Old-Fashioned Potato Gratin

Old-Fashioned Potato Gratin Recipe

There are countless variations on the potato gratin. You can boil the potatoes in water or milk. You can use broth instead of cream. You can even forgo the cheese (but why?). Experiment, and you’ll be sure to find your own signature twist on your potato gratin. This recipe is a little decadent because I rely on heavy cream, but it’s worth the splurge. A mandoline makes child’s play out of slicing the potatoes. Beware of those who cannot resist the golden, crispy top layer—my wife has a tendency to nibble off the top before the gratin ever makes it to the table.–Frank Stitt

LC Potato Gratin Is Potato Gratin Is Potato Gratin...Or Is It? Note

To some, potato gratins are all pretty much the same. We beg to differ. There’s quite the luscious art to slicing the potatoes just so, to finding just the perfect proportion of heavy cream to cheese, to deciding to not bother with broth or milk, to ensuring the crust on the gratin turns just the perfect shade of irresistible golden brown. In our opinion, this ineffably indulgent version defines the very term.

Old-Fashioned Potato Gratin Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 1 H, 45 M
  • Serves 6


  • 4 russet potatoes
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed and peeled
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Comté cheese (or substitute Gruyère or Asiago)
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350° F (176° C). Adjust the oven rack to the top position.
  • 2. Peel the potatoes and slice them crosswise about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Place the potato slices in a bowl of cold water so they don’t discolor.
  • 3. Meanwhile, firmly rub the garlic clove all over the bottom and sides of a 10-inch gratin dish to coat it with the garlic juices. Allow to dry for a few minutes, then rub the bottom and sides of the dish with the butter.
  • 4. Drain the potatoes and pat them dry. Arrange a layer of potatoes in a slightly overlapping fashion, like a splayed deck of cards, in the bottom of the gratin dish. Season with a good dash of salt and pepper and a little of each of the two cheeses. Continue layering the potatoes and cheese in this fashion, seasoning each layer and finishing with the cheese (you should have at least three layers). Drizzle the cream along the sides of the dish, so as not to displace the cheese.
  • 5. Place the potato gratin, uncovered, on the top rack and bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until the cream has been absorbed and the top is crispy and golden. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

In Advance Advice

  • The peeled potatoes can sit, submerged in cold water, on the counter for a few hours. You can also assemble the gratin, cover it, and refrigerate it for anywhere from a few hours to overnight before baking.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Recipe Testers Reviews
Testers Choice
Dan Kraan

Dec 15, 2010

This old-fashioned potato gratin is about as basic as it gets. It also looks as good as it tastes. It’s easy to prepare, sets up perfectly, and has just the right amount of cheesy goodness. It’s difficult to resist tasting before it leaves the kitchen, but your presentation of this attractive dish will suffer for it if you do. If you want to avoid the possibility of spillage, you can add the cream just before adding the salt, pepper, and cheese to the top of your final layer. The four russets I used weighed about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds total. Using them, this recipe fit my 10-inch gratin dish perfectly.

Testers Choice
Karen Depp

Dec 15, 2010

What’s not to love about this recipe? It’s easy, delicious, and just plain good-looking! There’s nothing complicated about this, which makes it perfect for a dinner party or holiday table. Into the oven and, an hour or so later, out comes perfection—a crisp, delectable cheese topping over creamy potato slices. What I really love about this is the potato slices don’t turn into mushy potatoes, but rather hold their shape and delicate taste.

  1. David Leite says:

    What makes this a true Arsenal™ recipe is that it’s a fantastic blueprint for your imagination. I added shallots so thinly sliced your could read the King James Bible through them, a bit of nutmeg, and a lot more cheese. I also crushed the garlic clove and dropped in cream and simmered it. The result was fantastic. I served with my mustard-garlic goose, pan-braised carrots with orange and rosemary, and lemon curd cake.

    BTW, I used a 2-quart casserole, and it was the perfect size.

  2. Judith Peres says:

    This will be my “Welcome to Heaven” dish. If I may be so presumptuous.

  3. mahs says:

    I would love to take this dish with me to a dinner party…any chance I could make it ahead ?

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      I’ve had luck in the past with assembling a gratin and then refrigerating it for several hours prior to baking. Although since you’ll be in someone else’s kitchen, this gets a little tricky, as you’d need to arrive quite early and, it goes without saying, you’d of course need to inquire if there’s space in the oven and if it will be turned to 350 degrees.

      I think you could instead parbake it—which is to say, cook it until almost but not completely done, until the potatoes are almost tender and the surface is not yet browned or crisp—and then finish heating it in your host’s oven. I’d bake it for about 45 minutes at home and then allot 30 or 45 minutes additional at your destination, which is more than the total cooking time indicated in the recipe but you’ll need to account for the fact that the gratin will have cooled slightly in transit. And, of course, also inquire with your host as to whether she’ll have space in the oven and if it will be at the right temperature (you could go 25 degrees in either direction).

      Either way, to keep your gratin from tipping over in transit, I’d suggest placing it in a box that’s just a little larger than the dish and scrunching up newspaper to fit snugly in between dish and box. Then place the box on the floor of the back seat in your car and recycle the paper and cardboard when you get to your destination. You could use towels instead of newspaper, but the newspaper makes for easier cleanup in case of slight spills, plus you don’t have to worry about remembering to take your towels home.

  4. Soupcon says:

    I double dare you to forgo the cheese and make Potato Dauphinois (Potato Gratin without the cheese). It is fabulous … no cheese… just potatos, garlic, butter (for greasing the sides of the gratin/casserole dish) and whipping cream. YUMMY! And low in calories of course like all YUMMY dishes. Well…. maybe not THAT low in calories but certainly lower than Potato gratin with cheese. Great as a side to protein for dinner or as a simple lunch with a salad.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Truth be told, Soupcon, we love a proper dauphnois, too. Or at least I do. Love it. I hide the leftovers in the back of the fridge so I can crisp them up in a skillet the next morning–you know how the edges of the potatoes sort of turn golden brown and all crackly?–and have it with eggs sunnyside up. I suppose a little prosciutto draped on the side would be lovely, too. Many thanks for the reminder, appreciate it!

  5. Penny Wolf says:

    Potato gratin in my opinion is the grounding/anchor to a meal. Always familiar
    and always flavorful but never competes. I adore some sliced fennel in mine.

  6. IrishHeart says:

    I have made potatoes gratin many times before, but for some reason, THIS recipe is truly the best one ever! The potato slices do not become like wet noodles. The cheese does not overpower the potato. Just right! I Love it, my family and my dinner guests always love it and sometimes there are no “encores”–boo hoo! (we do not say leftovers in my house). Solution? Make two. Delicious just the way it is. Thank you for posting this recipe to remind me to keep it in my repertoire! .

    • David Leite says:

      IrishHeart, you’ve reserved a warm cockle in my heart with that comment. I love this recipe and make it a million times during the cooler months. Well, I exaggerate. Not a million times, just a couple of hundred thousand.

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