Layer on the love with these easy, CHEESY Scalloped Potatoes. Thinly sliced potatoes layered in a creamy sauce, then baked until hot, bubbly, and tender, they’re a pan of comfort and the number one side dish at our family holiday meals.
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Why You’ll Love These Easy Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
- Easy Shortcut Method. No fussing with a roux! These are scalloped potatoes without heavy creamy and béchamel sauce. Instead, this easy recipe uses potatoes’ own starches to thicken the casserole.
- Special-Occasion Worthy. Scalloped potatoes feel a little fancy, so they’re ideal for holidays and special events (think of them as the horizontal version of Hasselback Potatoes).
- Feeds a Crowd. This recipe yields a generous pan (not that you’ll have any leftover)!
- Make-Ahead Friendly. Like most of my casserole recipes, this recipe for scalloped potatoes reheat well. You can fully bake them a day in advance, then rewarm them prior to serving.
- Essential. Whether it’s Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, no holiday feast feels complete without a big pan of bubbling, cheesy potatoes (this Hash Brown Casserole is a similar favorite).
The Difference Between Scalloped Potatoes and Au Gratin
While there are differences in these two dishes, the two terms are used fairly interchangeably, including by some major, well-respected food websites.
- Scalloped potatoes are thinly sliced potatoes layered in a casserole dish and baked with heavy cream or milk.
- Au gratin potatoes have grated cheese sprinkled between the layers, so they taste more decadent. Breadcrumbs are also often sprinkled on top of the dish before it goes into the oven. (Check out Brussels Sprouts Gratin for a twist).
- The potatoes are also usually sliced more thinly for au gratin potatoes than scalloped potatoes.
So which are these?
They have thinly sliced potatoes, milk, and cheese, so they are a combo of both.
How to Make Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
- Yukon Gold Potatoes. Yukon golds, with their buttery flavor, are an excellent choice for scalloped potatoes.
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese. Cheesy scalloped potatoes are the best scalloped potatoes! The sharp cheddar stands out from the creaminess of the potatoes and sauce.
- Parmesan Cheese. Sprinkled on top for the perfect cheese-crusted lid. And parm makes just about everything better, right?
- Whole Milk. The secret to obtaining a perfectly creamy, tender texture without using cream.
- Onion. Sautéed along with garlic for major flavor. Scalloped potatoes with cheese and onions? Say no more!
- Garlic. Brings these cheesy scalloped potatoes up another notch.
- Flour. The sliced potatoes are tossed in all-purpose flour, thickening the sauce while it cooks in the dish.
- Saute the Onion and Garlic. This builds flavor right from the start.
- Add Milk. Do this slowly and stir.
- Toss the Sliced and Peeled Potato in Flour. This will thicken up the sauce as they bake.
- Layer. Start with 1/3 of the potatoes and some milk.
- Add Some Cheese. These are cheesy from the inside out!
- Layer More. You will have 3 layers of potatoes, cheese, and milk.
- Bake. You’ll start by baking covered, then switch to uncovered.
- Broil. Don’t walk away! You want the top golden, not burned.
- Let Rest. The sauce will thicken up at room temperature. ENJOY!
- Loaded. Sprinkle with cooked, chopped bacon and chives (see Baked Bacon and Air Fryer Bacon for cooking methods).
- With Ham. A classic! See Scalloped Potatoes and Ham.
- Extra Fancy. Make Scalloped Potatoes with Goat Cheese.
- Caramelized Onion. Double the onions, then slice and caramelize them instead of doing a simple saute; this will take about 30 minutes on low.
- Slow Cooker. See Crockpot Scalloped Potatoes), but when you are craving a classic, this traditional scalloped potato recipe is the one.
- Gluten Free. Swap the all-purpose flour for a 1:1 gluten-free flour substitute.
- To Store. Place cooked and cooled leftovers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. You can make these potatoes ahead and reheat them. Gently reheat leftovers in an oven-safe baking dish covered with foil in the oven at 350 degrees F until warmed through, adding additional splashes of milk as needed. You can also reheat this dish in the microwave until hot, though I recommend the oven for the best texture.
Make Ahead Tips
The dish can be prepared through Step 3 one day in advance (wait to add the milk/cheese until just before you bake). Store covered in the refrigerator, let come to room temperature, then continue with the recipe as directed.
Or, fully bake the scalloped potatoes 1 day in advance, then rewarm, covered, in a 350 degree F oven.
