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THE SECRET TO PERFECT EVERY TIME AU GRATIN POTATOES

Have you ever attempted scalloped potatoes or Au gratin potatoes only to find that your potatoes never fully cooked through? Nothing worse than biting into crunchy tasteless potatoes when your mouth was expecting soft, tangy, cheesy delicious Au Gratin. Have you ended up with clumpy cheese? No worries. I have the secret to perfect every time Au Gratin Potatoes.

The crunchy potato thing has happened to me so many times I can’t even count. I couldn’t figure out what to do about it until I read in a Cook’s Illustrated piece stating that they precook the potatoes. Which, personally, is what I had figured out to do but it had felt like cheating.

Close up overhead shot of THE SECRET TO PERFECT EVERY TIME AU GRATIN POTATOES

THE SECRET TO PERFECT EVERY TIME AU GRATIN POTATOES

I mean, come on, what kind of person who considers themselves a decent cook actually precooks the potatoes for the Au Gratin just to make sure the potatoes are all cooked through? Me. That’s who. And apparently – the AWESOME chefs over at Cook’s Illustrated.

Frankly, the proof is in the pudding – er – Au Gratin. And ensuring that your potatoes are cooked  all the way through is one of THE SECRET TO PERFECT EVERY TIME AU GRATIN POTATOES

Side view of THE SECRET TO PERFECT EVERY TIME AU GRATIN POTATOES

THE SECRET TO PERFECT EVERY TIME AU GRATIN POTATOES

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SCALLOPED POTATOES AND AU GRATIN POTATOES?

The difference between scalloped potatoes and Au Gratin potatoes is CHEESE my friend. My good ol friend CHEESE! Every recipe I’ve ever seen for scalloped potatoes cooks the potatoes in a thickened milky slurry while Au Gratin usually layers in Gruyere Cheese that melts into a cheesy deliciousness making Au Gratin which is one of THE SECRET TO PERFECT EVERY TIME AU GRATIN POTATOES

overhead shot that is further away of THE SECRET TO PERFECT EVERY TIME AU GRATIN POTATOES

THE SECRET TO PERFECT EVERY TIME AU GRATIN POTATOES

HOW DO YOU MAKE CHEESY SCALLOPED POTATOES?

Cheesy scalloped potatoes are made by adding delicious melting cheese to the scalloped potatoes, but then, officially the potatoes become Au Gratin potatoes. See how that works? So, making cheesy scalloped potatoes is one of  THE SECRET TO PERFECT EVERY TIME AU GRATIN POTATOES. 

THE BEST QUESTION IS, HOW DO YOU MAKE HOMEMADE CHEESY SCALLOPED POTATOES OR AU GRATIN POTATOES

If you will hang on through the recipe, I’ll tell you how to make homemade cheesy scalloped potatoes or Au Gratin Potatoes, because essentially, they are the same thing, right? You need all of the rest of the secrets of THE SECRET TO PERFECT EVERY TIME AU GRATIN POTATOES. 

THE SECRET TO PERFECT EVERY TIME AU GRATIN POTATOES

  • Slice the potatoes to exactly the same size – 1/8th inch.
  • Precook the potatoes in flavored water.
  • Make the sauce in a separate sauce pan and add when putting it all together – this equals CREAMY cheese!
  • Add everything to the baking dish and bake!
  • NOW YOU KNOW ALL THE SECRETS for no lumpy cheese and no uncooked potatoes!
A photo of the casserole dish of THE SECRET TO PERFECT EVERY TIME AU GRATIN POTATOES sitting on my oven

This is what the full casserole dish looked like, but we ate it before I could take a professional pic.

THE RECIPE FOR THE SECRET TO PERFECT EVERY TIME AU GRATIN POTATOES

Side view of THE SECRET TO PERFECT EVERY TIME AU GRATIN POTATOES

THE SECRET TO PERFECT EVERY TIME AU GRATIN POTATOES

This easy cheesy au gratin is perfect for any family dinner
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Potato Gratin
Cuisine: American
Keyword: au gratin potatoes, how to make perfect au gratin potatoes
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 150kcal
Author: Loaves and Dishes

Ingredients

  • 4 large russet potatoes fist size or slightly bigger
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 2 tsp bouillon concentrate
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 stick of sweet creamed unsalted butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere Cheese - parmesan if you don’t have Gruyere
  • 1 8 oz block of cream cheese - cut into small pieces.

