Creamy Au Gratin Potatoes

When your main dish recipe needs a decadent side dish sidekick, there’s nothing like a creamy, thyme-infused cheesy, easy potatoes au gratin recipe to do the job, and to do it easily too.

Au Gratin Potatoes Baked foodiecrush.comAu Gratin Potatoes Baked foodiecrush.com

The BEST Au Gratin Potatoes Recipe

There are few side dishes that are more comforting than those made with potatoes. Creamy mashed potatoes. Buttery parsley potatoes. The best potato salad ever. Smashed, twice baked, and roasted potatoes, and so many more. But au gratin potatoes hold a special place in my food loving heart.

These cheesy au gratin potatoes are creamy but crispy, and no matter how you slice, spoon, or stack them, they fit in just right alongside any dinner, whether it’s the best steak or simple garlic burgers.

Creamy on the inside with crisped bites along the edges, these potatoes au gratin don’t call for a floured roux or canned soup. Instead, the potatoes and creamy broth combine and do that creamy thing they do so well.

potatoes au gratin ingredients on marble counterpotatoes au gratin ingredients on marble counter

What’s the Difference Between Au Gratin Potatoes vs Scalloped Potatoes?

What is the difference between au gratin potatoes and scalloped potatoes? Home cooks want to know! The answer is: not much.

At this stage of evolution in the potato-side-dish-making-game the two are mostly interchangeable with mostly the same ingredients.

The distinguishing characteristics of both au gratin and scalloped potato recipes are:

  • Creamy potatoes are stacked and cooked in a shallow dish.
  • Said potatoes are topped with a delicious crust of cheese, or bread crumbs, or other gratin-styled crisp.
  • Au gratin potatoes are layered with cheese where scalloped usually have cheese only on top. Naturally, I add cheese everywhere.

Au Gratin Potatoes prep foodiecrush.comAu Gratin Potatoes prep foodiecrush.com

What’s in Easy Potatoes au Gratin?

These easy au gratin potatoes require very few ingredients to achieve their perfectly creamy, cheesy flavor. The potatoes au gratin ingredients you’ll need for this recipe are:

  • Butter
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • Heavy cream, half and half, or whole milk
  • Chicken broth
  • Potatoes, either Yukon golds or russets
  • Bay leaves
  • Gruyere cheese
  • Parmesan cheese

how to make potatoes au gratinhow to make potatoes au gratin

What Are the Best Potatoes for Au Gratin Potatoes?

Au gratin potatoes call for a sturdy potato that layers well and holds its shape after baking.

Yukon gold or russet potatoes are the best potatoes for au gratin potatoes. As the potatoes cook in the cream, their starches thicken the creamy sauce.

Do you peel the potatoes first? If I’m using thin-skinned Yukon gold potatoes, I don’t bother peeling the raw potatoes. If using russets, because of their thick skin, I will peel them before cooking.

The Best Cheese for Au Gratin Potatoes

Classically, the best cheeses for au gratin potatoes are Parmesan cheese, which adds a salty bite, and shredded gruyere that melts like a dream and adds an earthy, nutty flavor. Many Americanized versions of scalloped potatoes call for cheddar cheese instead.

making homemade au gratin potatoesmaking homemade au gratin potatoes

How to Make Au Gratin Potatoes

There are a few simple steps I follow every time I make au gratin or scalloped potatoes, and then there are a few steps where I just let it be what it is depending on what’s in the fridge at the time. For example, in my book all cheese is good cheese for a gratin. But first…

The potatoes. To slice the potatoes, I use my favorite hand-held mandoline to keep them uniformly 1/8-inch thick (using the #2 setting). Avoid rinsing or soaking the potatoes in water, which will rinse away the starches that help thicken the sauce. Again, if using thin-skinned Yukon gold potatoes, there’s no need for peeling before cooking.

If you don’t have a mandoline, do your best to slice the potatoes as thinly and evenly as possible. It’ll take more time to do it all by hand, but don’t try to rush it. Trust me, these potatoes au gratin are worth the extra effort.

Au Gratin Potatoes on stove foodiecrush.comAu Gratin Potatoes on stove foodiecrush.com

The creamy situation. Just like in my Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes recipe, I use a combination of cream and chicken broth that have been infused with flavor of garlic and sautéed onion. The chicken broth loosens the cream a bit so it isn’t so cloying and clumpy.

