Hash Brown Wars: Tim Hortons vs. McDonald’s

A match made in heaven. The ultimate cage fight. Two fast-food companies who’ve been battling it out for years in the coffee wars have now taken it a step further into the potato wars. The title for best Hash Brown is on the line: Tim Hortons vs. McDonald’s.

A Hash Brown — or as some call it “Hash Browned” — is a bunch of chopped and diced potatoes thrown together in a patty and fried up until golden brown. The Hash Brown is usually consumed in the morning with eggs and bacon, possibly dipped with ketchup.

McDonalds added the Hash Brown to their breakfast menu way back in 1972, while Tim Hortons came out with their “Homestyle Hash Brown” in December of 2007. Recently, by intense competition for breakfast market share, Timmies unveiled a 35% larger Hash Brown and decided to go head-to-head with McDonald’s Canada.

McDonalds declares their Hash Brown as being “Golden yumminess” with “That crisp, flaky, fluffy-on-the-inside, great potato taste. A perfect breakfast companion, and irresistible on its own.” Meanwhile, Tim Hortons marketing states their “New Hash Brown” is “It’s crispy. It’s golden. It’s BIGGER!”

Can a Hash Brown really taste better than another? Yes. It comes down to how it’s prepared. McDonald’s, who uses Canola blend cooking oil, states that “The peeled potatoes are then inspected again to remove any blemishes. They then pass through a mechanical cutter and are cut into strips which are then blanched for a few minutes in hot water. The strips are then dried before being cut again into the distinct hash or riced pieces. The pieces are then mixed with seasoning (salt and pepper), cornflour and potato flour before being formed into the distinct hash brown shape. The hash browns are then part fried quickly before being cooled, quick frozen and packed ready for shipment to the restaurants.”

Timmies Hash Browns go through a similar route as their product is “made with real shredded potato that is lightly seasoned and oven-toasted to a golden brown crispness.”

From a nutritional perspective the Hash Browns are similar, but McDonald’s is a bit unhealthier:

Tim Hortons Hash Brown Nutrition (link):

  • Serving size: 54 grams
  • Calories: 130 (kcals)
  • Carbohydrates: 16 grams
  • Fat: 7 grams
  • Fibre: 1 grams
  • Sodium: 280 milligrams
  • Protein: 1 gram

McDonald’s Hash Brown Nutrition (link):

  • Serving Size: 55 grams
  • Calories: 160 (kcals)
  • Carbohydrates: 16 grams
  • Fat: 10 grams
  • Fibre: 2 grams
  • Sodium: 360 milligrams
  • Protein: 1 gram

Both of the Hash Browns came presented in a uneventful paper baggie and look as expected, like a hash brown. They feel light to hold, but if you consume to many you might get a heavy belly. In addition, both Hash Browns measured in at 4.5-inches x 0.5-inches. The marketing behind this potato product is true – they are crispy and golden brown. While the McDonalds Hash Brown that I purchased seemed to be slightly bigger and thicker than the Tim Hortons Hash Brown, the overall look of the Timmies is better. It just had a better ‘golden’ appearance.

Biting into the Tim’s Hash Brown was pleasant. Not too oily and crispy. As for the McDonald’s Hash Brown, this too was crispy — certainly oily — and it tasted like you were eating more potato that the Tim Hortons version. It felt more substantial going down my throat. However, the Hash Brown from McDonald’s also was moist inside, not undercooked, just noticeably ‘softer’ than the Tim Hortons Hash Brown.

The cost is also something to consider. While McDonald’s sells their Hash Brown for $1.25, Tim Hortons is slightly higher at $1.35. This won’t break the bank, but just something to be aware of (money is always better in your pocket).

Overall, both are good choices during the morning rush but in our view we believe Tim Hortons “New Hash Brown” is slightly better.


About Ian Hardy

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I'm obsessed with Tim Hortons. It runs through my veins and I've probably spent enough money downing Steeped Tea's that I could have purchased my own franchise.