These quick scalloped potatoes from America’s Test Kitchen are over-the-top creamy and cheesy in the best possible way. They’re also easy as can be. Thinly sliced potatoes are simply boiled in cream, smothered with cheese, and baked until crisp on top and tender throughout. Best of all, they come together in a snap and can be assembled ahead. Enough said.–Angie Zoobkoff
Why Our Testers Loved This
Our recipe testers love that these creamy potatoes come together faster than traditional scalloped potatoes, thanks to par-cooking the potatoes in cream before baking. They also adore the crispy, cheesy topping. (Who wouldn’t?)
Notes on Ingredients
- Butter–it’s best to use unsalted butter here, but if you need to swap in salted, reduce the amount of salt in the recipe to 1 teaspoon.
- Chicken stock–if you use low sodium, no salt added, or homemade chicken stock, you may need to adjust the amount of salt in your cream sauce. Give it a quick taste after simmering the potatoes, and add salt if needed, keeping in mind that the cheese topping will add saltiness as well.
- Heavy cream–we’re all for keeping fat content in check, but these are rich and indulgent scalloped potatoes, and you want them to taste delicious. Use heavy cream here; milk or half and half won’t give you the same richness.
- Potatoes–you want a starchy potato that will hold up to baking. Russets are the best choice for this recipe, but Yukon Gold potatoes would also work well here.
- Cheddar cheese–stick with full-fat cheese here, and skip the temptation to buy pre-shredded cheese. Low-fat or pre-shredded cheese doesn’t melt well.
For best results, a mixture of the two. Start with your potatoes covered and cook until they are warmed through, then uncover and continue to cook until your cheese is melted, bubbling, and golden brown.
Yes, which makes these a perfect holiday side dish. You can simmer the potatoes in the cream mixture up to 1 day in advance, then pile everything into the baking dish and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake them.
You can, but we don’t recommend it, particularly if the potatoes are not fully cooked. Cream sauces can separate and turn grainy, and the potatoes can turn an unappetizing shade of grey. If you do want to freeze the potatoes, do so after they have been fully cooked and cooled, then rewarm them in the oven until heated through.
Traditional scalloped potatoes are made by cooking layers of potatoes with onions in cream, while potatoes au gratin are cooked with cheese or cheese sauce between the layers of potatoes, and are often topped with bread crumbs. Potatoes Dauphinoise also incorporates cheese, but uses a stronger flavored variety, such as Gruyère.
- This recipe is designed to be made in a square 8-inch pan, like the one you use for brownies. You could also make it in an 11-by-7-inch pan, but if you want to use something larger, like a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, double the recipe.
- Try to cut your potato slices to the same thickness so that they cook evenly. A mandoline is a great tool for this.
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- 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish
- 1 medium (8 oz) onion, chopped fine
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick
- 1 cup store-bought or homemade chicken stock
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 4 ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup), or more to taste
- Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C). Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and lightly butter an 8-inch (20-cm) square or an 11-by-7-inch (28-by-18-cm) baking dish.
- In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Stir in the thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the potatoes, stock, cream, and bay leaves and bring to a simmer.
- Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer until the potatoes are almost tender, 7 to 12 minutes. The potatoes are ready when the tip of a paring knife can easily be slipped into a slice with just a little resistance. Don’t overcook the potatoes or you’ll end up with mushy scalloped potatoes.
- Discard the bay leaves and carefully transfer that luscious potato and cream mixture to the buttered baking dish. Use the back of a spoon to gently press the potato slices into a fairly even layer. (You can cover and refrigerate the scalloped potatoes for up to 24 hours.)
- Sprinkle with the Cheddar and bake until the sauce is bubbling, the edges of the potatoes are crisp, and the top is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. (If the scalloped potatoes were refrigerated, cover the dish tightly with buttered aluminum foil and bake in a 400°F (200°C) oven until warm throughout, 25 to 45 minutes. Uncover, top with the Cheddar, and continue to bake uncovered until the Cheddar is lightly browned, about 20 minutes.)
- Let the casserole cool for 10 minutes before scooping into it with a spoon and heaping creamy cheesy potato goodness onto plates.
- If you want to prepare these potatoes in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, double the recipe.
- Use a mandoline for evenly sliced potatoes.
- The finished scalloped potatoes can be stored in a covered container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 1 month. Don’t freeze before baking.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Holy hell, are these scalloped potatoes good. They’re super rich in a good way and not in an OMG-I-can’t-move way. We’re potato people, so I served these as a main dish with various toppings—like super deluxe baked potatoes—and everyone came away happy. They’re a lovely holiday or special make-ahead side dish as well as an option for weeknight dinners thanks to those make-ahead directions.
They only took about 30 minutes to get from whole spuds to the casserole dish. Next time, I’ll decrease the amount of dried thyme. If I chose to use fresh, I’ll toss in the whole stem and pluck it out when I fish out the bay leaves. I’ll also slice the potatoes a hair thicker as they cooked quickly (I only needed about 7 minutes simmering) but clumped a bit while simmering and got a little too soft while baking.
The casserole stays warm quite a while and tastes just fine on the warm side of room temperature, making it lovely for a buffet.
This scalloped potatoes recipe was easy to make. The result was a crispy-on-top, tasty dish of scalloped potatoes.
I used yellow potatoes instead of russet. Using a mandoline made quick work of slicing. It took about 10 minutes in the oven for the edges to get crispy and bubbly. I used an Emile Henri pan so I just transferred the potatoes from the stove to the oven in the same pan.