Creamy Cheesy au Gratin Potatoes

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For many, the aroma of gratin potatoes baking in the oven evokes memories of family gatherings, laughter, and shared moments. It’s not just a dish; it’s an experience, a tradition. I grew up in a household where Sundays meant the delicious scent of creamy potatoes wafting from our kitchen. It was my grandmother’s cherished recipe, a token of love she passed down to my mother, and now to me.

Over the years, this dish became more than just a family favorite. Neighbors, drawn by the irresistible aroma, would often knock on our door, plates in hand, hoping for a serving or two. During winter months, this creamy and cheesy goodness brought warmth to our hearts and our bellies. Today, I am sharing this legacy with you, with a few tweaks of my own.

How to Prepare Cheesy & Creamy Gratin Potatoes

Ingredients for Cheesy & Creamy Gratin Potatoes

  • 4 medium-sized russet potatoes, finely sliced. They bring the perfect balance of starchiness and tenderness to the dish.
  • 1 onion, cut into thin rings. The onion infuses a mild, savory flavor that complements the creamy cheese.
  • Seasoning: A generous pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. These basic seasonings elevate the potatoes’ natural flavor.
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, for that rich and buttery undertone.
  • 3 tablespoons of flour. This is the magic ingredient that gives our sauce its thick and creamy texture.
  • 2 cups of fresh milk, preferably full-fat, to ensure the richest flavor.
  • 1 1/2 cups of grated Cheddar cheese. Its sharpness and meltability make it the star of this dish.

Directions for Cheesy & Creamy Gratin Potatoes

  1. Begin by preheating your oven to 400°F (200°C). While it’s heating, grease your casserole dish to ensure easy serving later.
  2. Start layering half of the potato slices in your dish, seasoning them with salt and pepper. Add the onion rings for that added layer of flavor, followed by the remaining potatoes. Season once again.
  3. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt your butter. As it bubbles, whisk in the flour and a touch of salt. This will form your roux, the base for the creamy sauce. Whisk until smooth.
  4. Slowly introduce the milk, whisking continuously to avoid lumps. As the sauce thickens, add the shredded cheese and stir until you have a smooth, velvety sauce.
  5. Pour this luxurious sauce over your layered potatoes, ensuring every slice is covered. Seal the dish with aluminum foil to keep the moisture in.
  6. Bake in the oven until the potatoes are tender, the top is golden, and the sauce bubbles with anticipation – this should take around 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Gratin and Scalloped Potatoes: What sets them apart?

While both dishes celebrate the potato in all its glory, au gratin potatoes typically feature cheese and are sliced thinner. Scalloped potatoes, on the other hand, traditionally focus on a creamy sauce without cheese, though contemporary versions often blur these lines.

Any recommendations for serving Gratin Potatoes?

This dish shines both as a main and a side. Pair it with a fresh green salad and some roasted meats, or simply enjoy it on its own with a glass of white wine. Its versatility makes it suitable for casual dinners and festive occasions alike.

Storing this dish: Any tips?

If you have leftovers (which is rare in my household), transfer them to an airtight container and refrigerate. When reheating, it’s best to use an oven for even warmth and to retain the creamy texture.

Freezing: Yay or Nay?

Given the rich dairy content, it’s advisable to avoid freezing as the texture might change. Instead, relish them fresh and make new memories each time!

Feeling experimental? Can I use another cheese variety?

Definitely! While cheddar is traditional and adored, experimenting with Gruyère, Monterey Jack, or even a blend of cheeses can bring a delightful twist to the classic.

What’s the best potato variant for this recipe?

Russet potatoes are the preferred choice for their texture and flavor absorption. However, Yukon gold can offer a buttery taste, making it a worthy alternative.

Cheesy au Gratin Potatoes

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4


  • 4 medium russet potatoes thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion sliced into rings
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 1-quart casserole dish.
  • Layer 1/2 of the potatoes in the bottom of the prepared casserole dish; season with salt and pepper. Layer onion slices over top, then top with with remaining potatoes. Season again with salt and pepper.
  • Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Gradually whisk in flour and salt and cook, whisking constantly until raw flour flavor has cooked off, about 1 minute. Gradually add milk, about 1/4 cup at a time, whisking well after each addition to incorporate; the gradual addition and whisking of milk will help avoid lumps in your sauce.
  • Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture has thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in cheese all at once; continue stirring until melted, 30 to 60 seconds. Pour cheese sauce over the potatoes, and cover the dish with aluminum foil.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until potatoes are tender and sauce is bubbly, about 1 ½ hours.
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