Hash browns have always been a childhood favorite of mine for Sunday brunch. After researching and experimenting with different cooking methods at home, I have found that hashbrowns can be healthy, but it depends entirely on how they're prepared.
Traditionally, hash browns are deep-fried in oil, resulting in them being higher in calories and unhealthy from the oxidized trans fats. But using healthier cooking methods such as baking or air frying can reduce the amount of oil used and make the dish much healthier.
Another way to make them healthier is to use sweet potatoes, which are packed with nutrients and have a lower glycemic index than regular potatoes.
🍎 Are Hash Browns Healthy?
Hash browns are a popular breakfast food made by shredding potatoes and frying them until they're uber crispy. But are they healthy? The answer to that depends on how you cook them as well as the type of cut on your hashbrowns.
One of the main concerns with hash browns is their calorie content. A typical serving contains around 200-300 calories, depending on the size of the shred and how they're cooked; smaller shredded potatoes will absorb more oil and therefor become more caloric than cubed or patty hash browns.
❓ What Makes Some Hash Browns Unhealthy
When it comes to hash browns, not all types are created equal. Some are healthier than others, while some are downright unhealthy, generally due to the oil used and length of frying. Here are some types that you should watch out for:
Restaurant-made hash browns are often cooked using excessive amounts of oil and butter to achieve the desired crispy texture. As a result, they tend to be high in calories and unhealthy fats, absorbed over a long amount of time in the fryer.
They also may be seasoned with an excessive amount of salt, which can significantly increase your sodium intake, especially the shredded type.
Certain varieties of hash browns are coated in breadcrumbs before being cooked, which can contribute to additional calories and carbohydrates, making them less healthy. They may also be cooked in heavy oisl or butter, leading to an increase in calories and unhealthy fats.
Hash browns that have been deep-fried are not the ideal choice if you want to eat healthily. They are usually cooked in oil at high temperatures, which can create harmful compounds that may increase the risk of certain health problems and irritate the stomach.
Cooked in Trans or Saturated Animal Fats
Hash browns cooked in trans or saturated fats of animal origins are also less healthy, as these fats can increase your risk of heart disease and other health problems. They are often found in processed foods, so it’s important to read the label before you buy hash browns.
✔️ Healthy Hash Brown Brands
For those who enjoy hash browns but want to make healthier choices, many healthy brands are available in the market. These brands use healthier cooking methods and ingredients to make hash browns lower in calories, fat, and sodium. Here are a few to consider:
Alexia Organic Yukon Select Hash Browns
Made with organic Yukon Gold potatoes, these are free from artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives, making them a healthy choice. They are also gluten-free and vegan-friendly.
Simply Potatoes Shredded Hash Browns
Simply Potatoes shredded hash browns are made with fresh, whole potatoes and are free from artificial flavors, preservatives, and gluten, making them a healthy choice for breakfast. These are pre-shredded, so they're easier to cook and perfect for busy mornings and great for adding in other ingredients for a veggie hash.
Cascadian Farm Organic Hash Browns
Cascadian Farm organic hash browns are made with organic potatoes and are lightly seasoned with sea salt. These are free of oil, so you can spray on any type of oil you prefer or tolerate.
🔪 How Can You Make Hash Browns Healthy?
Ingredients to Make Hash Browns Healthy
To make your hash browns healthier, you can add any number of ingredients that will provide additional nutrients while keeping the dish flavorfu and deliciousl. Here are some ingredients I like to add to my own hashbrowns in the mornings:
- Sweet Potatoes:
They are a great source of vitamin A and fiber, and they add natural sweetness. Hash browns made with sweet potatoes typically have 180 calories, 27g of carbs, 7g of fat, and 3g of protein per serving.
It’s a low-calorie vegetable that adds moisture and texture. Hash browns made with zucchini are a low-carb option, containing only 1g of carbs and 50 calories per serving. They're also a good source of protein, with 4g per serving.
- Bell Peppers:
Bell peppers add color, flavor, and nutrition, making it a delicious and healthy breakfast option. Sauté them with potato hash browns or use them chopped up as a topping to enjoy a unique breakfast experience.
Hash brown potatoes with onions are a classic breakfast dish that’s both delicious and healthy. Onions add both sweet and savory flavors, making them a popular choice. You can sauté the onions with the hash browns or use them as a caramelized topping for extra flavor and texture.
🥗 How to Make Vegan Hash Browns
As a vegan, you might think that hash browns are not an option because they usually contain animal products like butter. However, with some creativity, you can make them crunchy and tasty without any animal-based ingredients.
Here are three ways to make fully vegan hash browns that you're sure to love.
Grate and Squeeze
To prepare vegan hash browns using the grate and squeeze method, start by grating the potatoes and squeezing out as much liquid as possible. Add chopped onions, garlic, salt, and pepper to the mixture and mix everything together.
Heat oil in a pan and then add the potato mixture, pressing it down to form a flat layer. Cook until both sides become crispy and golden brown.
For this method, you'll need some leftover mashed potatoes. Mix in some flour (whatever you tolerate), chopped onions, garlic, salt, and pepper until everything is well combined. Heat up some oil in a pan and then form the potato mixture into patties. Cook until crispy and golden brown on both sides.
To make vegan hash browns with sweet potatoes, start by grating the sweet potatoes and squeezing out the excess liquid. Mix in chopped onions, garlic, salt, and pepper, and combine everything thoroughly.
Heat oil in a pan, add the sweet potato mixture, and press it down to form a flat layer. Cook until both sides are crispy and golden brown, then serve hot with whatever else you'd like.
⭐ Best Oil to Cook Hash Browns?
The choice of oil used in cooking hash browns is crucial. It’s essential to select an oil that can withstand high temperatures without scorching, and doesn't add any undesirable taste to the final dish. Some of the best oils for cooking include:
- Lard: with its high smoke point and neutral flavor, this home-rendered fat is an excellent option for cooking hash browns, but steer clear from previously-cooked fats and repeat or prolonged use.
- Grapeseed Oil: though its blend can be inflammatory, this has a neutral flavor and high smoke point, making it a suitable option for cooking.
- Ghee: this fat has a very high smoke point and a neutral flavor, making it a great choice for cooking hash browns at high temperatures.
- Avocado Oil: with a high smoke point and a mild flavor, avocado oil is another good choice for cooking.
The amount of oil you use can affect the calories in hash browns. Too much oil can add unnecessary calories, so it's best to use a minimal amount to achieve the desired crispiness. A typical serving ranges from 100-200 calories, depending on the size and preparation method.
Can You Use Olive Oil To Cook Hash Browns?
When it comes to cooking hash browns, olive oil is a popular choice for many people. But is it a healthy option? The answer is yes, as long as you use it correctly.
Olive oil has a lower smoke point than other oils, making it unsuitable for deep frying. However, it's excellent for pan-frying - start by heating a small amount of oil in a non-stick pan, add shredded potatoes, and cook until crispy.