The temperatures have dropped and rain storms have been coming through Northern California and I am craving comfort foods. Last week it was beef stew and this week it is these Creamiest Cheesy Potatoes au Gratin! When it gets cold I long for the foods of my childhood, carb-loaded casseroles, long-braised meats, soups, and stews. And especially anything made with potatoes.
I served these potatoes as part of my New Year’s Eve Extravaganza with the #ProgressiveEats team that I posted on Tuesday. Perfectly cooked filet mignon steaks with homemade Béarnaise sauce are the pièce de résistance for any celebratory feast. As amazing as the steak and sauce were, I could not stop eating the potatoes. It must be the Irish blood of my heritage – I love potatoes!
I made the potatoes the day before to give myself plenty of time to focus while trying a new-to-me technique for the sauce. I love the flexibility of this side dish recipe, the ability to make it ahead and reheat when I am ready to serve. It frees you up to pair it with slightly more complex recipes if you want.
These potatoes are downright delectable! I could barely restrain myself from sneaking a spoonful straight from the oven when they were screaming hot. I hadn’t made them this way before and now I will never make them any other way!
I had a few blocks of Kerrygold cheeses and knew they would add a delicious flavor and richness to the potatoes. A blending of cream and milk gives the dish its lusciousness without being too heavy. You can use all milk if you want to reduce the fat calories, but heck, it’s the holidays, the perfect time for indulgences!
I made two significant changes that I really like and that are, in my opinion, are improvements to the traditional method. Instead of the typical sliced potatoes, I cut mine in small chunks. This made it easier to scoop and eat – especially helpful if you have little children who may not have their dexterity fully developed yet.
Normally cheese is sprinkled over the layers of sliced potatoes so it doesn’t melt smoothly and you wind up with clumps of cheese between the layers. The second change I made was to create a Bechamel sauce and melting the cheese in it, much like you would if you were making mac and cheese.
If you wanted a stronger cheese flavor you could add more cheese to the cream sauce. Just adjust the consistency of the sauce if needed. I finished my casserole with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on the top during the second baking, helping the top turn a beautiful brown in areas.
This is definitely a special occasion dish – there is too much cream and cheese to eat it often, but a little indulgence once in a while is worth the extra exercise after! This is a more family-friendly version of the classic French dish. By cubing the potatoes instead of slicing them, they are easier to serve and eat.
If you are looking for an extravagance for your holiday meals, I hope you make these creamiest cheesy potatoes au gratin – I promise they are beyond delectable. I usually try to give away leftovers from my blog recipes to family or neighbors but I kept these all to myself, LOL.
May you have the most joyous holiday season, sharing delicious food, lots of laughter, and heart-warming moments with family and friends. Enjoy!
How to make Creamiest Cheesy Potatoes au Gratin:
- Sauté the onions, shallots, and garlic in olive oil
- Melt the butter and whisk in the flour; cook for 2 minutes then whisk in the milk, cream, salt and pepper
- Bring to a boil and cook until thickened, whisking constantly
- Stir in cooked onions and garlic and the cheddar and half the Parmesan; stir until smooth and fully melted
- Peel, slice, and cube the potatoes; add to the cheese sauce and pour into a buttered baking dish
- Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes; remove foil, sprinkle top with remaining Parmesan and continue baking about 20 minutes or until tender
- Let rest 15 minutes before scooping servings onto plates and enjoying
If you have made these creamy cheesy potatoes ahead and are reheating them, you can add a touch of water to loosen the sauce if you want. It is optional, but the sauce does thicken as it cools.
What is the easiest way to cube potatoes?
Peel the potatoes and slice them lengthwise in half. Lay the halves, flat side down, on a cutting board. Cut each half lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices, then turn the slices and cut crossways into small cubes.
Can I cut up the potatoes ahead of making the dish?
Yes, you can! If you are cutting the potatoes early, place in a bowl and cover with cool water to keep them from turning brown. Drain very well and pat dry before adding to the creamy cheese sauce.
Be sure to wash your cutting board and knife as soon as you are finished working with the potatoes – their starch gets harder to clean if it has time to dry!
Key Ingredients for this Recipe
- Onions, shallots, and garlic
- Milk or half and half and heavy cream
- Salt and white pepper
- Large Russet potatoes
- Shredded cheddar or white cheddar
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Green onions
Kitchen Tools I Use to Make This Recipe (affiliate links)
This creamiest cheesy potatoes au gratin is easy to convert to gluten-free – just substitute a gluten-free flour to make the roux. I used sorghum, but you could use any mild flavored flour you like or a blend you have on hand. The trick to a roux is to cook it long enough to cook out the raw flavor of the flour, and in this case not long enough to turn golden. You want a white roux to showcase the delicate color of the cheeses.
Cream Sauce & Potatoes
- 1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onions
- 2 shallots, peeled and minced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 4 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour, gluten-free flour blend, or sorghum flour
- 2 cups whole milk or half and half
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1-1/2 tsp kosher or fine sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
- 3 cups shredded Cheddar or white Cheddar cheese, such as Kerrygold Dubliner and/or Blarney Castle
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 8 large russet potatoes
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 2 green onions, trimmed, tough ends discarded, thinly sliced or chopped parsley
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Set out a 9x13-inch pan or other baking dish.
- Make the Cheesy Cream Sauce: In a medium skillet, preferably nonstick, add oil and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until softened and beginning to color slightly. Stir in the garlic and remove from the heat. Stir occasionally as the onions continue to caramelize lightly in the residual heat.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and whisk until completely smooth. Be thorough, you don't want any lumps! Reduce the heat to medium and cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes - this helps make the sauce smoother and gets rid of the raw flour flavor. Add the milk, cream, salt, and pepper, whisking until smooth. Turn the heat back up, bring back to a boil, and cook, whisking constantly until thickened.
- Stir in the sautéed onions and garlic. Add the Cheddar and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese is fully melted. Keep the sauce warm over very low heat, stirring occasionally while you prep the potatoes.
- Prepare the Potatoes: Peel the potatoes, cut lengthwise in half and then each half into thick "sticks". If the potatoes are very large slice them in thirds and slice into "sticks". Turn the potato and cut crosswise into small cubes (this makes the dish a lot easier to serve and eat). Once cut, stir the potatoes into the cheese sauce and pour into the prepared baking dish.
- Cook the Potatoes: Cover the potatoes with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil cover from the pan, sprinkle the top with the remaining Parmesan and return to the oven. Continue baking about 20 minutes longer or until the casserole is bubbling, the top is golden brown, and the potatoes are tender when you insert a slender knife or prongs of a fork. You should test the potatoes in several places to be sure there is no resistance and the entire pan is evenly cooked.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let set about 15 minutes before sprinkling the green onions or parsley on the top and scooping servings.
- Make Ahead: You can make these potatoes up to a couple of days in advance. Reheat uncovered in the microwave or oven until bubbling around the edges and the center is heated through. If the sauce is too thick, stir in a little water to thin it.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 854 Total Fat: 39g Saturated Fat: 22g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 13g Cholesterol: 106mg Sodium: 1129mg Carbohydrates: 101g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 9g Sugar: 10g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 27g
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First Published: 23 Dec 2016
Last Updated: 13 Dec 2019