Extra-Cheesy Potato Gratin

Extra-Cheesy Potato Gratin

Potato gratin is truly a study in contrasts. Tender, creamy, and melty: this classic holiday casserole is simple to make, yet impressive and rewarding. A perfect gratin has a crispy top, but yields an interior that's thick and creamy. The potatoes are soft, but still intact. The whole dish has a comforting cheesy flavor, but still feels elegant.

Serve the gratin with beef such as London broil or even a simply roasted chicken for a classic meal.

Super easy potato gratin recipe in a white casserole dish

The Spruce Eats / Ali Redmond

Where Does Potato Gratin Come From?

This recipe is loosely based on Orlando Murrin’s recipe in “A Table in the Tarn: Living, Eating, and Cooking in Rural France.” It’s a classic French recipe featuring thinly sliced potatoes and a garlic-infused cream, along with gooey Gruyère and brie cheeses.

Do I Need to Soak the Potatoes?

Some recipes call for soaking potatoes prior to assembling the gratin, but that's not necessary here. Instead, the recipe comes together in a straightforward manner, with the thin slices simmering in milk and cream until the liquid thickens a bit and the potatoes are tender.

What Does “Gratin” Mean?

Often called “au gratin,” this is a French term that refers to a dish topped with butter and either cheese or breadcrumbs, or both. When either baked or broiled, the top becomes brown and crispy. While potatoes are the most common base for gratin dishes, other vegetables and even seafood are found in gratin recipes as well.

The Best Potatoes for Gratin

The best potatoes for a gratin are starchy types such as Russet potatoes. King Edward or Maris Piper are also great, but more widely available in places such as the U.K., Ireland, and Canada. You can use any potato that’s recommended for mashing.

What’s the Difference Between Potato Gratin and Scalloped Potatoes?

Both are delicious, creamy potato dishes that consist of thinly-sliced starchy spuds layered in a casserole dish, then baked, but there's a significant difference between the two: A gratin, however, contains cheese and scalloped potatoes typically do not.

Tips for Gratin-Making Success

  • You can slice the potatoes ahead of time to help prep the dish. Simply keep them in a bowl full of ice-cold water in the fridge and then pat them dry before using them in the recipe. They'll be fine up to 24 hours ahead of time.
  • The gratin can also be made ahead of time. Cool it to room temperature and refrigerate for up to two days. To reheat, remove from the fridge to room temperature for 30 minutes while the oven heats to 350 F, to prevent a cold dish from cracking in a hot oven. Once the oven is heated, cover the gratin with aluminum foil and reheat for about 20 minutes or until warm and bubbly.
  • Another way to serve the gratin is to allow it to go cold and then cut it into rounds. Place the rounds on a greased baking sheet and reheat in a 350 F oven for approximately 10 minutes.

“This recipe is the epitome of potato gratin from scratch. While it does take time to prep the potatoes and other ingredients, it was taxing, but worth the effort. While the recommended cheeses are a bit pricier than some other options, the combination of Gruyère and brie makes this dish great.” —Colleen Graham

Potato Gratin in a glass pie dish A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds (1 kilogram) potatoes, such as Russet, King Edward, or Maris Piper

  • 1 cup (235 milliliters) whole milk

  • 1 cup (235 milliliters) heavy whipping cream

  • 2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed, divided

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • 1 dash freshly ground pepper, plus more for seasoning

  • 1 dash freshly grated nutmeg

  • 1/2 cup (125 grams) grated Gruyère cheese 

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, divided

  • 1/2 cup (125 grams) brie

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).

    Ingredients for making potato gratin gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Ali Redmond

  2. Peel, rinse, and dry the potatoes and slice as thinly as possible (a mandoline is good for this, but a sharp knife works too).

    Peeled and thinly sliced potatoes in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Ali Redmond

  3. In a large saucepan, place the potatoes, milk, cream, 1 of the crushed garlic cloves, salt to taste, a dash of pepper, and a dash of nutmeg or mace.

    Potatoes, milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in large saucepan

    The Spruce Eats / Ali Redmond

  4. Bring to a very gentle boil over medium-low heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the cream thickens.

    Potatoes in a thickened sauce of cream and milk in a saucepan

    The Spruce Eats / Ali Redmond

  5. Remove from the heat and add the grated Gruyère. Stir until the cheese has melted.

    Gruyère cheese added to potato gratin in pot

    The Spruce Eats / Ali Redmond

  6. Generously grease a 1 1/2 to 2-quart baking dish with 1 teaspoon of the butter, then rub the dish all over with the remaining lightly crushed clove of garlic.

    Gratin dish greased with butter

    The Spruce Eats / Ali Redmond

  7. Pour the potato mixture into the dish, using a spoon to gently move the potatoes in the cream mixture to make sure they are all covered.

    Potato gratin mixture poured into a casserole dish

    The Spruce Eats / Ali Redmond

  8. Finely slice the brie into long strips and lay across the top of the gratin. Dot the surface with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Season with salt and pepper.

    Sliced brie added to the top of potato gratin casserole

    The Spruce Eats / Ali Redmond

  9. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the top is bubbly and golden brown and the potatoes are soft when pierced with a knife. If the top is browning too quickly before the potatoes are cooked, cover with aluminum foil. Serve immediately. Enjoy.

    Baked potato gratin in white casserole dish

    The Spruce Eats / Ali Redmond

Recipe Variations

  • Try this dish with a dash of mace rather than nutmeg.
  • Switch from Gruyère to aged cheddar cheese.

How to Store and Freeze Potato Gratin

  • Leftovers should keep for three to four days. Remove from the fridge, let it come to room temperature, and then reheat in a 350 F oven.
  • You can also freeze potato gratin. Wrap the dish tightly in foil and freeze for up to six months. Remove and bake from frozen at 350 F until heated through, about 30 minutes.

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