Fennel Baked in Cream

This fennel baked in cream is a gratin baked with Parmesan that’s rich, cream, and easy to make by baking wedges of fennel in heavy cream. Simple, elegant, and surprisingly irresistible.

A cast-iron baking dish filled with fennel baked in cream on a wooden board.

Fennel baked in cream is an Italian classic that no fewer than 13 of our testers–a baker’s dozen–rushed to make. And then proceeded to wax poetic about their experience with it. It’s a simple, satiating, stunning, unexpected side dish that’s both swanky and rustic. If you aren’t quite convinced this fennel baked in cream recipe belongs on your table, but you are the type who doesn’t mind a movie review giving away the ending, by all means, skip ahead and read the reviews from our testers found below the recipe before deciding if it belongs on your table.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Video: How to Make Fennel Baked in Cream
Video courtesy of WTNH

Fennel Baked in Cream

  • Quick Glance
  • (4)
  • 10 M
  • 1 H, 45 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 4 reviews
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Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C).

In a bowl, toss together the fennel, cream, and 1 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer to a 3-quart baking dish and dot with as much or as little of the butter as you wish, depending on how rich a dish you prefer. (You can assemble the ingredients in the baking dish and refrigerate for up to 24 hours if you need to get the prep work done ahead of time.)

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 1 hour.

Uncover the baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Continue baking, uncovered, until the fennel is tender and the surface is well browned, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately. Originally published December 8, 2011.

Print RecipeBuy the Saveur: The New Comfort Food cookbook

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    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    This fennel baked in cream was just so lovely. From the cream to the fennel to the crisp Parmesan on top! I loved it! It was great and I will make it again and again! I actually used some light cream, as that's what I had in the house, it worked great and I felt a little better for it. I had some excellent Parm and that made this dish just extra special!

    This recipe is meant for six to eight although we ended up devouring it just between the two of us. It was that good.

    I was initially hesitant about the proportions — anything over a stick of butter or a cup of cream I usually avoid. But this dish is entirely worth the indulgence. The cream is less stodgy than using a béchamel, and it bakes down into the most ethereal custard. I forgot the butter topping and the dish didn’t seem to suffer from the lack.

    The only adjustment I’d make would be on temperature. I ended up with a rim of carbonized cream; maybe lower to 400°. Otherwise, I can’t wait to make it again, and perhaps try it with leeks.


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    1. I wonder if anyone has frozen this dish. I have a lot of fennel and need to do something with the excess.

      1. Christina, we haven’t tried freezing it, but several of our readers have discovered that it doesn’t reheat particularly well as the sauce tends to separate. I’d be concerned that this would also happen after freezing.

    2. I usually make creamed onions for our holiday meals, but this year I wanted to try something different since I was hosting for the first time. Once I read the reviews for this, I knew I had to try it. And oh my goodness, this is simply sensational. Decadent. Gorgeous. Breathtakingly rich and delicious. I’ll stop there. We did reheat it the next day [in the oven] and though it separated a bit, it was still gorgeous and delicious. Where has this been all my life? Thank you, Leite’s!

    3. Butter, cream, cheese, what’s not to like? I wondered how this would go, having made many vegetable gratins. This is slightly different as it doesn’t call for a béchamel and is more elemental. I’m more used to eating fennel raw, but it cooks wonderfully and has a gentle flavor that those who might not like it raw could enjoy. My only caveat is that the dish doesn’t reheat all that well — the butterfat separates out, whereas freshly made, the cream and cheese make for a lovely, velvety sauce. I baked mine for slightly longer to get a thicker consistency to the cream/cheese mixture. A wide pan is a good idea for baking this, and it needs a good amount of salt, even with all the Parmesan.

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