cheesy potato casserole in pan

Hash browns, a dish made of fried shredded potatoes that are either eaten as-is or else pressed into patties, are an excellent accompaniment to eggs and bacon, there’s no denying that. One pioneering breakfast chain, however, decided that this humble breakfast side could be leveled up into something approaching an entrée for the morning meal, and thus was born the popular Cracker Barrel hash brown casserole. "I believe the Cracker Barrel Hash Brown casserole is where this dish got its popularity from," recipe developer Cecilia Ryu explains. While she tells us that her version isn’t intended as an exact duplicate of the restaurant’s casserole, she does say, "The ingredients are very similar, as with all hash brown casserole recipes." She describes the resulting dish as "the epitome of comfort food … cheesy and creamy and absolutely delicious."

Although there is no secret ingredient in this casserole, you may wonder about one common staple that is not found on the ingredients list. Why no salt? Is this meant to be a low-sodium casserole? No, there is cream of chicken soup in this recipe, something that Ryu says "is salty enough to season the dish without any added salt." So you can expect lots of savory, salty, and cheesy flavors with this casserole!

Gather the ingredients for the hash brown casserole

ingredients for hash brown casserole

To make this casserole, you’ll be using frozen hash browns — not the patties, but the kind that are still in loose shreds. You will also need a can of that popular pantry staple, cream of chicken soup, along with sour cream, cheddar cheese, butter, pepper, and an onion. Optionally, you can also garnish the dish with chopped chives.

If you want to make a few tweaks to the recipe, Ryu says, "You can definitely switch the cheeses," suggesting Monterey jack, pepper jack, Colby jack, or even a blend of cheeses.

Prepare the equipment and ingredients

melted butter in glass bowl

Begin cooking by preheating the oven to 350 F, then use a tablespoon of the butter to grease a 9×13-inch pan. Melt the rest of the butter, then shred the cheese if you didn’t buy the pre-shredded kind. You’ll also need to peel and chop the onion.

Combine the casserole ingredients

hash brown casserole mixture

Mix the hash browns with the melted butter along with the soup, sour cream, chopped onion, pepper, and a cup of the shredded cheese. Stir the mixture to break up any lumps, then pour it into the buttered pan. Scatter the remaining cheese over the top.

Bake the casserole

cheesy potato casserole in pan

Cook the casserole for 50 minutes or until the filling starts bubbling and the top looks golden brown. Once it comes out of the oven, you can garnish it with chopped chives if you wish. While Ryu says the garnish is optional, she does feel "the chives compliment the dish very well," and their freshness helps cut some of that creaminess. She says scallions or parsley would work, too, or you could just skip the topping altogether.

Should you have leftover hash brown casserole, you can keep it in the fridge and reheat it in the microwave or oven. You can also freeze individual portions for later use.