Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole (like Cracker Barrel’s!)

24 Reviews / 4.8 Average
Welcome to the world of Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole goodness! If you love the one Cracker Barrel offers, you'll love this copycat recipe. It's a much healthier version that doesn't use canned soup. Enjoy it as a side for breakfast for brunch.
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Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole  on a plate with scrambled eggs, bacon, and a side of fresh fruit.

I used to LOVE the Hash Brown Casserole at Cracker Barrel. That’s before I started asking questions about how they make their food (did you know almost all of their vegetable side dishes are made with sugar?).

Then if you look at the copycat recipes online, most of them call for a can of condensed soup – no thank you MSG and other unwanted additives! There has to be a better way, and thankfully there is, which I’ve detailed for you below.

It’s hard to go wrong when it comes to potatoes and cheese and other wholesome ingredients. This is a tasty dish that you can enjoy with breakfast, lunch or dinner!

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  3. 5 stars
    Love this recipe! I wanted to make it more of a meal, so I start off by cooking a pound of ground beef or sausage and then add everything else using 4 TBSP of butter instead of 6. My family loves it and it has become a weekly staple! Thank you!

  4. If I was going to make this and freeze it, do I cook it all the way first and then freeze, or can I just put in the freezer after mixing together? I’m new to “freezer cooking” and thought that this might be a good recipe to try freezing.

    1. I’ve not done it with this recipe, but with similar hashbrown casseroles I freeze before baking. Thaw, then bake.

  5. Could you tell me a brand that is just potato’s? Even the one at whole foods in the frozen section has preservatives.

    1. Mr. Dell’s offers an All Natural shredded hash brown. Potatoes only. :) I’ve found them at Walmart, Target and the local grocery store here in MN.

  6. 5 stars
    Made this recipe for the first time this weekend and it was YUMMY! :) Really does remind you of the Cracker Barrel version.

  7. I made this the other night and although the flavor was great, it didn’t get done in the middle. The top browned nicely but underneath seemed undercooked. I baked it for 35 minutes then under the broiler for 4. What did I do wrong? Thanks!

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Carey. Not sure but every oven is different. Next time, try covering with foil for the first 25 minutes and then remove the foil to finish.

  8. 5 stars
    My daughter in law Kerry, made this for Christmas morning breakfast and it was delicious. So nice in fact, I am making it as a side to go with our evening dinner tonight.

  9. 5 stars
    I made this twice this year, once for Thanksgiving and once for Christmas. I love it, my husband loved it too!! I used all-purpose flour, and Follow your heart Vegan Cheddar cheese,and I added about a 1/4 cup of my homemade cream of mushroom soup. Thank you so much for the recipe, so happy to be able to eat comfort food right along with everyone else. I’m nursing my son who can’t have dairy, and my other son is dairy intolerant as well, so this is a real treat for us.

  10. I use a potato ricer to squeeze out the excess moisture from grated potatoes. It gets them super dry. Without the excess moisture fresh potatoes should work well.

    1. Or I’ve used a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to do the same thing, squeeze out the extra moisture. makes a huge difference if making fresh hash browns or latkes too.

  11. I’m wondering if I could make this gluten free by subbing the whole wheat flour with almond, rice, spelt, or coconut flour. May have to give it a pre-Christmas morning try.

    1. Dawn, I have had great luck using rice flour in recipes that use a white sauce prep. I use the same amount.(friend is gluten free)

    2. Dawn, I would NOT go with almond or coconut flour, they do not have a high starch content. It’s the starch that makes the sauce thicken and almonds and coconut are high in protein, not starch. So if going wheat free use rice, sorghum, or spelt flour in place of regular wheat flour, cereal grains. FYI spelt is not gluten free. I would recommend rice flour though, it’s the most neutral flavored.

      1. Thanks Sarah! I actually used rice flour and it was great! I hadn’t used spelt flour in anything yet, just heard about it being an ancient grain and possibly ok. After reading more about it and being a true celiac, I think I’ll stay away from it.

  12. I noticed that someone wanted to find a dairy free sub for butter. I’ve had great success making ghee or clarified butter. That process removes the milk solids and it’s still all natural.

  13. 5 stars
    Oh and a little flavor tip….add about a teaspoon of Dijon mustard to the melted cheese mixture before adding the potatoes.

  14. If you live in the Upper Midwest, another organic, one ingredient frozen hash brown brand you can look for is SnoPac. Their plant and headquarters are in SE Minnesota, about 20 minutes from where I grew up.

  15. FYI: I noticed in the comments that a lot of people mentioned they wanted to use fresh potatoes. I found a way to make it perfectly. Bake your whole potatoes straight on the oven rack at 375 for 45 minutes. Let them cool completely. Then grate them with a grater (peel and all). The peel will sort of fall away and you can discard it or eat it or whatever. Then lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze them. When they are frozen just stick them in a bag in the freezer. Then you have frozen hash browns for whenever you need them. I bought a 5 pound bag and cooked the whole thing this way and have been using them all month. It works great!

