Dunkin' Loaded Hash Browns Review: They Aren't Exactly Loaded Like We Expected

Once it strikes midnight on Halloween, and the calendar turns to November, it's goodbye fall flavors, and on to decking the halls, foods, and drinks with the holiday spirit. For restaurants, grocery stores, restaurants, and coffee shops, the planning for the holiday season starts well in advance, and for one particular item on Dunkin's new menu, the buzz was truly brewing like Christmas in July.  Four months ago, one Reddit user jumped on their soapbox to tell the world that Dunkin' loaded hash browns were coming, and "it's going to be one of the ultimate breakfast options of our generation."  

Flash forward to today, and the loaded hash browns are a reality. The new menu item has officially been unwrapped and is ready to be ordered at a Dunkin' near you. So, is this loaded take on Dunkin's "heaven toasted" hash browns (which have been around since 2008) a modern marvel or a modern mess? I braved entering my local Dunkin' during the AM rush/crush to find out. It's okay to get fully loaded in the morning, right? Well, here is our chew and review to set the record straight.

What do Dunkin's Loaded Hash Browns taste like?

I pre-ordered my loaded hash browns on the Dunkin' app and patiently waited for my number to be called.  I noticed a pre-loaded 3-inch cup ready to go behind the counter and saw the Dunkin' employee grabbing a clear plastic bottle with a peachy orange substance in it. They gave the cup several back-and-forth drizzles, before capping it and handing my bowl over to me. 

Hash browns are best eaten warm, so I pulled up a seat, popped off the lid, and looked at what was before me — a pile of brown shades, with that peachy orange drizzle capping it off.  A quick lick of the orange reveals itself to be more of a gluey sauce, than a gooey queso cheese, but whatever it was, it still had a nice taste with a light hint of jalapeno included. The bacon crumbles were numerous, and both crispy and chewy.  What they were certainly not was fresh; they were probably pre-made and rewarmed alongside the hash browns before go time. As for those hash browns, they were lightly crusty on the exterior, but mostly mush within the shell. With a nice level of saltiness, but not much crispiness, the bacon added the crunch it sorely lacked. When the cheese, bacon, and hash brown blend together in a single bite, the result is a decent, yet unremarkable mash-up that doesn't feel like anything new... even if it is.

What are Dunkin's Loaded Hash Browns made of?

On the surface, the loaded hash browns are simply hash browns, nacho cheese, and crumbled bacon. The hash browns' ingredients include potatoes, vegetable oil, yellow corn flour, salt, dehydrated potato flakes, garlic powder, spices, sodium acid pyrophosphate (preservative), dextrose, dehydrated parsley, and onion powder. The nacho cheese is made of skim milk, cheddar cheese, canola oil, water, whey, maltodextrin, whey protein concentrate, salt, and small amounts of beta carotene and paprika extract (colors), jalapeno pepper, onion, dried cumin, garlic powder, lactic acid, mono and diglycerides, natural flavors, sodium alginate, sodium phosphate, sorbic acid (preservative), tomato powder, xanthan gum, and yeast extract. The crumbled bacon is cured with water, sugar, salt, sodium phosphate, smoke flavoring, sodium erythorbate, and sodium nitrite.

The serving size of the loaded hash browns is a single bowl, which contains 340 calories, 22 total grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, a whopping 1,240 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of added sugars, 9 grams of protein, 429 milligrams of potassium, 86 milligrams of calcium, and a single milligram of iron.

Where, when, and how to order Dunkin's Loaded Hash Browns

Dunkin' rolled out its Holiday menu on November 1 at participating locations, which includes the loaded hash browns. They will remain on the menu through the entirety of the holiday season and are available any time Dunkin' is open, and while supplies last.

In stores, the loaded hash browns can be found under the All-Day Bites menu, and ordered at the register, via a kiosk, or at the drive-thru, where available. On Dunkin's handy app or website, they can be pre-ordered for pick-up and can be found under both the Season's Eating menu, as well as Snacks & Sides. 

Our order came to $2.49 for a cup, but the price may vary by location. The loaded hash browns can be customized to remove either the queso cheese or the bacon crumble.

The final verdict

The price point of the loaded hash browns is certainly fair for a morning salty snack and would pair well with one of Dunkin's croissant, muffin, or bagel sandwiches. Where I was taken a bit back is at how "loaded" these loaded hash browns were. Just two additional ingredients to load them up? Maybe Dunkin' should have consulted Waffle House's hash brown menu and made them a bit more scattered, smothered, and oh so much more. Yes, the bacon was plenty present, but once we breached the queso drizzle surface, none remained the rest of the way down the cup. With no real juice left to spice up the brown town, I actually resorted to ketchup to get me to the finish line. So if you do give these a go, be sure to ask for extra queso.

While many of the other items on Dunkin's holiday menu, like the cookie butter cold brew, spiced cookie coffee, and peppermint mocha signature latte, are surely 'tis the season, the loaded hash browns don't exactly feel like they carry the same spirit. This new offering certainly isn't a lump of coal, but it's definitely not as warm and comforting as a yule log burning on a cold winter's day. I'd hold off on this until Dunkin' gets these hash browns fully re-loaded. Until then, Happy Holidays!