Scalloped potatoes are a simple classic side dish that is ALWAYS a hit. No matter what, they always disappear from the table quickly! And there's a good reason for that: they are SO GOOD. If you're looking for an easy and delicious side dish to make for your next dinner party, look no further than scalloped potatoes!
Imagine layers of potatoes swimming in a creamy sauce. This recipe is sure to please the whole family. It's the dish for holiday dinners like Easter Sunday or Christmas dinner but simple enough to make on any night when you're craving a comfort food hug from your kitchen.
Table of contents
- Scalloped Potatoes vs. Potatoes au Gratin
- Ingredients For Scalloped Potatoes
- How To Make Scalloped Potatoes From Scratch
- Expert Tips
- Can Scalloped Potatoes Be Made Ahead?
- How to Freeze Scalloped Potatoes
- How to Reheat Scalloped Potatoes
- What Goes With Scalloped Potatoes
- More Potato Side Dishes
Scalloped Potatoes vs. Potatoes au Gratin
Right off the bat, let's clarify that there technically is a difference between scalloped potatoes vs. au gratin potatoes. As I was researching this topic, it's clear that most people are okay with any dish that contains layers of sliced potatoes swimming in a béchamel sauce, cheese, or no cheese, being called scalloped potatoes.
However, the difference is that scalloped potatoes are technically cooked in a cream sauce but contain no cheese. The milk of cream is usually infused with herbs to add flavor, and then the potatoes are cooked until they are tender and the cream sauce has thickened.
Au Gratin Potatoes are sprinkled with cheese and bread crumbs and then browned. The definition of au gratin is sprinkled with bread crumbs or cheese.
You can decide how strict you want to be about the meaning. The good news is that either interpretation is delicious, and both follow the same recipe technique overall.
Ingredients For Scalloped Potatoes
- Potatoes - 3 pounds of potatoes, either russet or Yukon gold potatoes, sliced to ¼-inch thickness.
- Butter. Unsalted butter.
- Onion. Use a white onion that is finely diced or grated.
- Garlic. 1 clove of garlic, pressed.
- Flour. The flour will combine with the butter to build a roux to thicken the sauce. You can also make this recipe without flour by adding a cornstarch slurry (1 part cornstarch + 2 parts water) to thicken the sauce.
- Heavy cream or whole milk.
- Cheese. I like to use parmesan in the cream sauce and then a sharp cheddar and gruyere mixture for the layers and on top of the potatoes. Always grate your cheese. Pre shredded cheese does not melt as well as cheese bought in blocks.
- Breadcrumbs (optional)
- Chives or parsley for garnish.
How To Make Scalloped Potatoes From Scratch
Step 1 - Peel and Slice the Potatoes
Place the potatoes in a large bowl filled with cold water to cover them. This will keep them from turning brown.
Step 2 - Make The Béchamel Sauce
Add the butter to a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook on medium-low heat until they begin to caramelize.
Add the garlic and sauté for a few minutes until the garlic is fragrant.
Sprinkle the onion mixture with the flour and cook over medium-high heat until the flour bubbles and thickens slightly. You don't want the flour to brown.
Add the heavy cream. You want to add in a small amount at first and whisk until smooth. Continue to add the cream a small amount at a time, whisking thoroughly between each addition to ensure that the béchamel sauce stays smooth and creamy.
Add the grated parmesan cheese to the cream mixture. Remove the white sauce from the stovetop and whisk to incorporate the parmesan.
Step 3- Assemble The Scalloped Potatoes
Strain the water off of the potatoes.
Add half of the potato slices to a casserole dish—layer with half of the cheese sauce and spread with a spatula. Add half of the shredded cheese.
Repeat for the second layer.
Cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil and bake for one hour.
Uncover and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes until the potatoes are golden brown on top.
- Slow and low - If a white sauce gets too hot, it will break or separate. A broken béchamel is the most common cause of watery scalloped potatoes.
- Chose the best potato - Russets or Yukon golds are King here. I prefer the Yukon gold potatoes in this recipe, but either will work fine. Russets will give you softer and more creamy scalloped potatoes, while the Yukon gold potatoes hold their shape better and will be firmer.
- Cook them covered and then uncovered.
- Use a probe thermometer for perfect doneness. While Cooking is part art and part science...perfectly cooked food is definitely a science, and temperature is essential to get the right texture of potatoes. I shoot for 204 to 211℉. At this temperature, the starch granules have ruptured, and the potato is soft and tender on the inside. Waxy potatoes need a higher temperature than our friend the russet.
I usually shoot for about ½ to ¾ cup of potatoes per person. 1 cup of potatoes weighs about 5 ounces (rounded up).
I like to buy 5 ounces for each person so that I'm sure to have leftovers. When you're buying potatoes at the store, you can guesstimate that you'll need 3 to 4 ounces of potatoes per person.
If you are cooking them is a sauce that contains acidic ingredients like wine, tomatoes, sour cream, or buttermilk. The acid will slow the breakdown of starch, and you may end up with a firmer potato.
Acid will inhibit the potatoes from softening during the cooking process. To correct this you can increase the cooking time.
The best way to slice potatoes is to use a mandoline slicer. You can also use a slicing blade on your food processor.
