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)
374 Calories
10g Fat
58g Carbs
16g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 374
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10g 13%
Saturated Fat 5g 26%
Cholesterol 29mg 10%
Sodium 283mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 58g 21%
Dietary Fiber 6g 22%
Protein 16g
Calcium 309mg 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 the cheese topping melted, use Asiago or cheddar cheese, and not Parmesan or Romano, which are hard cheeses with a very high melting point.

You can use any time 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 have 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 entitled “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 grease)
  • 1/2 small bell pepper (green, coarsely chopped, about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 medium potatoes (leftover boiled, or 1 large leftover baked potato; cut into 1/2" cubes)
  • 4 green onions (cut into 1/2" lengths, about 2/3 cup)
  • 1 large clove garlic (finely chopped)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan, Asiago, Romano or cheddar cheese, shredded

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 non-stick skillet.

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