Scalloped Potatoes

There are many ways to make delicious scalloped potatoes. For this version, I consulted several books – Kitchen Sense, two James Beards, and theJoy of Cooking. Basically you layer thinly sliced potatoes with any number of extras – cheese, onions, parsley – add milk or cream, and bake. The potatoes absorb the liquid as they cook, the cheese melts, the top gets browned. One tip – use a shallow casserole dish. The one I used here ended up stacking the potatoes a little too high and I had to add a half hour or so to the cooking time. What you don’t want is crispy browned on top and not-cooked-enough potatoes inside. If you need a faster cooking time, Joy of Cooking recommends parboiling the potatoes first for a few minutes.

Scalloped Potatoes Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 8.

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 2 lbs (about 4 medium sized) Russet potatoes, peeled, sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives (optional)
  • 2 thick slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups grated Swiss or Gruyere cheese (about 8 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 2 1/2 cups to 3 cups of half-and-half (half milk, half cream)
  • Salt and pepper

Method

1 Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a large casserole dish with 1 1/2 Tbsp of butter. If you use a casserole dish that is about 9x13 (bigger than the one shown) you'll have more surface area, more of the potatoes will brown, and the cooking time will be faster.

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2 Layer the bottom of the casserole dish with 1/3 of the potato slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Layer on 1/2 of the sliced onions and 1/2 cup of the Swiss cheese. Layer on 1/2 of the bacon, 1/2 of the parsley and chives. Sprinkle with a little Parmesan.

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Repeat by layering on 1/3 of the potato slices, sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Layer on the remaining sliced onions, 1/2 cup of the Swiss cheese, the remaining bacon, parsley and chives. Sprinkle with a little Parmesan.

Top the casserole with the remaining potato slices. Add the half and half. Dot the potatoes with the remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp of butter.

3 Cover the casserole with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for one hour. After an hour, remove from the oven, remove the foil, sprinkle on the remaining Swiss and Parmesan cheese. Return to the oven for an additional 30-40 minutes. When done, the potatoes should be tender, but not mushy, and the liquid should be mostly absorbed.

For a faster cooking time, you can parboil the sliced potatoes for 8 minutes first, patting them dry, before layering them in the casserole pan. In this case the total oven cooking time is about 35-45 minutes.

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39 Comments

  1. Phaedra

    My mom made a simple version with no cheese. Each layer would be one slice thick, dotted with butter, and sprinkled with salt, pepper and flour. (No flour on the top layer.) The flour thickens the sauce much as the cheese would.

    This was one of my childhood favorites, but now my household is dairy and wheat sensitive. So the other night I experimented and came up with thin layers of potato sprinkled with rice flour and pecorino romano (sheep milk) cheese, plus plain soy milk, and in this case, leftover ham. I baked it uncovered at 350 for a good hour and a half, until it looked pretty on top. It was great!

  2. Karen

    I feel compelled to advise parboiling the potatoes in the milk/cream and then gently pouring it into the casserole–this way you don’t have to dry the potatoes off, and the milk and cream gets a warm up before heading into the dish.

  3. Stu

    I could eat scalloped/gratin/tartiflette almost onece a week! Last night, in fact, I made a casserole of chopped lamb, onions, thyme for the filling and half spuds, half celeriac with lamb stock for the liquid. The celeriac was fantastic in this dish.

  4. Josh

    Tamar,

    Mandolines work wonders for thinly slicing veggies. :-)

  5. evelyn

    I made this for Christmas day dinner to bring to my family’s gathering in Mill valley, CA.
    Everyone loved it….all the women asked for the recipe….and one comment was “loved the bacon in it”. Thanks for making a wonderful day, even more special.

  6. Allison

    I made this dish with baby red, white, and purple potatoes. It didn’t look very pretty because of the purple potatoes, but it tasted good. I have a cuisinart stand mixer with a slicing attachment. I put the potatoes in there to slice them really thin, instead of a mandoline or a food processor. I found that the dish was pretty greasy, in general, and that a large pyrex baking dish worked well, fo even browning and faster cooking time.

  7. katie

    This may be a ridiculous question (especially considering that we are talking about scalloped potatoes, after all!), but does anyone have suggestions for making a lower-fat version of this yumminess? (Low-fat, I suppose, is rather too tall an order!) I was thinking about using a skim ricotta instead of cream, for example. Any thoughts?

