Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes (au Gratin)
Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes Recipe (au Gratin): This Homemade Scalloped Potatoes Recipe is loaded with sour cream, cheese, and fresh herbs! Learn How to Make Scalloped Potatoes the easy way.
America Loves Scalloped Potatoes
I have made a life of feeding people for the last 25 years. In some ways, it’s like an on-going sociological experiment.
I’ve served exotic dishes, and I’ve served American comfort food. I’ve made healthy dinners, and I’ve made gluttonous meals, and devilish desserts.
It’s interesting to see what unexpected foods draw people to the table, while other dishes (that you’d think would be a big hit) turn people away.
Yet of all these foods, there is one dish I can always count on to feed a crowd, that will completely disappear at any event.
Good Ol’ Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes.
Potato dishes are always a hit, but Homemade Scalloped Potatoes are in a whole different category of attractability.
They are like the Rachel McAdams of food. Everyone loves them… Male, female, young, and old.
Thinly sliced potatoes, herbs, and cheese, all layered in a silky creamy sauce. What’s not to like?
However, I have found there is one topic people love to squabble about when it comes to recipes with scalloped potatoes…
What’s the Difference Between Scalloped Potatoes and Potatoes au Gratin?
Are these two dishes the same thing? Some vigorously argue yes, while others are adamant, no they are not.
There’s actually quite a bit of angst (and even rage) online over this heated debate. *wink*
So let me take a moment to clear things up, to the best of my ability…
What Are Scalloped Potatoes?
The word scalloped is an English term referring to a method of slicing something very thin. It was first used in meat recipes, but later found in English cookbooks for potatoes, and other vegetable dishes.
The original Scalloped Potatoes Recipe is a British creation, consisting of potatoes sliced paper-thin, baked in cream sauce.
What Are Potatoes au Gratin?
The most classic Potatoes au Gratin Recipe comes from the French dish Gratin Dauphinois, which consists of paper-thin sliced potatoes, baked in a cream sauce, with cheese (and sometimes) breadcrumbs on top.
The term au Gratin simply means sprinkled with cheese or breadcrumbs, then baked.
The oldest versions of Potatoes au Gratin do not have cheese in the cream sauce, just like scalloped potatoes. It’s a topping only.
So if you are still reading along…
What is the only real difference between a Homemade Scalloped Potatoes Recipe and a Potatoes au Gratin Recipe?
Cheese. It comes down to cheese. Or at least some sort of sprinkled topping to create a crispy crust.
I cannot find any information online, or in old cooking journals, to tell you which country first baked thin potato slices in cream sauce, but I can tell you, these two dishes are pretty much the same thing.
In fact, many modern British “Scalloped Potato Recipes” include cheese, so there really isn’t a difference.
You can argue if you like.
As the t-shirt states: Haters gonna hate. Taters gonna tate.
(Potato puns are so a-peeling.)
Our Favorite Homemade Scalloped Potato Recipe
There are many methods of making this seemingly simple potato dish.
Some boil the potatoes before baking. Others use milk and flour for the cream sauce.
I prefer to bake raw potato slices, and use a mixture of sour cream, broth, and fresh herbs for the cream sauce base.
Then I layer cheese in, and on, the potatoes. After all, potatoes and cheese are like best spuddies. (Ok, I will stop now.)
The combination of sour cream and broth creates a lovely cream sauce with a tangy note and a lot of depth. This offsets the intense richness of the cheese.
I also use just a little cornstarch to thicken the sauce, instead of flour, making this recipe gluten-free.
You can also use vegetable broth, instead of chicken broth, to make a vegetarian version.
Potatoes au Gratin Recipe Ingredients
For our Best Potatoes au Gratin Recipe, you will need…
- Yukon Gold Potatoes – Or Russets.
- Chicken or Vegetable Broth
- Sour Cream
- Shredded Swiss Cheese – Off the block, not pre-shredded.
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese – Off the block.
- Fresh Thyme Leaves – Or dried thyme.
- Garlic Powder – Or fresh minced garlic.
