Tasty and Traditional Potatoes O'Brien

Potatoes o'brien in skillet
Brian Leatart/Photodisc/Getty Images
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 2 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
380 Calories
19g Fat
45g Carbs
10g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 380
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 24%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 14mg 5%
Sodium 612mg 27%
Total Carbohydrate 45g 16%
Dietary Fiber 5g 19%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 10g
Vitamin C 72mg 358%
Calcium 203mg 16%
Iron 3mg 15%
Potassium 1132mg 24%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Potatoes O'Brien is a wonderful way to use up leftover boiled or baked potatoes. In fact, you might even consider cooking a few extra potatoes just to have leftovers for this American comfort food. Serve it as a hot side dish with meat dishes for dinner or lunch, or for a hearty breakfast or brunch. 

The dish is basically a potato gratin cooked on the stovetop. The potatoes are pan-fried along with green bell pepper, green onions, and garlic, then sprinkled with shredded cheese. If you like melted cheese topping, use Asiago or cheddar cheese, but not Parmesan or Romano, which are hard cheeses with a very high melting point.

You can use any type of cooked potatoes in this recipe, both mealy baking potatoes and waxy salad potatoes. The potatoes are cut into small cubes and don’t need to hold their shape.

For a heartier version, in addition to using bacon grease for frying, you can also add extra-crispy bacon bits to the dish. For a vegetarian version, fry the potatoes in oil instead of bacon grease. You can also swap the green bell pepper for red bell pepper, which has a slightly sweeter taste than green bell peppers. 

This recipe, a variation of the traditional potatoes O'Brien, is called O'Brien au Gratin Potatoes and it is found in a slim 1946 cookbook titled, “Mrs. Rasmussen's Book of One-Arm Cookery.” It wasn't that Mrs. Rasmussen had only one arm, it's that one arm was already dedicated to holding a beer while she cooked. 

The dish is often associated with Irish food because of the potatoes, but in fact, it was invented in America in the early 1900s. Whether it was in a Boston or a Manhattan restaurant is unclear.


  • 2 tablespoons oil, or bacon fat

  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped green bell pepper

  • 2 medium potatoes (leftover potatoes, if available)

  • 2/3 cup sliced green onions

  • 1 clove garlic, finley chopped

  • Salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan, Asiago, Romano, or cheddar cheese

Steps to Make It

  1. Heat the oil or bacon grease in a skillet over medium heat.

  2. Add the bell pepper and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring once or twice.

  3. Stir in the potatoes, green onions, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  4. Spread the potato mixture evenly in the skillet and sprinkle with the cheese. If you use cheddar cheese, use a nonstick skillet.

  5. Cover the pan and cook 5 to 7 minutes longer, or until the bottom sides of the potatoes are browned.