The Creamiest Scalloped Potatoes
This scalloped potatoes recipe makes a rich and creamy side dish. Make them to serve on holidays or with a weeknight dinner.
Scalloped potatoes are legendary in my family. Back when we would all gather at my grandma’s for Sunday dinner, if a pan of scalloped potatoes showed up on the table, madness ensued. My cousins and I always lobbied for seats closest to the pan so we could take extra servings without sharing. To say they are high on my list of comfort foods is an understatement.
My grandma made hers from a box mix, and they were always delicious, but now I like to make them from scratch. This particular recipe is very holiday-worthy – tender potatoes, bubbly cheese, and a creamy sauce come together for a bite that tastes like home.
It also pairs well with many everyday meals. You can serve them with steak, chicken, burgers, or just about any other meat.
You could even serve them alongside some roasted vegetables or a green salad for a vegetarian meal.
This scalloped potato recipe is so easy to put together. There’s no reason you can’t make it any time of the year, and once you’ve tasted them you’re going to want to!
Au gratin vs. scalloped
While similar, there are differences between these two potato dishes.
Both are baked in a cream sauce, and that’s about it to be called scalloped potatoes.
Au gratin also has cheese sprinkled in between the layers of potatoes and over the top. Sometimes breadcrumbs are also added for more texture.
Even though both methods are combined for this scalloped potatoes recipe, we’re sticking with the more well-known name.
What you’ll need
- Russet potatoes (peeled and sliced)
- Cheddar cheese (shredded)
- Whole milk
- Heavy cream
- Unsalted butter
- Fresh thyme
- Bay leaves
- Salt and pepper
How to make scalloped potatoes
Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat for about a minute. Saute the onion until it starts to brown, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
Add the dairy and spices and stir until combined.
Place the sliced potatoes in the Dutch oven and stir to coat them with the sauce. Cover and bring to a simmer.
Continue to simmer until the potatoes are almost tender. Make sure not to let it boil or the milk can burn and curdle.
Stir occasionally to make sure the potatoes don’t stick to the bottom.
Once the potatoes are ready, remove the thyme and bay leaves.
Carefully pour everything into your baking dish and top with the shredded cheese.
Bake for about 30 minutes. The cream should be thick and bubbly, and the top will be golden brown.
Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
You can garnish with more fresh thyme if you’d like, or just dive right in and enjoy!
Frequently asked questions
What’s the best way to slice potatoes for scalloped potatoes?
A good old fashioned knife is all you need to slice potatoes, but using other kitchen tools can save you time and give you perfectly even slices. Having even slices means your potatoes will all cook the same and be the same texture.
Mandolines are the most common tool used to slice potatoes. If you’re new to using one, use the guard that’s provided to protect your fingers.
You can also use the slicing disc attachment on your food processor. This is probably the fastest way to get perfectly sliced potatoes if you don’t mind extra dishes.
Can I use pre-shredded cheese?
Pre-shredded cheese might save a little time, but it has a preservative in it that keeps the cheese from clumping together in the bag. That means that it doesn’t melt as smoothly as fresh does.
Buy a block of cheese and shred it yourself – it’ll be worth it.
If you’re already using a food processor to slice the potatoes, you can swap the disc attachments and shred your cheese with it too.
Can I use less cheese?
This scalloped potato recipe has a thick layer of bubbly, browned cheese on top, but you can always use less cheese if it’s too much for you.
Can I make scalloped potatoes ahead of time?
Yes, there are a couple of ways you can do this.
One way is the prepare the sauce and potatoes, add to the casserole dish, then wrap tightly with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate. This can be done up to two days in advance. When you’re ready to cook, sprinkle the cheese on top and bake as directed.
You can also follow the entire scalloped potatoes recipe the day before, then cool and refrigerate. Cover with a lid or wrap tightly with foil.
Reheat by baking at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and the dish is heated through.
If you’re putting the pan in the oven straight from the fridge, it may take up to 45 minutes to reheat.
More delicious potato recipes:
- Grandma’s Crispy Roasted Potatoes – the perfect addition to brunch or dinner
- Twice Baked Potato Recipe – a cross between a baked potato and mashed potatoes
I hope you’ll put this on your menu for the holidays or the next time you’re craving a wonderfully creamy and cheesy side dish! If you make it, I’d love if you would take a moment to stop back and share a review below. ENJOY! 😍
Scalloped Potatoes Recipe
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small (1 ) onion, minced
- 2 cloves (2 ) garlic , minced
- 3 cups (720 ml) heavy cream
- 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
- 4 sprigs (4 ) fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) ground black pepper
- 4 pounds (1814 grams) russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
- 1½ cups (170 grams) shredded cheddar cheese, about 6 ounces
- Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.
- Meanwhile, melt butter in large Dutch oven (or large, heavy-bottomed saucepan) over medium-high heat until foaming subsides, about 1 minute. Add onion and saute until it turns soft and begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add cream, milk, thyme, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and potatoes and bring to a simmer. Cover, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain a light simmer, and cook until potatoes are almost tender (paring knife can be slipped into and out of center of potato slice with some resistance), about 15 minutes, gently stirring occasionally to ensure the potatoes don't stick to the bottom of the pot.
- Remove and discard thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Transfer potato mixture to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with cheese. Bake until the cream has thickened and is bubbling around sides and the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Slicing the potatoes quickly and uniformly can be done using a mandoline or food processor.
- While I recommend russet potatoes as the best choice because they hold up well to all of that liquid, yellow or Yukon gold could be substituted if necessary, just be aware that the potatoes may break down a bit during cooking.
- Other cheese, or a combination of others, can be used in place of the cheddar. Use what you love!
- Make-Ahead Option #1: Prepare the sauce and potatoes, add to the casserole dish, then wrap tightly with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate. This can be done up to two days in advance. When you’re ready to cook, sprinkle the cheese on top and bake as directed.
- Make-Ahead Option #2: You can also follow the entire scalloped potatoes recipe the day before, then cool and refrigerate. Cover with a lid or wrap tightly with foil. Reheat by baking at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and the dish is heated through. If you’re putting the pan in the oven straight from the fridge, it may take up to 45 minutes to reheat.
- Freezing Instructions: Leave the cheese off of the top and bake for less than the recommended time, until the potatoes are al dente. Cool completely, then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, remove the plastic wrap, add the cheese, and bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.
Originally published in 2011, this has been updated to include new photos, a helpful video tutorial, and more in-depth recipe tips.
[photos by Ari of Well Seasoned]