Sunday, November 21, 2010

Perfectly Cheesy Potatoes au Gratin

Perfect Potatoes au Gratin, made with thinly sliced potatoes in a cheesy dreamy cream sauce.

Cheesy Potatoes au Gratin

Hello Scalloped Potatoes, meet the best, perfectly cheesy, Potatoes au Gratin, evah. Ya know, seriously... I am of the opinion that it'd be kinda hard to mess up a dish of potatoes au gratin no matter what you do to them - I mean c'mon now. Potatoes. Cheese. Butter. Cream. Hello. If you're making this for the holidays, you'll want to double the ingredients and do extra layers.

Well, I personally love Julia's way with this classic potato dish, however I decided to play with it a bit. You know. For the holidays. Julia uses Swiss cheese to transform her scalloped potatoes to cheesy au gratin potatoes, but since cheddar is more mainstream in most households, I switched over to cheddar for this one.

Cheddar can be a bit fussy on its own though so I thought I would add in a little bit of my beloved Velveeta too. Now I know that some of you running across this are going to scoff at my use of Velveeta, and frankly that's perfectly okay. You don't have to use it, but I love it, and especially love to add some in with macaroni and cheese. If you want a guaranteed, creamy sauce without the notorious curdling cheddar is known for, then add a little bit of Velveeta in there and see what a difference it makes.

Not at all hard, this dish is a simple, small cheese sauce, poured over the top of layers of very thin sliced potatoes, each sprinkled with salt, pepper, and some shredded cheese - here cheddar. A mandoline is key for these kinds of potatoes I think, but if you don't happen to own one, you can simply slice the potatoes by hand.

If you like your potatoes sliced thicker, or you don't have a mandolin, cut them about 1/4 inch thick, place them into a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Immediately turn off the heat, remove pot from the burner, and let them sit in the water for 5 minutes. Drain well, pat dry and proceed.

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Recipe: Perfectly Cheesy Potatoes au Gratin

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 20 min |Cook time: 20 min | Yield: About 6 to 8 servings

  • 2 pounds of baking potatoes (about 6 medium)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 6 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 cups of half and half
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 2 ounces of Velveeta, cubed
  • About 2-1/2 cups of shredded sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly smash and peel the garlic; rub all over a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Butter the dish and set aside.

Peel the potatoes and slice thin, about 1/8 inch. A mandolin works fantastic for this, but see the tip below if you are hand slicing. Hold the potatoes in a bowl of cool water to keep. Once you are ready to layer the dish, drain the potatoes and then transfer them to a clean dish towel and pat thoroughly dry.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan or large skillet, heat the butter with the half and half until the butter is melted and the half and half is hot. Stir in the Velveeta and 1/2 cup of the cheddar, or whatever cheese you are using. Cook and stir over medium heat until all of the cheese is melted and mixture is smooth.

Layer 1/2 of the potatoes in the bottom of the buttered baking dish. Season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle about 1/3 of the remaining cheese on top. Repeat the layer of potatoes, salt and pepper and another 1/3 of the cheese. Reserve the last 1/3 of the shredded cheese for the last few minutes of cooking. You can also use more cheese in the layers and on top if you like.

Pour the cheese sauce evenly over the top of the casserole and bake, uncovered, at 425 degrees F, for about 20-25 minutes, or until bubbly and potatoes are fork tender. Remove from the oven, top with the remaining shredded cheese and return to the oven for about 5 minutes, or until cheese begins to brown. Serves about 8 - prepare extra layers to double, testing potatoes in the center before topping with the final cheese and returning to the oven.

Tip: If you like your potatoes sliced thicker, or you don't have a mandolin, cut the potatoes about 1/4 inch thick, place them into a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Immediately turn off the heat, remove pot from the burner, and let them sit in the water for 5 minutes. Drain well, pat dry and proceed.


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Posted by on November 21, 2010

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  1. Cheesy potatoes is always a good thing!

