Hash Brown Casserole {Without Cream Soup}



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Traditional hash brown casserole (similar to Cracker Barrel), but updated without cream soup! Comforting and delicious, it can also be made in the slow cooker or frozen and made at a later date!

Hash Brown Casserole is one of those versatile foods that can be eaten for breakfast or dinner (or in my case, breakfast, lunch, AND dinner). It can be your main dish or a side! You throw all the ingredients together, pop it in the oven and an hour later, without hardly any thought, dinner is on the table. And the cool thing about this recipe is that you can cook it in the slow cooker! Sweet deal, eh?

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There are so many versions of this recipe out there, and they pretty much all call for the same few ingredients, which means this recipe is tried and true, baby! I’m pretty sure Cracker Barrel is responsible for making this recipe popular. My variation simply takes out the cream soup. I replace it with a homemade cream soup substitute (this can be used with any casserole, by the way!) which does add about five extra minutes to the preparation time, however, it’s worth it.

Here’s what you’ll love about this cheese hashbrown casserole recipe: 1. You can cook it in the oven or your crock pot. 2. There’s lots of gooey sharp cheddar involved. 3. You can make this ahead and freeze it. 4. Your family or loved ones will love you for making it because it is so comforting and delicious!

How to Make Hashbrown Casserole

Here is a brief overview of how this casserole with hashbrowns comes together. For the full recipe including all ingredients and measurements, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  1. Start with the hashbrowns and butter. Mix together the thawed hashbrowns and melted butter in a large bowl.
  2. Add the other ingredients. Stir in the cream soup substitute, sour cream, onion, ham, and 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Bake the casserole. Put the mixture into a baking pan and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese (or more if you’d like). Cover with foil and bake, remove the foil for the final 15 minutes of baking. Enjoy!

Making a Cream Soup Substitute From Scratch

There are many benefits to making things from scratch at home. While it may seem easier or more convenient to just keep a can of cream soup in your pantry, you can make your own cream soup substitute in about five minutes with four simple ingredients. It tastes so much better than the canned stuff and doesn’t have all of the extra preservatives and additives. You can tweak and adjust the flavor to be exactly what you want because you control exactly what goes in it, which is also beneficial if you are cooking for someone with dietary restrictions or who needs to control their sodium intake.

I share the ingredients and how to make a cream soup substitute in the recipe card at the bottom of the post. I share more about the benefits of making your own and variations to add flavor in my post for cream soup.

If you prefer to skip the step of making your own and want to buy cream soup, you will need one 10.75-ounce can of cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup.

cream soup substitute
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Cream Soup Substitute

This is a great substitute for canned cream of "whatever" soup (cream of mushroom or chicken) and perfect for any recipe that calls for cream soups. It only takes minutes to make!
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Making Hash Brown Casserole in the Slow Cooker

The beauty of crockpot meals is how minimal the prep is AND coming home to the house smelling amazing and supper being hot and ready. To make this cheesy hashbrown casserole recipe in the crockpot, simply combine all ingredients and cook in your slow cooker for 5-6 hours on low.

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Tips and Tricks

Tip 1: You may choose to sauté the onion before adding it to the casserole to ensure that the onions cook through. Otherwise, be sure to cook this casserole for the entire time suggested, or you’ll end up with crunchy onions. And who likes crunchy onions?

Tip 2: Make sure you start with thawed hash browns. I get asked all the time, “Do I have to thaw frozen hashbrowns for casserole?” Yes, you do or your casserole will be soggy from the excess moisture. I put my bag of frozen hash browns in the fridge the night before I knew I was going to use them. They were perfectly thawed by the time I needed them.

Tip 3: Shred your own cheese. Anytime a recipe calls for shredded cheese, I always recommend shredding it from a block yourself rather than buying a bag of pre-shredded cheese. Pre-shredded cheese is covered in preservatives that prevent it from clumping together in the bag, but this also makes the cheese not melt as well. Avoid that by taking a few extra minutes to shred it from a block of cheese using a grater. It will melt and taste so much better!