  8. Betty

    Katie wanted to know how to make it lower fat. First use a low fat cheese and second use 2% milk not cream. I lower the amount of milk since 2% is thinner. I’ve also been known to blend 2% milk, low-fat cottage cheese and just a hint of dry mustard to the consistency of cream and use that instead of milk/cream combo. Hubby loves that version and has no idea it’s got cottage cheese in it or he wouldn’t touch it.

  9. Rebecca

    We always have these for Easter dinner, too, and I’m planning to make them tomorrow. I like a good, sharp Cheddar instead of the gruyere, and like a couple of others I sprinkle flour between the first couple of layers. I’m tempted to quote Martha Stewart and say take smaller servings rather than trying to create a low-fat version, but if you must, skimmed evaporated milk might give you the texture and richness you’re looking for. And yes, the brown, crusty bits are the best so definitely bake these in a shallow casserole dish.

  10. dksbook

    I only use cream in my scallopped potatoes, never milk. It gives a smoother, denser dish. My way: grated gruyere, (part aged emmentaler if desired) cream, garlic. No butter needed because of the cream. I rub a shallow oval casserole, about 2 quarts, all over the inside with garlic, then I lightly spray it with Pam. Then I slice my potatoes on my trusty mandoline. I like them thin. Then I layer them with the grated cheese (salt and white pepper to taste) and cover the whole thing with cream. I then bake it in a hot oven til brown and bubbly, and almost all the cream is incorporated. I let it cool a bit before serving. Leftovers are very nice sliced and re-heated in some butter in a frying pan on top of the stove.

    When we lived in the Vosges du Nord in France, this was as ubiquitous as fries or mashers here. They were always served in small shallow copper casseroles with the main course.

    Another method I have seen french home cooks use is to boil the potato slices in milk until the milk is boiled away, then baked sort of like the above. It is supposed to hasten the dish, but I find it more trouble to keep stirring the potatoes in the milk, and the time saving is not worth it to me. Also, using milk pretty much guarantees a curdled dish, at least when I use it. I use the long method, I just plan on serving them 2 hours after they are put in the oven, easy enough on the weekends, anyway.

    This discussion makes me wonder if the dish can be partially baked, refrigerated, then finished in the oven later. Any ideas?

    Re: tartiflette. Although I love Reblochon, it is so overwhelming in tartiflette, that I can only eat a very tiny bit.This one is most like the ones I have eaten in France, very strong. Not subtle, but delicious if you love strong cheese and lots of it.

  11. Janelle

    Is it possible to slice the potatoes thin enough with just a nice sharp knife? I don’t have a big food processor or a mandoline, and these just look soooooo yummy!

    Or does a hand grater with the side slot work? I have one, but I’ve never tried to slice aything with it, although I assume that’s what the slot side is for?

  12. pangloss

    My mother, one of the finest midwest-US cooks (I realize it now but it was not so eminently in my mind growing up), and she made an excellent homey version of this dish, usually without cream and sometimes with 2% milk. Always with onions.)

    She sometimes made a white sauce roux, with onions and lots of ham but no cheese; unfortunately for me, I wasn’t interested in cooking (who would with her nightly dinners) so I did not get her recipes (all in her head). Analyzing this method now, the white sauce broke down to some extent by the Idaho spuds that were not pre-cooked. The result: a rich dish but Anyone familiar with this technique?

    (Common knowledge now among chefs, or so I’ve come to understand, is that baking potatoes are a much better choice because of their higher starch content. Is this a consensus opinion?)

    Now about the ham I have left from yesterday’s meal: I don’t know the “official” or should I say “professional” take on Honey Baked Hams but my family and other Bay area foodie friends are solid HBH’s fans. The problem is that this ham’s high liquid pumping makes its product impractical for heating, resulting in a more liquid dish than I’d like. (It is in my estimation the best “chain store” product, and I have no affiliation with the company.)

    Does anyone have recommendations, whether theoretical or tried and true recipes, to put me in a new direction for this fondly remembered dish? What do *you* think of HBHams and their other products BTW? What are your fav hams and why?

  13. Debbie Pomerantz

    Yes the side slot on a upright box grater works excellent…my Scalloped Potatoes for Easter dinner last night turned out great!!!They guys all had second and third servings. Ommit the butter not nessessary I use pam to coat the shallow pan. I use cream, does not curdle…

  14. Amber A.

    One of the streamlined recipes of Easter this year was Scalloped Potatoes. I used the Joy technique of parboiling the thinly sliced potatoes and then baking them over time. I layered them per the usual technique but also added some spicy chives I found at the store—-I thought the dish turned out great! In previous years I’ve used Gruyere cheese & oven roasted potatoes rather than this year’s aged cheddar but I would say it’s a toss up between the two. Who could go wrong with scalloped potatoes!?! :-)!! YUM!

