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Hashbrown casserole is a great weeknight meal, easy to prepare and serve. The fresh ingredients in this recipe will intensify the flavor, so it tastes great from the oven and doesn't go flat as leftovers. Going beyond the potato-y taste and subtle crunch of this dish, here are some tasty variations which are great for Sunday nights, potlucks, and times when you have a particular flavor in mind. Begin with simple ideas, then take on the detours provided after including cheese, fried ham and potato chip or cornflake crunch enhancements. Make them all, then pick a family favorite!

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Get things organized to make hashbrown casserole

You'll need these ingredients:

  • Two pounds of frozen hash brown potatoes
  • One medium onion, chopped
  • Two cups sour cream
  • One 10-oz can of cream of chicken soup
  • Four cups shredded/grated cheddar cheese
  • One-half teaspoon garlic powder
  • One-half teaspoon black pepper
  • One teaspoon salt
  • One-half cup butter
cheese hashbrown casserole D. Homer / Getty Images
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Start with your choice of hashbrowns

The Idaho Potato Commission says that hash browns are typically steamed to remove the skin, shredded and then blanched in water or oil, then flash frozen. Frozen is fine for this recipe -- use diced potatoes, shredded, or chop patties into bite-sized pieces. You may also find "thick cut" hash browns which are somewhat like french fries but prepared as hash browns. You'll need a two-pound bag.

hash brown potatoes bauhaus1000 / Getty Images
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Speed prep with a canned soup flavor base

A can of condensed "cream of" soup provides the flavor base for this casserole. Depending on your taste you can use cream of chicken, potato, cheddar or celery. A single ten-ounce can do the job. If you're feeling creative, and especially if you include some green veggies in the mix, you might use cream of mushroom also.

cream of soup
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The green veggies option

Chopped broccoli or broccoli florets, asparagus, crisp green beans or other fresh veggies add color, texture, and flavor to the dish. They might make it healthier, as well. Make sure the pieces are bite-sized to blend in with the rest of the dish. Use about a cup. Canned vegetables will be a bit bland and soft for this purpose.

green vegetables casserole ingredient MadCircles / Getty Images
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Use fresh garlic and onion

Four cloves of fresh garlic are equivalent to a half teaspoon of garlic powder, and a lot more interesting in the casserole. Along with a medium chopped onion, you've got flavor which goes wonderfully with potato. Seasonings also include salt and pepper, but you can tweak it a bit with paprika or a seasoning mix.

fresh garlic casserole flavor xxmmxx / Getty Images
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Use fresh creamery butter

Butter is essential for this dish. Margarine just involves too many compromises, from the water content to the lack of buttery flavor. If everyone is sitting there hungry and sticks of margarine are all you've got, well... but fresh creamery butter, a half cup, will help give this dish a fresh and memorable taste.

Butter
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Add pan-fried or honey baked ham or sausage

Some folks will look for the meat in your casserole, and there are a couple of great ways to please them. One is crumbled cooked sausage or hamburger, the other is chopped up ham which has been pan-fried to increase the flavor, or thin slices of honey baked ham cut small to blend in. This is especially good when you serve this casserole for breakfast -- oh yes, crumbled cooked bacon works well, too.

fried ham casserole ingredient 4kodiak / Getty Images
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Sprinkle a chopped green onion garnish

Another note of freshness to add after cooking is chopped green onion. Sprinkle it over the top after you've added any post-oven ingredients such as crumbled potato chips. You can also put broccoli florets on top before cooking which will brown a bit but taste great when the dish is finished.

Handful of finely chopped green onions on striped wooden board
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Put a generous portion of sour cream on top

Sour cream goes in the mix, but it also makes a great decoration on the top, or on each serving. It is somewhat reminiscent of chips and dip, especially if you use potato chips. You can combine it with the chopped green onion for a colorful presentation which will impress guests or potluck attendees.

hashbrown sour cream dollop PoppyB / Getty Images
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Serve for breakfast, lunch or dinner

Cooking the casserole: butter a casserole dish and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Melt the butter in a pan and saute the onion and fresh garlic for a few minutes. In a large bowl, combine the melted butter and onion with the sour cream, condensed soup, garlic powder, cheese, potatoes, and salt and pepper. Add optional ingredients like veggies or ham. Mix well, pour into the pan, and top with potato chips or corn flakes if you like. Cook for 45 minutes to cheesy bubbling, then garnish and serve.

hashbrown casserole breakfast serving D. Homer / Getty Images

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