An official army family and MWR Site

Foodie Friday: Au Gratin Potatoes

By: Jenifer Chrisman

This is a fairly unusual recipe for me. Generally, the only time I make a from scratch side dish is for Thanksgiving. That isn’t to say I don’t make sides, but they are usually simple things like steamed veggies, a salad or white rice in the rice cooker. More often than not my recipe adventure includes the sides, whether it’s a one-pot or multi-pot dish. But when I saw “this” specific recipe from Savory Experiments, I couldn’t resist the temptation.

Bon Appetit!



Estimated Prep Time: 20-30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Broil Time: 5 minutes

Rest Time: 15-20 minutes

Total Estimated Time: 2 hour, 35 minutes

Estimated Servings: 10

Estimated Calories per Serving: 264


Helpful Kitchen Tools

  • Box Grater
  • Mandolin (a)



  • 4-5 large Russet potatoes (I used 4) (b)
  • 1/4 c Unsalted Butter
  • 1/4 c Salted Butter (half stick)
  • 1/4 c Flour (I used Wondra, which doesn’t generally clump) (c)
  • Pepper (black or white, to taste) (c)
  • 1/2 tsp coarse Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Mince Onion (c)
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Minced Garlic (c)
  • 2 c Milk (I used 2%)
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 8 oz bag shredded Sharp Cheddar (I used Piggly Wiggly Wisconsin Extra Sharp)
  • 7 oz block Cheddar (I used Black Creek “White” Cheddar Cheese with Parmesan Notes from Publix)
  • 2 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese , shredded and divided

Optional Toppings

  • Salt (d)
  • Pepper
  • Bacon Pieces
  • Chopped Scallions
  • Chopped Chives (I used Chives)



  1. Peel and rinse potatoes. Set the mandolin’s slicing thickness anywhere up to ¼ inch (I used 3/16s as I wanted to be sure the potatoes cooked all the way through but weren’t too thin). Slice the potatoes. Set them in a large bowl and cover entirely with water to keep from browning. Shred the block cheese on the box grater. Place cheese in a sealed container in the fridge.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and then whisk with flour, pepper, minced onion and minced garlic until it forms a paste. While whisking, pour in milk until smooth. Add the bay leaf. Continue gently whisking (this will thicken considerably) until it reaches a low simmer.
  3. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350°. Coat the casserole dish (I used an 8” x 12” glass dish to make cleanup easier) with cooking spray. Set aside.
  4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the eight ounces of shred cheese. Whisk until the cheese has melted and the sauce thickens. Set aside.
  5. Drain the potatoes and place half in the prepared baking dish. Remove the bay leaf from the cheese sauce and pour half of the cheese sauce over the top, spreading it across the potatoes. Add the remaining potatoes and top with the remaining cheese sauce, again spreading cheese across the potatoes. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  6. Bake, covered, for 60 minutes.
  7. Take the baking dish out of the oven and remove the aluminum foil. Top with the shredded cheese from the block and return, uncovered to the oven. Bake for an additional 20 minutes (or until potatoes are soft the whole way through).
  8. Turn the oven off and reset it to High Broil (e). Brown the top of the cheese until it has a nice crust. This can happen very quick, so be sure to keep an eye on it.
  9. Remove the baking dish from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing. Sprinkle any desired toppings across the top and serve.


Cook’s Notes:

It pretty much goes without saying, if I am making a dish with cheese in it I will be adding more cheese than the recipe calls for. It’s always interesting striking a balance between how much my husband loves cheese and “always” thinks it needs more and how much (yes, I do love cheese too, just not quite as much) I can add and it not overwhelm me. Although I will still use shred cheese to cut down on time (and cost), I also like to add some good quality cheese that I shred by hand when making a fully from scratch recipe like this. It gives the recipe that little something extra. Frozen French fries aside, I don’t cook a lot of potatoes unless I am just cubing (unpeeled) them up with some seasoning and roasting them. Peeling potatoes is one of my least favorite kitchen prep steps. So real mashed potatoes are pretty much a Thanksgiving thing.

I have always loved au gratin potatoes. The difficulty with real au gratin potatoes was finding a recipe starting point that struck the right balance of creamy and cheesy and no nutmeg, please! Not a fan of nutmeg. Or cloves. Or worst yet, capers (I had a really, really bad experience with them). I will either omit them from the recipe or just toss the recipe (always if it has capers in it) if I don’t believe it can be made successfully without that ingredient. But this recipe hit on all counts. And yes, I did tweak it a bit. But not much, which is rarely the case. So, I was super excited to pull out my mandolin and get going.

I prepped everything but the sauce and the actual baking on a Friday, with all intents to make it on Saturday. However, we ran over on our plans on Saturday and I ended up making the dish on Sunday. But that’s ok. Potatoes, yes even peeled and sliced, will last a few days in the fridge so long as they are in a sealed container and covered in water.

My husband said it was the best au gratin potatoes he has ever eaten, although he thought it could use more cheese (big surprise). Even my sister-in-law, who tried a spoonful cold, really liked them. So, as far as I am concerned, this is a win.


Original Source:


Other Sources:

Italics: Ingredients and Directions were either omitted or altered.


Ingredient & Direction Notes:

  1. This is one of the best kitchen gadgets I have ever bought. I don’t know why I waited so long to get one. It saves a tremendous amount of prep time and everything cut on it is perfectly matched in thickness. However, the blade is razor sharp, so use caution, both when slicing and when cleaning.
  2. Potatoes can be prepped two to three days ahead of time. Place them in a large container, cover with water until potatoes are fully covered, cover container with the lid and refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. If prepping ahead of time, measure out flour, pepper to taste, minced onion and minced garlic into a small, lidded container and seal until ready to use.
  4. Because salt must be kept to a minimum in my house, I only used the salt already found in the ingredients. However, potatoes have almost no salt content (1 medium potato = 13 mg of salt, whereas 1 pan fried slice of bacon = 137 mg salt, so you would need to eat at least 10 medium potatoes to almost equal the salt content of 1 slice of bacon). For those of you who like your salt, you can add it earlier, in the cooking process, or salt it after as an additional topping.
  5. This step isn’t called for in the recipe, but there is nothing better than a nicely browned, crusty cheese topping.