- Ground Nutmeg
- Salt and Pepper
How To Make Scalloped Potatoes
Of all the Recipes for Scalloped Potatoes I’ve tried, this is my favorite. They come out so silky, cloaked in a thick cheesy herb-kissed sauce!
- Shred – Shred both cheeses off the block. Pre-shredded cheese is dry and doesn’t melt as well. Some even have anticaking agents added then hinder melting.
- Slice – Slice the potatoes very thin. I always use a mandoline slicer to make sure the slices are consistent. However, you can also use a chef’s knife.
- Whisk – Mix the cream sauce ingredients together until very smooth.
- Layer – Stack the potatoes, and cheese in a baking dish, pouring cream sauce over every layer.
- Bake – Bake in the oven until very soft. I like to cover the top with foil at the beginning. Then take it off at the end.
Get the Full (Printable) Easy Potatoes au Gratin Recipe Below!
What Are The Best Potatoes for Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes?
Although some recipes call for waxy new potatoes, I prefer to use starchy Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes, because the starches help thicken the cream sauce.
Do You Have to Peel The Potatoes For Scalloped Potatoes?
Absolutely not. Actually, I prefer to leave the skins on for appearance and texture.
How Do You Cut Scalloped Potatoes Perfectly?
It can be tricky to cut potatoes into perfectly even ultra-thin rounds. You can do it with a sharp chef’s knife, a steady hand, and ample time.
However, it’s best to use a mandoline slicer. You can find them at most box stores (and online) for $20 and up.
Can You Make Recipes With Scalloped Potatoes Ahead Of Time?
Yes. You can either prepare the recipe and bake it later, or bake it, and then rewarm it later.
Prep and Bake Later: You can do this up to 1 day in advance. Just be sure to coat every inch of potato in the cream sauce so they don’t brown. Then wrap and refrigerate.
When you are ready to bake, add 10-15 minutes to the covered bake time.
Bake and Reheat: You can bake the recipe up to 3 days in advance. Then cover with foil and rewarm it for 20+ minutes at 350 degrees F.
Can You Freeze Scalloped Potatoes?
Yes. Be sure to wrap them extremely well with plastic, and then a layer of foil. Freeze for up to 3 months.
When ready to use, thaw the potatoes at room temperature. Then either bake as directed (if uncooked) or reheat for 20 minutes.
Check Out More Of Our Best Potato Recipes!
- Perfect Mashed Potatoes
- Crispy Hasselback Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic
- Garlic Butter Scalloped Sweet Potatoes
- Easy 2-Ingredient Oven Roasted Potatoes
- The BEST Potato Salad Ever
- Duchess Potatoes
- Company Potatoes
Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes Recipe (au Gratin)
- 4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (or russet)
- 2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
- 2 cups sour cream
- 2 cups shredded swiss cheese
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup chopped scallions
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (2 tsp dried thyme)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder (or 2 cloves fresh minced garlic)
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Set out a 3 quart (9X13 inch) baking dish.
- Shred both the cheeses, then mix them together. (Use block cheese and shred it yourself, because it melts better than pre-shredded cheese.)
- In a medium bowl whisk the broth, sour cream, and corn starch together until very smooth. Then whisk in the thyme leaves, garlic powder, nutmeg, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper.
- Use a mandolin slicer, or sharp knife, to slice the potatoes into even 1/8 – 1/16 inch rounds. Make them as consistent as possible.
- Layer one-third of the potatoes in the bottom of the dish. (They do not need to be arranged in a certain way; random overlapping is fine.) Pour one-third of the cream mixture over the potatoes. Sprinkle with one-third of the cheese and half the chopped scallions.
- Repeat with the second layer of potatoes, liquid, cheese, and the remaining scallions. Add one final layer of potatoes, liquid, and cheese.
- Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake another 10-15 minutes, until the top is golden and bubbly around the edges, and the potatoes in the center are fork-tender.
- Let the scalloped potatoes rest for 10 minutes before serving so the cheese sauce thickens a little.