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 and spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
  • Peel the potatoes and then cut into ⅛ “ slices. Use a mandolin slicer if you have it.
  • In a large stock pot, heat the water and the bouillon until boiling over medium heat. Add salt to the water. When water is boiling, gently add the potato slices to the water and return to a slow boil.
  • Cook the potatoes in the boiling bouillon water until the potatoes are nearly cooked through. Should retain some of the crunch in the center. Do not overcook them till they are soggy and falling apart -0 this is just a pre cook. Every few minutes, GENTLY turn the potatoes in the pan using a large spatula. Use care not to break the potatoes.
  • While the potatoes are cooking, in a separate sauce pan combine the butter, cream, Gruyere and cream cheese and cook over medium heat until all are melted. Stir frequently to keep it from burning/sticking to the bottom of the pan. Whisk out any lumps.
  • When the potatoes are nearly cooked through and the cheese is melted, gently scoop the potatoes into the 9x13 prepared pan (use care not to break) and pour the cheese sauce over the potatoes until you have either poured all of it over or until the level of the cheese sauce reaches the top of the potatoes. You may have extra cheese left over.
  • Bake at 350 until the sauce is bubbly throughout, the potatoes are cooked through and a slightly browned crust develops on the top - about 35-45 minutes.

Notes

Be careful not to overcook the potatoes or they want to fall apart in the oven. 
You will note that many recipes have you to slice your potatoes very thin and then bake for a longer time.  Personally, I've had inadequate results with that technique and that is why I choose to do mine this way.  I think you should too. 

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
THE SECRET TO PERFECT EVERY TIME AU GRATIN POTATOES
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 150
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @loavesanddishes or tag #loavesanddishes!

 

TIPS AND TRICKS FOR THE SECRET TO PERFECT EVERY TIME AU GRATIN POTATOES

  • If you do not have a mandolin slicer, then do the best you can with your best kitchen knife. The slices need to be uniform and no thicker than about ⅛ inch.
  • When you add the potato slices to the boiling water, the water will soon absorb and thicken, by the time you add the potatoes to the baking dish, there won’t’ be much water left at all.
  • It is best to test the potatoes for doneness by simply eating one. I know – that might freak you out a little to eat a raw potato – but I’m an advocate of knowing what your dish tastes like at every step – except, of course, for raw meat.
  • This dish is perfect garnished with some fresh thyme. Thyme would also be good added to the cooking recipe, but I just don’t do it that way. You know how picky family eaters are.
  • If you need a mandoline slicer, this is the top recommended one from Cooks Illustrated, I always trust their recommendations. I won’t give you a link to mine, because it is awful and dangerous. It could cause a lost finger tip. Go for the best mandoline! No point in losing digits over Au Gratin! If you click the photo it will take you through to Amazon so you can look at the mandoline slicer. This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission. I thank you! (Sorry the photo is so small!)
A photo of the dish sitting in my photo studio with my black pug, Leroy Brown, poking his head in the photo for THE SECRET TO PERFECT EVERY TIME AU GRATIN POTATOES

This is a Bad Leroy Brown approved dish!

IF YOU ENJOYED THE SECRET TO PERFECT EVERY TIME AU GRATIN POTATOES, YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY…

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GIVEAWAY!!

I know I have told you before, but Deiss makes my FAVORITE kitchen hand tools! I have used a Deiss zester and a Deiss peeler in my kitchen for the past year and they are both still just as sharp as the day I took them out of the box! That is saying something for the daily use – near abuse – that my kitchen utensils receive. The handles are grippy and easy to hold when your hands are wet. Besides that, the bright yellow handle on the zester makes it easy to find in the drawer! The peeler even makes tiny cute veggie strips! What more could you want?

For this post, I’ve teamed up with Deiss to GIVEAWAY a peeler and a zester, just like the ones that I have! You are some LUCKY folks! Deiss will mail the peeler and zester directly to you.

What do you have to do? Just enter below- that’s it. Answer a single simple question.

I mean, If you let some friends know about Loaves and Dishes, in addition to answering the one simple question, I would be so happy! You could tell a friend that you love this site. You could share the Loaves and Dishes facebook page and encourage your friends to like it. You could send some friends a link to your favorite recipe. But, you don’t have to do anything other than answer the single question. I just appreciate that you are here and that is what this giveaway is all about! Thankfulness!

