Cheesiest Scalloped Potatoes

September 28, 2022
2 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham
  • Prep time 35 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 55 minutes
  • Serves 6-8
Author Notes

Simplicity is the name of the game in this recipe for Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes. A handful of uncomplicated ingredients come together to make a surprisingly indulgent side dish. After bubbling away in the oven, it is ready to accompany any meal, whether it be an elegant holiday roast or a simple weeknight dinner for the family. Here, handfuls of nutty cheeses melt together with buttery caramelized onions and tender Yukon Gold potatoes to create a rich and satisfying potato dish. 

The first (and arguably the most important) step is caramelizing the onions—this step will make a big impact on the final flavor of the dish. It takes some time for the onions to break down and become truly golden brown—always longer than you expect and always longer than most recipes lead you to believe, but it is time very well spent. For the best results, start by sautéing a thinly sliced sweet onion (shallots or regular red or yellow onions work just as well) in a mixture of butter and extra-virgin olive oil. Butter makes the onions more flavorful and encourages deep caramelization, but the addition of olive oil helps keep the onions from browning too much, too fast. 

This recipe uses buttery Yukon Gold potatoes as the base. Yukon Golds are quite a bit less starchy than your average russet potato. When baked, they come out light and creamy, yet are still starchy enough to soak up all of the rich cream sauce. The sauce itself is not complicated either. Fresh thyme sprigs, a clove of grated garlic, and a few generous cracks of black pepper infuse the warm heavy cream that gets poured over the sliced potatoes. 

Scalloped potatoes do not always include cheese. Some get all of their rich flavor from just the cream sauce, but this recipe is packed with plenty of ooey gooey cheese goodness. Because let’s be honest—what are creamy baked potatoes without melted cheese? To keep it simple, two types of sharp, nutty cheese are incorporated into this dish—Gruyere and Parmigiano Reggiano. Gruyere adds richness and creaminess, while Parmigiano adds sharpness and saltiness—both are perfect melting cheeses, which is ideal for this dish since it spends over an hour in the oven. Once the cheese fully melts, it will start to bubble and brown during the last few minutes of baking. If you want to try something new, switch it up with some other cheese substitutes. A sharp white cheddar or Jarlsberg works well in place of the Gruyere; they are both great for melting and have a similar kick. Grana Padano or Pecorino Romano add a similar salty bite as Parmigiano. 

While you’re at it, try swapping out the thyme sprigs for other seasonal herbs that you may find growing in your garden or lining the stalls of your local farmers' market. Thyme adds a very delicate floral note, but a few sprigs of fresh rosemary or sage will add a more robust, earthy flavor.  —Riley Wofford

Test Kitchen Notes

These feel like such a treat—and have so much going for them beyond their creaminess (which I feel like many scalloped potatoes lack: dimension beyond richness!). The caramelized onions infuse the whole thing with a deep savoriness. —Food52

What You'll Need
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (6-8 medium)
  • 1/4 cup fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated
  • 3 1/2 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (1 packed cup)
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F with a rack in the lower third position. Butter a 2-quart baking dish; set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and onions and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook until golden and caramelized, 25 to 35 minutes. If the onions begin to brown too quickly, add 1 tablespoon of water.
  3. Meanwhile, heat cream, milk, garlic, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small saucepan over medium until bubbling around the edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
  4. Peel potatoes. Using a mandoline, slice peeled potatoes to 1/8-inch thick. Sprinkle half the Parmigiano-Reggiano over the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Tightly shingle half the potatoes along the bottom of the dish, then top with caramelized onions and half the Gruyère. Tightly shingle with remaining potatoes. Pour cream mixture evenly over potatoes, arranging the thyme sprigs on top, then top with remaining cheeses; sprinkle with pepper.
  5. Bake uncovered until potatoes are tender, liquid is creamy, and top is golden and bubbling, 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes. Let stand at least 20 minutes before serving.

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1 Review

Caitiepies November 17, 2022
This was good, but not great. I didn’t really find it to be that cheesy. Certainly not “the cheesiest”. I went with 6 potatoes (the lower end of the range in the recipe) and I still thought it was too many potatoes. The potatoes were cooked, but it definitely could have used another 10-15 min in the oven. I am glad I used this as an experiment on my office Guinea pigs before attempting it for Thanksgiving.