    1. Why don’t you use margarine instead of butter. I plan on making two versions of this one with dairy and one vegan.

      1. Jennfier, this is a real food website. Margarine is not a real food. You don’t want to ever ever use margarine. Very bad for you.

  16. What was the problem when Lisa used fresh potatoes (more than “it didn’t turn out well”)? I’m new to the site and loving the recipes so far, but I think it would be nice, in an instance like this, where we could read about some alternatives that didn’t turn out so well. (Especially since I’m sure many other readers, like myself, would prefer to use fresh potatoes!)

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Cece. Lisa has tried it more than once and the results are just not good. There is too much moisture and the texture has been off. The frozen potatoes she uses are just one ingredient and organic. In this case, she has not found fresh to be best. :) ~Amy

  17. 5 stars
    Could this be made ahead and stored in the fridge until ready to bake? Also, I’ve made this recipe before and it is delicious. It turned out creamy and was just as good as leftovers the next day!

  18. What brand does Lisa use for the frozen hash browns? All of them I looked at the store had 10 ingredients or more!!

  19. 5 stars
    I tried this on Father’s Day for my husband and added in crumbled cooked bacon. It was absolutely amazing! Pretty easy to make and follow and it came out perfect! This will be made again and again! Our 1 year old loved this as well!

  20. lisa, would this recipe work with fresh potatoes? i have a ton from my garden that i’d love to use. thanks!

  21. This was really good! I think it was a bit too runny – next time I will cut back on the milk a bit. Cooked 2/3 of the way the night before, then in the morning let it come to room temp for about an hour and cooked another 20 minutes. Great for Mothers’ Day brunch!

  22. This was delicious!! I cut the butter upon the advice of previous reviewers. I cut it to 4 tablespoons but next time I will use 3 or even 2 1/2 as it still was a little heavy on the butter. That is just my personal taste though.
    My 5 and 7 year old ate it right up and my husband said it was awesome.
    I love love love that it is a potato casserole without cream of whatever soup.
    thank you Lisa!

  23. 5 stars
    Lisa,
    Thanks for posting this recipe in addition your many others. Your blog is a great source of motivation and inspiration for my family and our efforts to eat real food! I am normally not that impressed with potato casseroles, but this was awesome, and so simple – an instant favorite that is immediately going into my rotation!

    As with some others, I cut the butter by 1/2, salt by 1/3 and flour by 1/4. I use regular whole wheat flour, and I believe you use white whole wheat flour, which I think is a little different in consistency.

    Thanks again for putting yourself out there and sharing your life. I look forward to reading your posts daily and love trying your recipes! You are really making an impact!

  24. 4 stars
    This was DELICIOUS! I made a few substitutions to make it even more healthy. I used almond milk instead of cows milk, only used 1 cup of cheese, and used a little olive oil instead of 6tbspn of butter. It was still so good!

    I only gave it 4 out of 5 stars because I didn’t follow the original recipe, as it seemed a little too indulgent. But, another homerun recipe for 100daysofrealfood!

  25. I can’t wait to try this. I wonder if it would be any good with an organic brand of corn flakes if such a thing exists. I have had this at my MIL’s but with the soup and corn flakes. Won’t make it for that reason. Now I can experiment with this as a starting point.

  26. I successfully made this recipe with the following modifications. My family LOVED it!
    2 tbsp butter
    1 small onion, diced
    1 clove garlic, minced
    2 tbsp whole wheat flour
    1 cup skim milk
    1/2 tsp salt
    fresh ground pepper to taste
    1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (not pre-shredded)
    1 pound frozen shredded potatoes**

  27. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for this recipe! Was great for Christmas morning and for leftover meals with the dinner ham. Also have used it for homemade mac and cheese by just omitting the garlic and onion. Love it!

  28. I made this last night for a gathering that was supposed to happen today. I doubled the recipe and was going to cook it this morning. Now the meeting has been cancelled due to weather. Can I freeze this? Should I cook it first before freezing? I would hate to waste all this food!

    1. I refridgerated mine for a few days (before Christmas) and it turned out fine! I just had to bake it for a few minutes longer. If it was frozen and you didn’t thaw it first, you may want to cover it in foil for the first part of baking until it thaws.

  29. I also made this for Christmas morning and everyone loved it. I agree that 6 tbsp of butter was too much for my taste, but that’s an easy change for next time. I made it ahead the night before, baked it most of the way and then finished it off in the morning – worked out fine.

