This creamy Parmesan potato gratin made us wonder if anyone else ever gets scalloped and au gratin confused?

Scalloped potatoes contain milk or cream but no cheese and are usually sliced thicker.

A potato gratin, or au gratin if you will, is similar but the potatoes are usually sliced thinner, and it always contains cheese—classically Gruyère but nowadays any grate-able fromage will do.

After trying these Parmesan au gratin potatoes, we sort of gloat about our gratin know-how. You can, too.

david caricature

Why Our Testers Loved This

Our testers loved that this au gratin potatoes recipe was “easy to put together” and that the finished potatoes were “fork tender, creamy, and rich.” They were also delighted that the leftovers tasted every bit as good as the original casserole. (And that’s saying a lot.

What You’ll Need to Make This

  • Heavy cream–Using heavy cream ensures a thick sauce for your potatoes. Substituting a lower-fat cream or milk will produce a thin sauce that doesn’t properly coat the potatoes after baking.
  • Russet potatoes–You could also use Yukon Gold potatoes, which are semi-waxy, but avoid waxy potatoes.

How to Make This Recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat your baking dish with butter.
  2. Make the cream mixture. Combine the cream, 3/4 cup Parmesan, salt, pepper, thyme, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Thinly slice the potatoes and add them to the bowl of cream.
  3. Assemble the casserole. Layer the potatoes in the casserole dish, and pour the cream mixture over them. Top with remaining Parmesan and butter.
  4. Bake the potato gratin. Cook until the potatoes are tender and the top is golden brown. Let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Common Questions

Can I make this in advance?

Definitely. You can assemble and bake the potatoes au gratin up to 1 day before serving. Let it cool to room temperature and store it covered in the fridge. Warm in a 275°F oven until heated through.

What’s the difference between scalloped potatoes and au gratin potatoes?

As noted in the headnote, scalloped potatoes contain milk or cream, but no cheese, while au gratin potatoes contain cheese, and are sometimes topped with breadcrumbs.

What should I serve with these potatoes?

These creamy potatoes au gratin with Parmesan would be welcome as part of a traditional Thanksgiving meal alongside roast turkey with stuffing and vegetables and green bean casserole. For a less traditional take, try them with pomegranate-glazed Cornish game hens. If you’re serving it as part of a vegetarian holiday meal, we highly recommend these mushroom wellingtons with spinach.

Helpful Tips

  • When slicing your potatoes, add them to the cream immediately to prevent them from turning brown.
  • Use a mandoline to get thin potato slices with even thickness. BUT BE CAREFUL! (I don’t call a mandoline a French finger guillotine for nothing!)
  • If your gratin is browning too quickly during baking, loosely tent it with aluminum foil.
  • This recipe is suitable for gluten-free and dairy-free diets.

More Great Gratin Recipes

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

A partially covered Dutch oven filled with cooked Parmesan potato gratin.

Parmesan Potato Gratin

5 / 6 votes
This creamy Parmesan potato gratin is a rich and creamy side dish made with potatoes, butter, cream, cheese, nutmeg, and thyme. Not only is it satisfyingly indulgent, but you can make it ahead of time, making it a godsend for entertaining or harried weeknights.
David Leite
Servings8 to 10 servings
Calories550 kcal
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 35 minutes
Total Time2 hours


  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh thyme
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg, or a pinch ground nutmeg
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled


  • Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°). Coat a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish or a 3-quart Dutch oven with 1 tablespoon butter.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the cream, 3/4 cup Parmesan, salt, white pepper, thyme, and nutmeg.
  • Evenly slice the potatoes 1/8-inch thick and let them fall into the cream, stirring to coat the potatoes.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: As you slice the potatoes, let them fall into the bowl of cream. The cream will keep the cut potatoes from turning brown. And don’t bother rinsing them in water as that will wash off the potato’s starch, which helps to thicken the cream and hold the gratin together.

  • Carefully layer the potato slices in the casserole dish, whether you overlap them like shingles on a roof or just dump them in and smash them down with the back of a spoon. Pour the remaining cream mixture in the bowl over the potatoes. The cream should come almost to the top layer of potatoes. Gently press on the potatoes with the back of a spoon to evenly layer them in the cream.
  • Sprinkle the remaining 3/4 cup Parmesan over the potatoes. Cut the remaining 1 tablespoon butter into small chunks and sprinkle it over the potatoes.
  • Bake the potato gratin, uncovered, in the middle of the oven until the potatoes are tender and the top is golden brown, about 75 minutes. If the top starts to turn brown before it’s done, loosely cover the gratin with foil.
  • Let the gratin rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving.


  1. Make-ahead–You can assemble and bake the gratin up to 1 day in advance. Let it cool to room temperature, then cover the dish with foil and refrigerate. Reheat in a 275°F (135°C) oven, until warmed through, 40 to 45 minutes.
  2. Dietary–This recipe is suitable for gluten-free and dairy-free diets.
  3. Tools–Use a mandoline to get even thin slices of potato.
Big Ranch, Big City Cookbook

Adapted From

Big Ranch, Big City Cookbook

Buy On Amazon


Serving: 1 portionCalories: 550 kcalCarbohydrates: 34 gProtein: 13 gFat: 42 gSaturated Fat: 26 gMonounsaturated Fat: 12 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 147 mgSodium: 911 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 1 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2011 Louis Lambert | June Naylor. Photo © 2011 Ralph Lauer. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This dish is not for the diet-conscious among us. That being said, it’s a simple yet classic potato dish that is well loved and remembered.

