Creaky wooden rocking chairs. All day breakfast. And cheesy hash brown casserole. If Cracker Barrel was a part of your childhood road trip adventures, then you know the deliciously nostalgic experience that awaits when you order their wildly popular hash brown casserole. Try this vegetarian copycat version and bring that classic breakfast casserole experience home!
If you've been following along with my Weekday Pescatarian adventure, you may remember I have a long history with Cracker Barrel - first as an employee and trainer with the company, then as a fan of their catfish, haddock and nearly every combination of the country vegetable plate with biscuits. I've already made several recipes inspired by the chain, including simple sawmill gravy and fried shrimp.
It was only a matter of time before we tackled a vegetarian hash brown casserole. And, dear friend, the moment has arrived!
This is consistent with the recipe as I remember it from my days at The Barrel. It is simple, involves about 5 minutes of prep, and gets rave reviews every single time.
Let's go, people! It's tasty casserole time!
Ingredients you'll need to make Cracker Barrel Hashbrown Casserole (vegetarian version):
Shredded hash browns: I love making this recipe with a 2-lb bag of frozen hashbrowns. I just leave them in the refrigerator overnight to thaw before making the cheesy hash brown casserole. Feel free to substitute that bag of shredded fresh potatoes in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. The texture will be different than the restaurant, but still delicious!
Colby cheese: Colby looks like cheddar cheese, but has a milder flavor and a much creamier texture. It's the only cheese Cracker Barrel uses in their potato casserole. Feel free to substitute cheddar or your favorite shredded cheese mix. But be aware that if you use all cheddar, the casserole will have a fattier feel and flavor, so you may want to reduce the butter by a few tablespoons.
Butter: I use salted butter but use what you have and adjust the added salt accordingly. Use one tablespoon of butter to grease your casserole dish very well, and the other 7 tablespoons are melted and added into our copycat Cracker Barrel hashbrown casserole.
Onion: Yellow onion is my go-to option for this recipe, but white onion and even red onion would also work. I prefer to shred my onion on the large side of the grater, then squeeze lightly to remove some of the liquid from the veggie before adding to the large bowl of hash browns.
Cream of cheddar soup: You might already know that your local Cracker Barrel Old Country Store hash brown casserole recipe uses cream of chicken soup. To keep this easy recipe vegetarian, we reach for a can of cream of cheddar soup. But you have a range of options of creamy soups that would be delicious in this copycat recipe, including cream of mushroom soup, cream of celery, cream of onion and cream of broccoli. Just one can is the perfect amount for 32 ounces of hash browns.
Salt and pepper: The only seasonings added to a true Cracker Barrel hash brown casserole dish are salt and pepper. But if I'm feeling fancy, I might throw in a pinch of dry mustard, cayenne pepper or garlic powder.
Full measurements and ingredients included in printable recipe card below.
Step by step instructions for making Cracker Barrel hashbrown casserole (vegetarian):
To begin, preheat oven to 375 ℉. Grease a 9x13 casserole dish with one tablespoon of butter and set aside. Then assemble all of your ingredients
Combine completely thawed hash browns, melted butter, diced or shredded onion, condensed soup, salt, black pepper and 1 ¼ cup of shredded Colby cheese in a large mixing bowl, reserving ¼ cup of shredded Colby cheese to sprinkle over the top.
Mix well to combine the ingredients.
Transfer the potato mixture to the greased casserole dish. Use a fork to even out the casserole without compressing the mixture. Top with the remaining ¼ cup of shredded cheese.
Bake hash brown casserole for 45-50 minutes, until bubbly and golden brown around the edges. Broil for the final 2-3 minutes for a deeper brown and crispy topping.
FAQ's and Serving Suggestions:
A popular southern dish called Funeral Potatoes is similar to Cracker Barrel's hash brown casserole. It uses a large amount of sour cream in most versions of the recipe. While it's a delicious side dish, it has a different flavor and texture profile than the popular restaurant side dish, which is a simple concoction of potatoes, cheese, onion and creamy soup. If you're looking for something with sour cream, just google "funeral potatoes" and you'll have a ton of options!
You can, but the texture will be different. Frozen hashbrowns are precooked and shredded, which gives the casserole a more uniform texture. Fresh potatoes will need to be peeled, cooked, and shredded before they can be used in the recipe. Or grab a bag of fresh shredded potatoes in the refrigerated section of your grocery store.
Yes, you can use cream of mushroom soup or cream of celery soup, cream of onion soup or broccoli soup in place of the cheese soup. I love making this recipe with cream of mushroom soup, but the cheddar soup keeps the flavor profile more similar to the Cracker Barrel version!
These hash brown potatoes can be assembled in the casserole dish ahead of time and refrigerated. You may need to add a few extra minutes to the cooking time if the casserole is cold when you put it in the oven.
While it's not included in the Cracker Barrel version of this recipe, a buttery cracker topping, crushed corn flakes or even french fried onions would all be delicious additions over the top of this epic casserole. Keep in mind that fried onions will add a higher salt content to the casserole, so start with ½ teaspoon in the casserole, then taste and adjust from there.
To store, transfer leftover cheesy potato casserole to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, warm in microwave until just heated through, or grill in a skillet for crispy, cheesy potato pancakes.Print