If you believe as I do, that the side dishes make the feast, then you absolutely, positively need this recipe for the BEST homemade Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes.
Scalloped—meaning the potatoes are thinly sliced into rounds, then baked casserole-style in a creamy sauce—is a special way to elevate the humble potato (think of them as the horizontal version of Hasselback Potatoes).
You can create many variations (like these Scalloped Potatoes with Goat Cheese and Crockpot Scalloped Potatoes), but when you are craving a classic, this traditional scalloped potato recipe is the one.
Once the potatoes are sliced, this particular easy recipe comes together fast, largely thanks to the fact that I managed to find a way to make these scalloped potatoes without béchamel sauce.
No heavy cream, no extra steps. Just layer and bake!
About this Scalloped Potatoes Recipe
- These potatoes taste decadent and memorable enough for something special, but won’t weigh you down after just a few bites. No heavy cream sauce!
- The only thing more heavenly than the rich aroma that perfumes the kitchen as these homemade scalloped potatoes bake is the glory of actually eating them.
If potatoes are a staple on your family’s Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas menu too (or, if you’d immediately like to make them a part of that list), then grab your spuds, and let’s get cooking!
The Difference Between Scalloped Potatoes and Au Gratin
- Scalloped potatoes are thinly sliced potatoes layered in a casserole dish and baked with heavy cream or milk.
- Au gratin potatoes have grated cheese sprinkled between the layers, so they taste more decadent. Breadcrumbs are also often sprinkled on top of the dish before it goes into the oven. (Check out Brussels Sprouts Gratin for a twist).
- The potatoes are also usually sliced more thinly for au gratin potatoes than scalloped potatoes.
While there are key differences in these two dishes, the two terms are used fairly interchangeably, including by some major, well-respected food websites.
So which are these?
They have thinly sliced potatoes, milk, and cheese, so they are a combo of both.
Call them whatever you like, they taste amazing!
Tips for the Best Scalloped Potatoes
- Choose the Right Potato.
- For scalloped potatoes, look for a potato that is starchy. Starchy potatoes help thicken the sauce and are more tender. There are two varieties of starchy potatoes that are readily available: russet potatoes and Yukon gold potatoes.
- Between the two, I find the best potatoes for cheesy scalloped potatoes are Yukon gold potatoes. Their flavor is naturally richer and more buttery than russet potatoes, resulting in a more fully-flavored dish.
- Yukon gold potatoes hold their shape well after they’re baked.
- Avoid waxy red-skinned potatoes. Because they are less starchy, they are likely to be too firm, even after cooking. Save your red potatoes for Roasted Red Potatoes.
- Slice the Potatoes Ultra Thin.
- Part of what makes these quick scalloped potatoes is how thinly the potatoes are sliced.
- Thinner potatoes bake faster and become unbelievably tender. The layers almost melt into each other in the most wonderful way that you never would have realized you were missing but will never want to be without again.
- For best results, I recommend a mandoline for even, razor-thin slices that don’t need to cook before layering them.
How to Make Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
For this cheesy scalloped potatoes recipe, I decided to take the characteristics that make this dish so popular—the velvety texture, the layers upon layers of creamy potatoes, and that yummy, cheesy lid—then streamline the recipe to make it easier.
- Yukon Gold Potatoes. Yukon Gold are my recommended type of potato for this cheesy scalloped potatoes recipe. See “Tips for the Best Scalloped Potatoes” above for more.
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese. Cheesy scalloped potatoes are the best scalloped potatoes! The sharp cheddar stands out from the creaminess of the potatoes and sauce.
- Parmesan Cheese. Sprinkled on top for the perfect cheese-crusted lid. And parm makes just about everything better, right?
- Whole Milk. The secret to obtaining a perfectly creamy, tender texture without using cream.
- Onion. Sautéed along with garlic for major flavor.
- Garlic. Brings these cheesy scalloped potatoes up another notch.
- Flour. The sliced potatoes are tossed in all-purpose flour, thickening the sauce while it cooks in the dish.
- Melt butter in a pan and cook onion over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Stir in the milk, salt and pepper.
- Toss sliced and peeled potatoes in a bowl with salt and flour.
- Spread 1/3 of the potatoes in a casserole dish. Spoon 1 cup of the milk mixture over the top.
- Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.
- Repeat layering potatoes, milk mixture and cheese until you have 3 layers of each.
- End layering with cheddar cheese on top. Bake cheesy scalloped potatoes covered at 375 degrees F for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 25 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, then broil for 1 to 3 minutes until the cheese is golden brown. Rest at room temperature prior to serving to thicken sauce. ENJOY!
