Creamy, aromatic, cheesy, and easy. Au Gratin Potatoes is a classic recipe with many renditions! Try my favorite bechamel-free method with the fastest prep that will still give you flavorful, creamy, cheesy results. Paired with tried-and-true pro tips, your table will be graced with perfectly golden brown, tender potatoes even on your first try.
This is a go-to for side dishes when I need something easy to serve guests. It’s something that everyone loves! Who would say no to creamy, cheesy potatoes? Plus, it becomes somewhat of a centerpiece in itself. The crispy golden brown cheese bubbled on top sprinkled with fresh chives. So easy, and so beautiful.
The prep will be a lot faster if you have a mandoline, but those of us that don’t can still enjoy this type of recipe! Sharpen your knife, work carefully, and you can get through all of those potatoes with perfect, 1/8″ slices in 5 minutes. You’ll really sharpen up those knife skills.
- Garlic – Fresh garlic is best for this method since we are using halved cloves to simply add aroma to the pan.
- Butter – I love the flavor butter adds to this recipe! Since the butter is rubbed over the pan, you can use olive oil or butter substitutes instead.
- Heavy cream – Ideally cream between 33% and 37%MF. Anything more will be too thick. You can go as low as 18%MF if you want to reduce calories a bit.
- Milk – Just a bit of milk to thin the mixture out a bit. You can use any type of milk you have handy, even if it’s a non-dairy substitute.
- Thyme – Fresh is best! You can use dried, but I find the flavor is way better with fresh thyme.
- Nutmeg – Completely optional. I know not everyone loves nutmeg! For me, this adds a really beautiful layer of flavor to the recipe. Freshly grated or pre-ground.
- Chives – You can use some finely diced shallot instead. Chives are the best option because they’re nice and small, and they are also mild enough to be perfect without any sautéeing.
- Salt & pepper – Season to taste. Make sure to taste the mixture to ensure it has enough salt before adding the potatoes. If there isn’t enough salt, the dish will come out bland.
- Cheese – Gruyere and parmesan. Use some sharp white cheddar, Emmental, Beaufort, or Jarlsberg if needed instead of Gruyere. Grana Padano or asiago can be used instead of parmesan.
- Potatoes – Yellow-fleshed potatoes, aka Yukon Gold, are my favorite for gratin. They’re the perfect balance of starchy and waxy. You can try your gratin with Russet or red potatoes if you prefer.
How to make au gratin potatoes
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 400F. Grab the halved garlic and rub it, cut-side-down, all over the bottom and sides of a 10 or 11″ cast iron skillet. Discard any garlic leftover. Spread the butter evenly all over the bottom and sides of the skillet.
- Cream mixture: Whisk the heavy cream, milk, thyme, nutmeg, 1 tbsp of the chives, salt, and pepper together in a large mixing bowl. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt if needed. Add the sliced potatoes to the mixture, making sure each slice gets coated well.
- Layer: Take about 1/3 of the potato slices and lay them in an even layer into the prepared skillet. Sprinkle half of the shredded Gruyere over the potatoes. Add another layer of potatoes, the rest of the gruyere, then top with the rest of the potatoes.
- Bake: Pour the remaining cream mixture in the mixing bowl evenly into the skillet. Cover the skillet with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and sprinkle the parmesan cheese evenly over the potatoes. Bake for another 15-20 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Garnish with remaining chives and serve.
Gratin is a forgiving recipe that can use up pretty much any type of potato you have in your pantry. I used yellow-fleshed potatoes because they have a great balance between starchiness and waxiness. The waxiness helps them hold up nicely in the gratin while the starchiness thickens the cream sauce.
Try Russet potatoes for a starchier result or red potatoes for a waxier result.
I love using Gruyere in gratin! It’s a salty, flavorful, and a bit nutty. The parmesan is a perfect topper. I’ve seen lots of gratin recipes made with cheddar, so feel free to use that instead of the gruyere if you prefer the flavor.
Carefully lift the foil, being aware of the hot steam that will come out, and use a knife to test the potatoes. It should easily pierce through all the layers. Once the potatoes are soft, you can take the foil off and finish the dish up.
I topped my potatoes with freshly chopped chives and some flaky sea salt. This is a great side dish for dinner, whether it’s a busy weeknight or a dinner party with guests! Try these potatoes with tender short ribs, roasted chicken, creamy scallops, or even try something bold and serve au gratin with pulled pork sandwiches.
Pro tips for making au gratin potatoes
- Rubbing the pan with garlic will give the dish a really nice aroma without A) burning pieces of garlic on the bottom of the pan, or B) having a raw garlic flavor throughout the cream sauce.
- If you don’t have a mandoline to slice the potatoes, make sure your knife is nice and sharp. Cut a very small slice off the bottom of the potatoes so they still without rolling around while you slice.
- Make sure to taste the cream mixture before adding the potatoes. It’s important for it to be properly salted so the dish doesn’t come out bland.
How to store leftover au gratin potatoes
You can keep leftovers right in the skillet, covered with plastic wrap or foil, or transfer them to an airtight container. Store in the fridge for 3-5 days. To reheat, you can use the microwave or the oven. Preheat the oven to 375F. Cover the leftover au gratin with foil and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until heated through.
While you can keep leftovers in the freezer, it isn’t ideal. You may find some excess softening of the potatoes or breakage in the cream sauce after thawing. If you do freeze leftovers, they will last around 2 weeks. Let the leftovers thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Did you love this recipe? Try these:
Au Gratin Potatoes
- 1 clove garlic halved
- 2 tbsp butter softened
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tsp fresh thyme roughly chopped
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg optional
- 2 tbsp chives chopped, divided
- 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
- 1/2 tsp pepper or to taste, freshly ground
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese shredded
- 1 cup gruyere cheese shredded
- 2 lbs yellow potatoes sliced into about 1/8" (3mm) thin rounds
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Grab the halved garlic and rub it, cut-side-down, all over the bottom and sides of a 10 or 11" cast iron skillet. Discard any garlic leftover. Spread the butter evenly all over the bottom and sides of the skillet.
- Whisk the heavy cream, milk, thyme, nutmeg, 1 tbsp of the chives, salt, and pepper together in a large mixing bowl. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt if needed. Add the sliced potatoes to the mixture, making sure each slice gets coated well.
- Take about 1/3 of the potato slices and lay them in an even layer into the prepared skillet. Sprinkle half of the shredded gruyere over the potatoes. Add another layer of potatoes, the rest of the gruyere, then top with the rest of the potatoes.
- Pour the remaining cream mixture in the mixing bowl evenly into the skillet. Cover the skillet with foil and bake for 1 hour, until the potatoes are tender. Remove the foil and sprinkle the parmesan cheese evenly over the potatoes. Bake for another 15-20 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Garnish with remaining chives and serve.