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Potatoes O’Brien Are an Easy Classic Breakfast Comfort Food

by | Aug 10, 2021 | Recipes

A quintessential item in the frozen food aisle at the supermarket, Potatoes O’Brien are pure comfort food at breakfast time. But do we have to resign ourselves to the store bought version of this classic breakfast side dish? No, way! This 3-ingredient, deliciously carb-heavy veggie medley is super easy to make at home and well worth the extra time it takes to prepare from scratch compared to the frozen stuff.

potatoes o'brien served with scrambled eggs and sliced tomatoes

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When I was growing up, my Dad would often make a leisurely weekend breakfast that included Potatoes O’Brien. He always made the store bought stuff that comes out of the bag from the freezer aisle. Sometimes we had the name brand kind and sometimes we had the store brand kind; basically, it was just whichever brand was on sale that trip at the grocery store.

I honestly could never tell the difference between who had made the frozen, tiny perfectly cubed potatoes, diced bell peppers, and diced white onion. What I could tell is that they were always a let down. They would smell downright heavenly while cooking, and boy did they take forever to cook!

But somewhere along the way, chaos would ensue in that skillet filled with what was supposed to be potato goodness.

Those cute little potato cubes would turn out undercooked and raw in the middle or overcooked and mushy. Or, in the worst cases, they would turn out overcooked and drier than California in a historic Summer drought.

My Dad always gave his best efforts and followed the directions on the back of the bag to a T. But it was a rare occasion when they turned out as delicious as they looked or smelled.

Even my Dad would be disappointed, but in our family you just sucked it up and ate it anyway.

JUMP TO:

INGREDIENTS    SWAPS    TIPS & TRICKS    HOW-TO    RECIPE

Potatoes O’Brien Remind Me of Breakfasts with Dad

This recipe for Potatoes O’Brien are my homage to my Dad. The guy who would wake up early every week day and make me a hot breakfast before school. I, in my state of uncontrollable stupor, would shuffle from my bedroom to the dining table. Then my Dad, Mr. Mom, would adorn the spot on the table before me with scrambled eggs and toast or a hamburger patty with an egg and slice of toast on the side, or a stack of three pancakes literally the entire diameter of the dinner plate he would serve them on.

Now, this is a herculean feat of any single parent trying to raise a child on their own. But I didn’t understand the big hubbub of why I needed to eat breakfast. Especially so early in the morning (6:30am). And especially, especially because I was not a “morning person”. (Sorry, never have been and at 38 years old it’s looking pretty much like a safe bet to say that I never will be lol.)

close up photo of potatoes o'brien on a plate with scrambled eggs and sliced tomatoes

However, I DID cherish those leisurely weekend breakfasts that my Dad would take the time to yet again try and make those Potatoes O’Brien from the freezer aisle taste as enticing as they looked. It was those days when I saw the love and care behind his actions. Once I was out on my own, I often found myself missing those horrible little frozen potatoes and breakfasts with Dad. So, eventually, I set out to find an easy way to make Potatoes O’Brien from scratch at home.

Potatoes O’Brien Are Actually Easier to Make Than You’d Think—You Just Have to Have Patience

While they still take longer to cook from scratch than the frozen stuff, Potatoes O’Brien are de-freaking-licious when made from scratch. And they *are* ridiculously easy to make, and to make well where they come out perfectly every damn time. Potatoes O’Brien will always be a classic breakfast comfort food in my eyes. I mean, they’re carbs, so they’re basically a winner from the get-go.

All it takes to make Potatoes O’Brien at home is a couple of potatoes (I prefer russets, but waxy potatoes work too), an onion (white is traditional, but I also like red and sweet onions in this dish), and a bit of red and green bell pepper. Oh yeah, and lots of patience. When making Potatoes O’Brien from scratch, they take about three times longer than the frozen stuff. But would you rather take more time and have something turn out delicious or take less time, have something turn out like crap, and then feel like you wasted that lesser amount of time?

My money’s on the flavor and deliciousness, all day every day.

angled overhead photo of a tray with potatoes o'brien, scrambled eggs, and sliced tomatoes

Gonna try out this recipe?

Leave a star rating or review in the comments to let me know what you think!

