What Are Funeral Potatoes, Anyway?

Don't let the melancholy name fool you. This is the ultimate comfort food for any occasion.

If you’ve ever heard the term “funeral potatoes,” you may have immediately turned the other direction. But while it sounds like a somber dish with that name, that’s not necessarily the case.

What are funeral potatoes exactly? Loaded with potatoes, cheese and sour cream, this classic casserole dish is quick and easy to make, and they’re definitely worth giving a try.

What Are Funeral Potatoes?

Funeral potatoes are a classic casserole dish associated with comfort and family. Typically, they’re made with a base of frozen, shredded hash browns, along with sour cream, cream of chicken soup, chopped onion, butter, a variety of cheeses and a crunchy topping of potato chips, corn flakes or Ritz crackers.

Why Are They Called Funeral Potatoes?

It’s not uncommon to whip up a dish for the family of someone who recently passed away. It serves as a kind gesture while making sure they don’t need to go to the trouble of cooking during a difficult time.

Funeral potatoes are simple enough to throw together, and they can be made ahead of time to be easily popped in the oven when it’s time to eat. Plus, with such a creamy texture and plenty of flavor from the cheese, onion, and butter, they’re the ultimate comfort food. Funeral potatoes have been making an appearance at church gatherings or services after a funeral for many years.

Are Funeral Potatoes a Mormon Tradition?

The origins of funeral potatoes are a bit murky, but they are certainly a well-known favorite amongst the Mormon community. Some stories attribute the dish to the Mormon Relief Society, which is dedicated to helping people in need, such as those grieving a loss.

According to NPR, it’s common to see this casserole dish served at funerals, but it’s also popular at holiday dinners, potlucks and weekly family dinners.

How to Make Funeral Potatoes

There’s never a bad time to try your hand at whipping up this dish. You can put together this comforting cheesy potatoes recipe to serve as the perfect introduction to funeral potatoes. Essentially they’re the same as a hash brown casserole or a dressed-up version of au gratin potatoes.

Ingredients for Funeral Potatoes

To make funeral potatoes, you’ll need a base of potatoes whether you choose to utilize frozen, shredded hash browns or cubed potatoes.

Other ingredients on your shopping list should include sour cream, cream of chicken soup, butter, salt, pepper, chopped onion, cheddar cheese and potato chips or corn flakes for your crunchy topping. From there, they can be dressed up with other additions such as ham, bacon or additional vegetables.

Methods for Making Funeral Potatoes

One of the easiest methods to make this dish is to simply combine all of the ingredients in a slow cooker (that’s the method used in this version of funeral potatoes), minus the crunchy topping. Let the potatoes cook for four to five hours, and then finish off the dish by sprinkling it with the crunchy topping before serving.

You can also combine all of the ingredients, minus the topping, in a large bowl. Spread the mixture into a casserole dish and sprinkle the topping over the potatoes. Then, it will be ready to pop in the oven at any time. That’s how our Test Kitchen puts together this creamy hash brown casserole.

Funeral potatoes can also be prepped ahead of time without the topping and kept covered in the freezer for two to three months until you’re ready to bake them.

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Molly Allen
Molly Allen is a previous bakery owner and former event planner. Now, a freelance writer and editor focused on food and beverage, lifestyle, travel and parties, she brings her years of experience and industry knowledge to readers across a variety of platforms.