Funeral potato recipes

In my culture everyone helps out neighbors with funerals. One of the things we do is feed their visiting family members who've traveled far. The most famous thing we feed them is a dish called funeral potatoes. One explanation is that by having a standard recipe that's widely passed around, helpful neighbors don't get into trouble quality-wise or food sanitation-wise. In other words, follow the recipe to the letter, bring it hot at the scheduled time and nobody goes home with food poisoning.


Surprisingly, though edible, this dish is not that good the next day because it dries out (the potatoes absorb moisture out of the soup and sour cream). If you add a greater quantity of liquid ingredients (like sour cream and soup), it may continue to be suitably edible the next day because it was a little soupier on the first day. However, if you make it too soupy, it might be less edible the day of as well as lead to accidents (dressed-up folk dripping product on their finest).

Note that Campbell's brand cream of ... soups come in 10.5 ounce cans. This is what's used and not the big, 22-ounce can.


Roughly one of those low-profile, 13×8 Pyrex dishes.

Basic recipe

This may have been my brother's once upon a time and I modified it.


3 lbs potatoes, grated
1 tbsp oil
4 tbsp butter
1 cup grated onion
salt and fresh-ground pepper
2 tsp garlic, minced
2 cups sour cream
1 can Cream of Chicken® (or other velouté, small can)
1 cup grated cheese
Panko bread crumbs*


0. Microwave hashbrown or other potatoes to cook partially—right in the bag. This will take from 6-10 minutes.

1. Clarify onion in oil and 1 tbsp butter, and some salt over medium heat, add garlic 30 seconds before then mixing in sour cream and remaining 3 tbps butter.

2. When smooth, fold in potatoes, continue to heat. Fold in cheese.

3. Put mixture into a buttered Pyrex pan, 13"×9" and cover tightly with foil.

4. Bake 60 minutes at 325°.

5. Remove foil, top with bread crumbs and brown carefully on middle rack under broiler for 3-5 minutes.

Many can't resist the temptation to strew Corn Flakes® or other horrors on this dish. It's an option, however.

Alternate recipe (my preference)

This started out from an instruction sheet I got with several "funeral" recipes from some church group. I slightly modified it to substitue butter for margarine and add ground pepper and minced garlic.

In my "greater culture," flavor isn't always appreciated, but those of us who've traveled outside dissent strongly from that. Just because our ancestors couldn't find anything to eat doesn't mean we should continue the (lack of) tradition. I would add diced peppers or other flavorful tidbits, however, not if I were going to serve it at an actual funeral.

The clear strategy of using frozen hash browns is that a) it's way less work than raw potatoes and b) it lends enhanced and desired texture to the result. This is no idle claim I assure you.


32 oz frozen hash browns
2 cans Cream of Chicken® or Mushroom® (or other velouté, the smaller cans)
1 stick salted butter
fresh-ground black pepper
1 pint sour cream
1½ cups grated cheddar cheese
1 large onion, fine-chopped or grated
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
Panko bread crumbs


1. Briefly microwave hash browns right in the bag to thaw. This should take 6-10 minutes.

2. Mix all ingredients (except the Panko crumbs) in a large bowl.

3. Layer all into a 13"×9" baking dish (Pyrex or other). Cover with foil.

4. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes. About 10 minutes before it's finished, sprinkle the Panko crumbs on top.

Note: if you find that the onion didn't mostly disappear as merely aromatic during the bake, you might clarify it before step #1.