3 Tips for Better Hash Browns We Learned from Waffle House

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

The thing I miss most about living in the South (besides the people) is a Waffle House on every corner. These cheery yellow diners are open 24 hours and serve breakfast, burgers, and hash brown plates that will fill you up for just a few bucks. They are a refuge for late-night partiers and exhausted parents alike.

Waffle House, despite its name, is most famous for their crispy, diner-style hash browns. You know the ones: shredded ultra-tender potatoes with a shatteringly crisp exterior. At Waffle House, you can get yours smothered, covered (and even doubled!). And below, you’ll find three of Waffle House’s tricks for making hash browns — so you can make your own at home.

(Image credit: Meghan Splawn)

How Waffle House Does Hash Browns Best

Here’s what you should know about how they make hash browns at Waffle House: They start with dehydrated potatoes (not flakes for making mashed potatoes). The reconstituted potatoes are well-drained and cooked on a flat-top griddle with a generous amount of butter-flavored oil. The grill operator puts a slight lean of pressure on the potatoes when they first hit the grill with a large wide, flat spatula, and then lets them cook undisturbed for six minutes. Then they’re flipped, and the same cooking time repeats on the other side.

3 Tips for Waffle House Hash Browns at Home

Luckily for you (and me too), we can create Waffle House-style hash browns at home without buying dehydrated potatoes. Follow our basic recipe for diner-style waffles and make these three adjustments.

1. Use a griddle or large and wide cooking surface.

If you have an electric griddle, hash browns are a great time to bring it out. Otherwise a stovetop griddle — like this Cuisinart one — will make cooking and flipping your hash browns much easier.

2. Swap your regular butter or oil for clarified butter.

Clarified butter is butter that has been melted and gently simmered to remove milk solids and moisture, making it just pure butterfat. Clarified butter has a higher smoke point, meaning it won’t burn on the griddle and it will give the potatoes the rich, buttery flavor that Waffle House’s oil has (with just a few ingredients).

3. Use a wide, flat spatula for gently pressing and for turning.

A griddle spatula is the Waffle House grill cook’s best friend! You can use a fish spatula for these maneuvers, but you’ll need to exert more pressure on the potatoes when they first hit the pan.