Scalloped Potatoes

scalloped potatoes

These are a classic side dish for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our pals Matt and Charles in San Antonio requested a scalloped potatoes recipe from me; they said they could never get them quite right. I think the trick is to parboil the potato slices in the milk before baking. It’s an extra step, I know, but it gives the finished potatoes a lighter texture than the brick-like starch bomb that scalloped potatoes often become. Many scalloped potato recipes call for making a bechamel sauce, but originally a scalloped dish was just one cooked in cream. As long as you use a portion of heavy cream, there is no need to thicken the sauce with flour. Of course, if you’re dieting you may want to choose a different method!

And if you’re wondering, the difference between scalloped and au gratin, it’s this: scalloped has a cream sauce and au gratin just has crunchy buttery crumbs on top. Au gratin is often done with steamed cauliflower or broccoli, too. Although, those are the classic differences. Nowadays in the US, the terms are frequently used interchangeably.

Scalloped Potatoes Video

Scalloped Potatoes Recipe – Printable!


Scalloped Potatoes

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4.6 from 7 reviews

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 1x


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk, warmed
  • 3/4 pound Russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 3/4 pound red potatoes, sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 1/31/2 cup heavy cream
  • Optional: 1/2 cup grated Gouda, Swiss, Cheddar or Gruyere cheese
  • 1/3 cup coarse breadcrumbs


  1. Set oven to 350 and grease a 2 quart casserole (deep dish pie pan or 10″ gratin) and sprinkle the bottom with a tablespoon of the bread crumbs.
  2. In a deep skillet, saute the onion and garlic in the butter for about 10 minutes over medium-low heat until very soft.
  3. Add the bay, salt, pepper and milk and potatoes and bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer uncovered 7 minutes until potatoes are just tender, pushing the potatoes down and stirring gently occasionally.
  4. Lift potatoes out with a slotted spoon and arrange the dish.
  5. Carefully pour cooking milk and cream over the top. Use 1/3 to 1/2 cup cream, just enough to barely cover the potatoes.
  6. Sprinkle with cheese and crumbs.
  7. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes.
  8. Allow to rest 10-15 minutes before serving.

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classic scalloped potatoes

And just for shits’n’giggles, here’s a picture of Mr. Banjo watching me take pictures. Note the speck of white on his left eyebrow. That is a tiny bit of scalloped potato. He’s saving it for Daisy. (Note the chewed-up windowsill behind him. That’s from his puppy chewing days. Good thing is, he’s immune to lead now. I kid!)



  1. Summer on November 22, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    I’m so excited you posted this recipe! I need to make this for a “friendsgiving” this weekend and I will definitely be using your recipe. Thanks!

    • Hilah on November 22, 2013 at 1:41 pm

      Oh yay! Enjoy, Summer! And happy Friendsgiving!

  2. Jon on November 22, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    We make this all the time! we add ham…and broil it at the end so it gets nice and crispy…

  3. Robby on November 22, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    This looks great! Can’t wait to make it! And word to the wise, use the finger guard on the mandolin. I know from personal experience that it’s not a lot of fun mandolin-ing off the tip of your finger. 🙂

  4. Steve on November 22, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    You mentioned making these ahead of time. If I stop after the simmering, and before the baking; can I assemble them in the baking dish and refrigerate? Do I need to do anything special to keep the potatoes from turning all zombie colored? Thanks Hilah.

    Do you ever watch French Guy Cooking. He makes a good scalloped potatoes recipe too. However, I cannot pronounce the name he usues for them.

    • Hilah on November 23, 2013 at 9:07 pm

      Hi Steve!
      You don’t need to do anything special. The enzymes that turn potatoes into zombies are deactivated by cooking, so you can just put them in the pan, add the cream, cover and refrigerate. Add the crumbs right before cooking! Happy Thanksgiving!
      I’ll check out French Guy, too. I don’t think I have seen that one!

  5. Cherry on November 23, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    I’ve always just tossed sliced potatoes into a baking dish, layering them with salt, pepper, and just a little cheddar. Then cover with milk and bake an hour-ish. Is there a difference between my lazy way and the way you do it? Just curious. Love your videos! I really like your idea of good-luck-bay-leaf. I always remember to remove the bay leaf- but only after the dish has been set on the table and dished out.

    Love you!!!

    • Hilah on November 24, 2013 at 12:47 pm

      Ha! You know what else is funny, on YouTube a few people said that in their house, whoever finds the bay leaf has to wash the dishes! I wonder where that one comes from.
      I think your way is fine! This method makes a thicker sauce in my experience, but maybe I’ve just done your way wrong in the past. 🙂

  6. Mar on November 26, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    Hi Hilah!

    Is it possible to use almond milk instead of whole milk for this recipe? I’m a cooking newbie so I’m not sure if that’s a “stupid question” but I thought I’d ask it anyway!