Ingredients For Potatoes O’Brien

overhead shot of ingredients to make potatoes o'brien
  • Potatoes – I use russet potatoes for Potatoes O’Brien because they have a fluffier, more starchy potato flesh than the waxy variety, which is essential for making the classic version of this breakfast side dish. But this recipe also works well with a waxy potato like a red or Yukon gold.
  • Onion – I like to use sweet onion in my version even though white onion is the traditional type of onion used. Using a sweet onion mellows the onion flavor and really lets the potato flavor shine through in this dish.
  • Red and Green Bell Pepper – I use equal amounts of red and green bell pepper in this recipe. I haven’t had the frozen Potatoes O’Brien in years, but I remember there seeming to be a lot more green peppers than red. My guess is because green peppers tend to be cheaper than the red. If you don’t have green bell pepper on hand, you can just use all red and vice versa.
  • Garlic Powder – This seasoning isn’t a traditional ingredient in classic Potatoes O’Brien, but I always felt like the frozen stuff was super bland. So when I started experimenting with making them from scratch, I was on autopilot once and accidentally added in garlic powder. By adding the garlic powder, it brought so much more flavor to the dish and resulted in me needing less salt to “taste” everything. So, it’s a go-to in my Potatoes O’Brien now.
  • Salt and Pepper – Use these in amounts to your taste. Salt will definitely be needed to amplify the flavors in the dish, but you could skip out on the pepper if you’re not a fan.
  • Olive Oil – Good Potatoes O’Brien are heavily dependent on being fried crispy on the edges early on in the cooking process. This helps the cubes of potato hold their shape as they’re cooked the rest of the way through; it also makes them look pretty on the plate with a golden brown exterior.

Pin this recipe to make later!

graphic for pinterest recipe pin

Ingredient Swaps & Variations

  • Shallot – Shallot is a great swap if you’re looking for less onion flavor in your Potatoes O’Brien.
  • Make Them Spicy – Want to add a little heat to this dish? Add in 1-2 diced jalapenos to the mix for a nice spicy kick.
  • Turn Them Into a Hash – As they are, Potatoes O’Brien are basically 3/4 of the way to being a hash. Just add in a protein like breakfast sausage or some diced ham and you’ve got yourself a hearty, rounded out meal in every serving.
  • Load Them Up With Veggies – Not a fan of meat? Looking to make these potatoes stretch further? Toss in a few extra veggies and you can create a more substantial side dish out of these Potatoes O’Brien. Root veggies like carrots, turnips, radishes, and sweet potatoes are a great option in fall and winter months. During the Spring and Summer months, veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, string beans, asparagus, and leafy greens like kale, spinach, and Swiss chard are in full swing and can easily be incorporated into this dish.

Recipe Tips & Tricks

What to Remember – It will be very tempting to keep turning the potatoes over as you are cooking them. Remember to let them sit untouched for 5-6 minutes at a time because this is key to getting them nice and crispy on the outside. By crisping up the edges of the potatoes, you’ll not only have better texture in the final results, but also help to reduce the chances of the potatoes getting mushy from constantly being moved around in the skillet.

What to Avoid – There are two key things to avoid in making Potatoes O’Brien. Don’t let the potatoes sit for more in contact with the bottom of the pan for too long because if you take too long before turning them, they will burn. And burned potatoes are not tasty. The other thing is to avoid over-salting by tasting the dish as you’re cooking it. Potatoes can handle a lot of salt, but as with everything there is a tipping point. So it’s best to season, taste, and season again if needed.

overhead photo of a plate with potatoes o'brien, scrambled eggs, and sliced tomatoes.

Ways to Use Potatoes O’Brien Leftovers – There are lots of ways to use up leftovers of these potatoes. You could create a breakfast casserole by layering them with some crumbled up sausage, shredded cheese, and eggs and then bake it in the oven. Another option would be to use them as a filling in breakfast burritos with some scrambled eggs, shredded cheese, and salsa. You could even mash them up with a fork, add in an egg and some flour and make potato pancakes with them too.

Recipes That Go Well with Potatoes O’Brien – Potatoes O’Brien made from scratch are so good that they shouldn’t be resigned to just starring in your next showing of breakfast time. They make a great side dish for any protein, especially my Simple, Comforting Smothered Steak with Onions.

Recipe Notes

Storage – These potatoes are best stored in an airtight glass or plastic container in the fridge. When stored properly, they will last up to 7 days.

