This deliciously Creamy Au Gratin Potatoes Recipe is perfect for a weeknight side dish, fancy Sunday dinner, or holiday dinner. It’s so rich and cheesy that nobody would ever guess it’s lightened up.
This creamy Au Gratin Potatoes recipe has been on my “to cook” list forever and now that the Easter holiday is here, I thought it would be the perfect time to finally give this recipe a try.
Don’t you think?
I also want to say that this recipe isn’t just for the holidays! You can make it anytime you want for a delicious side to go with dinner.
When I make it as a side dish for a weeknight dinner, I typically like to serve it with some baked chicken and veggies or with a nice, juicy sirloin steak.
Trust me, this looks fancy and hard to make but it’s actually super easy. 😉
Frequently Asked Questions About Au Gratin Potatoes
Before I show you how I make this potato recipe, here are a few questions I have gotten from some of my readers.
What’s The Difference Between Au Gratin And Scalloped Potatoes?
Gratin (or Au Gratin) potatoes and scalloped potatoes are essentially the same dish…sort of. So much so, that people tend to call them both by either name.
Well, there is one big difference when it comes to these two dishes: the cheese.
Au Gratin potatoes have cheese baked in between the layers and then sprinkled on top. When it melts, it creates this brown crunchy layer- YUM!
Scalloped potatoes are actually cooked in cream and a couple of different herbs + seasonings. However, I’ve seen scalloped potato recipes include cheese as well which just comes to show how much freedom you can have in the kitchen.
So, in my opinion, it’s basically the same thing!
What Kind Of Potato Works Best In Potato Gratin?
My favorite potato to use is a Yukon gold potato. These potatoes get this super creamy texture but still hold their shape when cooked. Russet potatoes are too starchy and fall apart after baking in the milk and red potatoes work okay but don’t give that same creaminess as a Yukon gold potato.
Do You Need To Use A Mandoline?
One of the reasons I shied away from this recipe was because I don’t actually own a mandoline. I know I probably should but I just never got around to getting one.
Anyway, you absolutely do not need a mandoline to prepare the potatoes for this recipe. All you need is a good chef’s knife!
Just make sure to cut the potatoes on the thin side and try to get them as even as possible, as this assures all the potatoes will cook evenly. Of course, If you have a mandoline to use for this recipe (and are brave enough to do so), you have a better chance of a consistent cut and evenness for the potatoes.
How Can I Make A Healthy Version of Au Gratin Potatoes?
I lightened this recipe up by using 2% milk, 1 tablespoon of butter, and 1 8-ounce block of sharp cheddar cheese. There is no cream in this recipe at all!
Trust me, you don’t need it.
As the potatoes cook in the milk, it creates a rich creamy sauce that you’d never guess was made of milk and only 1 tablespoon of butter.
Creamy Au Gratin Potatoes Recipe
Now it’s time to start cooking! Here are the ingredients you will need to make Au Gratin potatoes:
- Yukon gold potatoes
- Salted butter
- Fresh thyme
- Chicken stock
- Sharp cheddar cheese
How To Make Healthy Au Gratin Potatoes
After you have preheated the oven to 425 degrees, take all of the Yukon gold potatoes and slice them thin and evenly with a mandoline or chef’s knife.
Cooking Tip: I don’t skin the potato before slicing. You can if you want to but I’m all about quick and easy. Plus, leaving the skin on adds nutritional value!
After you slice the potatoes, put them into a 13 x 9 baking dish. You are going to want to layer them on top of one another.
The herbs and spices in this recipe are simple yet bring a ton of flavor. You’ll need to finely chop the shallots, garlic cloves, and fresh thyme.
Also, can I just say how much I love fresh thyme? In my opinion, this herb makes this recipe—the flavor is unmatched!
You might wonder if using dried thyme is a good substitute. In my opinion, fresh thyme is the way to go. You won’t get the same flavor with dried. However, dried is still fine if that’s all you have.
Cooking Tip: Use 3/4 teaspoon of dried thyme in place of the 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme.
