If I order fried eggs for breakfast at a restaurant/diner, there's a pretty standard lexicon to communicate quickly how I want them done-- sunny side up, over easy, over well, etc. Even if I mess up and say "over hard" that's probably comprehensible.

Is there a similar lexicon for hash brown potatoes?

The preferred style here (United States) seems to be "crispy to the point of dried out or even burnt." I'd like to specifically know if there's a term for the opposite-- lightly crisp on the outside, but moist to the point of greasy on the inside-- but now that I'm really pondering it, I'd be curious to know if there's a consistent set of terms for hash browns in general.

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    When did "over hard" become a "mess up"? That's still very common in my experience, especially in the southern US. May 21, 2023 at 6:59
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    @quarague most american hashbrowns are potatoes + lots of oil and salt. you aren't going to get the darker brown crust many prefer without fat. deep frying grated potatoes patties is also very common.
    – eps
    May 21, 2023 at 21:24
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    I'm not so much fixated on the oil or grease, as I am on having them not having all the moisture cooked out of them.
    – Novak
    May 22, 2023 at 1:17
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    And for all the people saying this is impossible, I can very often get what I want if I trouble the server to listen to my description. But since this leaves me feeling a little like Sally from When Harry Met Sally, I only do it for when I'm really jonesing for it. I was hoping for a terse, universally understood description.
    – Novak
    May 22, 2023 at 1:20
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    I need this sort of terminology for bacon. I don't know what it is about breakfast joints, but they consistently undercook their eggs and way way way overcook their bacon.
    – Marti
    May 23, 2023 at 16:42

4 Answers 4


There is not.

There isn't even agreement on what constitutes "hashed browns". Sometimes it's heaps of shredded potatoes, sometimes sheets or rounds or patties, and sometimes it's fried chopped potatoes (which is what "hashed" means).

So, you'll just have to settle for asking for them "lightly fried" or "dark brown" or whatever you want. And good luck with that; usually in breakfast places, there's a pile of hashed browns on the back of the griddle and you get what you get.

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    It's worse than that - I'd be surprised if many diners will cook hash browns to order. Some places might, but unlike fried eggs, it's not common, in my experience. May 21, 2023 at 6:34
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    What might be more manageable is for the chef to select the least crispy ones from the pile (or take them off the heat a little early). It wouldn't surprise me if there were regulars known for wanting the crispiest, borderline-burnt browns and this is just the reverse of that.
    – dbmag9
    May 21, 2023 at 12:59
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    sometimes it's fried chopped potatoes I'd call these "home fries" instead of "hash browns". But maybe that's just me. May 21, 2023 at 16:13
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    Grocery store freezer sections around here carry two broad types of hash (not hashed) brown potatoes: shredded or diced. Shredded can be just shredded potato in bulk, meant to be cooked in a skillet with your own additions of fat and salt, or it can be in pre-made patties, with the fat and salt already in, and meant to be heated in the oven. Diced I've only seen in bulk, either plain or O'Brien (with onion and bell pepper).
    – JPmiaou
    May 23, 2023 at 20:27
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    @FuzzyChef thank you for making me laugh so hard - "You get what you get" conjures up the image of the chef chasing a difficult customer out the restaurant with a cleaver !
    – Greybeard
    May 24, 2023 at 11:14

The simple answer is no, because unlike when ordering eggs or other things that have various levels of cooking methods I have never once been asked when ordering hashbrowns how I want them done.

Of course you can still try, but the biggest problem with what you are asking is that it's not straight-forward to make them that way -- and let's be honest, most places you get hashbrowns from aren't the type of places that can handle complicated or unusual requests.

"crispy to the point of dried out or even burnt.

I'll disagree with this a bit -- there are 2 styles, what you describe but also generally undercooked overall. And this is where the problem lies, at your typical breakfast food diner the cooks are using flat tops with extremely limited temperature control. What you are asking for is akin to a rare steak cooked at a good steakhouse; it has a well developed crusty exterior with barely any interior cooking.

The problem is you are looking for something in between these two and it would require rather specialized cooking (you need an extremely hot cooking surface to get the exterior crisp without drying out the interior) and a good amount of attention to get right. Maybe you can get this at a fancy brunch place. At most breakfast places this simply is not going to happen, they are cooking hashbrowns in batches for multiple orders and it is largely an afterthought while they work on the other dishes.


I think is most often used, but not as a convention, but more universally understandibility.

I say, "Light", "tan or golden", "dark", and "burn em".

Burn-em on both sides is what I prefer for corned beef hash.


It sounds like what you are looking for is hash browns "properly cooked". Excellent hash browns are crispy and golden brown on the outside, while the potato shreds inside are hot, tender and moist. Clearly, you can't ask for "properly cooked" so what I do is look around the room for hash brown examples that other diners have received, and if they look good, I order them. If they look over- or under-cooked, or just a loose pile of somewhat crispy shreds, I don't order them.

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