  30. 5 stars
    I made this Christmas morning and my family loved it! I rarely rate recipes, but this was just so good I had to leave a remark. We love hashbrown casserole, but I refused to buy any canned creamed soups. Thank you so much for bringing this treat back to my kitchen!

  31. I made this Christmas morning for my family, and it was awesome! The only change I made was adding panko bread crumbs before broiling. Thank you for this receipe!

  32. I realized after the fact that a Pyrex shouldn’t go under a broiler, as I recall …. So didn’t try to broil it, wanted to not start Christmas morning that way ;) but still looks and smells delicious!

  33. do you know if this can be made a day ahead? i want to make today for tomorrow morning. if you get this will you please let me know – thank you so much –
    jane

  34. I’m not sure if this has been asked already… SO many comments! but could I skip the frozen and just use real potatoes that I shred myself? Thanks in advance (:

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Natasha. Lisa mentioned that she did not have great luck using fresh potatoes. You are welcome to try. One reader suggested wringing the shreds out in cheese cloth first to get rid of extra moisture. ~Amy

  35. For fresh grated potatoes, shred/grate potatoes using the food processor. Next simply spin in a salad spinner to remove excess water (you will be surprised how much liquid is removed this way!). Next, proceed with recipe. A few more steps than opening the bag of frozen hash browns but worth it! Enjoy!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Elizabeth. We do not provide nutrition information on our recipes. We want people focusing on eating real foods/more whole foods and less on numbers. Here are some posts which help explain our philosophy: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2013/01/04/healthy-eating-defined/, https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2013/01/23/portion-size-matters/, and https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/10-reasons-to-cut-out-processed-food/ and https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2011/04/29/mini-pledge-week-8-stop-eating-when-you-feel-full/. There are many tools available online which can help calculate nutrition details for recipes. ~Amy

  36. I love this recipe! Made it for a birthday brunch and it was a huge hit….will be making for Christmas morning as well:). Thanks for sharing such great recipes!!!

  37. I would like to make this with fresh grated potatoes, and also prepare it the night before. Do you think I could mix everything together and store in the refrigerator overnight, or the freezer? Would the cooking time or temperature need to be adjusted? Thanks for any insights!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Amanda. Lisa did not have luck when she tried it with fresh potatoes. I do think it would be fine prepared and refrigerated the night before, but I cannot predict the outcome without the frozen hashbrowns. ~Amy

  38. 5 stars
    This was SO good. I must admit, my 3 year old and I (mostly myself) ate almost half of the pan in a day. I will definitely be making this in the future, most likley this weekend!!

  39. I don’t buy frozen hashbrown potatoes so also curious if I can use fresh potatoes or my favorite hashbrowns…leftover grated baked potatoes (yes, already cooked as I bake extras just for hash browns the next day).

  40. This was super yummy! I found this recipe just in time for a brunch I attended. It was a huge hit! The only dish that was completely finished. I will definitely be making this one again! Thanks for sharing & congrats on the 1 million likes!!!

  41. I made this and my husband said ” it’s better than Cracker Barrel’s!” This is a big deal because he has been difficult transitioning to real food. He loves fast food and soda, so,little by little, I am sneaking in changes. His joke is to ask, before eats something, “is this free-roaming?” So when I told him ” yes, they are free roaming hash browns.” (Ha ha). I expected the usual comments. But……He loved it!! It was served up with uncured, organic bacon, & eggs, for dinner!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hello Olivia. We haven’t experimented with other cheeses. You could try either. Let us know. :) ~Amy

  42. Hi, I have been looking through your page and on facebook for the last week now. It all looks great. Myself and hubby are going to start our own 100 days of real food challenge as our New Years resolution. I’m just wondering about bacon. I dearly love it but live in an area where it isn’t easily available locally. We do have a great brand at the grocery store we have been eating lately. It is natural and hormone/antibiotic free but it does have sugar in it. When I looked all the available brands had sugar. I expect it to be very low though because the sugar content is listed as 0 grams. Would this still be considered a real food?
    Thanks again for all the information and sharing your experiences. We are trying your Jambalaya recipe this week, really looking forward to it :)
    Michelle

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Michele. Anything with added sugar falls outside of the pledge rules but you can use your own discretion outside of the pledge. If it is otherwise a good product, then just enjoy it on occasion. :) ~Amy

      1. Hi Amy! I wanted to share – I tried it in the slow cooker and it turned out great. I still prepared everything as written in the recipe, but when it came time to put it in the pan, I just tossed it in the Crock Pot instead. I left it on low for three to four hours and it was delicious. Great recipe for nights my daughter has dance. :)

  43. This looks great! Can it be prepped/assembled the night before? That would make it perfect for Christmas morning.
    Thanks!

  44. 5 stars
    Can’t wait to try this recipe ,I am a fan of cheesy hash brown casserole and this healthy twist on it makes it even better. Thank you! on my way to check out the Unconventional Kitchen website.

