Potatoes au Gratin are a classic, easy comfort food side dish full of creamy, cheesy goodness between layers of tender potatoes. A rich homemade cheese sauce with Gruyere and cheddar makes this recipe one your family will love.
Are you ready for carbs? Because I'm ready for carbs, y'all. It's the holiday season and the pressure is AWN! It's time to put on your fat pants, people.
I love, love potatoes au gratin. Despite its fancy name, potatoes au gratin are simply thinly sliced potatoes, a rich, creamy, well-seasoned white sauce, and shredded cheese in between the many layers of those thin potatoes...then a layer of cheesy, bubbly goodness on top when you pull it out of the oven. So. Freaking. Good. And it's only a fifteen minute prep time!
What's the difference between Scalloped Potatoes and Potatoes au Gratin?
Scalloped potatoes are usually just the potatoes and a bechamel, or white sauce, baked together. This bechamel is made with a roux, which is flour and butter, then you add milk and seasoning and whisk until it's thickened into a sauce.
Potatoes au gratin's basically a cheesier version of scalloped potatoes, instead of a bechamel you make a mornay, which is a bechamel with cheese melted into it. A cheese sauce. You pour that over each potato layer and sprinkle more cheese over the cheese sauce. Mmm! Don't bother looking at the calories eating this. Just enjoy it.
Gruyere is the classic cheese option, but I know that the Gruyere struggle can be real (it's hard to find and can be expensive) so any cheese you are comfortable with can work very well: mozzarella, cheddar, monterey jack, colby, all work great in this recipe. I add cheddar in my recipe, because I just love the flavor of a good cheddar, but it can be substituted for whatever cheese you love/have on hand. But, as I always recommend, shred the cheese yourself. It makes melting the cheese so much easier!
Making this Potatoes au Gratin is incredibly easy:
- Slice up the potatoes. I use Russet, I like the starchiness of them and how they kind of hold together. I also don't peel them, but they are nicely scrubbed up so the skin is fine to eat. You can also use Yukon gold potatoes. Make sure to slice very thin, an inexpensive mandoline with a guard is highly recommended (this is the one I use. LOVE!), so that your potato slices are of equal size and cook evenly. You 100% can do this with a very sharp knife.
- Make your mornay sauce. Melt the butter and whisk in flour to make a roux, add your milk. Add the grated onion (grated so that you don't bite into chunks or slices of onions but instead have the delicious flavor), thyme leaves, and the minced or pressed garlic. When it thickens, you season it with salt, pepper, a touch of paprika, a sprinkle of mustard powder to enhance the cheese flavor. Then add your cheese and watch the sauce turn gooey and delicious! But don't eat it yet.
- Layer your potatoes, cheese sauce, and shredded cheese in your baking dish over and over until you are left with your last layer of cheese sauce covered in a lot of shredded cheese. Like I said, there's no diet in this recipe. It's pure indulgence!
- Bake for an hour. Revel in the smell of onion, garlic, and bubbling, browning cheese. Resist the urge to pick at a tiny corner while it's baking, those potatoes need to cook. And definitely cool off, too.
I just want you to look at that corner. Look at that browned cheese. Like I said, just so. flipping. good!
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Potatoes au Gratin
- 5 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup half and half
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves OR 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- ½ yellow onion grated
- 2 cloves garlic pressed or minced
- Kosher Salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground smoked paprika optional
- ¼ teaspoon mustard powder
- 8 russet potatoes
- 3 cups cheddar cheese freshly shredded
- 4 cups shredded gruyere cheese 1 cup separated
Make Cheese Sauce:
- In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk well to ensure all the flour is incorporated into the fat, cook while whisking for 1-2 minutes. Add milk and half and half gradually, slowly adding the liquid while whisking vigorously so there are no lumps in the pot. Add thyme, onion, and garlic and whisk in well. Let sauce simmer and bubble for 3-5 minutes, whisking occasionally, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Take pot off the heat and add 1 cup of gruyere cheese. Whisk in well until the cheese is melted. Add in salt to taste, and the other seasonings. Taste and adjust accordingly.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Using a mandoline or very sharp chef knife, slice the potatoes extremely thin, about ⅛ inch or less.
- Layer the potatoes in a 9x13 inch oven safe dish, pour on about ⅓ cup cheese sauce, then cover evenly with a handful of cheddar and gruyere cheese. Repeat until you've reached almost the top of your baking dish, about 3-4 layers ending with the last bit of cheese sauce. Cover the top with the last of your cheese, a hearty amount evenly sprinkled over top.
- Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to one hour.
- Let cool for five minutes before serving.