When I was growing up, holidays were made incredibly special thanks to my Dad’s family; they had the best get-togethers which included a massive array of food and I was always excited to get on my best dress and make an appearance.
Typically at these big gatherings with filled with laughter, you’d find my aunt cooking both ham and turkey (try my delicious turkey recipe!), creamy mashed potatoes sprinkled with paprika, green bean casserole, at least 4 different kinds of pies from Baker’s Square (try my french silk pie, cherry or apple!), and of course, my Dad’s cheesy, creamy au gratin potatoes filled with layers of thinly sliced potatoes, cheese, onions and a crispy cheesy topping. Always, always one of my favorite things to go overboard and load up on during the holidays!
Today I’m sharing the recipe inspired by my Dad, who passed away just over 13 years ago. He was the best cook, and I know his love of food needs to be shared with all of you. I hope you make these — we love them for Thanksgiving, but they’re also perfect for Sunday dinners with roasted chicken or my maple glazed salmon. Pure nostalgic love in this pan of creamy, cheesy potatoes.
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Everything you’ll need to make au gratin potatoes
These cheesy potatoes au gratin use super simple ingredients and are easy to customize with your favorite cheeses. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Yukon gold potatoes: the base of these au gratin potatoes is of course, potatoes! I like to use yukon gold potatoes in this recipe for the best buttery flavor.
- Onion: we’re adding a little savory element to these au gratin potatoes with sliced onion. the onion gets delicious and slightly caramelized while the potatoes bake. Plus the cheese sauce infuses with incredible onion flavor.
- For the cheese sauce: you’ll make a cheese sauce using salted butter, all purpose flour (whole wheat, all purpose, or gluten free 1:1 flour will all work), unsweetened almond milk (regular, skim or whole milk will also work) and sharp cheddar cheese, gruyere cheese & grated parmesan cheese. Very important to use sharp cheddar cheese here for optimal flavor!
- To season: you’ll add garlic powder, salt & black pepper to the cheese sauce to give it the perfect flavor.
- For topping: add a little fresh chopped parsley for a hint of green on top!
What’s the difference between scalloped and au gratin potatoes?
Au gratin potatoes usually have cheese sauce between each layer of thinly sliced potatoes and breadcrumbs on top. Scalloped potatoes often use a cream sauce made of butter & broth and sliced potatoes. Truth be told, it doesn’t really matter what you call them!
In this au gratin potatoes recipe, we’re skipping the breadcrumbs, adding some savory onions and making them extra cheesy with three types of cheese.
How to make au gratin potatoes
These potatoes au gratin may look fancy, but they couldn’t be easier to make:
- Prep your pan. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 2 quart square or an 8×12 baking dish.
- Add your potatoes. Place sliced potatoes in three tight slanted rows as indicated in the photos.
- Make your sauce. Melt butter in a pan, whisk in some flour and slowly alternate between milk and flour. Once it’s nice and thick you’ll add your cheeses and seasonings.
- Cover those potatoes & bake. Pour the sauce evenly over the potatoes and onions to cover them. Don’t worry, the sauce will get nice and creamy while baking. Then cover with foil and bake!
- More cheese, bake & serve. After they’ve baked for about 45 minutes, sprinkle with more cheese and bake again until nice and golden brown on top and potatoes can be pierced with a fork. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and enjoy!
Tips for the best au gratin potatoes
- Evenly slice your potatoes. Do your best to make sure your potato slices are even and about 1/8 inch thick so that they cook evenly. A mandolin makes this super easy!
- Don’t squish them. You don’t want the sliced potatoes to be overly tight, so make sure you leave enough space so the potato slices are slightly slanted. Add in onion slices in between the rows and on top of potatoes. Basically wherever you can fit them.
- Shred the cheese. Do this by hand instead of using pre-shredded. It will melt much better!
- Season as-needed. When you’re done mixing together your cheese sauce, be sure to taste it and add more salt and pepper as you see fit. Everyone has a slightly different preference for saltiness, so you be the judge and remember it’s coating lots of potatoes.
Customize this dish
- Add bacon or ham. You read that right! Make them super savory and delicious by adding 6-8 ounces of cooked, chopped bacon or ham to the cheese sauce or onto the potatoes before pouring the sauce.
