What are Home Fries?

wiseGEEK Writer

Home fries are delicious skillet fried potatoes, sometimes called hash browns when the potatoes are shredded first. There are actually many suggestions on what home fries are and aren’t. Usually, they refer to skillet fried cubed potatoes that may be precooked. They may have additions of green onion, peppers, and a variety of seasonings. They’re typically served as a breakfast food in both the US and in the UK.

Occasionally, gold potatoes are used to make home fries.
Occasionally, gold potatoes are used to make home fries.

There are a lot of different ways to make this dish, but virtually all agree that they begin with russet potatoes. There are a few sweet potato or yam home fry recipes, though these are much less common. Most suggest the russet potato is the best choice, yet on occasion you’ll see small baby red or gold potatoes used instead. This will result in a sweeter home fries.

Home fries are made from potatoes.
Home fries are made from potatoes.

Some recipes suggest you first prepare potatoes by cubing them and boiling them until they are tender; you can do this the night before and refrigerate the potatoes. If you plan to make the hash brown version of home fries, you usually merely peel and then grate the potatoes into strips, without cooking them. Most people do see hash browns as distinctly different from home fries. You can choose to peel or not peel the potatoes when they’re cubed or chunked. The peels do provide a little extra crunch. Just be sure to thoroughly wash potatoes first if you plan to serve them unpeeled.

Boiling the potatoes first does reduce cooking time, since you don’t need to worry about the potato being thoroughly cooked. Instead you just have to get them hot and crispy. They’re usually pan-fried (cast iron skillets are preferred) in a little bit of butter. You can add another oil to the butter to keep it from burning. When the potatoes are pre-cooked, it takes only about 7-10 minutes to make home fries. It will take between 10-20 minutes to prepare them if they are not pre-cooked.

Making this dish from leftover boiled, or even baked potatoes is quite easy. With baked potatoes, just open the potato and invert the peels to get out potato chunks. Simply slice or chunk boiled potatoes. This can be a terrific way to make use of leftover potatoes, adding extra pizazz to breakfast the next day. Of course, home fries don’t have to be for breakfast only. They’re a good substitute for French fries, or serve them with a ham steak for dinner. You can also use leftover fries in omelets.

You can add wonderful flavor to a home fry recipe with a bit of chopped green onion, or by first sautéing white or yellow onion until it caramelizes. Once onion slices are caramelized, add in your potatoes. Also consider adding red or green bell pepper, a little grated cheese to the top of home fries after they’re cooked, or add other vegetables like mushrooms or slices of zucchini. Though this dish is simple, there are plenty of ways to increase its appeal by adding other ingredients.

Home fries are created using a skillet.
Home fries are created using a skillet.

Discussion Comments


My dad used to make home fries out of leftover french fries we had from the day before. He would chop onion and then saute it in a skillet, then add the cold fries, sort of chopping them up with the spatula. They were always so good.

His favorite way to have them was with thin breakfast steak and eggs. He would cook the potatoes in the same skillet the steak had been fried in, so they had that good beefsteak flavor. We always looked forward to days when there were leftover french fries. We knew breakfast would be great.


Home fries are more popular out west than they are in the Southeast, where I live. On my trips west, I always make sure I get at least one plate of home fries. Some of the best I've ever had were at a little place called "Coffee &" in Truckee, California. They had an awesome breakfast, and their home fries were fantastic. Just the way to start a chilly day of sightseeing and walking around in the town.

My home fries are all right, but I'd like to know the secret of the ones I had in Truckee. They really were superior.

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