    I just recently discovered your videos, subscribed! Now I’m always on your website, obsessed! 🙂

    • Hilah on November 27, 2013 at 10:57 pm

      Hi Mar!
      Never a stupid question! 🙂 Most cream sauce recipes will work okay swapping non-dairy milks for milk. I think it will work, but I recommend buying an unsweetened almond milk. Many of them have sugar added and I think with the simmering, the sugar would concentrate and the dish end up sweet. Obviously it own’t be exactly the same, but I bet it will set up fine. Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. maria on November 29, 2013 at 2:04 am

    Hey Hilah

  8. Joe on December 3, 2013 at 1:09 am

    Hey Hilah,

    So in this video you you mention how sometimes things in the oven boil over, and if you don’t have a cookie sheet under it, it’ll get all over your oven. Do you have any suggestions on how to easily clean baked on grossness from the bottom of your oven? My roommate made pie and got apple pie sugary syrup juice nasty all over our oven bottom 🙁

    • Hilah on December 3, 2013 at 9:17 am

      Ooh, that’s nasty, Joe. Here’s what I would tell your roommate to do 😉

      Sprinkle the bottom of the oven with a good thick layer of baking soda, 1/4″ deep. Pour a few tablespoons of white vinegar on that and let it sit for 30 minutes. Use an old plastic scrub brush (old because it will probably need to be tossed after this anyway) to clean the crap off. If it doesn’t come off fairly easily at this point, let it sit another 30 minutes.

      Hope that works for y’all!

    • Melody on September 20, 2022 at 12:22 pm

      If I know something pas the potential to run over, I cover an edged cookie sheet with foil. Easy enought to toss awa afterward for easy clean up.

  9. Bil Radetzky on December 10, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Hi Hilah,
    I just made these last night. I just read your recipe today. Mine were the slivered starch bombs that you mentioned. I used half and half and butter salt and pepper and flour on each layer. I will follow your suggestion on par boiling. Also my mike did not evaporate into the potato like yours did. I used a white corning ware dish and not a pie pan like you. I will follow your recipe. Mine were a waste of time and not crunchy but not all the was done either. Ever think of a search capability on your website? Love your shows!

    • Hilah on December 10, 2013 at 2:26 pm

      Hey Bill!
      I’m sorry yours didn’t turn out well! I hope you have better luck with this method.
      If you look in the upper right of the website, there is a search bar to use! Thanks for writing.

  10. Andy on February 22, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Hi Hilah, Watching this brought back all the pain I had when cutting finger on mandolin just after I brought it and cutting carrots. Nice scar across finger and I now always use safety thing. Great shows and have tried a lot of the dishes. Keep up the good work.

    • Hilah on February 22, 2014 at 10:23 am

      Ack. Such a gross thought to cut yourself on a mandoline. Some how it’s worse than a regular knife cut, right?!
      Thanks for writing, Andy!

      • Spikeygrrl on February 9, 2016 at 11:42 am

        A dollar short and MUCH more than a day late:
        Having once literally sliced off the tip of a finger in a prehistoric food processor (ER, sutures, the whole nine yards), I was worried about my first mandoline. Fortunately there was an outstanding kitchen supply store where I was living at the time; all their salespeople were very knowledgeable and consultative. The salesperson told me that although the mandoline came with a plastic prong thingy to hold what you’re slicing so your fingers stay away from the blade … but it is difficult and awkward to use so most home cooks just throw it away. (Next stop: Emergency Room again!) What’s needed is a knife-resistant glove. Not knife-PROOF; someone intent on slicing off a finger could probably still manage to. But I’ve been using the glove with the mandoline for almost a decade now without creating any kitchen “crime scenes.” 😉

        • Hilah on February 9, 2016 at 1:33 pm

          I need to get one of those! Thanks!

  11. Erin on April 20, 2014 at 8:33 am

    If it ok if I use 2% milk for this and not whole milk?

    • Hilah on April 21, 2014 at 8:23 am

      That will be okay, Erin. It will probably not set up as thick once it’s baked, but as long as you don’t mind that, it’ll be fine!

  12. Brian on May 27, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    Just made this tonight. Everyone liked and that only happens never!

    • Hilah on May 28, 2014 at 8:45 am

      So glad to hear that, Brian! Scalloped potatoes FTW!

  13. Lew on November 27, 2016 at 9:56 am

    Slicing potatoes is very fast and safe if you have access to a meat slicer. Mine will slice as fast as I can move the carrier back and forth. Keep all body parts where they belong !

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