Cheesy Potatoes au Gratin – thinly sliced potatoes layered and baked in a creamy, cheesy sauce with a jolt from nutmeg and thyme. The ultimate potato side dish of all time that goes well with just about anything. Utterly delicious and super comforting!
I have never actually met a person who doesn’t like potatoes. Potatoes are perhaps the most common starchy ingredient you’ll see in most American homes. They can be very versatile – from fried to baked, to crispy or creamy – they always make an impression.
And I bet we all do have our own favorite potato side dish.
But today, I want you to forget your favorite and focus all your energy and attention on this comforting, elegant, creamy potato gratin.
What is Potatoes au Gratin?
Potatoes au Gratin is a classic French recipe that everyone loves, and you’ll see why. There may be many variations to this dish, but generally speaking, this potato recipe is made with thinly sliced potatoes layered, topped and baked in a rich, silky smooth creamy cheesy white sauce. It’s the perfect dish to serve during the holidays next to a ham, pork tenderloin and turkey. No wonder it’s one of the most requested holiday side dishes!
Scalloped Potatoes vs. Au Gratin
These two are often used interchangeably ’cause they apparently look the same and almost have the same ingredients (see my Scalloped Potatoes HERE),except for one thing.
In simple words, Scalloped Potatoes is cooked with the creamy mixture before it gets sprinkled with cheese and baked. Au Gratin, which literally means “covered with bread crumbs or grated cheese and browned“, on the other hand, refers to thinly slices of potatoes are layered and topped with that creamy white sauce before it gets baked in the oven.
But for a foodie like me, the name doesn’t matter anyway, especially when it tickles your tastebuds.
What are the Best Potatoes for Au Gratin Recipe?
When making this au gratin potatoes recipe, make sure to use the starchy ones that can be soft without being too mushy like Russet potatoes or Yukon so the sauce can cling well to each potato slice. Just please don’t use any of those waxy potatoes, friends.
How to Make Ahead Potatoes au Gratin?
If you’re a little short on time or just want to make everything ahead before the big busy day, my friends, this homemade au gratin potatoes is the perfect make-ahead Thanksgiving or Christmas side dish.
To Refrigerate: Simply prepare and assemble the dish up until the baking part, then cover it with tinfoil and place in the fridge overnight. When ready to bake, just follow the baking directions below. Moreover, you may bake it ahead, let it cool and cover with foil. And store it in the fridge for up to three days.
To Freeze: Although I don’t highly recommend freezing this dish as there might be a slight difference with the texture and flavor, but yes you may, if you opt to. Let it cool completely before wrapping the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Then store it in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. Take note that consuming the dish beyond that date isn’t advisable.
What to Serve with au Gratin Potatoes?
You know I could make a long list under this, but since the holidays is around the corner, let me share with you some of the best Holiday recipes to go along with this ultimate potato side:
- Pineapple Glazed Ham
- Spiced Roast Turkey
- Pork Tenderloin Roast
- Prime Rib Roast
- Blackened Spatchcock Chicken
More Potato Side Dishes To Try
How To Make Potatoes au Gratin
Preheat oven to 400℉. Peel and Wash potatoes, then slice into about 1/8′ thin slices. Use a mandolin, if desired, for even and fast prep. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and thyme . Saute for about 1 -2 minutes or until fragrant. Be careful not to let the garlic burn.
Whisk in flour until fully combined. Gently pour in cream, and milk followed by , salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bring the cream mixture to a boil and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes, or until mixture starts to thicken. Add about 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup of Gruyere cheese or Jarlsberg or another cheddar cheese and stir until smooth. Remove saucepan from heat.
Grease a 9×13 casserole dish with butter or cooking spray. Place half of the potatoes in the greased pan, top potatoes with the sauce, add the rest of the potatoes and any other remaining sauce. Cover the dish with foil paper and bake for about 45 -50 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
Take foil off of dish and sprinkle remaining cheese over top and bake for another 15- 20 minutes or until potatoes are bubbly and brown. Optional: Broil for 5 minutes more for a crustier and browner top. Top with thyme sprig, if desired. Serve warm.
Watch How To Make It
Cheesy Potatoes Au Gratin
- 2½- 3 pounds (1.1 - 1.3 kilos) potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (about 7 cups)
- 3 tablespoons (42 g) butter
- ½ cup (57.5 g) onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons (16 g) garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons (2 g) fresh thyme
- 3 tablespoons (30 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (120ml) heavy cream (sub with milk)
- 1½ cup (355ml) whole milk
- 5 ounce (141 g) evaporated milk
- 1 ½ teaspoons (7.5 g) salt, or more to taste
- pepper, to taste
- ¼ teaspoon (0.50 g) nutmeg, grated or ground
- ¾ cup (84.75 g) cheddar cheese, shredded
- ¾ cup (84.75 g) Gruyere, or sub with extra cheddar cheese or Jarlsberg
- Sprig of thyme, for optional garnish
- Preheat oven to 400℉.
- Peel and wash potatoes, then slice into about ⅛" slices. Use a mandolin, if desired, for even and fast prep.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and thyme. Saute for about 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Be careful not to let the garlic burn.
- Whisk in flour until fully combined.
- Gently pour in the cream, whole milk, and evaporated milk, followed by salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bring the cream mixture to a boil and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture starts to thicken.
- Add about ½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese and ½ cup of Gruyere cheese or Jarlsberg or another cheddar cheese and stir until smooth. Remove saucepan from heat.
- Grease a 9x13 casserole dish with butter or cooking spray.
- Place half of the potatoes in the greased pan, top the potatoes with the sauce, and add the rest of the potatoes and any other remaining sauce.
- Cover the dish with foil paper and bake for about 45-50 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender. Take foil off the dish, sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are bubbly and brown. Optional: Broil for 5 minutes more for a crustier and browner top.
- Top with thyme sprig, if desired. Serve warm.
Tips & Notes:
- Russet potatoes or Yukon make the best potato choices for this recipe.
- To make ahead, simply prepare and assemble the dish up until the baking part, then cover it with tinfoil and put it into the fridge overnight.
- Please remember that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary significantly based on the products used.