Gratin Dauphinois (Creamy Potato and Cheese Casserole)
Published Sep 19, 2017•Updated Mar 14, 2023
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Gratin Dauphinoise features thinly sliced potatoes, an herb and garlic infused cream sauce, and a layer of melted cheese that is broiled until it has perfectly crispy edges. This traditional French dish looks just as at home on a holiday table as it does served alongside a Sunday dinner of slow-roasted meats.
Whenever creamy, cheesy potatoes are on the table, they always steal the show, and Gratin Dauphinois is no exception. When you think of one pan meals, you probably think of casual, weeknight dinners, but this layered potato dish, that also happens to be gluten-free, is anything but casual.
Infusing the cream with fresh thyme sprigs and garlic gives this sauce the most delicate herby garlic flavor. But the real magic happens when the creamy sauce is poured over the red potatoes and they’re slowly baked until tender.
The first time you make an au gratin recipe, you will be shocked at how easy such a fancy looking dish is to put together. You won’t be shocked at how quickly it disappears from the baking dish.
What Is Gratin Dauphinois?
Gratin Dauphinois is a baked potato dish from France’s Dauphiné region. In this ultra luxurious dish, thinly sliced potatoes are arranged in an even layer in a prepared baking dish, and then slowly baked in a heavy cream mixture until tender. A broiler is used in the last 5 minutes of cooking to give the potatoes crispy edges, and to melt the top layer of Gruyere cheese.
How to Make
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- Heat the cream, salt, black pepper, garlic, and thyme in a small saucepan, stirring constantly for 4 to 6 minutes.
- Saute the shallots in a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat until tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the heat, and add the potatoes, fanning them out so they overlap slightly.
- Remove the garlic and thyme from the heavy cream, and pour cream mixture over the potatoes.
- Cover the skillet with foil, and bake for 75 to 85 minutes in the preheated oven.
- Sprinkle the cheese on the potatoes and broil for 5 to 6 minutes, until the top is golden brown
- Top with fresh thyme leaves, and serve immediately.
- Heavy Cream – The secret ingredient in French gratin potatoes. Heavy cream is the rich, creamy ingredient that will be absorbed by the potatoes.
- Kosher Salt, Black Pepper – Basic pantry seasonings to enhance flavor.
- Fresh Thyme, Garlic – Use the thyme and garlic to infuse the heavy cream with aromatics. An easy way to prep the garlic is by peeling the cloves and gently smashing them with the palm of your hand, or with the side of a butcher’s knife.
- Unsalted Butter – Unsalted butter works best in this recipe. If you use salted butter, adjust your salt levels accordingly.
- Shallots – Sauteing diced shallots in the skillet before adding the potatoes adds another layer of aromatic flavor.
- Red Potatoes – Starchy potatoes like red potatoes work best in this recipe because they’re great at soaking up liquids. If you don’t have red potatoes, you could also use Russet potatoes. Feel free to leave the skins on if you want to add some visual interest to this dish, or peel them if you’re not really a fan of potato skins.
- Gruyere Cheese – Gruyere cheese is one of the best melting cheeses for potatoes.
- Use a mandolin or food processor for perfectly even potato slices.
- For the best results, stick to using heavy cream. If you want to lighten up Gratin Dauphinoise just a tad, you could use half and half. Try to avoid using only whole milk, it’s just not thick enough to provide the right consistency to your cream sauce.
The most useful pro tip for this traditional French recipe is to make it ahead. You can assemble and bake the French gratin potatoes up to 1 day ahead of time. Simply reheat in the oven at 325 degrees F.
- Use different cheeses or multiple cheeses – Cheddar cheese (either sharp cheddar cheese or mild cheddar cheese) and Monterey Jack cheese will give you a dish of amazing melty cheese potatoes. All of you cheese lovers out there can also combine the Gruyere with cheddar cheese for out-of-this-world cheesiness.
- Play with herb and spice combinations – Try infusing the cream with sage or rosemary, or add cayenne pepper for a touch of spice.
There are a few differences between Gratin and Scalloped Potatoes. The first notable difference is how each recipe uses – or doesn’t use – cheese. Gratin potatoes contain a top layer of cheese that is baked until golden brown towards the end of the baking process, while scalloped potatoes typically contain no cheese at all.
The other key difference between these two recipes is the use of bread crumbs. Some traditional gratin recipes will mix bread crumbs with the cheese for a little extra crunchy bite. Scallop potatoes contain no bread crumbs, just lots of milk, flour, and butter.
Gratin potatoes have rustic French cooking vibes written all over them, and they’re perfect for your next dinner party or casual family meal. A simple green salad is the perfect complement to rich and creamy potatoes. Likewise, you could lighten things up with oven-roasted root veggies, broccoli, or cauliflower. Don’t forget about steamed or sauteed green beans or asparagus. The more vibrant the vegetables, the better!
More Potato Recipes
- Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
- Instant Pot Potato Leek Soup
- Ham and Cheese Hasselback Potatoes
- Creme Fraiche Mashed Potatoes with Gruyere
- Roasted Greek Potatoes with Garlic and Herbs
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Gratin Dauphinois Recipe (Creamy Potato and Cheese Casserole)
- 12-inch Oven-Safe skillet
- Slotted Spoon
- Cheese Grater
- Food Processor or Mandolin
- 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cloves shallots, diced
- 2 pounds red potatoes, sliced into 1/8 inch slices with a mandolin or food processor (I like to leave the skins on for color, but you can peel the potatoes first)
- 4 ounces gruyere cheese, grated
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- Combine the cream, salt, black pepper, garlic (peel the cloves and smash them gently with the palm of your hand) and thyme in a small saucepan. Place it over medium heat and heat, stirring constantly, until the cream starts to simmer, 4 to 6 minutes. As soon as the cream is simmering, remove it from the heat and continue stirring until it cools slightly. Let the cream sit while you prepare the rest of the dish (this will infuse the cream with flavor).
- Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat (I use a 12-inch cast iron for this recipe). Add the butter. When the butter melts, add the shallots and saute just until the shallots are tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the heat.
- Add the potatoes to the skillet, fanning them out so they overlap slightly .
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the garlic and thyme from the heavy cream. Pour the cream over the potatoes.
- Cover the skillet tightly with foil and bake until the potatoes are tender, 75 to 85 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the oven (be careful – the handle will be very hot). Remove the foil.
- Turn on the oven's broiler.
- Sprinkle the cheese over the potatoes.
- Return the skillet to the oven and broil until the top is golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. (Keep a close eye on it to prevent burning.)
- Top with a few fresh thyme leaves if you'd like. Serve immediately.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.