Today, I will show you how to make the best and easy recipe for potato au gratin. My guide will show you step-by-step how to make potatoes au gratin from scratch, including the often-feared bechamel sauce.
What Are Au Gratin Potatoes?
Also commonly referred to as simply “gratin potatoes,” this dish is definitely a keeper that has received world fame! Various countries have their own version of it, but the basics remain the same.
This is a potato dish that consists of sliced potatoes, cheese, and more often than not, a white sauce (usually Bechamel or cheese sauce).
Obviously, the flavor profile can vary heavily from region to region. You can play around with different spice additions (like I will be doing today), different types of cheeses, and of course, different add-ins.
This absolutely delicious potatoes au gratin is perfect for easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, or any dinner time.
Scalloped Potatoes Versus Au Gratin Potatoes – What’s The Difference?
There are two main differences between easy au gratin potatoes and scalloped potatoes.
Any au gratin potato recipe uses thinly sliced potatoes. While you still use sliced potatoes for scalloped potato recipes, they are much thicker.
The recipe for gratin potatoes also always includes cheese, unlike when making scalloped potatoes. It only makes use of a cream sauce, usually with herbs.
What You Need For This Easy and Creamy Au Gratin Potatoes Recipe
Today’s homemade potatoes au gratin recipe doesn’t need a lot. Or at the very least, it doesn’t require a ton of hard-to-find ingredients.
First, we of course need the potatoes. You can use any type like Yukon gold potatoes or russet potatoes. But for a less-traditional look, use red potatoes like I will today.
Most gratin recipes require the potatoes to be pre-boiled. But we will be baking ours. If you boil the potatoes, the cheese sauce will become watery during baking.
The sauce I will make today is a blend of Bechamel and cheese sauce.
You need to start by making a Bechamel sauce. This is an intimidating recipe for most, but my in-depth guide makes it super easy. Don’t worry!
Once the sauce is made, you can add the grated cheese. We are making my favorite potatoes au gratin with shredded gruyere cheese. If you cannot get your hands on some, try Emmenthal or semi-hard Swiss cheese instead.
Then, we will also be using some sharp cheddar cheese. Or buy any kind of pre-shredded cheese that you’d like. I love a 3-month-aged cheddar because it adds a slight tanginess that complements the autumn flavors of the cheesy sauce.
For seasonings, I tried to keep it simple to highlight the flavors of tender potatoes and cheeses. That’s part of what makes this one of the best au gratin potatoes recipes.
You can only add salt and pepper if you’d like. I love adding a few garlic and onion powder, and touch of nutmeg and thyme to create a more hearty, warm profile.
And finally, you also need to finish off your cheesy au gratin potatoes with more grated cheese.
Use the same cheeses that you added to the sauce. That prevents the flavors of the creamy sauce from becoming too complex and clashing with each other.
Potatoes Au Gratin Gruyere Recipe – Tips And Tricks
- To start, it’s crucial that you have uniformly thick potato slices. To help achieve that, you can use a mandoline or the slicer side of the grater to make even cuts. If the slices are uneven, they will bake unevenly, causing some parts to be overbaked while others are still semi-raw.
- To prevent the potatoes from discoloring while you are making the sauce, place them in some cold water as soon as they are cut. Don’t use ice water. The slices will curl.
- If you are lucky enough to have leftover gratin, place it inside an airtight container. Keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days. But as always, it’s best served immediately.
- This recipe doesn’t freeze well. It can, but the potatoes will likely come out gritty once it has been thawed.
If you want to try something different, here are some fun variations of creamy au gratin potatoes.
- Use sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes for a sweeter take on the classic dish.
- Add diced bacon or ham for an extra flavor punch.
- Sprinkle cheese on top before baking for a cheesy crunchy crust.
- Top with fresh herbs for a gourmet touch.
- Add a layer of cooked vegetables like spinach or mushrooms for added nutrition.
- Use jalapeno slices to give it some spice.
- Swap out the gruyere for gouda cheese, mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or any other cheese you like.
- Add a few tablespoons of Dijon mustard for an extra tangy kick.
- Try using half cream and half milk to lighten up the dish while still keeping it creamy.
How to Store and Reheat
Refrigerator: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 4 days.
Freezer: To freeze, cool the casserole completely after baking, then cover it with a layer of plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Put the wrapped casserole in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
Reheating: When ready to serve, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Then, bake at 375°F for 25 minutes or until heated through. If desired, sprinkle some extra cheese on top and broil for a few minutes.
Absolutely! This casserole is perfect as a make ahead side dish. Prepare it as directed up to the point of baking and cover it with plastic wrap and chill. When ready to bake, remove from the refrigerator and let stand for about 15 minutes before baking as directed.
No pre-cooking is required! Simply layer the raw potatoes in the dish with the other ingredients and bake as directed. Be sure to let it stand for about 15 minutes before baking, to allow the flavors to meld and penetrate the potatoes.
The Easiest, Creamiest Potato Au Gratin Recipe Ever!
- 1 1/2 pounds red potatoes
- 4 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 tsp fine salt
- 1/3 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 tsp dried thyme
- 1/3 tsp nutmeg powder
- 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 cup Gruyère cheese, grated
- 1 onion, chopped
Prepare The Elements
- To start, preheat the oven to 380⁰F (195⁰C).
- Meanwhile, cut the peeled potatoes into very thin slices. Each slice can be roughly 1-2 mm thick.
- Next, melt the butter in a saucepan and combine it with the all-purpose flour using a whisk.
- Now, slowly pour a little bit of milk into the butter-flour mixture (roux). Whisk well after every addition so you get a uniform mixture. If you add the milk too quickly, the sauce will because lumpy and nearly impossible to fix.
- Once all of the milk has been added and you have a uniform mixture, season it with salt, pepper, thyme, and nutmeg. Whisk it well to incorporate the flavors.
- Next, add 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese and 1 cup grated Gruyère. Use a spatula to stir in the cheese until it's completely melted.
Assemble The Potatoes Au Gratin
- Brush a baking dish with melted butter or spray it with cooking spray. Do not use oil or the dish will become oily.
- Place a third of the potato slices in the prepared baking dish.
- Add half of the chopped onions over the potatoes. Add a little bit of salt for some seasoning.
- Next, add a third of the cheese sauce over the potato and onion mixture. Make sure it's spreadly evenly.
- Then, add another layer of potatoes, onions, and sauce, then repeat the process a final time. Overall, you should have three layers of potatoes, onions, and sauce.
Bake Your Gratin Potatoes
- Cover your assembled dish with a sheet of foil. Place it inside the oven and bake it for 50 minutes.
- Remove the foil, sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the baked dish, and place it back into the oven, uncovered. Let it bake for another 30 minutes so the cheese can become melty and golden brown.
- Once baked, remove your delicious savory potato gratin from the oven. Allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes.
- Finally, cut it into portions and serve it while it's still hot.