Cheesy pumpkin potato gratin makes a gorgeous autumn side dish that combines potatoes and pumpkin purée to spectacular effect. A white sauce with Gouda and Cheddar cheeses adds creaminess and a crispy-edged, bubbling top to this upgraded casserole.
This cheesy pumpkin potato gratin is a perfect holiday side dish that layers tender potatoes with a creamy delicate pumpkin sauce that gives the dish a burnished autumn color. And with two types of cheese, how can you miss? Speaking of cheese, you can replace the Gouda with more Cheddar, or vice versa, if you wish.–Angie Zoobkoff
☞ Table of Contents
Cheesy Pumpkin Potato Gratin FAQs
What can I substitute for cayenne in potato gratin?
If you’re sensitive to heat, try swapping in ground sage or a pinch of nutmeg for the cayenne.
How long will potato gratin last in the fridge?
You can store leftover cheesy pumpkin and potato gratin in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also store it in an airtight container and freeze it for up to 2 weeks. Potato gratin can be frozen in the dish it was baked in, but cover it tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and let it come to room temperature before reheating.
Cheesy Pumpkin Potato Gratin
- 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter plus more for coating the dish
- 1 tablespoon (from 2 cloves) minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more as needed
- 2/3 cup canned pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 pounds (2 to 3 potatoes) russet potatoes peeled and sliced 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick
- 3/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
- 3/4 cup shredded Gouda
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves for garnish
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Lightly butter a 2-quart baking dish.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute more.
- While continuing to whisk, slowly add the milk in a steady stream. Whisk in salt. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Whisk in pumpkin purée, sugar, and cayenne pepper. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
- Layer 1/3 of the potato slices in the baking dish, slightly overlapping. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Spread 1/3 of the pumpkin sauce over the potatoes, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup each of Cheddar and Gouda. Continuing layering the remaining potatoes, seasoning, sauce, and cheese, for a total of 3 layers.
☞TESTER TIP: Divvy the potatoes into three equal piles so you know how many potatoes you’ll need to fit into each layer.
- Coat a piece of aluminum foil with cooking spray and cover the dish. Bake until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, 70 to 90 minutes.
- Remove the potatoes from the oven and turn the oven to broil.
- Uncover the dish, return to the oven, and broil until the top is mottled brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Let cool for 10 minutes. Garnish with thyme and serve.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
How do I know this cheesy pumpkin potato gratin was a hit? Hubby went in for seconds! A lovely alternative to traditional scalloped potatoes. And, somewhat better because of it being so quick and easy to put together with common, everyday ingredients.
Because the cheese is assembled as its own ingredient, and not part of the sauce, this allows you to modify the flavor profile, which is a huge plus. You could play up holiday spices for autumn meals, turn it into a Mexican side dish by adding a little cumin and finishing with cilantro, or turn to whatever cuisine suits your fancy–it’s that adaptable. I served it with grilled pork chops that I seasoned with complementary spices.
Another plus with this recipe is that it can be made in advance (tastes better the days following), and easily transported–perfect for leftovers (reheats beautifully), holiday meals, and potlucks! I’ll definitely be making this again.
Normally I avoid scalloped potatoes because I find them to be bland, blah, and boring. Add to that the extraordinary amounts of heavy cream in most recipes and it becomes a non-starter for me. I’m perfectly willing to indulge in copious amounts of heavy cream but the end product needs to be worth it.
This cheesy pumpkin potato gratin recipe was different. I was intrigued by the pumpkin and the use of only one cup of whole milk and was rewarded with a creamy, flavorful, and satisfying dish. While I don’t make the claim that this is diet food, it is certainly less decadent and far more flavorful than most versions.
The technique of baking the casserole covered and then broiling resulted in brilliantly soft, delicate layers of potatoes with nice crispy edges and a bubbly, cheesy top. I loved the creaminess and color that the pumpkin added although you would probably be hard-pressed to identify any pumpkin flavor.
The Gouda combined with Cheddar was absolutely delicious. This would go beautifully with a roasted chicken or as a Thanksgiving side dish. We ate it as a stand-alone vegetarian meal along with sautéed rapini which was a good counterpoint to the richness of the potatoes along with a glass of Côte du Rhône.
Overall, we loved the texture and flavor of this cheesy pumpkin potato gratin. I honestly don’t think there is enough pumpkin in here to make any noticeable flavor impact but it does give the whole thing a lovely autumnal color. It will surely be a good addition to Thanksgiving this year.
Originally published November 1, 2021