Scalloped potatoes baked in a creamy garlic and herb sauce. Thin slices of Yukon gold potatoes create tender layers in this casserole. A crowd-pleasing and easy side dish!
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Scalloped potatoes are a timeless side dish celebrated for their multiple layers of tender and creamy spuds. It’s a simple recipe that combines thinly sliced potatoes with rich cream. The preparation is straightforward. However, the texture and consistency won’t meet expectations if you don’t select the right ingredients.
The biggest challenge is preventing the dairy-based sauce from curdling. The good news is that this is easy to avoid by using heavy cream, which I then like to simmer with chopped garlic and thyme to infuse more flavor. Yukon gold potatoes create a luscious, fork-tender texture that pairs nicely with the cream. Just slice, layer, and bake!
What are the best potatoes to use?
Yukon gold potatoes are the best to use for scalloped potatoes. They are a waxy type of potato which means they hold their shape well after baking. This provides distinctive layers that don’t fall apart when serving. They also have a buttery, creamy texture that complements the sauce. Cut them into ¼” thick slices.
Other potatoes like white, yellow, Red Bliss, or even sweet potatoes can be used. Russet potatoes are also an option. However, they are more starchy and have a flaky texture that breaks apart easier, making them better for mashed potatoes.
How do you make creamy scalloped potatoes?
Use heavy cream and a small amount of whole milk to make these scalloped potatoes creamy. After experimenting with whole milk, half-and-half, and heavy cream, I found that heavy cream gave the best velvety consistency without curdling. I season the sauce with minced garlic, nutmeg, thyme, salt, and pepper. Let the mixture briefly simmer for 10 minutes to infuse the aromatic flavors into the cream sauce. It will absorb into the potatoes for flavorful bites.
If you want a creamier sauce that coats the potatoes, thicken the sauce with a roux using butter and all-purpose flour. I’ve done this with my potatoes au gratin recipe with successful results. This is a great technique if you want to make a cheesy sauce similar to macaroni and cheese instead of just sprinkling it on.
Grease an 8-inch casserole dish with melted butter to prevent sticking. Layer a third of the thinly sliced potatoes in overlapping rolls in the pan. Pour a third of the cream sauce on top, then repeat the process with the remaining ingredients twice—dot butter on top of the potatoes to prevent sticking and prevent the surface from drying out.
Cover the baking dish before baking. This traps the steam to soften the raw potato slices faster. Bake at 375ºF (191ºC) until the potatoes are tender, about 60 to 75 minutes. To brown the surface, remove the foil and briefly broil until the surface is golden brown.
How do you make cheesy scalloped potatoes?
This scalloped potato recipe provides a tasty base, and it’s easy to incorporate a cheese sauce if you’d like. My top picks are grated cheddar cheese, gruyere, parmesan, or pecorino Romano. Shred the cheese and add some in between each layer on top.
If you like a cheesy crust, broil for a few minutes before serving for a browned and bubbly surface.
What’s the difference between scalloped potatoes and au gratin potatoes?
Scalloped potatoes are typically thicker in size, about 1/4-inch compared to 1/8-inch thick pieces for au gratin. In addition, traditionally scalloped potatoes do not contain cheese, while gratin potatoes contain cheese.
However, over time the two names have been used interchangeably, which is why it’s easily confused. I kept this recipe classic and felt that the combination of heavy cream and layers of potatoes doesn’t need extra cheese.
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Use heavy cream to prevent curdling
The proteins become unstable and separate when milk is heated to near boiling. It’s a visible change that looks like cottage cheese. Even though this doesn’t affect the taste, the texture is compromised. Using a higher-fat dairy product like heavy cream can better tolerate the higher temperatures in the oven over an extended period, preventing curdling of the milk proteins.
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- Preheat the Oven – Set the oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 375ºF (191ºC).
- Prepare the Cream – In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, add heavy cream, milk, minced garlic, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and thyme. Bring to a simmer, occasionally stirring, about 10 minutes.Remove the thyme and transfer the mixture to a large measuring cup. Cool to room temperature while preparing the potatoes.
- Prepare the Casserole Dish – Grease the bottom and sides of an 8-Inch square baking dish with 1 tablespoon of melted butter.
- Layer the Potato Slices – Wash and peel the potatoes, and cut them into ¼" thick slices. Arrange a third of them in overlapping rows, about 4 rows in the casserole dish. Whisk and then evenly pour a third of the cream mixture over the top.Repeat two more times with the remaining potatoes. Cut 1 tablespoon of butter into small cubes and arrange them evenly on top.
- Bake the Casserole – Cover the dish with foil and place it on a large sheet pan. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender. Remove the foil and broil on high, about 8" from the top of the oven, until the potatoes are browned, about 5 minutes.
- Cool Before Serving – Wait 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with parsley and black pepper.
- Potato Substitutions: Other waxy potatoes like gold (similar to Yukon gold) or red potatoes can be used.
- Storing: Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Freeze for up to 1 month.
- Reheating: Cover and reheat small portions in the microwave on a high setting in 15 to 30-second increments until hot. Alternatively, cover and bake at 350ºF (177ºC) until hot.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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