This is a breakfast hashbrowns casserole recipe that can be customized to be exactly what you want. Here are a few ways to mix things up:

  • Change up the cheese: The recipe calls for cheddar, but any cheese that melts well would work. Colby jack, monterery jack, or Gruyere would all also be delicious. You can use a combination too, just make sure the total amount of cheese you use matches what the recipe card calls for.
  • Use different meats: Swap the ham for diced bacon, ground sausage, diced sausage links, or use a combination of meat. Make sure your meat is cooked and diced before adding it to the casserole. Make it vegetarian by skipping the meat altogether and adding some veggies.
  • Add veggies: Diced red or green peppers, broccoli, or mushrooms would also be delicious. Be sure to sauté them with the onion so they aren’t crunchy.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

Store any leftover casserole in an airtight in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat in the microwave or oven until heated through. Remember that leftovers should only be reheated once, so only reheat the portion you plan to eat. Always use your best judgment when reheating and eating leftovers.

Making Ahead and Freezing

This casserole with hashbrowns can be made one day in advance. Before baking, cover tightly with foil and put it in the fridge. This is a great option if you are hosting or preparing for a holiday and want to make it the night before, and bake it in the morning for a delicious breakfast or brunch with no hands on time come morning.

If you want to make it further in advance than the day before, I would recommend freezing it. Put the casserole together as the recipe suggests but do not bake it. Make sure to put it in a disposable or aluminum baking dish (rather than glass or ceramic) to avoid it shattering in the oven when baking. Cover it tightly twice with plastic wrap and foil to prevent freezer burn, and store in the freezer for up to three months.

When you are ready to bake the frozen casserole, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Then bake according to the recipe card.

Other Breakfast Casserole Recipes

Round out your meal with a batch of warm Blueberry Crumb Muffins or Cinnamon Roll Bites. While I call them breakfast casseroles, they truly can be enjoyed for any meal. Here are a few of my other favorite delicious breakfast (or brunch or dinner) casserole recipes:

If you make this hash brown casserole recipe or any of my other recipes, please leave a comment and let me know what you think. I love hearing from you!

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4.89 from 9 votes

Hash Brown Casserole {Without Cream Soup}

Traditional hash brown casserole (similar to Cracker Barrel), but updated without cream soup! Comforting, delicious, and can also be made in the slow cooker or frozen and made at a later date!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes


Cream Soup Substitute Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup milk I used 1%
  • dash of salt and pepper

Casserole Ingredients

  • 30-32 oz frozen shredded hash browns thawed
  • 1 batch cream soup substitute
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1/2 cup butter melted
  • 1/2 small onion diced
  • 2 cups cubed ham
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese divided
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper


Cream Soup Substitute Directions

  • In a small saucepan, melt butter. Whisk in the flour and let cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Slowly stir in the chicken broth, then the milk. Stir until it begins to thicken. Let it simmer for a few minutes. Season with a dash of salt and pepper.

Casserole Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a large bowl, stir together thawed hash brown potatoes and melted butter.
  • Stir in cream soup substitute, sour cream, onion, ham, and 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Stir well.
  • Season with salt and black pepper. 
  • Pour mixture into a lightly greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese (or more if you'd like). 
  • Cover with foil and bake for one hour. Remove the foil and cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown.


Slow Cooker Instructions: Combine all ingredients and cook in your slow cooker for 5-6 hours on low.
Freezer Instructions: Assemble the casserole in a disposable baking dish, I do not recommend using glass or ceramic due to the risk of it breaking in the oven. Do not bake. Cover well with foil and plastic wrap and store in your freezer for up to 3 months. Allow the casserole to thaw completely in your refrigerator before baking, following the instructions above.
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Hash brown casserole

Hi, I’m Ashley & I’m so happy you’re here!

Ashley is the founder of CenterCutCook and a former teacher that now spends her days in the kitchen so that she can share her favorite recipes with you!