Pommes Dauphinoise (Potatoes au Gratin)

May  2, 2011
4 Stars
Author Notes

For me, Easter provides an excuse to make a big lunch for family and friends, and mine almost always hinges on roast leg of lamb. This year, when planning my side dishes, I was inspired by this foodpickle thread to revisit a classic from my cooking school days: pommes dauphinoise, also known as potatoes au gratin. I had to make this dish countless times over the course of my 9-months at Le Cordon Bleu in London, to the point that I could probably have made it in my sleep. It's simple but its charms are many, and I'm glad I've returned it to my table after all these years.

Many people insist on heavy cream for a gratin, but I'm loyal to the method my cooking instructors taught me, which is to use garlic-infused whole milk. With the cheese and the starch of the potatoes, the dish is rich enough, and I find that cream mutes the delicate flavor of the Gruyere and garlic. If you have a mandoline I recommend using it for this recipe. The thinner and more evenly you slice your potatoes, the more delicate–and lovely–the finished gratin will be. —Merrill Stubbs

  • Serves 6
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 2 cups grated Gruyere
  • Salt and pepper
In This Recipe
  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Put the milk in a small heavy saucepan and peel and smash one of the garlic cloves. Add it to the pot and then heat the milk gently until it starts to bubble at the edges. Remove from the heat and let steep while you continue with the recipe.
  2. Peel the second garlic clove, cut it in half and rub the cut side around the inside of an oval gratin dish about 9 inches long and 2 inches deep. Rub 1 tablespoon of the butter over the inside of the baking dish.
  3. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1/8-inch-thick slices (I use a mandoline to get them nice and even), laying the slices on a kitchen towel to drain. Layer about a third of the potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish, fanning them into concentric, overlapping circles. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper and sprinkle a third of the cheese over them. Repeat with two more layers of potatoes, salt and pepper and cheese, making the top layer as neat and tidy as you can.
  4. Remove the garlic clove from the hot milk and pour the milk evenly over the potatoes. Dot the top of the potatoes with the remaining tablespoon of butter and bake the gratin for about 30 minutes, until it's browned and bubbly. Let the potatoes cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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65 Reviews

Sabine G. March 28, 2020
Made these last night exactly as written with the exception of heavy whipping cream to avoid curdle. So simple, flavorful, and most importantly- DELISH!
Starmade June 5, 2018
Cream is easier to work with but whole milk does work if other instructions are followed (thinly slicing potato, using shallow dish). Julia's recipe has a smaller amount of milk (1 c for 2 lb potato) and a little more butter. She directs you to use "boiling" milk; also the gratin dish is set over direct heat briefly after layers are put in place and before putting in the oven so the whole concoction is simmering by the time its hits the oven. The milk basically cooks into the potato and all the liquid should disappear. This is not a criticism of the recipe as written; just another way of explicating the process. I usually adjust the milk by feel and eyeball and my sense of the potato. I often use a milk/cream combination myself (obviating the extra butter also in julia's recipe).
Starmade June 5, 2018
2% has not worked well for me, seems to need whole milk at a minimum.
Leah April 2, 2018
I doubled this recipe for a family birthday dinner and it worked great in two dishes. I used cream because of other comments, and I remember many times as a child my mom trying this technique and the diary curdling. It always tasted fine, but never looked super appetizing. With the swap out of the milk for cream I also added nutmeg to the milk while steeping the garlic. It was wonderful! I will make this over and over again.
Mary April 1, 2018
If you use cream, you will have success. I’ve used both whipping cream and creme fraiche (not together) and results were excellent.
Sally P. April 1, 2018
Didn't like this recipe, it curdled and very watery. Won't use it again.
Hairy T. March 15, 2018
I made this. Potatoes au gratin made without a bechamel really don't work, but it was tasty nonetheless. Won't be using this recipe again, except for the steeped garlic trick.
Jaimie M. January 1, 2018
This was delicious. I heated the 50/50 milk/cream I used with the sliced potatoes until the liquid thickened (about 5 minutes) with a little salt and bay leaf and then layered in the pan. The textures were great.
Louis January 24, 2017
for starters, nobody who actually speaks French will ever say "pommes Dauphinoise"
SabrinaEA February 6, 2020
I just got home from Paris where I had Pommes Dauphinoise. I looked up the recipe by that name, as it was listed in the menu...and here we are.
robin L. January 8, 2015
...ah. i just read your 'A Potato Primer' article!
Mary D. January 8, 2015
I have used russets successfully. I peel, thinly slice, and pre-boil them for about 5 minutes first, then proceed with the recipe. It is important to use cream, not milk, to prevent curdling.
robin L. January 8, 2015
...oh! okay. thanks. maybe i'll give the russets a try...
robin L. January 8, 2015
would russets (which i have, and it's snowing and freezing in chicago today) be okay to use instead of yukon gold (which i don't have)...
Lisa December 21, 2014
So I made this for a party this holiday season and then made it again and again... I have been using heavy cream in place of milk. Best potatoes ever. Nothing but compliments all around (and requests for repeats).
Patricia November 18, 2014
Used whole milk and it curdled really badly :/ I think I'll stick to cream next time!
Mary D. November 16, 2014
I made this dish, but used Crème Fraiche. I did not note any curdling. Was wonderful!
Hina K. November 10, 2014
I used all milk and had curdling...also, I used russet potatoes instead of yukon golds and the texture wasn't great and the potatoes were still a bit al dente even after 5 minutes of extra cooking. Could that be because of the russets?
Hina K. November 10, 2014
Also, which mandoline are you using? I bought a cuisinart one for 50 bucks and am very disappointed with it =(.
Author Comment
Merrill S. November 10, 2014
The curdling could have been a result of the potatoes. I like Yukon Golds here because they have a creamier texture. How think did you slice your potatoes? I have an Oxo handheld mandoline and really like it.
Curtis May 30, 2014
As a kid, to make this a meal, my mom would add diced ham, and serve it with salad and broccoli. With a well appointed salad, this also makes a beautiful presentation. Anxious to try your rendition (with and without the ham).
Mimi H. May 12, 2014
I used a 9" Pyrex pie pan. Not as sexy, but it all fit well. I used all while milk and am hoping it doesn't curdle….. now I'm worried…...
sfielding December 30, 2013
Had this saved for a very long time and finally made it. Wow! It was delicious. I had some french lemon-pepper, so I used that instead of regular pepper and it was extra amazing.
Solitaire November 26, 2013
Just made this today and my house smells wonderful now :) I used heavy cream instead of milk and added a bit of nutmeg to it while it simmered. Similar to a winter root veggie au gratin recipe I have but this one is such a classic.
Kevin F. November 21, 2013
Made this last night and the family loved it. I used a 50/50 mixture of 2% Milk and Half and Half to try and prevent the curdling. I also baked it at 400 degrees. I still got a fair amount of curdling, but the taste was very good. Will make again.