Learn how to make scalloped potatoes and au gratin potatoes and you’ll have just the right dish for any occasion. Whether you’re putting it on the holiday side dish menu or bringing a crowd-pleaser to a potluck, you’ll find all kinds of wonderfully cheesy potato recipes right here. (Or, if you prefer sour cream and applesauce to cheese, check out this video for Classic Potato Latkes!) Check out our scalloped potato and au gratin potato tips below and prepare to knock their socks off with deliciousness and variety. And remember: Although they’re wonderful at parties and over the holidays, these potato dishes are most comforting on a comfort food menu!
Let’s talk a bit about the terms. Au gratin is defined as sprinkled with cheese or bread crumbs and baked. Au gratin potatoes simply are potatoes that have been baked or broiled with a topping; scalloped potatoes are potatoes that have been thinly sliced and baked with a cheese, typically in a sauce. Au gratin doesn’t mean “with cheese”—the French word for cheese is fromage—although more often than not the topping does include cheese and the potatoes are often sliced. You’ll find a lot of overlapping of the terms in recipes, and both are included in our collection of casserole recipes.
First, let’s talk about the potatoes. The recipe you choose will determine the type of potato you’ll use. Russets, red potatoes, smooth skin white potatoes and Yukon golds are all good. For general helpfulness about purchasing and preparing, take a look at our article on potatoes (or this article on sweet potatoes). Sometimes a recipe will call for sliced potatoes; sometimes the potatoes are partially boiled and then sliced. Sometimes the potatoes are sliced and then blanched. Any way you cut it, you might find a mandolin useful, or this video on knife skills. And, you could get creative and go diced. To see the whole process in action, take a look at this Potatoes au Gratin video.
Then there’s the sauce. Scalloped potatoes made with a “from scratch” white sauce (also called béchamel) are utterly delicious. Butter and flour are cooked together, milk is added and the sauce is gently cooked to a silky consistency. Easy Dijon Scalloped Potatoes are a perfect example of a recipe that uses this technique. If you have found that making sauces has proven to be a bit challenging, remember that you can always strain the lumps out before pouring the sauce over the potatoes.
If making sauce from scratch isn’t what you had in mind, we have the easy way out: Sour cream and VELVEETA get together to make a sauce that you just stir together and bake with sliced blanched potatoes in New-Look Scalloped Potatoes and Ham. The total time from start to finish is an hour, and you can serve a crowd of 16 with this delicious side.
The kind of cheese you’ll use also will depend on the recipe you’re making. Cheddar cheese is a classic ingredient; it’s included in the Potatoes au Gratin mentioned above. You’ll also see it with Swiss cheese (Swiss-Dijon Potatoes au Gratin), cream cheese (Creamy Scalloped Potatoes) and more. You’ll find a lot of VELVEETA recipes, thanks to its creamy meltability—as in this VELVEETA Classic Potatoes au Gratin. And many recipes also include Parmesan cheese on top for added flavor.
Like many other potato recipes, au gratin recipes can get a hearty boost from meat and veggies. Bacon and ham lend their smoky flavor to recipes like Sweet Potato-Bacon au Gratin. A cheesy gratin is also a great way to use leftover chicken or turkey—and how to sneak veggies like cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts onto the menu.
For some, a family gathering wouldn’t be complete without a scalloped potato side dish like Creamy Potatoes—a bubbling casserole made with cheddar cheese and chopped fresh chives. But scalloped potatoes make any meal a more festive affair. To try: Potato Gratin with Mixed Mushrooms, made with button and cremini mushrooms in a sauce of sour cream, blended cheeses and grated Parmesan on top.