Old-Fashioned Potato Gratin

Old-fashioned potato gratin, or potatoes au gratin if you want to be technical about things, is a traditional and indulgent manner of keeping yourself warm come cold weather. We’ve never been so grateful for winter.

A blue gratin dish filled with potato gratin and a two wine bottles in the background

To some, an old-fashioned potato gratin is a gratin is a gratin. We beg to differ. There’s quite the indulgent art to slicing the potatoes just the right thickness so as to become perfectly tender, to finding the perfect proportion of heavy cream to cheese, and to ensuring the time in the oven is just right so the surface of the gratin turns just the perfect shade of irresistible golden brown. In our opinion, this indulgent version defines the very term “potato gratin.” Taste and see for yourself. Originally published December 15, 2010.Renee Schettler Rossi

Old-Fashioned Potato Gratin

  • Quick Glance
  • (5)
  • 25 M
  • 1 H, 45 M
  • Serves 6
5/5 - 5 reviews
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Preheat the oven to 350° F (176° C). Adjust the oven rack to the top position.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Print RecipeBuy the Frank Stitt's Southern Table cookbook

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    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.

    Recipe Testers Reviews

    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.

    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.


    #leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


    1. I come back every year at holiday time to print out this recipe (you’d think I’d just keep a copy, but no). It never disappoints by being the most luscious, self-indulgent part of my holiday meal. The absolutely perfect partner to my yearly prime rib roast.

      1. We’re so happy to hear this, Lana! Thank you for taking the time to let us know and we hope you have another fabulous holiday meal.

    2. If there is a better combination than potatoes, cream, and cheese, I haven’t found it yet. And this recipe does get the proportions just right.
      I mean, I’ll finish this review, but don’t we all know how this story ends? (Hint: it ends with happy guests and no leftovers.)

    3. Made it yesterday with gold potatoes. Delicious, but next time, maybe next week after I finish the leftovers I will double the cheese. I even bought a mandolin just to try this recipe. Thank you, David, and Merry Christmas.

      1. The Rodster! So glad you liked the recipe. Yes, a mandolin makes quick work of this recipe. And if I’m being completely truthful, I always sneak in extra cheese because how can more cheese hurt anything? Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    4. 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! .

      1. 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.

    5. 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. 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.

      1. 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!

      1. 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.

    7. 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.

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