Real-Food Remake: Celebration Potatoes (Funeral Potatoes)

There’s a recipe that has been used for generations in my family and the families of many that I know. They are called “Funeral Potatoes”. What a morose name.

They are called that presumably because they are a tradition dish made for luncheons served to the family at funerals. They are the ultimate comfort side dish, easy to make in bulk, filling and satisfying. Every family you know who makes this dish has their own twist. Some people add green onions, some people like bread crumbs or corn flakes on top. In our family, we not huge fans of green onions, and we like a simple cheese topping. The dish itself is basically grated potatoes and onions in a scalloped-potato style cream sauce and baked. Traditionally, the recipe calls for cream of chicken soup and sour cream. Simple.

However, some of us can’t (or won’t) have cream soups, which are absolutely horrible for you. When planning my Easter dinner, I really wanted funeral potatoes, which we typically only eat at my in-laws house, and decided I’d do a Real-Food Remake.

The first step in the tradition recipe is to use frozen hash browns. Frozen hash browns don’t turn color, thanks to an additive called disodium dihydorgen pyrophosphate. It is a chemical additive. Because we avoid chemicals, and because potatoes are dirt cheap (a little pun for your Monday Morning), I make hash browns from scratch. The trick to keeping them from turning colors is getting the excess starch off. After shredding them, put them in a colander and rinse with cold water until the water runs clear. If you are grating them by hand, grate them straight into a colander under running cold water. You’ll see in the pictures that my hash browns are white as white can be, no brown or gray to be seen!

To replace the cream of chicken soup, I made my basic cream of chicken substitute sauce. You can use this sauce in absolutely any recipe that calls for a cream soup. I opted for sweet onion instead of the green, ’cause that’s how we roll. Then, I topped it off with cheese. You can use bread crumbs and dot it with butter if you’d like. This recipe is still full of dairy and definitely high on the fat content, but it’s still a step up from a chemical-filled traditional funeral potato recipe. Because of that, I changed the name to “Celebration Potatoes”. It kinda has a nice ring to it.  Forgive the non-professional looking pictures. My family was VERY patient to sit while I took quick pics of our Easter feast, and I left them in a tad too long, your cheese doesn’t have to be this brown. 🙂


1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp seasoned salt (like season-all…a salt-free, msg free seasoning)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp pepper
4 TBS butter
6 TBS flour
2/3 cup sour cream
5-7 potatoes
1/2 sweet onion
1 cup cheddar or colby-jack cheese, grated

Mix the chicken stock, milk and seasonings in a bowl. In a sauce pan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk quickly. It will be very thick. Cook the flour for one minute. Slowly add in the chicken stock mixture 1/2 cup at a time, whisking well after each addition. Make sure you whisk out the lumps. Cook, stirring frequently, until thick, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add in the sour cream.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To prepare your potatoes, rinse, peel and grate them. Rinse them under cold water until the water runs clear. Lay them in a 9×13 pan. Grate the 1/2 sweet onion and mix together with the potatoes. Pour the sauce over and mix into the potato mixture. Top with a layer of cheese. Cover with tin foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes, removing the foil during the last 10 minutes of baking.

REAL FOOD ALERT: Check your grated cheese for additives, it’s better to grate your own. Check your sour cream. Always use a “natural” sour cream. Next time you’re at the store, compare the ingredients of the store brand sour cream and Daisy brand, or another natural version. The ingredients should be “Cream” and that’s all. Hash browns: frozen hash browns have chemical additives.

ALLERGY ALERT: to make gluten-free, eliminate the butter/flour step. Instead, put the broth mixture into the saucepan, bring to a boil. Mix 2 TBS cornstarch with 2 TBS cold water and add to boiling liquid. Stir until thick.


8 thoughts on “Real-Food Remake: Celebration Potatoes (Funeral Potatoes)

  1. Thank you for your blog. I am trying to learn to cook everything from scratch and as I am not a cook and neither is my MOM I need help. I am interested in your basic cream of chicken substitute sauce. Is that the first 9 or 10 ingredients? Is the sourcream part of the basic sauce or was that for the potato recipe? I know this is a silly question – sorry.

    • That’s not a silly question at all, and welcome to the wonderful world of from-scratch cooking! My basic recipe is without the sour cream, just the chicken stock, milk and spices, made with the roux (the butter and flour mixture). I’ll do a post on cream soup substitutes soon, too. Once you get used to making it, it becomes automatic and doesn’t feel like a chore, plus everything tastes so much fresher. Good luck in your adventures!!!

      • Thank you so much for the reply. I appreciate and I look forward to learning from you. Thank you for sharing information. 🙂

  2. We have a brand of frozen potatoes here in Oklahoma called “Mr. Dell’s” that doesn’t have any additives. Also, Cascadian Farms is organic w/ no additives, but more expensive, of course. ;-). Also, grated cheese is such an amazing waste of money, I always suggest buying actual cheese, too.

  3. Pingback: Blog Bites: Four from-scratch recipes to help you save money, improve health /  Webguru

  4. I don’t know if I have really bad luck with funeral potatoes, but I can never cook them right! I love the tip about rinsing the potatoes in cold water, because it worked perfectly- no browning at all :). My potatoes were pretty small so I used a few more than called for, making sure the sauce to potato ratio was maintained. I split up the potatoes into two smaller tin containers to help speed the cooking, but after a full 2 hours & 10 minutes, they were still raw in the middle! I even bumped up the temperature to 375 for the last 20 minutes or so. I’m so bummed! This happened last time I made them with fresh potatoes, too, so I cooked them an extra long time to prevent it from happening again. I guess from now on I’ll have to either use the frozen ones or boil the potatoes before I grate them. Any other suggestions???

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s