I’m always looking for simple recipes to teach my son and his girlfriend and dredged up these easy, Cheesy Bacon Foil Potatoes the other day. I hadn’t made them in ages, and with that first bite, I wondered why, oh why not! I thought maybe you might like them, too. I love not only how fabulous they are but how easy they are and I’m never one to complain about virtually no cleanup!
I grew up on these; my Mom made them all through the 70s and my Dad would toss them on the grill. My assigned job was to take the frozen block of hash browns (and back then they always seemed to be frozen in a block) toss some hot broth on it and stab it over and over with a knife to break the potatoes up. Yeah, that was fun. I always got the worst jobs and it’s a wonder I love cooking! Thank goodness for today’s great freezers because if you don’t have to do that, these cheesy potatoes are easy, peasy!!
About Cheesy Bacon Foil Potatoes:
I found out by accident how my Mom came to make these packets of bacony, cheesy deliciousness. One of our favorite family recipes from the same era was Vera Hinman’s Noodle Dish. It never occurred to me to ask my Mom who Vera was, and I just can’t stand a mystery. It was only recently that I “found” her in a google search, in an article published in the Des Moines Register on June 28, 1970. Right above Vera’s dish was this potato dish, Flo Hopewell’s Foiled Potatoes. Mom must have cut both recipes out at the same time.
It seems these two ladies were great friends and great cooks and both families summered in houseboats moored near Muscatine, Iowa. What a life! I feel our family owes a thank you to both of them! How thrilled they must have been to be featured in the paper – and how funny that 45 years later, I’m blogging about their recipes. 🙂 I’d like to think I’m passing on their legacy to another generation.
Making Cheesy Bacon Foil Potatoes:
These potatoes are so simple and really tasty! Mom slightly adapted the recipe and used beef broth instead of bacon drippings as the liquid. She also always used Cracker Barrel Cheddar, which is a little more intense and a little dryer than your average grocery store cheese and makes them taste like Au Gratin Potatoes. Your average grocery store cheese will be a little more mellow and a little creamier.
And Mom always used frozen hashbrowns, the cube. The Potatoes O’Brien work, too, the ones with the onion and bell peppers in them. I have never tested this recipe with shredded hashbrowns.
Make sure to use heavy-duty aluminum foil, the good stuff in the long package. I just put it on a sheet pan with a generous amount hanging over the edge so I can fold it back over the potatoes and seal. And I make it super easy; I spray the foil and then add all the ingredients right on the foil.
Then just bake and grill! Open it up to hot, cheesy, bacony, steamy (be careful) deliciousness. I usually turn these once on the grill, and start seam side down; there’s less possibility of any leaking action going on because by the time the cheese starts to get melty, it’s time to turn and then the seam is up. In the oven, I just cook these on a sheet pan for easy removal.
The recipe calls for a pound of hashbrowns (that’s about 4 cups, or about 1/2 of a 32-ounce bag) and serves four, about the size we should probably be eating as a serving. These days, we have bigger appetites so you might want to double!
You’ll find the timing isn’t supercritical because these just fine when they’re just done, but a little extra time will make them a little crusty and that’s fabulous, too…of course you’ll want to hit that window when they’re done but not too done! You can make individual servings and they cook in about 20 minutes. If you increase the recipe, you’ll probably want to cook them a few minutes longer.
Changing Up the Recipe:
I already mentioned you can use the regular diced hash browns or the Potatoes O’Brien, but there are lots of fun ways to change up the recipe. These potatoes can be made with:
- Bacon, ham, or no meat. Cooked or leftover Bratwurst (my Midwestern roots are showing!) is excellent. Use your imagination and what you have on hand.
- For add ins, use green onions, regular old yellow or white onion. Try green chiles or roasted and deseeded and peeled poblanos and/or jalapenos. Maybe you’ll want spices or herbs, garlic powder, smoked paprika, or an herb or two of choice.
- The cheese, too, can be varied. Use anything that’s going to melt well, or any combination you like. It’s hard to go wrong!
Well you can all see where this is going! Once you look over the recipe method, amounts, and timing, the sky’s the limit!
What to serve Cheesy Bacon Foil Potatoes With?:
My Mom always made these whenever we had what she called London Broil, which was is on my site as Teriyaki Marinated Steak. Maybe the Asian leaning flavors served with these cheesy potatoes seems like an odd combo, but you can’t go wrong with two things you love!
I like to serve these with anything barbecued. if I’m not feeling something like potato salad. It makes it feel just that much more special. And you can make these with just about anything grilled and it will make it even the simplest thing seem more like a meal. Burgers, grilled chicken, even hot dogs.
Saving Money on Cheesy Bacon Foil Potatoes:
I rarely buy hash browns or any prepared potato products, and if I do it’s for a recipe like this. (I gotta give a shout out to my fave way to make hash browns, Baked Potato Hash Browns – they’re so quick and delish and so cheap to make! They’ll free you up from the bagged stuff but won’t work for this recipe.)
If you’re buying bagged potato products, watch the sales. They’re often clustered around holidays, especially brunchy ones like Easter and Mother’s Day. You might see them in sales where you’ll buy so many and get $ off. Watch for those sales and chuck them in the freezer if you use them, and check out the bags of store or off-brand products, too.
Cheese goes on sale regularly; there’s really no reason to ever pay full price. You’ll find the “fancier” cheese like Cracker Barrel on sale, like so many other items often around holidays. Know your prices and know what’s a good deal and stock up. Cheese will keep for weeks in the fridge, unopened, and can be frozen in a pinch. It will come out crumbly so it’s not great for slicing but doesn’t seem to matter in recipes; it still melts fine.
Bacon is almost always on sale before any holiday! Check out my post Win at the Grocers for links to all the holidays and what you might expect to be on sale. Bacon will often be half price or on some fabulous special so get in the habit of picking it up at a low; it’s an ideal freezer item since it takes up so little room.
Note: Recipe updated May 2020.Print
Cheesy Bacon Foil Potatoes, Baked or Grilled
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Sides
- Cuisine: American
- 1 pound (about 4 cups) of frozen diced hashbrowns
- 1 small onion, finely diced or four green onions thinly sliced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 to 1/2 pound of bacon, fried crisp and diced
- 4 ounces broth
- 4 to 6 ounces cheese
Place potatoes on a large piece of heavy foil, lightly oiled or sprayed. (I like to place the foil inside a rimmed baking sheet; it makes it easy to get the potatoes evenly distributed and folded and makes it easy to transfer to the oven or the grill.) Salt and pepper if desired. Top with onions and bacon. Lightly toss if desired. Drizzle in broth, sprinkle with cheese.
Fold foil tightly over the top of the potatoes lengthwise. Press together sides tightly and fold over. All folds are best done several times and best results are had by trying not to get the foil too close to the potatoes; leave a little space if possible.
If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and bake right on the baking sheet for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are hot and cooked through and cheese is melted.
If grilling, grill over medium heat by placing the foil packet directly on the rack. Best results are had by turning the packet once, and time can vary but shoot for about 30 to 35 minutes.
If packets are larger bake a few minutes longer. If making 4 individual packets, usually about 20 minutes will be about right.
Keywords: Bacon, Breakfast or Brunch Dish, Cheese, Flo Hopewell, Hash Browns, hearty sides, Potatoes, Side, Vegetable Side