- To Store. Place cooked and cooled leftovers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. You can make these potatoes ahead and reheat them. Gently reheat leftovers in an oven-safe baking dish covered with foil in the oven at 350 degrees F until warmed through, adding additional splashes of milk as needed. You can also reheat this dish in the microwave until hot, though I recommend the oven for the best texture.
- To Freeze. Store cooked and cooled leftovers in a freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating. Note that potatoes do tend to become mealy when frozen, so only freeze as a last resort, or if you don’t mind a less than optimal texture.
Meal Prep Tip
If you know you’re going to freeze your potatoes, I recommend not cooking them all the way. The potatoes will hold up better in the freezer, and you will finish the baking process when you’re ready to reheat them.
Make Ahead Instructions
The dish can be prepared through Step 3 one day in advance (wait to add the milk/cheese until just before you bake). Store covered in the refrigerator, let come to room temperature, then continue with the recipe as directed.
What to Serve With Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
A winning side for your holiday spread, cheesy scalloped potatoes are perfection with any of these classic starring mains, or with additional sides.
Holiday Main Dishes
More Yummy Sides
The Best Mandoline
This mandoline easily slices fruits and vegetables with four different adjustable thicknesses. It’s dishwasher safe too!
What sides does your family have to serve with every holiday dinner?
I bet after one taste, you’ll want to add these cheesy scalloped potatoes!
Frequently Asked Questions
While the specific reasoning for the name is still a mystery, many speculate that it may reference the “scalloped” shape that the potato slices make when they’re assembled in the dish. Others believe the name could have originated from “collops,” which is an Old English word meaning “to slice meat thinly” and could refer to the thinly sliced potatoes.
Because this scalloped potatoes recipe isn’t very saucy to begin with, if doubling the recipe, I suggest doing 2.5 times the amount of milk and cheese to ensure there’s plenty of cheesy sauce to cover the potatoes. If you like your scalloped potatoes extra saucy, you may even want to consider tripling the amount of milk and cheese if preparing these scalloped potatoes for a crowd.
If you’re looking for a fun recipe variation, try Scalloped Potatoes with Ham. Simply layer thinly sliced cooked ham between the layers of potatoes before baking then finish as directed (for easy serving, cut the ham into pieces first). Scalloped potatoes with carrots is a great vegetarian scalloped potatoes twist. Thinly slice carrots into coins and intermix them with the potato slices before baking.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion ¼-inch diced
- 6 garlic cloves minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt divided
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes about 6 to 8 medium
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese shredded (about 1 ½ cups)
- 1 ounce Parmesan cheese shredded (about ¼ cup)
Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9×13-inch casserole dish with nonstick spray and set aside.
In a medium pot or wide skillet with high sides, heat the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onion. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Turn off the heat.
Stir in the milk, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper. Set aside to cool.
Peel the potatoes. With a mandoline or very sharp chef’s knife, slice the potatoes into VERY thin slices, about ⅛ to ¼-inch thick (thinner is better). Place potatoes in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the flour and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. With your hands, toss to coat the potatoes as evenly as possible.
Spread one-third of the sliced potatoes evenly in the bottom of the prepared dish. Spoon 1 cup of the milk mixture over the top. Sprinkle with ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese. Repeat two more times so you have a total of 3 layers each of potato, the milk mixture, and the cheddar cheese, ending with the cheese on top.
Lightly mist a large sheet of aluminum foil with nonstick spray. Cover the dish with foil spray-side down. Bake the scalloped potatoes for 35 minutes, then uncover and bake for an 25 additional minutes, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.
Remove the dish from the oven and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Turn the oven to broil and return the pan to the oven for 1 to 3 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Don’t walk away and let them burn!
Allow the potatoes to stand at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes prior to serving to allow the milk mixture to set and thicken (don’t worry, they
- *I do not recommend russet potatoes for this recipe, as they have less flavor, a dryer texture, and thicker skin than Yukon golds.
- TO MAKE AHEAD: The dish can be prepared through Step 3 one day in advance (wait to add the milk/cheese until just before you bake). Store covered in the refrigerator, let come to room temperature, then continue with the recipe as directed.
- TO STORE: Place cooked and cooled leftovers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently reheat leftovers in an oven-safe baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F until warmed through, adding a splash of broth as needed. You can also reheat this dish in the microwave until hot.
- TO FREEZE: I do not recommend freezing scalloped potatoes as they can become mealy.
Serving: 1of 8Calories: 313kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 12gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 39mgPotassium: 861mgFiber: 4gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 431IUVitamin C: 35mgCalcium: 297mgIron: 2mg
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Here are more of my very favorite holiday side dish recipes with potatoes: