Home Fries Vs. Hash Browns: What's The Difference?

Oh, the battle of breakfast potatoes. People tend to have their favorites, and sometimes they don't even know why. Whether it's what you were brought up with that you love most or what's served at your favorite restaurant, both are great choices, and we are not here to pick which is best. Being that home fries and hash browns are classic American breakfast potato side dishes, they have bigger differences than one may assume. However,  one thing that they do have in common is that most are made from russet potatoes. They are sturdy and starchy, allowing the potatoes to hold their shape well (via MasterClass).

You may continue to be the type of person who doesn't have a preference for one over the other, but it's important to know the difference if you find yourself battling it out with a breakfast aficionado. Some argue home fries have more flavor, while others love the crisp that hash browns bring to a dish. While both can be made in a variety of ways, people also tend to have their favorite recipes or mix-ins — but there are some basic ways to approach each. In fact, there are a few ways in which these two potato dishes differ: How the potatoes are cut, the cooking technique, and potential mix-ins.

It's all about the end result

To begin, the cut size and shape of the potatoes will result in very different dishes. For home fries, the potatoes are typically cut into small cubes, allowing for crispy edges but soft interiors. Hash browns, on the other hand, are created from shredded potatoes. Squeezing out the moisture creates a very crispy exterior. In addition, Serious Eats explains that dryer potatoes will result in crispier potatoes. The site advises squeezing out as much liquid as possible to get even browning when making hash browns, a step that is not needed for home fries. 

In addition to the shape, the two dishes are cooked differently. If cooked in a pan — versus a deep fryer or oven — home fries will typically require less oil to crisp up and cook through as they are usually parboiled. To get crispy hash browns, Bon Appétit notes that it is important to allow the potatoes to cook undisturbed until crispy and crunchy. Moving around the home fries will give you an even browning and crisp, but hash browns benefit from sitting still and browning up. Lastly, home fries are often cooked alongside additional mix-ins, such as onion and bell peppers. Hash browns, alternatively, tend to be made from simply fat, potatoes, and salt (via Epicurious). While both are delicious in their own right, we're not here to discriminate against any kind of potato — so be sure to give them both a try.