  15. Marita

    I love scalloped potatoes. Once I was making them and ran out of milk. It wasn’t possible to go to the store, so I substitued chicken broth. OH MaGawd, so delicious.

    I’ve done it like this ever since. Enjoy.

  16. laura anderson

    If I am making a large amount of scalloped potatoes in an electric roaster, and I am running short of time, can I peel and slice potatoes at night and keep them in cold water in frige overnight? or will they turn brown?

  17. Kay

    I made this for dinner tonight, using shredded cheddar. Since my ‘onion hater’ was dining with us, I used about 1/4 of a large onion and a very small shallot. I also only used 1 cup cream + 1 cup milk, which was plenty…wouldn’t have wanted anymore liquid. I also mixed some bread crumbs with parmesan for the topping when the foil came off for the last 40 minutes. It was absolutely wonderful!!! I’m definately glad I lined a jelly roll pan with foil and put the baking dish on that. I will certainly be making it again.

  18. Laura

    Elise,
    Another home run! I just made this for T-day today and it was a total hit, but than again all your recipes are! :-) They always say never to try something new on a holiday, but they must not know about your site, because all your recipes are home runs!

    Thanks again!

  19. Thea Hardy

    Elise, thanks for this recipe – I was not satisfied with the Joy and wanted to see more. Mom used to make this all the time and I loved it, but looking to upscale it a bit. This is just perfect. As for the kind of potatoes – the reason I like waxy ones is I want them to have that little bit of “bite”, faintly al dente, when it’s done. I am going to mix half chicken broth and cream due to reading the comments, and put in some little slices of smoked turkey because that’s what I have instead of bacon. I have some homemade goat “manchego” which I think I will mix with some cheddar and fresh herbs, maybe even some sliced, toasted almonds I have on top. Oh, and I am putting in some slices of winter squash to drop the carbs down a little since I am diabetic and I have found this helps with mashed potatoes (half spud and half winter sq is delicious). Lots of pepper, and some garlic. Yes. What fun – this recipe has been here a year and we are still discovering it and having a great time. thanks again!!

  20. Jonathan

    C’est gourmet; better than most restaurant quality here! :O). Thank you.

  21. Jeff

    I made a recipe similar to yours the other night. Substituted ham and used fresh mushrooms. I used a lactose free cheese.

  22. Jake Ludington

    My variation on this theme is to use Silk creamer and chicken broth in place of the cream and to use a goat cheese to remove dairy from the equation. The scallop potato recipe comes fairly close to yours otherwise.

  23. William

    Somebody asked about slicing potatoes ahead and keeping in cold water. If I am making a large dinner I often slice my potatoes early in the day and let them sit in cold water to which I add a little milk. My mother always soaked what she referred to as “old” potatoes in a little milk, old did not mean they were soft or anything, just that they may have had a slight grayish tinge. She always said that the lactic acid in the milk helped to bleach the potatoes a bit. While I never have old potatoes I still throw the milk in the soaking water and have yet to have them discolor even when I let them soak half a day before cooking.

  24. Hannah

    Elise-
    My family has been making a version of this for years, it’s one of my favorite comfort foods!
    We chop potatoes (usually we boil them a bit first so they’re not too hard) instead of slicing them, and we make a rue with added cheese in it for the sauce. We also cube ham and add into it. We say one-two potatoes for every one person eating. Then, you just dump in potatoes and ham, and pour the sauce over.
    We cover it with foil to bake for a while, then when it’s almost done, we pull off the foil and sprinkle a little cheese on top.
    You can check it as you bake, and add a little milk if the sauce is drying up!

  25. Wendy

    I made these for the first time today (Christmas). The flavor was wonderful with the Gruyere Cheese, but for some reason, mine didn’t come out “creamy”. I followed the directions exactly, but ended up with a lot of “watery” liquid in the bottom. I parboiled, but made sure to pat the potatoes very dry. I used 1/2 and 1/2, and cooked them for 1 hour, then 40 minutes. Any thoughts on what might have gone wrong? Thanks so much!!:)

  26. Regena

    You can leave potatoes soaking in water (or water and milk) covered in the fridge for 2 or 3 days with no adverse affects. Make sure the potatoes are completely submerged as any out of the water will turn gray. Soaking for long periods will ‘leach’ some of the starch out of the potatoes and that starch ends up in the bottom of the bowl. Be aware of this if you are counting on the starch from the potatoes thickening your sauce. Scoop the potatoes out of the bowl rather than dumping them into a strainer as whatever is on the bottom of your bowl will end up on the top of your potatoes.