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A VERSE TO SHARE

As we embark upon our Thanksgiving holiday, I hope that all of us will remember who we are giving thanks to. Many today say they are thanking themselves for all of their hard work. Many say they don’t believe in a God. Many thank the Universe or luck or ….. Well, frankly, I don’t know who they are thanking.

Personally, I am thanking God. God has sheltered me, provided for me and directed me for my entire life. Did I get everything I wanted? Nope. Did I accomplish everything I tried? Absolutely not. Has there been devastating hardships and trials? Of COURSE there has been!

But, even when I thought the skies were the darkest, I knew God was there. I knew it would all work out for his purpose. For that I am thankful. He will always be there for you too.

THE COMING HOLIDAY

As we approach this holiday, I am especially thankful for my family, my health and this blog. My readers are the most wonderful people. I wish ya’ll could meet each other, I think you would like each other! I know I like you!

Anyway, thank you for reading this blog. Thank you for sharing your hearts and stories from your life and your kitchens. I hold everything you share dearly. You make me smile every single day. That is why I keep doing this blog. Because I see that it is meaningful to you and to me.

Thank you God for bringing us together. Amen.

Ephesians 5:20  

“always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”

 

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Recipe Rating




Marcy Kwiatkowski

Saturday 20th of April 2019

Any chance this could be made in a crockpot? I won’t have any oven space tomorrow lol

Wendi Spraker

Saturday 20th of April 2019

Marcy, I've never made them that way, BUT I am completely SURE that if you precook them as described in the recipe and then put into the crockpot on low for 4-6 hours they should be fine. Crockpot is like a mini oven, you just have to allow some extra time for the lower temp. :) . Happy Easter!

Agatha

Wednesday 2nd of January 2019

I've sort of made this twice now. But I'm lazy and cannot bring myself to cook the potatoes on the stove and then in the oven. Particularly when its a special occasion (which is the only time I would make something this rich) and I have a lot of other things to do. My mandolin does not have an attachment for slicing things 1/8" thick or if it did I don't seem to have it now. My mandolin slices potatoes about the thickness of a thick potato chip. So I skip the part where you cook the potatoes in broth and carefully transfer them to the baking dish. I slice the potatoes quite thin, lightly salt them, pour the sauce over, and bake for an hour. Also, in light of the warning about the possibility of too much cheese sauce, and the reality that one can never have too many au gratin potatoes at a holiday meal, I most recently used six medium large russet potatoes. I also sliced up one or two yellow onions with the mandolin right behind the potatoes and threw them in as well. And while I used the precise measurements for butter, cream and cream cheese, I did not precisely measure the gruyere/parmesan. I used both because I had picked up an inferior store brand gruyere (too soft, too mild) and had authentic parmesan. And I was a bit generous I suspect. In any event, the potatoes were fantastic and I will continue to return to this recipe even though I don't quite follow it.

Wendi Spraker

Wednesday 2nd of January 2019

Agatha, that’s ok! You made it yours and that’s what counts!! Sounds delish! I suspect that you sliced your potatoes thin enough that they are able to cook fully through in the oven. If they are much thicker it is more difficult to get them cooked through. I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe!

Catheirne Lewis

Tuesday 31st of July 2018

This is exactly what I've been looking for in a gratin recipe. Do you think these would be ok as a 'make ahead' dish? Wondering if I could hold the assembled casserole in the refridge for a day and bake it when needed. Thanks!

Wendi Spraker

Tuesday 31st of July 2018

Catherine! Hi! I haven't tried making them ahead but I can't see any reason that it wouldnt. work. Come back and let us know how it turned out!

Moxie

Friday 2nd of February 2018

Every time I try to make scalloped potatoes, this is my problem. I tried it your way and they were perfect!

Mary

Wednesday 22nd of November 2017

We LOVE au gratin potatoes, yours look excellent. Love all the ingredients you use for making this creamy cheesy dish. Will be making these over the weekend! Your "secret to perfect" articles are fantastic. Pinned. Perfect Bible verse! Thank you for sharing. Happy Thanksgiving to you and family.

Wendi Spraker

Wednesday 22nd of November 2017

Hi Mary! Thank you for stopping by! I always appreciate your comments. Let me know if you do make these and how they turned out! :)

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