- Switch up your cheeses. No stress if you don’t have gruyere, feel free to add extra cheddar or even mix it up with a smoky gouda or even a spicy cheese.
- Add breadcrumbs. If you want a little crunchy topping, add some breadcrumbs or even crushed up Ritz crackers to the top after pouring the cheese sauce.
- Use sweet potatoes. This recipe would be delicious with sweet potatoes as well, or you can try my chipotle gouda scalloped sweet potatoes!
Can au gratin potatoes be made ahead of time?
You can absolutely make these cheesy au gratin potatoes up to three days ahead of time! Simply pour the sauce over the potatoes as directed, then cover the pan with foil and instead of baking, place in the fridge until ready to bake. Please note that they may take a bit longer to bake, likely an additional 15-20 minutes, as the sauce will be cold.
How to store potatoes au gratin
- To store: simply store these au gratin potatoes in the refrigerator in individual, airtight containers or covering the entire pan and placing it in the refrigerator. They’ll stay good for up to 5 days.
- To reheat: reheat individual portions in the microwave or place the pan back in the oven until heated through.
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What to pair with au gratin potatoes
Serving these delicious potatoes for Thanksgiving? Here are some great additions to your Thanksgiving menu:
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I hope you love my dad’s cheesy, creamy au gratin potatoes! If you make them be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked them. Enjoy, xo!
Dad’s Creamy & Cheesy Au Gratin Potatoes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Cheesy, creamy au gratin potatoes made with three types of cheese for an incredible side dish everyone will love! My dad’s famous au gratin potatoes recipe is easy to make and filled with cheesy goodness in every bite. Perfect for holidays or anytime you need a delicious side!
medium yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced into 1/8th inch rounds (3 pounds gold potatoes — by weight is a more accurate measure)
white or yellow onion, cut into slices
- For the sauce:
all purpose flour (whole wheat, all purpose, or gluten free 1:1 flour will all work)
unsweetened almond milk (regular, skim or whole milk will also work)
sharp cheddar cheese (2 heaping cups shredded cheddar cheese)
salt, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- For topping:
gruyere cheese (or sub more sharp cheddar)
- To garnish:
- Fresh chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 2 quart square baking dish (or an 8×12 is good) with nonstick cooking spray or grease with butter or oil.
Place sliced potatoes in three tight slanted rows as indicated in the photos. You don’t want them to be overly tight, make sure you leave enough space so the potato slices are slightly slanted. Add in onion slices in between the rows and on top of potatoes. Basically wherever you can fit them.
Next make your sauce: add in 2 tablespoons of butter and place over medium heat. Once butter is melted, whisk in a little bit of the flour and then slowly add in milk, a little bit at a time, alternating with the flour and vigorously whisking away any lumps. Bring mixture to a simmer; it should be a similar consistency to creamy gravy.
Turn heat to low and stir in shredded cheddar cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if necessary.
Pour the sauce evenly over the potatoes and onions to cover them. Don’t worry, the sauce will get nice and creamy while baking.
Cover the pan with foil, then bake for 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes, remove foil, sprinkle top of potatoes with 1/2 cup shredded gruyere (or more cheddar) and ¼ cup parmesan. Return to the oven and bake for 30-45 more minutes or until potatoes are done and nice and golden brown on top. (Potatoes are done when the middle of the potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork.) Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Enjoy!
This recipe would be delicious with bacon. If you’d like, you can feel free to add in 8 ounces of chopped cooked bacon over the potatoes before adding the cheese sauce. Or just stir the chopped bacon into the cheese sauce. Mmmm!
To make ahead: feel free to make these potatoes up to three days ahead of time! Simply pour the sauce over the potatoes as directed, then cover the pan with foil and instead of baking, place in the fridge until ready to bake. They may take a bit longer, likely 15 minutes, to bake as the sauce will be cold.
To store: simply store these au gratin potatoes in the refrigerator in individual, airtight containers or covering the entire pan and placing it in the refrigerator. They’ll stay good for up to 5 days.
To reheat: reheat individual portions in the microwave or place the pan back in the oven until heated through.
Servings: 8 servings
Serving size: 1 serving (based on 8)
Saturated fat: 7.3g
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats