A cornerstone of the McDonald’s breakfast menu, the chain introduced hash browns to its menu in 1977, following the success of its Egg McMuffin, initially designed to mimic something close to Eggs Benedict. While traditional hash browns are generally looser, originally “folded like an omelet” before serving, the McDonald’s versions are crispy, golden brown, oval-shaped patties, which paved the way for the dish’s commercialisation, now mass-produced and sold in refrigerated, frozen, and even dehydrated forms.
While the internet is absolutely full of suggestions, almost every copycat McDonald’s hash brown recipe omits at least one of the crucial processes. Most prominently, the potatoes used in McDonald’s hash browns are clearly diced, rather than grated. Moreover, eggs aren’t included in the UK version’s very short list of just eight ingredients, so another binding agent is used. Potato starch works well if you’re after a vegetarian or vegan take on the dish, but beef dripping is the best alternative. In the United States, a natural beef flavouring (which doesn’t contain any meat, instead made from wheat and milk derivatives) is used for McDonald’s hash browns, given they were once fried in a blend of vegetable oil and beef dripping. While the beef flavouring is difficult to reproduce at home, beef dripping lends a profound depth of flavour and works especially well as a binding agent.
After peeling and dicing potatoes into approximately 3-5mm cubes, they’re plunged into cold water and agitated until the water runs clear. After drying for at least an hour, on a bed of kitchen roll, the potatoes are slowly sweated in a frying pan with beef dripping, until just fork tender. The potatoes and residual beef dripping are then mixed with corn flour and a generous pinch of salt, then rolled out between two sheets of baking/greaseproof paper and cut or formed into the oval shape synonymous with the famous McDonald’s hash browns. Ideally, they’re best left to chill in the freezer for a few hours, or overnight, before frying for just a few minutes, until golden brown and crispy. A fair amount of preparation is involved, but this copycat McDonald’s hash brown recipe provides a perfect treat for breakfast, or any time of day.
N.B. Given the time taken to make the hash browns, and the accessibility of the ingredients, I’d recommend scaling up the recipe to make a large batch so these McDonald’s style hash browns are always on standby.
- Large mixing bowl
- Large frying pan/sauce pan
- Large sauce pan for deep frying/deep fryer
- Rolling Pin
- Greaseproof/baking paper
- 1 kg Russet potatoes approximately 6 potatoes in total
- 3 tbsp beef dripping alternatively use 1 tbsp potato starch for binding – see notes.
- Cornflour approximately 3-4 tbsp
- White pepper a pinch
- Vegetable oil or other oil suitable for deep frying
- Wash, peel, and dice the potatoes into 3-5mm cubes.
- Wash the potatoes in a large bowl, with cold water, and strain. Repeat at least once, mixing the potatoes to agitate. Once the water is clear, strain again and dry on kitchen roll for at least one hour.
- In a large frying pan or saucepan, melt the beef dripping over low heat and add the potato cubes to the pan. Season with a generous pinch of salt and cook over a low heat for 10-15 minutes until just fork tender. (If making vegetarian hash browns, sweat the potatoes in 2 tbsp vegetable oil).
- Once cooked, transfer the potatoes and dripping to a large mixing bowl and mix with the cornflour and a generous pinch of white pepper. (If not using beef dripping, add a tablespoon of potato starch at this point). Mix until combined then transfer to a large sheet of greaseproof/baking paper.
- Gently press the potato mixture to flatten, then place another sheet of greaseproof paper over the top and evenly roll the potato mixture until 1cm – ½ inch thick. Cut into correct sized rectangles, then form into oval patties, like those served at McDonald’s. Re-roll any off cuts to make more hash brown patties.
- Once formed, place each hash brown between two small sheets of greaseproof paper and chill in the freezer for at least two hours, but preferably overnight.
- When ready to cook, half fill a deep sauce pan or deep fryer with frying oil such as vegetable or rapeseed oil, then heat to 180C. Carefully cook the hash browns in batches to prevent oil overflowing. A batch of 2 or 3 hash browns will take approximately 3-5 minutes to cook, flipping once, half way through cooking. Once golden brown and crispy, remove from the oil and transfer to a wire rack to cool for a few minutes before serving, or while cooking the next batch. Season generously with salt before serving.