McDonald’s Hash Browns are flavored with beef and include dairy in their ingredients, which is why they’re a no, no for vegans.
Ah, hash browns. A long time ago, before I became a vegan, McDonald’s hash browns were one of my favorites to order at the food chain. Because why not?
They’re delicious, especially when dipped in their famous gravy sauce. But, of course, things changed when I became a vegan.
McDonald’s hash browns are naturally flavored with beef, and although they’re only shredded potatoes, they’re made with milk derivatives too. Hydrolyzed Milk, in particular, is one ingredient that the food chain giant includes in making its hash browns.
Perhaps it’s time to take McDonald’s hash browns off your vegan list if it’s new to you. Let’s find out more about this tasty breakfast meal.
Table of Contents
What Are Hash Browns?
Hash browns are a famous dish, preferably a breakfast meal popular for Americans and British people. They’re made with finely chopped dehydrated potatoes made into patties with onions, pepper, salt, paprika, and other herbs and spices.
Some use eggs as a binding agent, while others would use potato starch to hold them together.
Hash browns are popular among backpackers and outdoor enthusiasts as they can be cooked easily, especially since they’re formed into patties for easy handling.
American food author Maria Parloa mentioned hash browns in her Kitchen Companion cookbook in 1887. These were originally called hashed brown potatoes and described the dish as hashed and browned potatoes.
The version was cold-boiled potatoes fried and folded like an omelet when served.
In the 1890s, hash browns were introduced to the menus in New York City as a breakfast meal. But nowadays, these are already part of every meal, which is common throughout the world.
When leftovers, chopped meat, and other vegetables are made into brown patties, these are commonly referred to as hash without the word brown.
In the southern U.S., hash browns are also eaten with corn, chili, and garlic paired with guacamole and salsa.
The word hash is derived from the French term “hacher,” meaning to hack or chop. Literally, it translates to chopped and fried potatoes.
In the 1980s, hash browns were commercialized by Burger King and McDonald’s.
McDonald’s Hash Browns Are Not Vegan
Unfortunately, McDonald’s Hash Browns are not vegan-friendly, mainly because they are flavored with beef and made with milk derivatives.
According to the FDA, natural flavors can be either vegan or non-vegan. These are mostly sourced from fruits, vegetables, plants, poultry, meat, seafood, spices, and herbs.
For natural beef flavor in McDonald’s Hash Browns, it’s apparently not vegan because it contains Hydrolyzed Milk as a starting ingredient, which is sourced from cow’s milk.
The natural beef flavor is also present in McDonald’s French Fries. So, in any case, both french fries and hash browns by the food chain giant are not great for vegans. Sorry!
For what it’s worth, let’s check all the ingredients.
- Vegetable Oil
- Natural Beef Flavor (Hydrolyzed Wheat And Hydrolyzed Milk)
- Corn Flour
- Dehydrated Potato
- Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate
- Black Pepper Extract
Dextrose can be vegan or non-vegan. But it’s mostly non-vegan, which is another reason why McDonald’s Hash Browns are not suitable. However, it’s sometimes sourced from plant starches, which are considered vegan.
Apart from dextrose, which is either vegan or non-vegan, natural beef flavor and hydrolyzed milk are the culprits in McDonald’s Hash Browns. Shattered dreams.
McDonald’s Hash Browns Nutritional Facts
Besides being non-vegan, McDonald’s Hash Browns are also high in sodium. And although they’re not great for vegans, let’s check the nutrition summary of this famous breakfast dish.
The figures below are based on a 2,000-calorie diet.
- Calories: 140
- Total Fat: 8 g
- Total Carbs: 18 g
- Protein: 2 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
- Sodium: 310 mg
- Potassium: 240 mg
If you notice, sodium’s presence is high enough in McDonald’s Hash Browns. Over time, excessive sodium intake can lead to adverse health issues such as stomach ulcers, stroke, high blood pressure, heart health risks, and more.
In general, you should consider piling up on more veggies and fruits that are rich in fiber and flavonoids to balance your sodium intake.
But other than that, you still can’t have McDonald’s Hash Browns because of their natural beef flavoring with hydrolyzed milk.
