The Ultimate Freezer Hack Will Transform Your Casserole

Winter is peak casserole season. Sure, we make casseroles year-round, but they’re particularly comforting when they come out hot and bubbly from the oven on a cold night. Think of pulling a creamy chicken Cordon Bleu casserole or a broccoli-rice casserole out of the oven on a night when the outside temp drops below freezing. They would smell and taste like a warm hug, right?

Casseroles topped with potatoes seem extra comforting on a chilly night, but sometimes making mashed potatoes before assembling a casserole is an extra step we don’t have time for. Have you ever considered replacing the mashed potatoes on top of a casserole, or perhaps the potatoes in a casserole with a bag of refrigerated or frozen hash browns? Instead of peeling potatoes, boiling them, and then mashing them, you just need to rip open the package and dump out the potatoes. 

It’s a smart substitution for a busy night or whenever you want to make your dinner prep work as simple as possible. 


How to Use Hash Browns to Top Casseroles

Casseroles topped with mashed potatoes come to mind first. Shepherd’s Pie in all its iterations—Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie, Turkey Shepherd’s Pie, and even Corned Beef and Cabbage Shepherd’s Pie. Switch out the mashed potatoes for uncooked hash browns mixed with the cheese that tops the pie. You don’t have to, but If you’d like to make the hash brown-cheese mixture more spreadable, add a little sour cream or mayo until it’s a consistency that you can spread smoothly. 

It’s really all about being flexible and a little creative with ingredients and cooking methods, trying new things, and using what you have on hand. 

What other casseroles—whether they’re traditionally made with mashed potatoes or not—could work with hash browns on top?

  • Tuna Noodle Casserole: This casserole is topped with crushed potato chips, but the same amount of uncooked hash browns would switch things up a bit.
  • Hamburger Pie: Instead of adding a ring of mashed potatoes around the top of this ground beef pie before baking, add a ring of uncooked hash browns. 
  • Tater Tot Casserole: This ground beef casserole is topped with Tater Tots, which are just as easy to use as hash browns. But you could substitute hash browns for the tots if they are all you have on hand. 
  • Chicken and Biscuits Casserole: Substitute hash browns for the biscuits that top this casserole that has a pot-pie-filling vibe.
  • John Wayne Casserole: Biscuits create a crust on the bottom of the casserole dish for this casserole made with ground beef, taco seasoning, and cheese. A hash brown crust would work just as well. 
  • Grandma’s Green Bean Casserole: Switch out the Ritz cracker topping that’s mixed with cheese and melted butter for hash browns mixed with cheese and melted butter.

Should I Use Refrigerated or Frozen Hash Browns?

Most hash browns are sold in the freezer section, but a couple of brands live in the refrigerated section. If the casserole you’re topping with hash browns is cooked for 20 minutes or less (typically the case when all the ingredients are precooked and then just heated in the casserole dish)—refrigerated hash browns may be the smarter option because they don’t take as long to cook as frozen ones.

If you only have frozen hash browns, let them thaw before using them to top a casserole with a cooking time of over 20 minutes.