter to get rid of any milk solids, which decreases your chance of burning the potatoes. It's those pesky milk solids that scorch at low temperatures. A high-heat neutral oil is also great for frying.

Lastly, those whispy little strands of potato are delicate. To avoid them breaking or tearing as they're cooked, use a non-stick pan, so the hash browns will crisp but not fall apart as you fry them.

So what if russets really aren't an option?

So you've scavenged the grocery store and can't seem to find any russet potatoes to transform into hash browns — what next? Although they're not ideal, Yukon gold potatoes will work for making hash browns. Because Yukons are a middle ground between starchy and waxy potatoes, they should still be crispy, but you might not get the same perfectly crunchy edges you'd see with russets.

As it turns out, sweet potatoes can be cooked into pretty good hash browns as well. Sweet potatoes don't have as much starch as russets, but they are low moisture. If you spread them out in a thin layer on a pan, they should crisp up just like traditional hash browns would. Go ham with the seasonings to balance their inherent sweetness — a splash of Worcestershire sauce, a heavy dash of chili powder, or a sprinkle of garlic won't go awry.

Another veggie that can be transformed into hash browns is, shockingly, cauliflower. Because you can't really shred cauliflower like you would a potato, you have to start with it in its riced form, cook it, and then really squeeze out all of that extra moisture to ensure it crisps up nicely. Cauliflower hash browns more closely resemble patty-shaped hash browns than shredded ones, but they can be just as delicious when well seasoned.