How to Make the Best Scalloped Potatoes for Christmas or Thanksgivng
What is better than holiday creamy scalloped potatoes? Some of us wait all year for these tasty little spuds baked in cheese sauce.
Scalloped potatoes, also known as potatoes gratin or gratin dauphinoise, are always a welcome side dish at dinner, especially if you are making a meal for a special occasion. Serve this alongside your Christmas meal, and you can be sure everyone at the table will enjoy the wonderful flavors.
This dish originated in France and is usually prepared in a shallow dish. Thin slices of potato are arranged in the dish, and other ingredients such as cream, onion and cheese are added into the mixture. The scalloped potatoes are then baked in the oven until they are tender and the topping is golden brown and crispy.
This is wonderful with any kind of meat, such as ham, turkey, beef, chicken, or even as part of a vegetarian meal. Scalloped potatoes can also be gently warmed back up in the oven the following day, although with a recipe this good leftovers are unlikely!
Make these super-delicious scalloped potatoes for Christmas or Thanksgiving this year.
- 3 pounds peeled Yukon Gold Potatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 finely diced yellow onion
- 4 minced garlic cloves
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 cups shredded cheddar or gruyere cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and put a rack in the middle of the oven.
Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.
Use a mandolin (if possible) or a sharp knife to slice the potatoes into 1/8-inch thick rounds, and transfer them into a bowl of cold water.
Saute the onion in the oil and butter for 5 minutes or until tender, then stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.
Stir in the milk and cream, and bring the mixture to a simmer.
Drain the potatoes and use paper towels to dry them. Layer half of them in the baking dish and sprinkle half the salt and pepper on top. Now sprinkle half the cheese over that.
Repeat with the rest of the potatoes, salt, black pepper and cheese.
Now you can pour the cream mixture over the top, pressing the potato slices down to submerge most of them.
Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for an hour on the middle rack.
Remove the foil and give them another half an hour, or cook them until the top is golden brown and the potatoes have soaked up most of the liquid.
Keep an eye on the potatoes - if they are browning too quickly, you can loosely cover the dish with aluminum foil and then resume baking.
Once the potatoes are fork-tender, the dish is ready to serve.
We suggest letting it sit on the countertop for 10 minutes though, since it will be piping hot from the oven.
Different Scalloped Potatoes Variations
This classic French dish is often made without cheese in France, but many home cooks prefer to add it. Consider cheddar, gruyere or any other kind of cheese you prefer. If you want to omit the cheese (or just add a small amount on top before baking) that is also fine, and you will find starch from the potatoes combines with the milk and cream to offer a creamy, rich flavor.
Something else you might like to do is swap half the onion for diced baby leek, or you could add more garlic if you like plenty of garlicky flavor in your potatoes. Swap half the black pepper for ground nutmeg if you want, or even sprinkle some crumbled cooked bacon on top of the scalloped potatoes before baking them in the oven. There is a similar dish known as potatoes boulangere, which uses chicken stock instead of milk and cream. That is also tasty, but for the holidays we prefer the incredible flavor of scalloped potatoes!
Tips for Sensational Scalloped Potatoes
- To make our delicious scalloped potatoes recipe for Christmas, you will need Yukon Gold potatoes, or a similar variety such as Yellow Finn or large red-skinned potatoes.
- Yellow onion, garlic, salt and black pepper are used for flavor, and we are also using oil, butter, cheese, milk, and heavy whipping cream. This might sound like a lot of dairy but scalloped potatoes are famed for their rich, creamy flavor, and all these ingredients work together to make the most delicious side dish.
- Although you can slice the potatoes with a knife, it makes more sense to invest in a mandolin so you can get not only thin slices but uniform ones too. A mandolin is a great gadget in the kitchen and it makes slicing several pounds of potatoes a quick task rather than a chore.
- You will need to prepare the sauce in one pan and layer the potatoes with the other ingredients in a shallow 13 x 9 inch dish. The sauce then goes over the top and you can press down on the potatoes to submerge most of them in the creamy sauce, although don’t worry if some are not submerged. Now the dish just goes into the oven for an hour or a half, or until the scalloped potatoes are tender and the top is golden brown and crispy.