Time To Make The Creamy Sauce
I start by melting the butter and cooking the shallots. When the shallots are fragrant and translucent, I add the garlic and thyme. Cook for another 1-2 minutes or until the garlic starts to brown.
Cooking Note: Some recipes say to just pour the milk and ingredients into the baking dish and bake it. Personally, I like to cook the ingredients into a sauce first before pouring it over the potatoes. This helps the aromatics bloom and also gives the cheese a chance to melt down and create more of a cheese sauce prior to going over the potatoes.
Add in 1/4 cup of chicken stock and give the aromatics a couple stirs to remove any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Then, stir in 2 cups of 2% milk and cook over medium until it becomes steamy and hot.
Make sure it does not boil as the milk will curdle and you’ll have to start all over again!
Once it’s hot, stir in the cheese and cook over low heat until the cheese is melted. Don’t worry if the cheese doesn’t melt all the way- it will melt completely in the oven.
Let’s Talk Cheese
Most traditional Au Gratin potatoes recipes call for shredded Gruyère cheese. Gruyere is a hard yellow swiss cheese that is really yummy BUT I opted for a sharp cheddar because my family is not the biggest swiss cheese fan and I like to use simple ingredients that I have on hand or are easily accessible.
I also recommend shredding your own cheese for this recipe. I shredded 2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese and it results in a creamier, tastier sauce.
It’s not the end of the world to use pre-shredded bagged cheese but if you can shred your own, I’d recommend it.
Let’s Bake These Au Gratin Potatoes
Once your sauce is ready to go, pour it all over the potatoes. Using a spoon, move the potatoes around a little bit until all of the sauce is in between the layers of the potatoes.
Cover the dish with foil and bake in a 425-degree oven for 45 minutes. After the time is up, remove the foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until it is bubbling and brown on top.
Cooking Notes About This Recipe
- The sauce is going to be thin at first even when you take the foil off. However, after you take the foil off and let it cook for another 15-20 minutes, the milk will cook into the potatoes creating a super creamy delicious Au Gratin potatoes.
- The potatoes will be slightly firm on the outside and creamy on the inside.
- If you have leftover Easter ham, you can add 1-2 cups of chopped ham to the potatoes before adding the sauce and cook it the same way.
Make this Healthy Au Gratin Potato Recipe Ahead Of Time
If you want to make this recipe ahead of time for an easy Easter dinner or just a quick weeknight dinner, you can prep the sauce and potatoes 1-2 days ahead, cover, and store in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to cook, then continue with the instructions. You might need to add on a few minutes to the cooking time if the potatoes and sauce are cold.
If you have any cooked Au Gratin potatoes leftover, they will store great in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. I suggest storing into individual portions for a quick dinner or side!
More Easter Dinner Recipes
Here are a couple of other recipes I think will make your Easter Dinner complete:
- Healthy Deviled Eggs with Horseradish
- Baked Garlic Cheesy Rolls
- Healthy Zucchini Lasagna
- Delicious Healthy Apple Pie
- 6 medium sized Yukon gold (or butter) potatoes, sliced thin
- 1 tablespoons salted butter
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 2 cups (2%) milk
- ¼ cup chicken stock
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- ½ cup grated parmesan
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees
- Layer potatoes into a 9 x 13 ceramic baking dish
- In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium heat.
- When the butter is melted add the shallots and cook for 3-4 minutes or until they are fragrant and translucent.
- Add the garlic and thyme into the shallots and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until the garlic is fragrant.
- Stir in ¼ cup chicken stock and give it a stir to make sure none of the aromatics are sticking to the pan.
- Stir in the milk and cook until hot and steamy. Make sure the milk does not curdle.
- Stir in the cheese. Cook until the cheese is melted.
- Pour the sauce over the potatoes. Using a spoon or your hands, give the potatoes a couple stirs until the sauce is within all the layers.
- Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
- Remove foil and bake for another 15-20 or until it bubbles and is browned on top.
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