Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Southern Fried Potatoes

Southern fried potatoes, also known as Southern style hash brown potatoes, or, simply soft fried potatoes, are cubed peeled russets, that are first steamed and then pan fried like hash browns, tender inside, but with crispy outer edges.
Southern fried potatoes, also known as Southern style hash brown potatoes, or, simply soft fried potatoes, are cubed peeled russets, that are first steamed and then pan-fried in bacon drippings to crisp and turned, resulting in a tender inside, but with crispy outer edges.

Southern Fried Potatoes

Literally every area of the country has some form of pan-fried potatoes. For those of us in the south, potatoes cooked with this method are sometimes known as a Southern style hash brown, mostly by commercial producers, because we've always just called them soft-fried potatoes.

These are somewhat similar to my cast iron Skillet Potatoes - a simple Deep South take on Potatoes O'Brien, due to the inclusion of bell pepper (and sometimes mushrooms if I have them), the major difference being the type of potato used and the method of preparation.

Although a lot of folks just straight up fry them, I find that they get a little bit too much of a mushy texture for my taste. I prefer to do my soft-fried potatoes by peeling the potatoes and steam them first before pan frying, resulting in a super tender and creamy inside, while having a crispy hash brown like exterior. The key for my method is that you must first steam fry the potatoes covered.

For frying these, I typically use mostly bacon fat, though sometimes I will use a combination of that with oil or butter for extra flavor. Any one of these will stand alone. You'll need about 1/2 cup total, more or less, or just enough to cover the bottom of a nice sized skillet. It's a very easy recipe to do, but if you've never made them before, I've included a step by step tutorial that'll give you an idea of what they are supposed to look like at each stage.

Super delicious for breakfast next to eggs, at lunch with a variety of leftovers from the fridge stirred in, from beans and leftover meats to veggies, or as a simple side dish starch for any meal. Some folks even like to stir in ketchup just before serving them, but I prefer mine pretty straight up with potatoes and onion.

As always, full recipe text with measurements and instructions, as well as a printable document, are a little bit further down the page. Just swipe or scroll past the step-by-step pictures below. 

There's no secret to these - we Southerners pretty much all make them. We just each have our own way, none of which is wrong. Here's how I do it.

Add your choice of fat - oil, butter, bacon drippings or a combination of them all work well - to a fairly good sized, lidded skillet and heat over medium high heat. Peel and dice regular baking potatoes into small cubes and add to the hot fat.

Finely chop some onions - I favor a sweet onion myself.

Add to the potatoes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir the potatoes and onion to coat them well with the oil.

Cover and steam over medium high heat for 10 minutes, without lifting the lid or stirring the potatoes.

Remove the cover.

Use a spatula to turn potatoes in sections. Look at those crispies there - yum!

Continue cooking over medium high, turning and stirring occasionally, until potatoes are browned. Great with breakfast, or as a side dish anytime. Oh mercy, these are so good!

We eat them all kinds of ways, but the classic Southern way to consume fried taters and onions, is very often with a big pot of some kind of beans, with greens and cornbread on the side. Now that's Southern y'all.

For more of my favorite potato recipes, visit my page on Pinterest!

Southern Fried Potatoes

Southern Fried Potatoes

Yield: About 4 to 6 servings
Author: Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 15 MinTotal time: 25 Min
Southern fried potatoes, also known as Southern style hash brown potatoes, or, simply soft fried potatoes, are cubed peeled russets, that are first steamed and then pan-fried in bacon drippings to crisp and turned, resulting in a tender inside, but with crispy outer edges.


  • About 1/2 cup bacon drippings
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes (about 4 to 5), peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Add enough bacon drippings just to cover the bottom of a 10-inch skillet and heat over medium high. 
  2. Add the potatoes and onion; season to taste with salt and pepper and toss to coat with oil. 
  3. Cover skillet and steam cook for 10 minutes covered, before stirring. 
  4. Remove cover, turn in sections, and continue cooking over medium high, uncovered, turning and stirring occasionally, until potatoes are browned as desired. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  5. Excellent with eggs but makes a great side dish anytime.


I use drippings from my grease pot to make these, but if you have to fry up some bacon to get the drippings, absolutely crumble it and stir it into the potatoes. May also substitute cooking oil, butter, or any combination. These potatoes make a great base for any leftover meats, veggies, or even beans that you have in the fridge. Stir them in toward the end, just to warm through. Eggs are also a great addition. Beat, add to potatoes and let set slightly before stirring.

For the Air Fryer: Toss potatoes and onions in a bowl with the fat (I prefer olive oil for the air fryer), salt and pepper. Preheat air fryer to 375 degrees F for 3 minutes. Transfer potato mixture to air fryer basket or trays, cook for 15 to 20 minutes, tossing or shaking several times. Test at 15 minutes for tenderness. 

Potatoes O'Brien: Add in 1/4 cup of coarsely chopped green, yellow, orange or red bell pepper, or any combination along with the onion. Sprinkle in a little garlic powder.

Southwestern Style: These are great for potato tacos. Add 1/4 cup chopped jalapeno and 1 tablespoon chopped garlic with the onion. When done, stir in 1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt, ground cumin and chili powder.

Sausage and Potatoes: Prepare potatoes and onions as above, except reduce fat to 2 tablespoons. Steam covered for 5 minutes. Uncover and stir in one pound of loose, raw sausage, removed from casings (Italian, turkey, or breakfast sausage) and 2 tablespoons chopped garlic.

Cook, uncovered, stirring to break up sausage, for an additional 5 minutes, or until no longer pink. Stir in 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, or other dried or fresh herbs, 1-1/2 cups peeled and diced fresh tomatoes, juices retained (or one 15-ounce can undrained) and cook over medium until most of the juices have cooked down. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Bacon Drippings, Bacon Fat, Potatoes, Side Dish, Southern Classics, Southern Favorites, Air Fryer
Side Dish
American, Southern
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Posted by on November 6, 2012
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