The addition of fresh thyme adds a lovely earthy flavor to the heavy cream, which bakes into a wonderful, creamy sauce. The hint of nutmeg adds a warm note to the sauce that is absorbed by the potatoes, and the Parmesan adds salty notes.

The Parmesan potatoes were devoured by my family, with everyone taking seconds and none left over. I would heartily recommend this dish and will make it again for special occasions, as it’s a little rich for every day.

This Parmesan potato gratin was easy to put together and came out of the oven with a golden brown, crunchy top that was beautiful.

When we served the potatoes, they were fork-tender, creamy, and rich. The flavor almost reminded me of an alfredo dish.

These would be just as good as a main dish with added ham, pancetta, or bacon and would also be a welcome addition to any holiday table.

How could this be anything but satisfying?! Potatoes, butter, heavy cream, Parmesan, and seasonings!

Plus, it couldn’t be easier: slice potatoes, mix in with the seasoned cream, and bake: at an hour and a quarter, I had a delightfully browned and bubbling casserole dish full of rich and creamy potatoes.

This Parmesan au gratin potatoes recipe looks so forgiving, I think black pepper could be subbed for white and dried thyme and nutmeg for the fresh without any discernible loss of quality.

Additionally, I happened to have a couple of Yukon Gold potatoes among my russets, but the gratin could be made with Yukon Golds, creating just as delicious a dish.

I followed the directions to peel the potatoes, but would likely not bother peeling them next time.

This dish is very rich, and I think the number of servings could be stretched a bit further, especially if the meal was being plated for the guests. However, the converse is also true: left to their own devices, guests could easily devour quite large servings, depending on the rest of the meal.

The reheating note is helpful, and it worked. I actually made (and tasted) the dish the day before I needed to serve it, then reheated it per the directions, and, while it wasn’t quite the spectacular bubbling dish it had been right after its first baking, it was enjoyed by all, and left me able to focus on the rest of dinner. I used the 45 minutes as a guideline and felt it could have gone a little longer.

We made this recipe for a barbecue we were having. I was a little unsure of how it would turn out, but I was very pleasantly surprised. All our guests gave this recipe two thumbs up.

We took the easier route by adding the potato slices to the bowl with the seasoned cream and then just poured the mixture into the casserole dish, flattening them slightly with a spatula. It actually took about 1 1/2 hours in the oven. The resting time is important as the liquid is absorbed more into the potatoes as they sit.

The leftovers were just as good as the original—maybe even better. Will definitely make this again.

A simple, easy gratin recipe, perfect for family or friends. You can pull this dish together quickly and serve it with a variety of main dishes and it reheats beautifully.

If you happen to have a mandoline, this recipe is a snap. Instead of placing the sliced potatoes in cold water, just slip them into the cream mixture. When layering the potatoes in your baking dish, I would pour some of the cream mixture between the layers.

I would recommend checking the gratin periodically. After about 45 minutes, mine was quite golden brown on the top. I covered it with foil for the remainder of the cooking time. The Parmesan cheese doesn’t melt, but adds a really nice bite.

This is a delicious potato dish and could definitely be served for Thanksgiving dinner or at any time of the year. It’s very easy to prepare and easily serves 8 to 10 people.

To serve, the potatoes can be cut in squares or rectangles. For a special meal, I would probably use a round cookie or biscuit cutter (or other interesting cookie cutter shape) to cut the servings. It would be a perfect accompaniment to any beef, poultry, or pork dish.

This was so simple to make and tasted like heaven. I made the maple-brined pork chops and thought about preparing the bourbon sweet potatoes for a side, but felt like it just might be too much maple all in one meal, so I selected this recipe instead. We absolutely loved it, and it reheats very nicely. No changes required!

We loved this gratin, and it was so easy to make. We have a potato Dauphinoise recipe that is absolutely delicious, but it takes forever to make, and it has much more fat in it than this recipe. This dish was every bit as good without all the fuss.

You can vary the cheese you use, as well as the type of potatoes. We made this once with red-skinned potatoes because that was what we had. It was delicious. I want to make it again, using Gruyère cheese.

I also found that I didn’t need to bother with layering the potatoes like shingles on a roof. I quickly spread the slices into a casserole dish, and then pressed them down into an even layer. After pouring the cream mixture over the potatoes and sprinkling on the remaining cheese, you couldn’t see how the potatoes were arranged. Make it easy on yourself.

This is a very forgiving recipe. There’s no need to be fussy. I do recommend checking on the potatoes periodically. The top of the casserole had gotten very brown before the potatoes were cooked. I covered the casserole with foil until the potatoes were just about done. I then pulled off the foil so that the topping could crisp up again.

So yummy! And it’s a recipe that can be scaled up or down, depending on how many you’re cooking for.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This was so simple to make and tasted like heaven. I also made the Maple-Brined Pork Chops and thought about preparing Bourbon Sweet Potatoes for a side, but felt like it just might be too much maple all in one meal, so I selected this recipe instead. We absolutely loved it, and it reheats very nicely. I could not find fresh nutmeg, so I used a pinch of ground nutmeg. No changes required!

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve made this many times (only for Christmas–got to fix that), and that’s why I’m here again. We all love it. It’s a simple, elegant, and delicious side dish. Happy holidays, everyone!

    1. Superb, Tuck. Now, if we can only get you to make this other times of the year, I’d consider my job complete!