  2. haven't met a cheesy spud I don't like...yum = )

  3. Love these tators Mary...these are a major temptation for me! I too like to use Velveeta because of it's creaminess.

  4. ohmygosh this looks WONderful. I've always used cheddar cheese for any cheesy potato dish. I'd like to try Julia's swiss cheese idea.

  5. I can't wait to try this recipe out for Christmas dinner, your site is fantastic!!!!!! It has everything a wanna be southern cook would want to see and drool over!

  6. Can I make this the night ahead and keep it in the fridge until the next day?

    1. I'm not the biggest fan of made ahead potato dishes but you certainly can do it! Just assemble, make sure the potato slices are completely submerged in the sauce and wrap tightly. If they aren't covered completely they will turn an ugly grey color. Bring to room temperature before baking. Better is to make and bake, then reheat, but reheated foods are never quite the same as freshly made. You'll need to slightly underbake, let cool, wrap tightly and refrigerate. Let come to room temperature then bake on a low to moderate heat, probably around 350 degrees until warmed through - just not sure exactly how long, maybe 30-45 minutes.

    2. Delicious! I tweeked it a but thinking all that creme night be too rich. I used half heavy creme and half 2% milk. Had to use a bit of flour water mixture to yh cken but OMG is it good! Big hit with ham dinner for the family.

  7. Good Lord Mary, this stuff is addictive. I made it as a side dish to my Easter ham dinner. I couldn't stop eating this! It was a big hit with my family in place of the usual mashed potatoes. I did find the prep time to be longer (and I have a mandolin) because of drying the individual slices before stacking them. My old Pampered Chef mandolin slices the thickest at about between 1/8th to 1/16 of an inch thick so I had more slices to pat dry, but I knew this and allowed myself extra time and it was well worth the extra 15 - 20 minutes of prep time. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe. I did use extra cheese and I poured half the cheese sauce on the first layer and along with the other steps and the last half on top. My cook time was like over an hour to get the potatoes done and I was using convection bake. But I swear every scalloped or potato au gratin recipe I've ever tried, this has been the case and my potatoes weren't soft but just about perfect. This will definitely be my go to recipe for Potatoes au Gratin recipe from now on and I've tried several! This dish reheats well... I wasn't so sure about that because a lot of potato dishes do not, but it reheated very well. Thank you again for another fabulous recipe. Leave it to a Southern Woman for the best recipes.... just saying.....

    1. Thank you Kilyena and I'm glad y'all enjoyed it. The key really is using a mandolin - sure saves a lot of time and with all the slices even, the whole dish just cooks better. like the idea of dividing the cheese sauce up too so thanks for sharing that. I haven't reworked this recipe at all since first publishing it! Thanks so much for stopping by and letting me know the dish was a success - that always means a lot!

  8. This is my "go to" recipe for cheesy potatoes; so very good! I dice up a ham steak in mine and it makes more of a good meal than just a side dish! Wonderful! Mary, your site is one of my favorites - I visit every week! Thank you for what you do! I can't wait to get your book!

    1. Thank you so much Donna & I hope that you love the book!

  9. I made this and the sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving Dinner instead of mashed potatoes. The sweet potato casserole with lots of marshmallows was quite good, but this stuff got devoured! For 5 people I made the 6-8 serving size and there were no leftovers. Enough said. Another Mary Foreman winner. Your site has become my no fail, go to place for good comfort food and simple to follow directions that even a rank amateur cook can follow with success, Keep the great recipes coming!

    1. Thank you so much Richard! I'm so happy to hear your family and friends enjoyed these. I love them too!!

  10. Im going in guys. Subbing cream for milk. The meatloaf is on. Broccoli on the side. Too rich???

  11. I made this tonight. The cheese sauce was incredible and l ved by all. I did change it a bit. I thought all that creme would be too rich so I used half heavy creme and half 2% milk. Needed to add a bit of flour water mixture to thicken it but my goodness its deliciious!


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