Do Hash Browns Go Bad? – Full Analysis

by Charlie

Do hash browns go bad? Yes, hash browns do go bad, and they can go bad quickly. If you make pre-packaged hash browns, they will last up to eight months in the freezer. But they are still edible after a few months past their expiration date, if not affected by freezer burn.

If you make homemade hash brown, you have to grate them over a bowl of water so the slices can fall into the water. Without water, the oxygen in the air will affect the uncooked potato and turn them gray. Gray flesh will affect their flavor and appearance.

What are Hash Browns?

For those who live in any other part of the world besides North America, hash browns are a popular breakfast side made of potato and commonly served with eggs and sausage. If a fast-food establishment, diner, restaurant, or food truck has a breakfast menu, 99% of the time, you will find hash browns on that menu.

The perfect hash brown is one that has a crunchy exterior and a thin but soft middle. Composed of potatoes, salt, oil, and seasonings, they are relatively simple to make, as long as you prevent the raw potato from turning gray while cooking them.

Types of Hash Browns

  • Pre-packaged hash browns: These hash browns come shaped and ready to fry from the grocery store. Other ingredients include potato, salt, one or two different oils, natural flavors, and preservatives.
  • Diner hash browns: Much larger than homemade hash browns, their large size can take up a whole plate. They are fried in a skillet and come out very crunchy.
  • Loaded hash browns: Another popular option in breakfast restaurants, these are hash browns loaded with cheese, sour cream, onions, salsa, and other ingredients on top
  • Hash brown pockets: Served by fast-food establishments, these hash browns are small and can fit in the palm of your hand. You can also buy these types of hash browns at the grocery store. These hash browns are best for deep frying.
  • Home fries: As a popular alternative to hash browns, home fries are diced potatoes fried in oil and topped with seasonings. If a restaurant does not serve hash browns, they will replace the option with home fries. 

Ingredients of Hash Browns

Hash browns have three basic ingredients, potatoes, salt, and oil. These ingredients change according to the cook, but these are the basics. Cooks could add an egg white and flour to bind the shreds of potato together and keep it from breaking apart in the frying pan if giving them a distinct shape. 

If you buy hash browns from the freezer, they will have a couple of different ingredients, like preservatives, to prevent the hash browns from going bad while in the freezer. Grocery store hash browns can include cornstarch, flavorings, and other binders commonly used in mass-manufactured food. 

Do Hash Browns Go Bad?

Yes, hash browns do go bad. Whether you are cooking up prepared frozen hash browns or hash browns made with fresh potatoes, you don’t have a lot of time before they turn bad. 

How Long Do Prepared Hash Browns Last?

Because pre-packaged hash browns have several different types of preservatives and binders meant to extend their life, as long as the hash browns are in the freezer, they will last for up to eight months. This is assuming your home freezer is set at 0F. If your freezer is set at a higher temperature, like 10F, your food will spoil faster.

If you take pre-packaged hash browns out of the freezer, it must be used within 24 hours. Many companies that create hash browns do not recommend thawing out their hash browns. Ideally, these hash browns must be cooked while they’re frozen. While allowing pre-packaged hash browns to sit in the fridge won’t cause bacterial growth or make them go bad, the quality of their taste and texture will deteriorate.

How Long Do Fresh Hash Browns Last?

While you are grating fresh potatoes, they must fall directly into a bowl of water. The main reason is that grated potatoes must soak in a bowl of water to remove their starch to fry properly. But another reason is to prevent oxidation. If you grate the potatoes and leave them in a bowl on the counter, the oxygen will affect the potato’s flesh and turn it gray. The gray color will not come out while frying, and you’ll have gray hash browns.

After frying fresh hash browns, they are good for up to 24 hours if you don’t mind refrying them again before eating them. Or else you can throw them away when they are cold.

How to Know if Hash Browns Have Gone Bad?

After cooking the hash browns, whether they are pre-packaged or fresh, you only have a little bit of time to eat them before they are unpalatable. Most people throw away their hash browns after they turn cold since cold hash browns are mushy and flavorless.

However, if you fry them again, both types of hash browns last about 24 hours after they are originally made. But, if they sit on the counter for a few hours, throw them away. You can tell if hashbrowns have gone bad, if they smell sour, and if the potato crumbles apart when pierced with a fork.

Expired Pre-Packaged Hash Browns – Keep or Throw Away?

Because pre-packaged hash browns have many preservatives to last in the freezer, they can last longer than eight months. If you find a pack of hash browns that are more than eight months old, check them over thoroughly before attempting to fry them. If they have no freezer burn on them and have good coloring, then they are probably still edible. If you decide to cook them, cook one as you normally would, and test out the flavor and texture.

However, do not eat out-of-date pre-packaged hash browns if they smell off or they have freezer burn. Also, do not eat them if they are out of date by more than four months.

Best Ways to Store Hash Browns

If you want to store freshly made hash browns, you can do so by not cooking them, shaping each one, and freezing them all in an airtight container. Frozen uncooked hash browns can last a month.

For pre-packaged hash browns, leave them in their container and place them at the bottom of the freezer. Make sure there are no rips or holes in their packaging.

Hash Browns Shelf Life [Chart]

Type of Hash BrownHow Long They Last
Prepared, frozen4-8 months, maybe longer
Prepared, cooked24 hours
Fresh, just cooked24 hours
Fresh, frozen then cooked1 month 

Conclusion

  • Hash browns are made of shredded potato, salt, and oil.
  • There are five popular types of hash browns – pre-packaged hash browns, Diner hash browns, loaded hash browns, pocket hash browns, and home fries.
  • Pre-packaged hash browns last 4 to 8 months in the freezer.
  • If pre-packaged hash browns have freezer burn or their coloring is off, do not eat it.
  • If fresh raw potato slices are not placed in a bowl of water directly after grating, the potato will turn brown, and it will affect the flavor.
  • Pre-packaged hash browns have preservatives within them, so they last longer than fresh hash browns.
  • Once hash browns are cooked, they’re only good for 24 hours.
  • Cook hash browns I still good for 24 hours if you refry them.
  • Do not eat hash browns if they smell sour or they have been left out on the counter for several hours.

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