Various styles of potatoes laid out on countertop while someone dips French fries into ketchup ramekin.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

I Tried All the Frozen Hash Browns, Potato Skins, French Fries, and Tater Tots I Could Find — These Are the Best in Each Category

updated Oct 5, 2021
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Take a walk through your grocery store’s freezer aisle and you’ll notice that it’s jam-packed with frozen potatoes in every possible form. And that’s a beautiful thing! Who doesn’t love the utter deliciousness of potatoes, whether shredded and crisped, baked and stuffed, fried, or tot-ified?

Over the past few months, I’ve tasted my way through them all — hash browns, potato skins, french fries, and tots — and can say with full confidence that there aren’t a lot of bad potatoes out there. (Shocker!) But after tasting brands in each category side-by-side, it’s very clear that some frozen spuds stand out from their peers. 

How I Tested the Frozen Potatoes

First, I gathered as many items from each of the four categories as possible. Once all the samples were procured, I cooked each item according to package instructions. If I couldn’t cook everything in each category all at once, I cooked them in brackets, then pit the winners of each bracket in another head-to-head taste-off. 

Judging criteria depended on the category, but mostly my team of tasters were looking for a balanced yet deep potato flavor, pleasing color, and iconic texture. We determined that hash browns must get crisp while remaining intact, fries should be soft inside but crispy outside, tots should be filled with discernible shreds, and potato skins shouldn’t be leathery.  

After tasting our way through dozens and dozens of frozen potato products, here are the best of the best, and the brands I’ll definitely be buying again. 

Credit: Danielle Centoni

The Best Hash Browns: Mr. Dell’s Shredded Hash Browns

Remarkably, there are four different styles in the hash brown category: shredded, patties, country-style (aka cubed potatoes), and O’Brien (cubed potatoes mixed with onions and bell peppers). Because plain shredded hash browns are super versatile, I zeroed in on this style.

We tasted nine different brands and Mr. Dell’s came out on top, thanks to its deep, earthy potato flavor and satisfyingly shredded texture. The shreds are blanched in water and individually quick frozen so they’re easy to work with and keep their shape during cooking. They browned evenly, crisped up nicely, and held together well. If you can’t find Mr. Dell’s, Ore-Ida hash browns were a close runner-up.

Credit: Danielle Centoni

The Best Stuffed Potato Skins: TGI Fridays Loaded Potato Skins

The very best part about these potato skins was the excessive amount of cheese nestled inside. Each little potato boat was absolutely flooded with creamy cheese sauce and sprinkled with a generous amount of tiny bacon bits, making them the most decadent of the potato skins we tried. If you essentially want a frozen baked potato, though, go with Kroger’s version. While they had a slightly skimpier cheese puddle, these potato skins were huge. Topped with sour cream and chives, you might not notice the difference. 

Buy: TGI Fridays Loaded Potato Skins, $9.48 for 22.3 ounces at Walmart

The Best Frozen Fries: Alexia House Cut Fries with Sea Salt

There are a lot of frozen french fries out there, but Alexia’s thin-cut fries won us over for being so deliciously similar to fast food fries. These “house-cut” fries bake up perfectly crispy with rich potato flavor, perhaps due to the little bit of potato skin left on them. They’re already seasoned with sea salt, but sprinkle some more on top and you won’t be able to tear yourself away from them. Unlike other brands made that often contain additives and starches, these contain just five recognizable ingredients (potatoes, oil, salt, apple juice concentrate to promote browning, and citric acid). 

BuyAlexia House Cut Fries with Sea Salt, $3.69 for 28 ounces at Target

Credit: Danielle Centoni

The Best Tater Tots: Alexia Organic Yukon Select Puffs

Not one single brand of the tots we tried were bad. Not one! Trader Joe’s was super crispy and offered a deep, earthy flavor similar to baked potatoes and a hearty, rustic shredded texture similar to hash browns. Ore-Ida offered a familiar savoriness and rustic texture. But the rich, naturally buttery flavor of Alexia’s Yukon gold puffs sent these straight to the top.

More info: Alexia Organic Yukon Select Puffs

Is your favorite frozen potato item on this list? Tell us in the