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You might know them as scalloped potatoes, or you might know them as potatoes au gratin. Whatever you call them, this classic potato dish is a wonderful side for hearty meats and cold nights.
What are Cheesy Potatoes Au Gratin?
Potatoes Au Gratin are a preparation of potatoes made with cream, milk, and cheese baked in the oven as a simple casserole. The name “Au Gratin” means to scrape or grate. This refers to the browned crust on top, resulting from the bake of the cheese or the addition of breadcrumbs.
Differences Between Potatoes Au Gratin vs Scalloped Potatoes
Traditionally, Potatoes Au Gratin has cheese and a crispy crust on top while scalloped potatoes do not have cheese.
That said, here in America, I love adding cheese to everything. It didn’t take long before people were adding cheese to the scalloped preparation, effectively removing the distinction between the two.
Slice the potatoes as thin as you can and layer like a casserole or lasagna. Because I’m baking these potatoes, you are really going to want to make sure they cook all the way through.
Few things will spoil your experience more than biting into a raw undercooked potato because it was cut too thin. When it comes to layering, I’m going to alternate layers of seasoned potato, onion, and cheese ensuring each layer is getting all of the flavors.
What Makes Good Au Gratin Potatoes
To make a good cheesy potatoes au gratin you must have a cheesy crusty top. That is the whole point of this preparation! To ensure this happens without burning, you are going to want to do a couple things:
- Cover your dish with foil until the finishing step
- Use a cheese that actually melts and browns (cheddar or gruyere are good options)
Again, I want you to think of this dish as a casserole or lasagna more than baked potatoes. To develop more flavor, you will want to ensure more flavor is added in each layer.
For example, it is critical to salt and season each layer before proceeding to the next. If you only season the top of the dish, it will not properly affect layers below it. Doing this will result in bland potatoes.
A few good ways to increase the flavor of your potatoes are to add garlic or chopped herbs to the layers. Alternating garlic, rosemary, and thyme would be a wonderful combination of aromatics that will give some more dynamic flavors to your dish.
- 6 potatoes
- 1 onion
- 1.5 cup cheese for layers
- ½ cup cheese for topping
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup cream
- ¼ cup milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Seasonings and herbs to taste (garlic, rosemary, thyme)
- Preheat your oven to 400°F
- Slice your potatoes to 1/8th – 1/16th of an inch thick
- Slice you onions as thin as you can. Be sure to create long, thin slices, rather than chopping into small pieces.
- Layer potatoes in your casserole dish overlapping like roof shingles
- Layer onions
- Add a pinch of salt and pepper, along with any additional seasonings/herbs
- Layer of cheese
- Repeat steps 4-7 until you have reached the top of the dish
- When all layers are done pour in milk and cream
- Cover with foil and bake for 60 minutes covered
- Uncover and add breadcrumbs and cheese for topping
- Bake for an additional 20 minutes uncovered or until top is browned