Store sliced potatoes completely covered in cool water to prevent them from oxidizing and turning grey.
Traditional scalloped potatoes are made with a crams sauce and no cheese. However, cheesy scalloped potatoes are how most of us make them.
My favorite cheeses are; parmesan, cheddar, gruyere, or gouda.
You should avoid using pre-shredded cheese when making a creamy sauce. Pre shredded cheese contains additives such as potato starch and natamycin. These two preservatives prevent shredded cheese from clumping in the bag, inhibiting the cheese from melting into that creamy, dreamy sauce.
Yukon gold and Russet Potatoes are the best potatoes for this recipe.
Sweet potatoes are also a great option and a completely different flavor element to scalloped potatoes. I've also made this recipe with a mixture of sweet potatoes and yukon golds. Because they are both starchy potatoes they bake at approximately the same rates.
325 to 350℉ is the temperature you should be used for baking scalloped potatoes. The cream sauce should cook low and slow. If it gets too hot, the sauce will break, and you'll have a watery mess.
204 to 211℉ is the what the internal temperature of potatoes should be when they are tender. Use a probe thermometer to measure the potatoes to ensure they're done.
There are as many different ways to make a scalloped potato recipe as stars in the sky.
- Scalloped potatoes vegan style with a cashew cheese sauce.
- With ham.
- With sweet potatoes.
- With garlic and rosemary.
Can Scalloped Potatoes Be Made Ahead?
Yes! When making scalloped potatoes ahead of time, it's best to slice the potatoes and store them in a large bowl of cold water. They should be completely covered with water to prevent air contact. Air will oxidize the potatoes, and they can turn a grey or purplish color. While they are still okay to eat, they may be less than appealing to look at.
You can assemble this dish the night before you cook it. Press plastic wrap into the surface of the potatoes so that as little air as possible can contact any potatoes that may not be covered entirely in the sauce.
How to Freeze Scalloped Potatoes
If you have any leftovers, you can store scalloped potatoes for 3 to 5 days in the fridge.
If you want to freeze them, you can place them in an airtight container and freeze them for several months. Make sure that there is as little air in the container as possible. Also, keep in mind that the texture may change slightly.
How to Reheat Scalloped Potatoes
It is best to thaw the potatoes in the fridge before attempting to reheat them.
Once thawed, you can reheat the potatoes in the microwave or in the oven.
Reheating in the microwave.
- Place the potatoes in a microwave-safe dish and cover with plastic wrap.
- Microwave on 50% power for 3 to 5 minutes.
Reheating in the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 300℉.
- Place the potatoes in a pan or other oven-safe dish and cover them with aluminum foil.
- Place in the oven and reheat for 20 to 30 minutes.
What Goes With Scalloped Potatoes
Hearty main dish recipes are perfect for pairing with creamy scalloped potatoes. Here are a few of our favorites.
More Potato Side Dishes
When you're in the mood for more carbs, nothing beats a potato side dish with your carbs!
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- casserole dish
- 3 pounds potatoes sliced to ¼-inch thickeness [note 1]
- 3 tablespoons butter usnalted
- 1 small shallot finely diced
- 1 clove garlic pressed
- 3 tablespoons flour or cornstartch slurry [note 2]
- 2 cups heavy cream or whole milk
- 1 cup parmesan grated
- 7 ounces cheddar grated
- 6 ounces gruyere grated
- ½ cup bread crumbs (optional) panko for sprinkling on top
- 2 tablespoons parsley or chives (optional) minced
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Peel and slice the potatoes. Place the potatoes in a large bowl filled with cold water to cover them. This will keep them from turning brown.3 pounds potatoes
- Add the butter to a large saucepan. Add the shallot and cook on medium-low heat until they begin to caramelize.3 tablespoons butter, 1 small shallot
- Add the garlic and sauté for a few minutes until the garlic is fragrant.1 clove garlic
- Sprinkle the onion mixture with the flour and cook over medium-high heat until the flour bubbles and thickens slightly. You don't want the flour to brown. top.3 tablespoons flour
- Add the heavy cream. You want to add in a small amount at first and whisk until smooth. Continue to add the cream a small amount at a time, whisking thoroughly between each addition to ensure that the béchamel sauce stays smooth and creamy.2 cups heavy cream
- Add the grated parmesan cheese to the cream mixture. Remove the white sauce from the stovetop and whisk to incorporate the parmesan.1 cup parmesan
- Strain the water off of the potatoes. Add half of the potato slices to a casserole dish—layer with half of the cheese sauce and spread with a spatula. Add half of the shredded cheese. Repeat for the second layer.7 ounces cheddar, 6 ounces gruyere, ½ cup bread crumbs (optional)
- Bake. Cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil and bake for one hour. Uncover and bake for another 2o to 30 minutes until the potatoes are golden brown on top.
Laura's Tips + Notes
- Type of potatoes. Use Yukon gold or russet potatoes. Yukon gold potatoes will have a slightly longer cook time.
- Cornstarch slurry. To make this recipe without flour, use a cornstarch slurry. The typical ratio for a cornstarch slurry in a sauce is 1 part cornstarch to 2 parts water. Use 1 tablespoon of cornstarch for every cup of liquid that you're thickening. **For this recipe use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch + 4 tablespoons of water.