Sauté the onion first, or, make it even faster by layering it with the potatoes. For an even quicker bake, sometimes I thinly slice the onion and layer it with the potatoes instead of cooking it first in the sauce. The onion cooks just right.

Cooking the potatoes in the creamy mixture on the stove top gives them a head start before hitting the oven. Cooking the potatoes in the cream mixture releases their natural starches, and thickens the sauce, forgoing any floury roux you might see in other recipes.

The cheese. Layering cheese with the potatoes plus adding it as a topping is what makes an au gratin great. I use gruyere for it’s melty nuttiness, and Parmesan cheese for its earthy, salty flavor.

TIP: Scrape the waxy edges from the pieces of gruyere or Parmesan and add directly to the sauce to add more infused cheese flavor.

Bake this dish uncovered. Baking the potatoes uncovered helps the creamy mixture thicken and absorb into the potatoes. It also creates a crisp, cheesy crust.

Au Gratin Potatoes with Cheese foodiecrush.comAu Gratin Potatoes with Cheese foodiecrush.com

Can You Make Au Gratin Potatoes Ahead of Time?

Can you assemble homemade au gratin potatoes ahead of time? By all means, YES! This step is actually one I encourage after assembling the dish.

Can You Freeze Au Gratin Potatoes?

Yes, you can also freeze the au gratin potatoes before baking, then bake from frozen for 1 1/2 to 2 hours at 350°F.

Au Gratin Potatoes Baked foodiecrush.comAu Gratin Potatoes Baked foodiecrush.com

Ingredient Substitutions

For the best flavor, stick with fresh thyme. Dried thyme is much more potent in flavor, so stick with fresh.

Lighten it up with a heavy cream substitute. Heavy cream creates the thickest, creamy sauce for these potatoes au gratin. But, whole milk or half and half works well too.

Try other flavors of cheese. This dish is super versatile, so use any melty cheese you have on hand, including cheddar, provolone, fontina, etc.

Au Gratin Potatoes Baked foodiecrush.comAu Gratin Potatoes Baked foodiecrush.com

What to Serve With These Potatoes to Make a Meal

If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.

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The BEST Au Gratin Potatoes Recipe

When your main dish recipe needs a decadent side dish sidekick, there’s nothing like a creamy, thyme-infused cheesy potatoes au gratin recipe to do the job, and to do it easily too.

Course Side Dish

Cuisine French

Keyword potatoes

Prep Time 40 minutes

Cook Time 1 hour

Refrigerate 1 hour

Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes

Servings 10 servings

Calories 370kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 garlic cloves , pressed in a garlic press
  • 1 medium onion , thinly sliced or minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves , or 3 stalks of fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups half and half , or try whole milk or heavy cream
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 5 pounds Yukon gold potatoes , sliced thinly, about ⅛ inch thick
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 cup gruyere cheese , shredded
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese , shredded

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, then add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring until garlic becomes fragrant. Add the onions, thyme leaves, and kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook until onions become soft, stirring occasionally, for about 4-5 minutes.
  • Stir in the cream or milk with the chicken broth. Add the potato slices and bay leaves and bring to a rolling simmer. Cover and reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are nearly fork tender.
  • Begin stacking the potatoes with the sauce in a 1 ½ quart baking dish (an 8 X 8 or 9 X 6) sprinkling half of the cheeses as you layer, finishing with a layer of cheese.
  • Bake uncovered for 45-55 minutes or until the cream is bubbling around the edges and the cheese is golden brown. Let rest for 5-10 minutes until serving. This dish can be prepped ahead before baking, and refrigerated for up to 3 days before baking.

Notes

  • There’s no need to peel thin-skinned Yukon gold potatoes before baking. If using thicker skinned russet potatoes, peel them first.
  • The potatoes can be prepped and refrigerated up to 3 days before baking.
  • To freeze potatoes au gratin: Wrap tightly with foil and freeze the au gratin potatoes before baking. Bake from frozen for 1 1/2 to 2 hours at 350°F.
  • Adapted from Cooks Illustrated The New Best Recipe

Nutrition

Calories: 370kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 355mg | Potassium: 1086mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 553IU | Vitamin C: 50mg | Calcium: 342mg | Iron: 2mg

Au Gratin Potatoes Baked foodiecrush.comAu Gratin Potatoes Baked foodiecrush.com

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