Reheating – Potatoes O’Brien can easily be reheated in the microwave or in a skillet on the stove. I tend to prefer on the stove top so I can re-crisp the edges of the potatoes.

Servings & Nutrition – One serving of these Potatoes O’Brien is a little over 3/4 cup. This recipe makes four servings. Each serving has approximately 224 calories, 41 g of carbohydrates, 5 g of protein, 5 g of fat, and 4 g of sugar. For the full recipe and additional nutritional information, please see the recipe card below.

close up photo of potatoes o'brien on a plate served with scrambled eggs and sliced tomatoes

How to Make Potatoes O’Brien

Step 1. Add ½ of the olive oil to a large skillet and then add the diced potatoes to the skillet. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top of the potatoes and sprinkle in half of the salt. Stir to evenly coat potatoes with the salt and oil.

overhead shot of step 1 adding potatoes to skillet

Step 2. Turn the burner heat on high and let the potatoes cook for 10-12 minutes. Be sure to stir the potatoes every 5-6 minutes.

close up shot of step 2 where potatoes begin to brown

Step 3. Reduce the heat to medium and turn the potatoes over. Continue cooking the potatoes for another 10-12 minutes, stirring every 5-6 minutes.

close up shot of step 3 where potatoes continue to brown

Step 4. Add in the bell peppers, onions, garlic powder, remaining salt, and pepper to taste. Stir to evenly coat the potato mixture with the seasonings.

macro closeup shot of step 4 where onions and peppers along with seasonings are added to potatoes

Step 5. Continue to cook potato mixture another 15 minutes or until onions are clear and peppers are firm but not crunchy, making sure to stir after every 5-6 minutes.

overhead close up showing onions cooked until clear and potatoes o'brien are ready

If you make this recipe, tag me in your photos on Instagram—I love seeing what you guys decided to make!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can homemade Potatoes O’Brien be frozen?

Yes! That’s one of the many pluses of making Potatoes O’Brien from scratch–you can make up a giant batch and then freeze part or all of it for later.

How do I freeze homemade Potatoes O’Brien?

Simply make the recipe as directed, then get out a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread the cooked potatoes out onto the baking sheet in a single layer and let the potatoes cool. Once they are cool, transfer the baking sheet to your freezer. Once the potatoes are totally frozen through, transfer the potatoes to a freezer safe ziploc bag making sure to push out as much of the air as possible.

How long do homemade Potatoes O’Brien last when frozen?

When stored properly, the Potatoes O’Brien should last up to 3 months without any decline in quality.

Other Recipes You May Enjoy

potatoes o'brien served with scrambled eggs and sliced tomatoes

Potatoes O'Brien

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

This 3-ingredient, deliciously carb-heavy veggie medley is super easy to make at home and well worth the extra time it takes to prepare from scratch compared to the frozen stuff.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lbs potatoes, diced (1/2 inch dice)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ½ medium red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ medium green bell pepper, diced
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 ½ tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • Pepper to taste

Instructions

1. Add ½ of the olive oil to a large skillet and then add the diced potatoes to the skillet. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top of the potatoes and sprinkle in half of the salt. Stir to evenly coat potatoes with the salt and oil.

2. Turn the burner heat on high and let the potatoes cook for 10-12 minutes. Be sure to stir the potatoes every 5-6 minutes.

3. Reduce the heat to medium and turn the potatoes over. Continue cooking the potatoes for another 10-12 minutes, stirring every 5-6 minutes.

4. Add in the bell peppers, onions, garlic powder, remaining salt, and pepper to taste. Stir to evenly coat the potato mixture with the seasonings.

5. Continue to cook potato mixture another 15 minutes or until onions are clear and peppers are firm but not crunchy, making sure to stir after every 5-6 minutes.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 224Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 164mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 5gSugar: 4gProtein: 5g

This nutrition data is provided and calculated by Nutritionix. Please keep in mind that your specific nutritional values may vary based on the brand of ingredients you use to make this recipe.

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Hey there! I’m Krystal, the sassy-mouthed, self-taught, home cook behind the content here at Sweet, Savory & Sassy. I have a deep love for sharing food with people and showing folks just how easy it really is to make dishes that will bring a little extra joy to those you love. There’s nothing like making something special for friends and family and seeing their face light up in delight during that first bite!
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