Are Aldi's Hash Browns Really A McDonald's Copycat? We Put The 2 To The Test

When a McDonald's Egg McMuffin breakfast combo will run you almost $10, but a 20-pack of Aldi hash browns only costs about $5, there's a pretty good reason to consider making breakfast at home. However, this argument only stands if the bargain Aldi option actually delivers the same distinct golden-arched flavor.

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You might be thinking, "Well, there's hundreds of brands of hash browns on the market. What makes Aldi's the closest dupe?" According to former McDonald's corporate chef and current TikTok creator Mike Haracz, Aldi's Season's Choice-brand hash browns have the closest match of listed ingredients to McDonald's recipe for its hash browns.

Despite the two hash browns' ingredients lists matching up, though, McDonald's might have one special twist that just can't be duplicated. With the McDonald's app locked and loaded in one hand and a reusable Aldi grocery bag in the other, I set out to see if the bargain grocery version stacks up to the drive-thru icon.

What's the difference between Aldi's hash browns and McDonald's?

As Mike Haracz notes in his TikTok, Aldi's ingredients for its hash browns are almost identical to McDonald's. Both hash browns contain the following ingredients: potatoes, vegetable oil that includes canola oil and soybean oil, salt, corn flour, dehydrated potato or potato flakes, dextrose, and sodium acid pyrophosphate, aka disodium dihydrogen pyrophosphate, to maintain color.

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However, Haracz notes that a key aspect missing from Aldi's hash browns is a crucial step in McDonald's cooking process: Like its iconic french fries, McDonald's cooks its hash browns in an oil that contains beef flavoring, which is not something most people have on hand in their home kitchens.

In addition to the discrepancy with the frying oil, the shape and texture of the two hash browns are different when tested side by side. Aldi's hash browns are slightly larger than McDonald's and have a more rectangular shape, whereas McDonald's hash browns are smaller and look more like ovals. Plus, since McDonald's hash browns have the perk of being cooked in a professional-grade kitchen fryer and not on a pan in my kitchen, they are much more crispy, with a perfect golden color.

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Are Aldi's hash browns a copycat of McDonald's hash browns?

Obviously, the lack of beef fat is what truly sullies this potential dupe. The makeup of Aldi's hash browns may be identical to McDonald's, but without that key beef flavoring in the frying oil, the comparison falls flat. Recreating McDonald's hash brown is just impossible without that beef flavor.

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The Aldi hash brown is salted well and tastes like your average fried potato patty, but one of the downsides to cooking it at home is that it comes out a bit soggy. Someone with an air fryer might have better luck making it crispy like a McDonald's hash brown. Outside of the sogginess, the hash brown tastes just fine, nothing too special or unique about its flavor.

Aldi sells a perfectly good set of hash browns to make at home, but they're no McDonald's hash browns. This copycat does not live up to the original, and it would take some serious hot oil chemistry to make it work. Although, now I have 19 remaining hash browns for less than the price of one McDonald's combo meal, and, really, who can be mad at that?

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