  45. You can use left over baked potatoes instead of raw potatoes. I bake them until they are almost done, just a little firm, then grate them. They hold up much better than raw potatoes.

  46. Just to be clear, when you tried it yourself did you shred & thoroughly rinse the potatoes prior to using? I was hoping to try with fresh potatoes. I recall from making my own homemade shredded hash browns that rinsing is necessary to prevent the potatoes from becoming sticky & grey. Thanks!!! :)

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Kathy. Let us know how yours turn out. Lisa did not have luck with freshly shredded and rinsed potatoes. ~Amy

  47. MC, I use fresh baked potatoes all the time. But instead of shredding, I slice and dice. The taste is amazing because you use your own fresh baked potatoes! Stir em up quick in a pan plain, or with diced onion and bell pepper for a quick hash brown for breakfast or anytime!

  48. Made this recipe last night with half cheddar, half pepper jack cheese and it turned out well. I used the Broiler for the first time (fun) to brown it, and served it with steamed green beans (perfect and healthy side). It’s basically Mac and cheese with potatoes instead of pasta so I definitely like that. Oh that reminds me, whoever was saying they couldn’t give their family whole wheat pasta…. Some brands are definitely better than others. I finally found one that we actually like more than white pasta. I recommend you try a few different ones before you give up!

  49. I’ve read that to use fresh potatoes you first make baked potatoes (in the oven)… cool… shred… spread shredded potatoes out on parchment paper and freeze… when frozen- put in freezer containers for later use. Not sure if it works, but when I have all the ingredients I’ll give it a shot.

  50. I wish I had read all of these comments! I made it tonight with fresh potatoes… not yummy. Thankfully we had a lot of amazing french toast with whipped cream and fruit!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hello Danielle. This was Lisa’s reply to the same question: “I tried fresh and the outcome was just not good unfortunately. I tried them raw, parboiled, drained, etc – it was just not as good as the frozen variety!” ~Amy

  51. If anybody figures out how to make this work with fresh potatoes, post the info!!! I live in Spain, so no frozen hashbrowns… but I´d love to try it!

  52. Lisa, you are a genius! Thank you! I have your pork in the crock pot right now. I don’t think I will make this today, though, because I’m not going back out, but very soon!

    1. Ooops just read that fresh didn’t work well. We live in France…there is no such thing as frozen hashbrowns here…looks delish though!

      1. Sorry Naomi I tried fresh and the outcome was just not good unfortunately. I tried them raw, parboiled, drained, etc – it was just not as good as the frozen variety!

      2. I wonder if you were to grate your own potatoes, and then freeze them overnight. I am assuming that freezing the potatoes changes the structure of them. This would be way more work, but it would be worth it for hashbrown casserole :)

  53. I usually just boil mine and then shred the in the processor. I will have to check out Trader Joe’s again. The last time I checked, they had dextrose in them and then I never looked again.

  54. I am going to try this with brown rice flour, rather than corn starch. I, too, have gluten issues, but the brown rice flour is 100% whole grain!

  55. You can actually use a box grater if you don’t have a food processor. I always rinse mine after grating to remove extra starch, press between dish towels to dry and lightly fry in olive oil and butter. Kind of a pain but cheaper and healthier than pre packaged.

    1. The prepackaged frozen potatoes I found are just 1 ingredient (organic potatoes) so there is really no need to try to make fresh work in this recipe. I tried fresh potatoes and it did not turn out good.

      1. What was the problem with fresh? Too much water in fresh potatoes? Would it work if I grated my fresh potatoes and froze them first? The reason (for me) to use fresh is all about money.

      1. Please let me know if the corn starch works. I am just starting with a gluten free diet and really need some help! Thanks!

      2. Try using the Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour. I use it in just about all recipes that call for an all-purpose recipe. I bet it would work just fine in this one.

      3. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

        …or you can try buckwheat flour. Cornstarch is a highly processed ingredient that we don’t typically use. ~Amy

  56. So much healthier if you use fresh potatoes instead of packaged frozen ones. They sometimes add preservatives and other additives so at least read the ingredient list (Not just the bag front) to make sure they’re healthy.

    1. Susan – I tried this recipe with fresh potatoes and it did not work at all – I found frozen organic hash browns with 1 ingredient to use instead.

    1. Cascadian Farms has frozen hash browns with the only ingredient being organic potatoes. No oils or preservatives! I can’t wait to try this recipe we love cheese and potatoes!

    2. Ditto to Christy’s comment! I don’t buy frozen hash much but I would assume it would have more than 5 ingredients!

    1. Robyn Owens-Miille

      I’ve added chopped ham before to cheesy potatoes. I bet it would be super yummy with some cooked, crumbled sausage.