Easy au gratin potatoes have thinly sliced potatoes stacked on their side, instead of layered, for the creamiest potatoes with crispy edges in every bite. A simple make-ahead side dish.
Those crispy edges are the best!
Potatoes au gratin are one of those dishes that sound super fancy but you’ll be amazed at how simple and easy this recipe is. You can put this together in about 20 minutes depending on how fast you can peel potatoes!
While I love rich and cheesy potatoes, there’s nothing like crispy potatoes. This technique for making potatoes is over the top and a new family favorite. I got the idea for stacking the potatoes vertically from Emily Weinstein’s recipe in the NY Times.
These delicious potatoes are the best of both worlds. You get a creamy coating that slowly cooks into the potatoes, but since the potato slices are arranged on their sides instead of flat, each potato slice has a crispy part to it.
Why you’ll love this potato side dish
- The bake time on this is low and slow but the prep is quick!
- You get the creaminess you’ve loved in scalloped potatoes, but you also have crispy edges, the best of both worlds.
- This dish is easy to prep in advance of your meal.
- Leftovers become an easy dish to reheat and are great to enjoy with leftover ham, rotisserie chicken or turkey.
A traditional potatoes au gratin recipe has thin slices of potatoes layered in a casserole dish with cream and cheese between each layer. They are topped with cheese, so you can get a slightly crisp topping but it’s mostly creamy soft potatoes. Nothing wrong with that. However, if you like crispy potatoes, you’ll love this version.
This amazing potato side dish has a little cheese but it’s mostly a cream sauce with garlic and fresh thyme where a quarter of each potato slice is crispy. Both the flavor and the texture create a wonderful accompaniment to any meal.
What’s even better for holiday meals or cooking for friends is that you can prep this in advance and then all you need to do is bake. It does take a while to bake so plan ahead.
What you’ll need
- Russet potatoes – russets have more starch so they’ll won’t turn to mush when baked in this dish. You can also use Yukon Gold. I like to peel the potatoes, but you can leave them on.
- Gruyere and parmesan cheese – These are two of my favorites for their rich but subtle flavors.
- Heavy cream – don’t try to substitute, this is a rich and creamy dish.
- Garlic and fresh thyme – these add just the right amount of flavor.
How do you make au gratin potatoes
Peel and then slice the potatoes using a mandolin or food processor or if you don’t have one just slice to about an ⅛ of an inch with a knife.
Add a mixture of cream, garlic, thyme and cheese reserving some of the cheese for the top. Mix with your hands so that all the slices are coated with the creamy mixture.
Grab a stack of potatoes and place them in the pan on their edges going around the pan until all the potatoes are stacked closely together.
Cover and bake for a total of 90 minutes. After 30 minutes remove the foil, after 60 minutes add the reserved cheese.
Allow the dish to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Pro Tip: You don’t have to peel the potatoes. If you want to save some time and don’t mind the peels, then you can leave them on.
What to serve with potatoes au gratin
- Enjoy a slightly sweet and tangy chicken with dates for dinner that has literally no fuss.
- There’s little prep in this braised short ribs dinner that will literally fall off the bones when you’re ready to eat.
- And of course Turkey!
FAQs and tips
Scalloped potatoes will not have cheese added to the sauce. While au gratin potatoes have cheese at least on the top.
Au gratin is French and refers to a crispy topping. This is achieved by adding cheese or breadcrumbs to the top.
Gruyere plus a little parmesan. If you want to substitute, use a mild swiss or provolone along with parmesan.
Try using a mandolin or food processor. But if not available, slice as thinly as you can with a knife.
Arrange the stacks in the baking dish and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Let the dish come to room temperature before baking.
Yes, there is no flour in this sauce.
More potato side dishes you’ll love
Au Gratin Potatoes
- 4 ounces Gruyere cheese grated (1 cup)
- 2 ounces Parmesan cheese grated (½ cup)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoons fresh thyme chopped
- 4 lbs russet potatoes about 8 potatoes
- Preheat oven to 400º. Butter 2 quart baking dish or a 9 x 5 baking dish.
- Combine cheeses and add ⅓ of the cheese mixture to a large bowl.
- Add cream, garlic and thyme to the bowl and combine.
- Peel and then slice potatoes into ⅛ inch slices with a mandolin, food processor or knife. Add to the bowl and with your hands combine so that each slice is coated with the cream mixture.
- Grab a stack and place them vertically in the baking dish, working around the outside first and then going into the center. They should be very tightly packed. Pour any extra cream mixture over the top.
- Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until golden brown, about 30 more minutes. Remove and sprinkle reserved cheese on top and bake until brown and crispy, about 30 more minutes. Total cooking time is 1 ½ hours. Let cool slightly before serving.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- Use russet potatoes for a creamier texture.
- You could substitute a mild Swiss cheese for the Gruyere.
- Place a pan under the baking dish in case it drips over in the oven.
- You can make this in advance, just cover with plastic wrap after you have assembled it in the baking dish and refrigerate. Let it come to room temperature before baking.