Easy Potatoes au Gratin

Crispy, creamy, and cheesy–so much to love in Potatoes au Gratin

Potatoes au Gratin featured image top shot

Few dishes of such elegance are as easy to prepare as Potatoes au Gratin, thinly-sliced layers of potatoes that become mouthwateringly tender as they bake in a garlic-infused silky sauce of butter and cream, each layer topped with tangy, nutty Gruyere cheese. Oh, writing this makes me want to eat them right now!! Potatoes au Gratin are often associated with special occasions (maybe because they have a French name and so sound really fancy), but they’re so easy to prepare that I make them all the time.

Just wait til you take your first bite–the perfectly crisp top crust against the velvety soft potatoes blanketed in that piquant sauce. It’s so divine, you might blurt out Merci Beaucoup to thank the French for inventing this delectable dish! And while it’s a perfect side to any upscale entree like Red Wine Strip Steaks or Orange and Rosemary Pork Tenderloin, it’s just as wonderful paired with a simple green salad and a glass of Chardonnay (yes, guilty).

Potatoes au Gratin, sometimes called Gratin Dauphinois because the idea of layering potatoes and baking them with cream and cheese originated in the Dauphine region of France in the late 1700s, became a huge hit in the U.S. in the 1950s, thanks to their appearance in iconic American cookbooks by Betty Crocker and Julia Child. Truth be told, there are some subtle differences between Potatoes au Gratin and Gratin Dauphinois, mostly in the layering process, but the word Gratin means “with a browned crust” and both dishes have that, so there you go…

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • 2 1/2 pounds Russet potatoes peeled
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups Gruyère cheese freshly grated (substitute with cheddar if preferred)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves optional
Potatoes au Gratin ingredients top shot

Preparation Steps

Step 1: In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, heavy cream, and minced garlic until well combined.

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Step 2: Set your oven to 350°F. While it’s warming up, you have time to slice the potatoes and grate the cheese.

Potatoes au Gratin steps shot

Step 3: Cut the potatoes into thin slices, about 1/8 inch thick. A mandoline slicer is a handy tool for this, but a sharp knife will do just fine.

Potatoes au Gratin steps shot

Step 4: In a greased 9×13 inch baking dish, arrange a third of the potato slices. Drizzle with a third of the creamy mixture, and season with a third of the salt, pepper, and thyme. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup of the grated cheese.

Potatoes au Gratin steps shot

Step 5: Create two more layers following the same pattern as the first, but hold off on adding cheese to the top layer—we’ll get to that later.

Potatoes au Gratin steps shot

Step 6: Cover the dish with foil or a lid and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Check if the potatoes are tender by inserting a knife into the center. If they need more time, give them up to 15 additional minutes.

Potatoes au Gratin steps shot

Step 7: Once the potatoes are tender, remove the cover and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake uncovered for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and bubbly.

Potatoes au Gratin steps shot

Step 8: Let the dish stand for about 5 minutes before serving to set.

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FAQs & Tips

How to Make Ahead and Store?

Let Potatoes au Gratin cool, then cover with foil and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat it in the oven for 20-25 minutes. You can also freeze it in the baking dish covered tightly with plastic wrap and then foil or in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

What is Gruyere cheese?

Gruyere is a type of Swiss cheese made from cow’s milk. It has a sharp nutty flavor and melts beautifully (if you have any leftover from your Potatoes au Gratin, use it for grilled cheese. You’re welcome!)

Can you make this dish without potatoes?

Oooo la la. Here I go speaking French again…but that’s my reaction to all-things gratin: you can make this dish with vegetables other than potatoes (cauliflower, zucchini, even spinach) and it will come out great.

Can I dig in early?

Timing is everything, right? True in life and true in gratin. You have to take your time slicing the potatoes thinly so they will cook evenly, and you have to let this bake for the WHOLE time (no matter how tempted you are to take them out early and dig in).

Are Potatoes au Gratin and Scalloped Potatoes the same thing?

Well, they’re both delicious but Scalloped Potatoes don’t include cheese (so maybe they’re not as good…?).

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Serving Suggestions

We’ve already determined that Potatoes au Gratin are a perfect match to a fancy main dish, but they are not so snobby that they can’t be served with more humble fare, like Slow Cooker Cube Steak or Delicious and Moist Meatloaf. I confess that I have also served Potatoes au Gratin alongside grilled hot dogs (don’t judge me).

If you don’t like Gruyere cheese, you can use other kinds of good melting cheeses like Cheddar or Gouda–sharp cheeses like this work best.

For some twists on this classic dish, add a layer of caramelized onions or a layer of diced ham (or maybe both!).

Potatoes au Gratin featured image close up image
Potatoes au Gratin featured image top shot

Easy Potatoes au Gratin

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Course Side Dish
Cuisine French
Servings 8
Calories 434 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • 2 1/2 pounds Russet potatoes peeled
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups Gruyère cheese freshly grated (substitute with cheddar if preferred)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves optional

Instructions
 

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, heavy cream, and minced garlic until well combined.
  • Set your oven to 350°F. While it's warming up, you have time to slice the potatoes and grate the cheese.
  • Cut the potatoes into thin slices, about 1/8 inch thick. A mandoline slicer is a handy tool for this, but a sharp knife will do just fine.
  • In a greased 9×13 inch baking dish, arrange a third of the potato slices. Drizzle with a third of the creamy mixture, and season with a third of the salt, pepper, and thyme. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup of the grated cheese.
  • Create two more layers following the same pattern as the first, but hold off on adding cheese to the top layer—we'll get to that later.
  • Cover the dish with foil or a lid and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Check if the potatoes are tender by inserting a knife into the center. If they need more time, give them up to 15 additional minutes.
  • Once the potatoes are tender, remove the cover and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake uncovered for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and bubbly.
  • Let the dish stand for about 5 minutes before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 434kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 13gFat: 31gSaturated Fat: 19gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 93mgSodium: 614mgPotassium: 668mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 1123IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 302mgIron: 1mg
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