What to Serve With Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
A winning side for your holiday spread, cheesy scalloped potatoes are perfection with any of these classic starring mains, or with additional sides.
Holiday Main Dishes
- Turkey. See How to Cook a Turkey for the ultimate guide for fool-proof roasted turkey. Spatchcock Turkey and Air Fryer Turkey Breast are two other excellent optoins.
- Chicken. Chicken Piccata or Chicken Francaise are elevated (yet easy!) chicken dishes.
- Salmon. Try Salmon Patties for an Easter brunch, or this Poached Salmon for dinner.
- Braised Short Ribs. Oo-la-la these decadent short ribs would be so dreamy with the creamy scalloped potatoes.
More Yummy Sides
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Mandoline. For easy, uniform slicing.
- Casserole Dish. Essential for any and all baked sides.
- Liquid Measuring Cups. These are my favorite for measuring liquids.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Use a Starchy Potato. Yukon golds or russet potatoes have enough starch to thicken the sauce. Between the two, I find the best potatoes for cheesy scalloped potatoes are Yukon gold potatoes. Their flavor is naturally richer and more buttery.
- Avoid Waxy Potatoes. They will be too firm after cooking; save them Roasted Red Potatoes instead!
- Slice the Potatoes Ultra Thin. Part of what makes these quick scalloped potatoes is how thinly the potatoes are sliced. For best results, I recommend a mandoline for even, razor-thin slices that don’t need to cook before layering them.
Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion ¼-inch diced
- 6 garlic cloves minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt divided
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes about 6 to 8 medium
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese shredded (about 1 ½ cups)
- 1 ounce Parmesan cheese shredded (about ¼ cup)
- Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 375°F. Coat a 9×13-inch casserole dish with nonstick spray and set aside.
- In a medium pot or wide skillet with high sides, heat the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onion. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Turn off the heat.
- Stir in the milk, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper. Set aside to cool.
- Peel the potatoes. With a mandoline or very sharp chef’s knife, slice the potatoes into VERY thin slices, about ⅛ to ¼-inch thick (thinner is better). Place potatoes in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the flour and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. With your hands, toss to coat the potatoes as evenly as possible.
- Spread one-third of the sliced potatoes evenly in the bottom of the prepared dish. Spoon 1 cup of the milk mixture over the top. Sprinkle with ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese. Repeat two more times so you have a total of 3 layers each of potato, the milk mixture, and the cheddar cheese, ending with the cheese on top.
- Lightly mist a large sheet of aluminum foil with nonstick spray. Cover the dish with foil spray-side down. Bake the scalloped potatoes for 35 minutes, then uncover and bake for an 25 additional minutes, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.
- Remove the dish from the oven and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Turn the oven to broil and return the pan to the oven for 1 to 3 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Don’t walk away and let them burn!
- Allow the potatoes to stand at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes prior to serving to allow the milk mixture to set and thicken (don’t worry, they
- *I do not recommend russet potatoes for this recipe, as they have less flavor, a dryer texture, and thicker skin than Yukon golds.
- TO MAKE AHEAD: The dish can be prepared through Step 3 one day in advance (wait to add the milk/cheese until just before you bake). Store covered in the refrigerator, let come to room temperature, then continue with the recipe as directed.
- TO STORE: Place cooked and cooled leftovers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently reheat leftovers in an oven-safe baking dish in the oven at 350°F until warmed through, adding a splash of broth as needed. You can also reheat this dish in the microwave until hot.
- TO FREEZE: I do not recommend freezing scalloped potatoes as they can become mealy.
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Frequently Asked Questions
While the specific reasoning for the name is still a mystery, many speculate that it may reference the “scalloped” shape that the potato slices make when they’re assembled in the dish. Others believe the name could have originated from “collops,” which is an Old English word meaning “to slice meat thinly” and could refer to thinly sliced potatoes.
Because this scalloped potatoes recipe isn’t very saucy to begin with, if doubling the recipe, I suggest doing 2.5 times the amount of milk and cheese to ensure there’s plenty of cheesy sauce to cover the potatoes. If you like your scalloped potatoes extra saucy, you may even want to consider tripling the amount of milk and cheese if preparing these scalloped potatoes for a crowd.
Potatoes become mealy when frozen, I do not recommend freezing baked scalloped potatoes. Only freeze as a last resort, or if you don’t mind a less-than-optimal texture.