This scalloped potatoes recipe is filled with herby and cheesy deliciousness, making it into a hybrid between scalloped potatoes and au gratin potatoes. It is however super easy to make this without cheese as well. The herbs though, those are mandatory. Using classic French herbs like tarragon and basil are definitely my fave, but you can use whatever you have on hand. Thyme is also fabulous with scalloped potatoes.
So I’ve made this recipe almost since before I could walk and these are the only scalloped potatoes I really, really, like. They are super simple to make, with few ingredients and no roux, but soo flavorful and ultra creamy.
In this post I’ll explain the difference between scalloped potatoes (and why they are called that) and au gratin potatoes, what cheeses to use, what potatoes to use and alll the questions you may have, answered. If not – send me a message and ask (or kick my butt). But I will also share one of my family’s best kept secret – herby cheesy scalloped potatoes.
Difference between scalloped potatoes and au gratin potatoes
These two classic potato dishes look so much the same that most people don’t know the difference between the two and often use the names interchangeably. Both have layers of thinly sliced potatoes, they are both rich and creamy. And both are baked in a casserole dish until bubbly and golden brown perfection. But they’re still not exactly the same!
Scalloped potatoes are thinly sliced potatoes layered in a casserole dish with a creamy sauce and baked in the oven. In a traditional scalloped potatoes recipe there’s no cheese. It is thought that scalloped potatoes come from England, especially considering the word ‘scalloped’ originates from old English, ‘collop’ meaning ‘to thinly cut’.
Au gratin potatoes are also thinly cut potatoes, but it is a little more decadent. In between the potatoes, there are layers of cheese as well as on the top. Au gratin is French and can be translated to ‘scrapings’. Gratin simply refers to the crispy baked top. And that top is often achieved by cheese or breadcrumbs. Au gratin potatoes aren’t always cooked in a cream sauce though!
It is true that considering food can evolve and change, these two variations on the baked potato dishes are starting to become interchangeable. My recipe is no different! I use a scalloped potatoes recipe with cream sauce, no cheesy layers, but topped with cheese for that crispy au gratin top.
I don’t think it matters that much, as long as it tastes amazing – and boy, it does!
What are the best potatoes to use?
I’ve done my fair share of trial and error over the years and found the perfect potatoes to use for scalloped potatoes. Choosing the right potatoes is absolutely crucial for a successful end result. The best potatoes to use are fairly firm, keeping their shape when cooked, and with a medium starch content. These soak up the creamy sauce without making the dish seem too dry. And some potatoes don’t soak up any of the creamy deliciousness – what a waste! They also keep their shape pretty well, so the dish doesn’t become mashed potatoes instead.
There are two types of potatoes that people seem to agree on work for scalloped potatoes:
- Yukon Gold Potatoes (Asterix) – fairly firm, moist and medium starch content, buttery flavor. The starch will help to thicken the sauce. Definitely my fave!
- Russet Potatoes (Idaho) – fluffy, creamy, soft texture, very absorbent. Mealy potato with neutral flavor. I’ve tried mealy potatoes in scalloped potatoes before, and honestly – I do not like it. Mealy potatoes are much better to use in mashed potatoes.
To my Norwegian friends:
I know Yukon Gold Potatoes aren’t available in Norway, the potatoes I definitely prefer are Asterix potatoes. On my no-list there are potatoes like Kerrs Pink, Pimpernell, Mandel and Folva. The worst that can happen is that the potatoes don’t soak up the creamy sauce and the sliced potatoes can feel a bit undercooked. The flavors should still be there. But considering Asterix potatoes are so versatile and readily available, you should probably already have them on hand.
What is the best cheese for scalloped potatoes?
So it’s not really cheese in a classic scalloped potatoes recipe, but cheese is good and comforting so why not add a little! My favorite cheese for these are Jarlsberg, but if you can’t find Jarlsberg I think Swiss cheese is a fantastic substitute. But any of your favorite cheeses will work great, it all depends on your personal preference.
- Swiss cheese is my favorite, buttery, nutty and mild.
- Gruyere is also really popular
- A little sprinkle of salty parmesan is also good, but make sure to not overdo it!
- Cheddar is a fantastic melty cheese for practically anything
- any melty cheese you fancy!
I think mozzarella sounds weird with scalloped potatoes, but it is a great melty cheese so if you want to give it a try, I won’t judge you! Some combinations are surprisingly good, although they sound strange (who would have thought that Guinness and chocolate are a great match?)
