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We Went to 7 Drive-Thrus to Find the Best Fast-Food Hash Browns

Who serves the best fast-food hash browns? To find out, we hit the drive-thru.

Hash Browns on a plate with a small dish of ketchupKRISTINA VÄNNI FOR TASTE OF HOME

Finding the Best Fast-Food Hash Browns

There are certain mornings when a fast-food breakfast feels like a real treat on your way to work. Along with a cup of coffee and a sausage, egg and cheese sandwich, sometimes a crispy side of hash browns is exactly what you need. To rank the best fast-food hash browns, we went to several chains in Chicago:

  • Taco Bell
  • White Castle
  • Taco John’s
  • Dunkin’
  • Burger King
  • Chick-fil-A
  • McDonald’s

Along the way, we noticed that fast-food hash browns fall into two categories: nugget style and patty style. We also observed that some restaurants offer breakfast all day while others stopped serving breakfast around 10:30 or 11:00 a.m. There are even some fast-food joints that point out that their hash browns are vegan-friendly.

The hash browns were ranked based on the crispness of the exterior as well as the tender potato center. We analyzed the seasoning, greasiness and ease of enjoyment while in the car. Take a look at our ranking and see how your favorite fast-food hash brown measures up!

1 / 7

hash brown Kristina Vänni For Toh JveditKristina Vänni For Taste of Home

7. Taco Bell

Coming in at the bottom of our list was the hash brown from Taco Bell. This was one of only two patty-shaped hash browns we sampled. Unfortunately, it arrived to the drive-thru window far too greasy for our palate. At only $1 it was the least expensive hash brown in this taste test, so for a budget-friendly option, Taco Bell is the way to go.

Bottom line: If we’re at Taco Bell, we’re ordering a Mexican pizza.

2 / 7

White Castle hash brownsKristina Vänni For Taste of Home

6. White Castle

White Castle serves its nugget-style Hash Brown Nibblers for $1.99. Upon taking the first bite we noticed a mildly burnt taste, so it seems this particular batch was overcooked. However, we were pleased to see that White Castle serves breakfast all day, so your breakfast craving can be satisfied anytime.

Bottom line: This is where to go for all-day breakfast hash browns.

3 / 7

Taco John hash brownKristina Vänni For Taste of Home

5. Taco John’s

Taco John’s sells its nugget-style hash browns under the name Potato Olés. At $2.99 they were the most expensive option we sampled, but they were also the largest portion size. Taco John’s offers a variety of dipping sauces for these round bites of crunchy potato, including nacho cheese, sour cream, guacamole and salsa. Given the portion size and the dipping options, this breakfast-only option feels more like something you would enjoy later in the day.

Bottom line: We wish Potato Olés were available all day long.

4 / 7

Dunkin hash brownKristina Vänni For Taste of Home

4. Dunkin’

In a sea of hash browns with similar flavor profiles, Dunkin’ offered hash brown nuggets with a seasoning blend unlike anything else we sampled. We noticed hints of onion powder, garlic powder, parsley and even some sage! While we appreciated the bold flavor, it wasn’t our favorite on the list. And at $1.39 for six pieces, this serving size was on the smaller side. However, it’s definitely a plus that Dunkin’ serves all-day breakfast.

Bottom line: Dunkin’ has the best fast-food coffee, so if you’re there for a cup of joe, give these unique hash browns a try.

5 / 7

Burger King hash brownKristina Vänni For Taste of Home

3. Burger King

The hash brown nuggets from Burger King combined a delightfully tender potato filling with an outside that was crunchy without being too crisp. At $1.89, they were in the middle price-wise compared to other fast-food restaurants. Burger King hash browns are vegan, so this is a safe choice for anyone looking for vegan fast-food options.

Bottom line: Burger King hash browns are a solid choice!

6 / 7

Chick Fil A Kristina Vänni For Toh JveditKristina Vänni For Taste of Home

2. Chick-fil-A

The hash brown nuggets from Chick-fil-A ranked as our favorite nugget-style hash browns on the list. They arrived warm and perfectly crisp. The hash browns at Chick-fil-A are vegan, so that’s another plus. There was one issue with our order, however. We pulled up to the drive-thru at 10:32 a.m., moments after the dreaded breakfast cutoff time, but we figured it was worth a try. Initially, the voice on the other end said there was nothing she could do and breakfast was closed for the day. Thankfully, a manager overheard our request and offered to fry up a batch just for us. Even though admittedly we arrived past breakfast time, we were so grateful for the above-and-beyond Chick-fil-A customer service!

Bottom line: Chick-fil-A makes the best nugget-style hash browns, served by a super friendly and helpful staff. FYI, this is why employees say “my pleasure.”

7 / 7

Mcdonalds hash brownKristina Vänni For Taste of Home

1. McDonald’s

Earning the top slot on our list is the iconic hash brown patty from McDonald’s. In the end, we preferred the traditional patty style over the nugget hash browns on the menu at so many places. This style offers a better potato-to-crunch ratio given the size and shape. The $1.89 McDonald’s hash brown arrived in an easy-to-enjoy pouch ideal for a one-handed to-go meal. It also was perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of salt.

Bottom line: This old-school favorite did not disappoint!

Kristina Vänni
Internationally recognized culinary authority Kristina Vänni is a well-known food writer, engaging TV host, award-winning recipe developer, and food stylist. In addition to writing for industry-leading food publications, she is a frequent featured expert on national media outlets and has served as a spokesperson and recipe developer for numerous national brands. Kristina is currently writing her first cookbook, an exploration of the traditional and seasonal cuisine from her family's dairy farm in Finland.