Look no further for the BEST au gratin potatoes recipe! Perfectly creamy, cheesy and flavorful, this recipe continually gets rave reviews and is destined to become your go-to from now on!
One of the cardinal rules of good potatoes au gratin is that it cannot be dry. The cheesy cream sauce needs to ooze out. Not run out all over the plate in a big wet mess, but just slowly oooooze out. Here is a classic creamy potatoes au gratin recipe at its very best!
I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who doesn’t like potatoes. I’ve met plenty of picky eaters, but even the pickiest will eat potatoes in one form or the other. However they’re prepared, they’re the perfect comfort food. And combined with cream and cheese they’re simply heavenly.
Au Gratin Potatoes vs. Scalloped Potatoes –What Is the Difference?
The two have come to be confused and are often used interchangeably as any online search will show. But they are two different dishes. Similar but different. The primary difference lies in the addition of cheese. Au gratin potatoes include cream and cheese whereas scalloped potatoes are simpler, featuring only cream.
One way to look at it is that with au gratin you get everything scalloped has plus more – deliciously more! Au gratin potatoes are always my first choice.
Which Potatoes Are Best For Au Gratin Potatoes?
Au gratin potatoes are very simple to make but choosing the right potatoes is key. You want to select a potato that has a good amount of starch so that it both absorbs and thickens the sauce. This will prevent the sauce from running all over the plate. Avoid low starch/waxy potatoes like red potatoes which will result in something more akin to au gratin soup.
Russet potatoes have the highest starch content and will yield a very creamy sauce. The downside of Russets is that, being so high in starch, they fall apart easily. The next step down in starch content is something like a Yukon Gold potato. It has a moderate starch level so it will still thicken the sauce, though not as much as a Russet, but it won’t break down like the Russet and will hold its shape better. So it really comes down to personal preference. You can try both and see which you prefer. And if you choose to go with Yukon Gold or similar because you want the potatoes to hold their shape well you can always add a little more flour when you’re whisking up the base to ensure the sauce thickens up nicely.
Can You Make Au Gratin Potatoes Ahead of Time?
YES! Au gratin potatoes are the perfect make ahead potato side dish! Simply assemble the dish a day ahead of time, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and then bake it the next day. Increase the baking time a little to account for the dish being cold. You can also set it out on the counter and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour before baking while you’re prepping other things. And don’t worry if the potatoes are a little discolored, you won’t notice it once the potatoes are cooked.
For even better results we recommend par-baking the dish first. That means you’ll bake it 3/4 of the way, remove it from the oven, let it cool completely, cover and refrigerate, and then bake it the rest of the way the following day. The potatoes will absorb more of the liquid but you can mitigate this by adding about 1/4 cup extra cream.
What Main Dish Pairs with Au Gratin Potatoes?
Au Gratin potatoes makes a great versatile side dish that can be served with just about anything. And of course it’s practically a staple at the holiday dinner table. Serve Au Gratin potatoes with poultry, beef, pork, or fish. And pretty much any vegetable pairs with au gratin potatoes as a second side.
This potatoes au gratin recipe is wonderfully creamy, cheesy and flavorful and has received tons of rave reviews over the years. Several of my friends and family members make this every year on holidays and other occasions and have passed the recipe on to their friends who usually request it after tasting it.
Au Gratin Potatoes Recipe
Let’s get started!
Dice the onions, mince the garlic, and thinly slice the potatoes. You can slice the potatoes by hand or you can use a kitchen mandolin to do the slicing. It makes the job faster and easier and ensures they’re sliced the same width. THIS ONE is the same one I bought in Germany and took back to the States with me – I love it. It’s also Cook’s Illustrated’s “Top Choice”.
THIS ONE is about half the cost and will also do the job just fine.
Heat the butter in a stock pot over medium-high heat, add the flour and whisk until smooth. Continue simmering and continually whisking the mixture for two minutes.
Add the milk, cream and salt and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Bring to a low simmer and continue whisking until the sauce is thickened.
Whisk in the cheese until it’s melted.
Add the onions and garlic.
Stir in the potatoes.
Pour the mixture into a 2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F for about 1 hour or until the potatoes are tender (time can vary depending on thickly the potatoes are sliced).
Uncover and bake for another 20 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.
Let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.
For more delicious side dishes be sure to try our:
- ULTIMATE Green Bean Casserole
- Zucchini Au Gratin
- Cauliflower Gratin
- Mashed Potatoes with Parsnips and Horseradish
- Baked Endives with Ham and Bechamel
- Waldorf Salad
- Rotkohl (German Braised Red Cabbage)
- Old Fashioned Baked Beans
- Loaded Colcannon
- Ultimate Corn Pudding
- Pea Salad
- Broccoli Salad
PERFECT Au Gratin Potatoes
- 2 pounds moderate to high starch potatoes (see blog post for more info) , thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (do not use pre-shredded, it's dusted with cellulose and doesn't melt as well; another fabulous option is half Gruyere/half Emmentaler)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese divided in half
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Simmer, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the onions and garlic and stir to combine. Add the milk, cream and salt and whisk until smooth. Bring to a simmer and whisk until thickened. Whisk in the Cheddar and half of the Parmesan cheese. Whisk until melted. Stir in the potatoes.Pour the potato mixture into a 2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.
- Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour or until the potatoes are soft. Remove foil and bake for another 20 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Originally published on The Daring Gourmet December 3, 2013