  27. Kate

    Everyone raved about these. I have to say they did bake probably 2 hrs because I did not parboil the potatoes. And, although I have not made scalloped potatoes in years, I had a recollection of shaking a bit of (Wondra)flour over each layer, which I did and I think that did keep it from being runny. The flavour was wonderful and as I said, all raved. Thank you, it was an Easter success!

  28. Kristin

    These potatoes were delicious, I made them for a side dish for a holiday dinner. I doubled the recipe and used a large 10×15 dish, making sure the potatoes were sliced VERY thin. No problems, the potatoes were tender, the cheese was brown and crispy, and I used the oven times listed. Thanks, this is a great side that I will definitely make again!

  29. Maureen

    I made this for Christmas and it was good… even better the next day (and the next)!!! I goofed and had too many things that needed to go in the oven, and not enough time, so I had to bake it at 425 for the first 45 minutes or so which curdled the cream – but it was still tasty.

  30. Lori koberg

    I just made this for Easter and i had to throw it down the drain!!! I thought i was a great cook but this makes me scared to try new recipes!! I made it one day ahead and put in the fridge overnight and when i took it out the potatoes looked black. I thought it might change once i baked it, but i tasted it and it had gotten mushy. It smelled great while baking but it was too embarassing to present to my guests. Thankfully my mother in-law made mashed potatoes for back up.

    Hello Lori – it appears to me that this isn’t a recipe you can assemble ahead and expect it to work. Not all recipes can be made ahead, and unless a recipe states explicitly that you can make it ahead, you should assume that you cannot. ~Elise

  31. Annie

    I don’t have any cream, can I just use 2% milk instead of half and half?

    I don’t know how it will turn out with milk instead of half and half, but if you try it that way, please let us know how it worked for you. ~Elise

  32. lauren

    Well,i tried this recipe, and since the layers were not very shallow – maybe 4″ deep – i raised the temp to 400. Also didnt have cream so i used 1%. the 1% didnt thicken well, so i left it in longer, to see if more would evaporate. at the end, i just had a big mess – the milk curdled and the cheese separated into oil… uck. DONT raise the temp on this!

  33. Joanie

    We parboiled at first, as suggested and used a shallow pan, as suggested.

    It turned out so delicious my husband ate 50% of the total pan!!! Whatever’s leftover, he has claimed them for lunch tomorrow in the office!!!

    Thank you Elise!!! It’s another winner!

  34. Jackie

    Found this receipe for a reminder of how to make them. We always use canned evaporated milk in ours. Will have to try it this way next.

  35. RD

    Made this last Sunday as we hosted a little get together for most of my wife’s family (she has two sisters and three brothers plus grown kids). We served it with a honey-smoked ham from Costco and chicken legs I grilled on my Big Green Egg in the rain. I used red potatoes instead of russets as my wife had just bought a big bag at Costco. Used our food processor to slice the potatos which made the prep go pretty quick. Everyone loved it! Will definetely make this again.

  36. Kelly

    I think this recipe turned out just the way it was supposed to, so I was pleased with that aspect. The texture was just right: not soupy at all and the potatoes were perfectly cooked. However, I think the onion overpowered the other flavors. It should taste mostly of comforting potatoes and cheese, in my opinion, but instead I was left with that bitter onion aftertaste. Next time, I will halve or maybe even third the onion. Also, I made the mistake of not peeling potatoes thoroughly as I like the chunkiness of potatoes with a little skin. But in this dish, it didn’t work; we got a bit of “dirty” flavor from the skins. Next time, will peel all the way. Finally, I did add a little finely chopped broccoli to the mix, and it turned out great! The whole dish was much tastier as leftovers the next day, and even better the third!

  37. Roni Chiocsky

    I am looking for a French receipe for potatoes, sauted onions in butter & Gruyere cheese that is
    cooked on top of the stove in a fry pan. I lost
    the receipe & it was absolutely delicious. It has
    a golden brown top when cooked & takes about 45 mins.

  38. Rebekah

    Daaaang… this was good. Used russets and a white onion, and the full 3 cups of half and half. Instead of Swiss or Gruyere I used a sharp local farmer’s cheese, which has a nice strong flavor and melts well. Omitted the bacon, used the chives. Loved it. 90 minutes was enough.

    p.s. I’m lazy and didn’t peel my potatoes. Also, I don’t have a mandoline, so my chef’s knife to the rescue. No problem. :)

  39. raquel

    wonderful recipes

    I tried carmalizing red onions and adding that as a layer. It’s fantastic.

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