Do I need to make a roux?
No, this scalloped potatoes recipe is in fact naturally gluten free! If choosing the right kind of potato, there is no need for a roux. The potatoes soak up just the right amount of sauce and help thicken it so it won’t be just a big pool of sauce.
But you need to trust the herbaliciousness
This recipe uses A LOT of herbs. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but you just need to trust the herbaliciousness. I’ve made it like this countless times and people trying it for the first time always instantly love it (so humble, I know). I think potatoes in general need a lot of help from spices and salt. You almost cannot overdo it. It will still taste perfectly potatoey, creamy and a little cheesy (but not too much!).
What goes well with scalloped potatoes?
To many, scalloped potatoes are THE Easter side dish. It is comfort food that never disappoint. And for Easter, what do most people eat? Lamb. Serve it with delicious lamb chops or a big roast. Along with some super easy parmesan garlic green beans. However, my definite favorite way to serve scalloped potatoes is with a big juicy steak and a spicy creamy sauce (I will publish both of my secret weapons, but I haven’t gotten to them yet, stay tuned!). Other ideas to serve scalloped potatoes:
– cajun herb prime rib roast from Flavor Mosaic
– coffee rubbed london broil from Vintage Kitty
– peppered steak from Christina’s Cucina
– breaded pork schnitzels from Christina’s Cucina
– honey mustard pork chops from Hint of Healthy
– grilled pork tenderloin with peach balsamic sauce from Who Needs a Cape
– the panko chicken in these burgers are great on their own!
– honey glazed roast chicken from Hint of Healthy
– French onion chicken skillet from Consumer Queen
– baked lamb chops from My Kitchen Love
– slow braised lamb shanks from Lin’s Food
– rack of lamb with red bell pepper butter sauce from Christina’s Cucina
– mushroom stew from Nourish Plate
– potato jackfruit stew from Veggie Society
– crispy cauliflower hot wings from Vegan Heaven
I know you can’t wait to make it now, so I’ve added a printable recipe card below. Hope you will like it as much as I do. Enjoy!
Did you like this scalloped potatoes recipe? Here’s more I think you’d like:
- Cheddar Herb Sweet Potato Mash (you can also use other mealy potatoes here!)
- Rosemary French Fries with Garlic Cream Cheese Dip
- 3 Minute Garlic Butter Wilted Kale
- Super Easy Garlic Parmesan Green Beans
- Homemade Soft Dinner Rolls with Cheese and Bacon
- How to Make Italian Seasoning with Pantry Staples
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or tag me @thegingerwithspice on Instagram. And don’t forget to Pin it for later! To make sure you’re never missing another recipe, please feel free to subscribe to my newsletter. As a thanks you will receive a free e-cookbook Travels Through the Seasons, with many delicious recipes from around the world that suit different seasons of the year.
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Herby Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes Recipe (Au Gratin)
- 1/2 tbsp butter for greasing pan
- 1.1 lb Yukon Gold Potatoes 500g, Asterix potatoes*
- 1/2 medium yellow onion thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup heavy cream 180ml
- 2 tbsp dried tarragon ** or thyme, oregano, dill
- 1 1/2 tbsp dried basil
- 2 tsp freshly ground pepper or to taste
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
- 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese 50g, Jarlsberg (or your favorite)
- Prepare baking dish: Prepare a 9x9 in (24x24 cm) dish with a generous amount of butter. The scalloped potatoes can rise a little, so don't choose the most shallow dish, mine is 2 in (5cm). Pre-heat oven to 400F (200C).
- Slice your potatoes: I like to peel them, but you don't have to. Slice the potatoes in about 1/8 in (3-5mm) thick slices.
- Line with potatoes: Start in one corner and line sliced potatoes, slightly overlapping each other. Do this on the next line too, so all are slightly overlapping. Top with half of the sliced onion, salt and pepper, and dried herbs.
- Second layer: Start lining in the same overlapping matter. Top with the rest of the onion, salt and pepper and herbs.
- Heavy cream: Pour heavy cream around the corners until you see the heavy cream peeping through the layers of potatoes (so maybe you need more or less heavy cream than me). At the end I move my heavy cream stream to the middle for more even distribution. If you find it too heavy, you can omit some of the heavy cream for some milk.
- Cheese and baking: Top with a thin layer of shredded cheese. Loosely cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Take the foil off and bake uncovered for 15 more minutes or until golden and potatoes are done.
- For that perfect slice: Wait 15 minutes before serving. But seriously, who can wait?