The Foolproof Guide to Baking the Best Scalloped Potatoes
Follow these six easy steps to make the most perfectly gooey, golden-browned scalloped potatoes recipe.
Although we love melting potatoes and buttery mashed potatoes, we have to admit that it's hard to find a better crowd-pleaser than scalloped potatoes. It's comfort food in its purest form: thin-sliced potatoes tucked between heaps of warm cream and fresh herbs with an ooey-gooey inside and golden-browned crust. If you want to really kick it up a notch, you can add a rich, salty cheese, like Gruyere or cheddar, on top before baking.
Here are a few key rules to follow to make the best-ever scalloped potato recipe next time you have dinner guests over.
Go for starchy potatoes
Varieties like Russets and Yukon Gold potatoes are great in this dish because their high starch content helps thicken up the cream. This ultimately transforms it into a rich, velvety sauce during the cooking process. Russet potatoes have a higher starch content and will make a thicker, creamier sauce, but Yukon Golds tend to hold their shape better.
Slice them as uniformly as possible
If you own a mandoline slicer, this is the time to enlist its help. The most important tip to keep in mind when slicing is to make your potato pieces all the same size—a mandoline will not only let you slice super thin (1/8 inch) pieces, but it will make each one perfectly uniform so they all cook in the exact same amount of time. If you don’t own a mandoline, don’t worry—just make sure your knife is super sharp and try to be as exact as possible.
Use fresh—not dried—herbs
Fresh herbs marry all the starchy, creamy, salty notes together in scalloped potato dishes. Their bright flavor cuts through the richness, plus they add a pop of color to an otherwise blend of lots of beige. Go for fresh over dried herbs—they’ll taste less bitter and more vibrant, especially after being baked.
Get creative with mix-ins and toppings
Technically, adding cheese on top makes these Potatoes Au Gratin. We’ve made peace with that and we’re doing it anyway. You can also add bits of thick-cut bacon, broccoli or cauliflower florets, garlic, chili pepper, sun-dried tomatoes or slices of avocado. Anything you might like in macaroni and cheese is fair game.
Don’t be too afraid of over-baking it
The goal is to cook your dish until poking a potato with a knife causes it to almost fall apart. The cheese on top should be fiercely bubbling, too. If your potatoes are just cooked until they’re tender, you might not have baked them long enough.
Use the right serving tools
Keep in mind that if you bake your scalloped potatoes in a pretty casserole dish that’s suitable for serving, you can take your potatoes right from oven to table. Also, because the sauce in scalloped potatoes can be melty (i.e., liquidly), you’ll want to use a slotted spoon or even a fish spatula for serving. Once you have a square piece on a plate, you can spoon more cream sauce over top. Finish with another sprinkle of herbs and your guests might never leave.