How Funeral Potatoes Got Their Name and Why They're So Delicious

Show your sympathy with this comforting casserole.

Funeral Potatoes
Photo: The Washington Post/Getty Images

Have you heard of funeral potatoes? They are what their name suggests. Widely associated with funerals, funeral potatoes are a potato-based dish in casserole form—the ultimate comfort food—that is usually served hot at potlucks. It's a widespread tradition to serve them at gatherings held after funerals, hence the name. They're easy to prepare, they travel well, and they feed a crowd, so they're ideal to make for this occasion.

Ingredients For Funeral Potatoes

Funeral potatoes are a familiar side dish in the Western and Southern United States. They're popular at gatherings of the Church of Latter-day Saints and the church's associated Relief Society. They're also served widely and in many different variations. Funeral potatoes accommodate numerous substitutions, but all include potatoes as a base ingredient. Most include cheese, a cream-based soup, onions, butter, and a flaky, crunchy topping, which is usually made of potato chips or cornflakes. Some include additions of ham or other meats.

A dish of funeral potatoes is a way to show your support and sympathy for a grieving family. To make them yourself, you could turn to Ree Drummond and follow the Pioneer Woman's go-to funeral potatoes recipe. The ingredients list isn't prohibitively long, and it isn't fancy either. While it's not difficult to put together, it does bake up into a truly comforting and filling side dish. Her recipe includes a base of frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, which makes the casserole prep even easier. It also includes assorted cheeses, sour cream, and a topping of kettle-cooked potato chips, among other ingredients.

Other Occasions For Funeral Potatoes

While funeral potatoes are a casserole associated with funeral meals, you can make them anytime and dress them up or down according to your tastes. Bring your casserole to a potluck or serve it at a large holiday meal. Feel free to call your recipe by another common name, like hash brown casserole or cheesy potato casserole.

If you're planning to make funeral potatoes ahead of time, check out our tips for defrosting casseroles to ensure your dish is properly prepared and heated, because this dish is best served piping hot.

As for why funeral potatoes are so delicious? We chalk it up to the heartfelt care and sympathy with which they're prepared.

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