There may not be a heated debate going at the moments over the merits of scalloped vs. au gratin potatoes, but ask several people and you’ll quickly find most everyone has their own opinion as to which is better and what exactly the differences between the two dishes are. Simply put, scalloped potatoes are a milk based potato dish. The potatoes are usually sliced very thinly although what technically makes it ‘scalloped’ is the milk base. Au gratin on the other hand is any dish that is topped with cheese and/or bread crumbs and layered with bits of butter and is baked until brown and crispy. People often get them confused and use the terms interchangeably. However, gratins can be made with a variety of vegetables. Growing up we all loved either one, although we were always just a little partial to the cheese. Despite liking them, I got this weird little kick out of calling them ‘rotten’ potatoes. Probably because it annoyed my parents.
With that said, here’s my favorite recipe for scalloped potatoes and potatoes au gratin! I decided the differences didn’t matter all that much, and these two classic potato dishes became one. Now, whether it’s for a super cozy weeknight side dish or as an essential addition to your next holiday meal, you’ll love these cheesy, scalloped potatoes gratin. The leftovers are just as good, maybe even better, the next day.
Easy, Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes Gratin
recipe adapted from The Comfort of Cooking
2 lbs. medium potatoes (red, Yukon gold, russet), peeled
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 tsp dry mustard
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups cheddar cheese, divided
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, optional
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch thick slices and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in milk, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, paprika, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently.
3. Arrange half of potato slices in a lightly greased 9-inch square glass baking dish or 1-1/2 qt. casserole dish. Spread half of milk mixture over potatoes and top with 1 cup cheese. Repeat layering with remaining potatoes, milk mixture and 1 cup cheese.
4. Bake for 1 hour, or until sauce is bubbly and potatoes are tender. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and a little cayenne pepper or paprika.