Food Chains And Restaurants That Serve Vegan Hash Browns
Of course, we’re definitely living for fast food chains and restaurants that serve vegan hash browns. I mean, how can you be so sad about McDonald’s Hash Browns being non-vegan when other fast food chains can offer you one?
And for that, let’s start running down the list.
- Burger King
- You can imagine the delicious hash browns at Burger King that are vegan-friendly. Also, you can order a vegan burger, sausage, garden salad, fries, Dutch Apple Pie, and French Toast Sticks.
- Yes, we’re lucky about the hash browns at Dunkin’ because they are vegan-friendly alongside their avocado toast, bagels in plain, sesame, cinnamon raisin, and “everything” flavors. They also offer coffee which you can choose vegan milk to mix with.
- And who doesn’t want the vegan hash browns at IHOP? They’re one of my favorites to pair with their sautéed spinach and mushrooms. Yes, I love them!
- You can also have fresh fruits, plain baked potato, grits, and salad with a delicious fat-free or regular raspberry vinaigrette dressing.
- Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.
- Their hash brown nuggets, hash rounds, and fries are vegan-friendly. You can order their Guacamole Thickburger, but ask to replace the bun with a lettuce wrap and without the cheese.
- Taco Bell
- Another great option to have vegan hash browns is Taco Bell. They’re best dipped in their breakfast salsa or guacamole.
- You can also have vegan burritos, nachos, quesadillas, black beans, tacos, a vegan power menu bowl, black bean chalupa, and more. Pair them with your favorite vegan dips and sauces like breakfast salsa, fire, diablo, hot, mild, or red sauce.
So there you have it. You have a few options to go to when the cravings for hash browns aren’t letting you get a good sleep at night.
As for McDonald’s, there’s not much to order from them. But if you like, you can have their Fruit & Maple Oatmeal without the cream and some apple slices. That’s it.
Make Your Own Vegan Hash Browns At Home
If you’re into cooking, making your own hash browns definitely come in handy. I’ve also tried this before, and it’s definitely worth it.
The ingredients are basically everywhere in the supermarket, and it’s easy to do. Check these few pointers below to help you out.
- 500 g peeled potatoes
- 1 finely diced onion
- 1/4 cup chickpea flour or all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/3 tsp. black pepper
- vegetable oil for frying
What you need
- Mixing Bowl
- Frying Pan
- Kitchen Cloth
What to do
- Start grating the potatoes.
- Put a kitchen cloth in the large mixing bowl, add the grated potatoes, then squeeze the liquid out of them.
- Throw out the liquid and put the grated potatoes back in the bowl.
- Add the onions, flour, and seasonings. Mix well.
- Divide the potato mixture into a few portions and form into a flat ball using your hand or a cookie cutter to make other shapes.
- Put the vegetable oil in the frying pan and once heated, put the potato balls and use a spatula to press them down to flatten or form into a patty.
- It will take about 3 to 5 minutes for them to become golden brown and crispy.
- Serve with your favorite dipping sauce. Enjoy!
It’s worth noting that the sodium content in vegan hash browns is somewhat higher than the non-vegan counterpart. This is because of the seasonings and salt used to achieve the umami or meaty taste, especially since we can’t include natural beef flavoring.
After all, we can’t mimic McDonald’s Hash Browns simply because they’re not suitable for us vegans.
However, eating in moderation is always the key to a healthy vegan diet. Avoid eating hash browns almost daily, and pile up on more veggies and fruits.
The Bottom Line
Unfortunately, McDonald’s Hash Browns are non-vegan because they contain a natural beef flavor with hydrolyzed milk. This means that the flavor is made with hydrolyzed milk from animals, especially cows.
But you can’t be that sad. A few fast food chains and restaurants around you serve vegan hash browns. We’re happy about this.
Feel free to order hash browns and other vegan-friendly dishes from IHOP, Burger King, Taco Bell, and more. The list above is a huge help when your cravings go cray!
Better yet, you can make your own vegan hash browns at home and pair them with your favorite sauce or even delicious guacamole. Here’s a comprehensive article about guac if you wanna check it out.
Nonetheless, we’re still delighted that we can still eat harsh browns guilt-free because of other fast food chains that serve them the vegan way!