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The Science of Thawing and Refreezing Hash Browns

Refreezing Hash Browns, Many countries and people around the world have their own signature hash brown recipes. Regardless of other ingredients, hash browns are mostly potatoes. The potatoes are finely shredded or diced and cooked in heated oil. Potatoes starch naturally form into patties as they cook in oil, creating a cake-like treat.

Most people still consider hash browns a breakfast food since they were invented in the late 1800s in the US. In the southern US, known for its cuisine, chiles, garlic, cinnamon or cardamoms, bell peppers, and other garnishings make hash browns more tasty.

In the 1980s, McDonald’s and Burger King began creating and selling hash browns as a breakfast item.

What happens to hash browns when they thaw?

Thawing and Refreezing Hash Browns

When frozen food thaws, in this case, hash browns, the crystallized moisture contained in the cells of the food slowly melts and flows throughout the food in the form of droplets of water soaking the ingredients that make up the food. 

The hash browns lose the crunchy quality they have when purchased and when frozen. The soaking wet potatoes will lose their texture and their taste making them less tasty than they were before thawing out.

If you thaw out your hash browns in the refrigerator, the process is much slower and the hash browns may be able to get back that crunchy texture should you heat them up in the microwave or on a pan. They will however not taste the same as the originally fresh item.

If hash browns thaw at room temperature, they will become soggy and that much more difficult to successfully reheat to the desired food quality they came with. 

They are still safe to eat if they have not been exposed to air and bacteria for too long and become bad and smell awful. When this happens, discard them.The non-acidic structure of potato starch allows bacteria to grow quickly during thawing.

Thawed hash browns should be cooked and consumed immediately because room temperatures encourage food poisoning germs.If you change your mind, return them to the freezer. If you refreeze hash browns, know this.

Can you refreeze hash browns?

Yes.  You can refreeze hash browns after thawing the question is really how much thawing they have already undergone and at what temperatures.

In the refrigerator

If the hash browns were refrigerated at 40 degrees Fahrenheit, most of their liquid would still be in the food cells despite no longer being crystalline. Although the hash brown may lose its crunch, it will freeze solid and retain its flavor and texture.

This depends on how long the hash browns were refrigerated. Days are reasonable, hours are fine, and three days is max. Refreezing should turn the hash brown into a tasteless mess after three or four days, making it unworthy of warming. Throw away these over-thawed patties if you can’t creatively reheat the hash brown to make a new potato dish. Fermented hash browns are unsafe for long-term consumption because bacteria slow down but do not die.

If the power holds, freezing kills most germs, keeping hash browns fresh for a month. In conclusion, refreeze long-frozen hash browns.

At room temperature

Thawing and Refreezing Hash Browns

Hash browns frozen at room temperature may leak water. This means that refreezing hash browns will modify their consistency and composition, changing taste and texture. They are still safe to eat if the fragrance has not changed.

While there is no set time for how long they can safely thaw at room temperature before going bad, oxidation of the starch will change the appearance of the hash browns in 48 hours and the smell of fermenting food in 72 hours. After eight hours on your kitchen island, you should eat or refreeze your hash browns because they will become tasteless or unsafe. Refrozen hash browns are safe to eat but not appetizing.


Thawed food loses moisture leaving the food without the succulence it had when fresh or when freshly frozen.

Refreezing solidifies the food back but since the food has acquired a different consistency, refreezing cannot restore the food to its original state. It only stops the food from deteriorating further and losing even more of its succulence and moist goodness.

Hash browns can be safely refrozen but the taste will be notably different.