Creamy Scalloped Potatoes
These scalloped Potatoes or more correctly called Potatoes au Gratin Also known as Dauphinoise Potatoes, are a French classic made simply with sliced potatoes, heavy cream, and grated cheese, and a hint of thyme. The ultimate comfort food. They’re super creamy and so utterly delicious that everyone will be coming back for seconds. They are the tastiest make ahead potato recipe that everyone loves. I made these with leeks for a leek and potato vibe but feel free to use onion instead. Serve them with your turkey dinner , Simple Roast Chicken, Peppercorn Roasted Beef Tenderloin or my favourite Roasted Lamb.
What is the Difference between Scalloped Potatoes and Potatoes Au Gratin?
If you’re wondering what the difference is between Scalloped Potatoes and Au Gratin Potatoes, scalloped potatoes are made with a flour-butter-milk roux, and don’t always include cheese, whereas Potatoes au Gratin are made with cream, butter and cheese. Cheese and potatoes are a combination made in heaven. Scalloped potatoes and potatoes au gratin are often confused and most often people think they are one and the same. As a matter of fact I always call these potatoes just scalloped potatoes. In the end the name doesn’t really matter. I will be using the names interchangeably in this post just an FYI.
Why you are going to Love these Scalloped Potatoes/Potatoes Au Gratin
- They take half the time to make thanks to simmering the potatoes first briefly in heavy cream thinned out with milk before baking, cutting the cooking time significantly while also eliminating the risk of raw potatoes in the finished dish. (If you don’t want to simmer them before no problem- check recipe notes below for the no boil version- longer to make but just as delicious)
- Potatoes are always evenly cooked and have a thick and creamy sauce - say goodbye to that watery curdled sauce you get in many scalloped potato recipes
- These can easily be made ahead - perfect for company!
Ingredients for these Scalloped Potatoes
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this potato dish. Scroll down for the complete printable recipe:
- Leek/Onion and Garlic – Sliced leek or onion and minced garlic really flavor these creamy potatoes
- Butter – I always cook with unsalted butter.
- Heavy Cream and milk – for a very rich and creamy potato casserole stick to using heavy cream and whole milk - anything lower fat won’t have the same rich creamy outcome (this is not meant to be a low fat side)
- Spices – fresh thyme, bay leaf salt and pepper.
- Potatoes – russet or any other starch potatoes are a must, sliced into 1/8 inch rounds. For the fastest and most consistent results, slice the potatoes in a food processor or using a mandolin if possible.
- Cheese – Gruyere is the best as it provides flavour and browns beautifully on top. But it can be pricey so for your everyday kind of scalloped potatoes feel free to use old white cheddar or for a variation try Gouda, for a smoky flavor; Pepperjack, for a bit of spice. Always best to grate your own as it melts better – store bought pre shredded has anti caking agent which prevents cheese melting as well as it should.
Best kind of potatoes for au gratin/ or scalloped potatoes
The type of potatoes you use will either make or break this recipe. This is the sort of potato dish where we want the potatoes to breakdown and become soft under that golden cheesy crust, so it is ESSENTIAL to use STARCHY potatoes. The ones I always use for mine are russet potatoes. Do NOT use waxy potatoes (I repeat DO NOT) or the kind you would use for potato salad like Yukon gold. They won’t work in this recipe - trust me I have tried. It will be a waste of all your ingredients- they do not cook evenly and they do not have enough starch in them to create the cream sauce you want - instead the slices will slip around in a soupy curdled disappointing mess.
To Make Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
PREP: Slice the potatoes (I use a mandolin to make it quick) simmer them together with the flavourings, cream and milk for 10-15 min (this is a huge time saver). LAYER: Layer the potatoes sauce and cheese in a prepared baking dish. Top with more cheese BAKE: Bake the cheesy scalloped potatoes until golden and bubbly.
Tips for making the best scalloped potatoes:
- Make sure to use starchy potatoes like russet Potatoes - it’s a MUST
- Use a mandolin or food processor for ease and speed and evenly sliced potatoes
- Do simmer them for a few minutes in the cream mixture before - to cut baking time in half
- Let the potatoes rest a few minutes out the oven. This will allow the sauce to set a little bit, letting those potatoes hold together better and ensuring that every scoop will be saucy instead of all that delicious sauce falling to the bottom of the casserole dish.
More potato dishes you will love:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small leek finely sliced, light green and white parts only (or 1 small onion)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 pounds russet potatoes *, peeled and cut into ⅛-inch-thick slices (using mandolin, food processor or by hand)
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
- 2 bay leaves
- 1½ teaspoons salt, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon pepper, or to taste
- 6 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (about 1½ cups) or white cheddar
- Heat oven to 350°F.
- Melt butter in large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat.
- Add leek or onion and saute until it turns soft and just starts to brown, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add potatoes, cream, milk, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, salt, and pepper and bring to simmer.
- Cover, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain light simmer, and cook until potatoes are almost tender (paring knife can be slipped into potato slices with some resistance), about 10-15 minutes. (Check recipe notes below for a no boil version)
- Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Transfer half the potato mixture to 3-quart baking dish and sprinkle with half the cheese. Then transfer the remaining potatoes. Use a slotted spoon for the potatoes and then pour over remaining cream mixture over top. Sprinkle remaining cheese over potatoes.
- Bake until cream has thickened and is bubbling around sides and top is golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
- Leftovers: Store leftover potatoes in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 days.
- Use only russet potatoes or any STARCHY potatoes for this recipe - do NOT use waxy potatoes for this recipe - it will not turn out as creamy and you will be left with a watery curdled sauce and Unevenly cooked potatoes
For a no boil version:
- Arrange some of the potato slices, edges overlapping, in a single layer on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle a quarter of the cheese over the potatoes, and then pour a quarter of the cream over the cheese. Repeat with the remaining potatoes, cheese, and cream, forming 4 layers. Pour any leftover cream over top. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for about 60-70 min, or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife and golden brown on top. Let the dish settle on the counter for about ten minutes.
- Make Ahead: This dish can be assembled a day ahead; cover tightly with plastic wrap (pressing the wrap directly against the potatoes so they don’t discolor), store in the refrigerator, and bake before serving. The potatoes on top will still discolor a bit in the fridge, but it shouldn’t be noticeable after baking.
- Freezing: Store them in an airtight container and freeze them for up to 2 weeks for best results. You can also freeze them in the dish they were baked in, but cover it tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap.