This Hash Brown Casserole Is Better Than the Restaurant Version

What food is a purer comfort than hash brown casserole? You’ve got tender, creamy shredded potatoes floating in a rich sauce, all hidden under a golden crust of hot cheese. It walks a delicious line between breakfast and side dish. There are many kinds of potato casseroles, but for pure yumminess the crown goes to Cracker Barrel’s hash brown version.

It’s so good, in fact, that I set out to make my own just-as-good version at home. First stop: I ventured to Cracker Barrel to investigate, and ordered a slice. (This job is so hard sometimes.) And then I savored it: The delightful combination of crispy edged casserole and luxuriously creamy interior, the sharp cheese topping and the finishing flurry of black pepper. I paid close attention to the texture and flavors. Then I went home and started experimenting. The recipe that I settled on is fast, super satisfying, and possibly even better — if only because you can have some whenever you like, in the comfort of your own home.

Cracker Barrel Hash Brown Casserole at Home

There’s very little intel on how exactly Cracker Barrel makes their hash brown casserole. (And trust me, their staff is tight-lipped on details. I asked.) But they are a large restaurant chain, so I imagine they use many of the same shortcuts we will to make hash brown casserole at home: Namely pre-shredded frozen hash browns, and condensed soup. Sour cream is also a key ingredient in this casserole as the sharp flavor cuts through all the rich cheese, starchy potatoes, and creamy soup.

Key Steps for Hash Brown Casserole

Thaw the hash browns before you start: Thawing the frozen hash browns prevents the sauce fromclumping when you mix them in, and helps the casserole cook faster. You can thaw your shredded hash browns overnight in the fridge directly in their bag or for about an hour at room temperature.

Add an egg to the sauce for better slicing and serving.A lot of reference recipes call for just cheese, condensed soup, and sour cream around the hash browns, but these make a loose casserole that’s hard to serve. I found that mixing a lightly beaten egg in with the wet ingredients added just enough texture to give the casserole beautiful slices.

Serving Hash Brown Casserole

The hash brown casserole takes about 45 minutes to bake — the edges and top brown nicely and the whole casserole becomes firm to the touch. After baking, let the casserole cool slightly before serving. This helps it firm up.

This better-than-Cracker-Barrel hash brown casserole makes a great side dish for pork chops or a casual breakfast alongside crispy fried eggs and the leftovers reheat easily.

Hash Brown Casserole

Ingredients

  • 32 ounces

    frozen hash browns, thawed — see note

  • 1 teaspoon

    unsalted butter

  • 1 (10.25) can

    cream of chicken or cream of cheddar soup

  • 16 ounces

    sour cream (2 cups)

  • 1

    large egg

  • 8 ounces

    cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups), divided

  • 1/2

    large yellow onion, grated (about 1/2 cup)

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

Equipment

Large mixing bowl

Measuring cups and spoons

9×13-inch baking dish

Whisk

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 375° and coat a baking dish with butter. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with the butter.

  2. Whisk together the wet ingredients. Place the cream soup, sour cream, and egg in a large bowl and whisk until smooth.

  3. Add the hash browns, onion, and half of the cheese. Add the hash browns, onions, and about half of the cheese and stir until well combined.

  4. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and sprinkle with cheese. Pour the hash brown mixture into the baking dish and smooth into an even layer. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

  5. Bake for 45 minutes. Bake until the edges are crisp and the top is beginning to brown, about 45 minutes.

  6. Let cool for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with pepper. Remove the casserole from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the black pepper, cut into squares, and serve hot.

Recipe Notes

Thawing hash browns: The hash browns can be thawed in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4 days.

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