Creamy Potatoes Au Gratin Recipe & Full Picture Tutorial!

One of the best and creamy Potatoes Au Gratin Recipe from

With Thanksgiving just a drop of a leaf away, it’s time to start planning the feasting menu. Since Diane and I are always working the day before and the day after, we stay local and spend Thanksgiving with Diane’s family.

The menu is a classic ethnic Thanksgiving, where traditional dishes are entwined with cultural ones.  Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cha gio (eggrolls), nuoc cham for everything, bun bo hue. Diane’s mom takes care of the Vietnamese dishes & we’ll do the American (although sometimes we’ll help a bit with the Viet, too).  There is no way that we would get to do everything ourselves.  Stampeding horses couldn’t keep Diane’s mom from cooking. Us either.

One of the best and creamy Potatoes Au Gratin Recipe from

One “everyone-will-boycott-if-it-isn’t-there” dish that is demanded are my legendary Potatoes Au Gratin. I don’t say this lightly.  These Potatoes Au Gratin are bad-ass. Just ask Matt what he thinks about this dish.

Simplicity can be heavenly, especially when you use good technique, and that completely surmises this Potatoes Au Gratin recipe (when they are this good, they should always be capitalized.) It is just a handful of ingredients, the prep is simple and as long as you remember to tend to your taters a couple times as they cook, they are utterly phenomenal.

Because of the simplicity of the ingredients, the little details make all of the difference in the final outcome. Skip the garlic rub on the baking dish & the flavors won’t be complete. If you use pre-ground pepper and nutmeg instead of the fresh cracked and grated stuff, it won’t taste the same.  Same if you use regular table salt instead of sea salt or even Kosher salt.  Not quite as tasty.

If you are using the pre-ground stuff (please try not to, but sometimes circumstances will dictate that you have to) cut back on the measurements because each of the ingredients in this recipe have more fluff then their commonplace counterparts.

For the potatoes, good Russets are the best economical choice but if you want to go high-end, grab some Yukon Golds or something similar (75% of the time we use Russets.) Get the best cream you can (all creams are not equal), then remember to tend to the potatoes as they cook.  A few times while they bake, with the back of a large spoon you’ll break the crust the cream is starting to form.

This will allow the cream to slowly cook into the potatoes without burning on top and it helps keep the top layer of potatoes from drying out as everything bakes. For the last 20-30 min. you’ll leave everything untouched so it will develop a final finishing crust.  The final Potatoes Au Gratin will have a heavenly texture of softened, creamy layered potatoes topped with a golden slightly firmer crust.


Step-by-Step Pictorial for Potatoes Au Gratin

One of the best and creamy Potatoes Au Gratin Recipe from WhiteOnRiceCouple.comslice the potatoes nice & thin

One of the best and creamy Potatoes Au Gratin Recipe from WhiteOnRiceCouple.comuse fresh nutmeg, fresh cracked black pepper & sea salt for best taste

laying in potatoes with creamlayer in all the potatoes @ 1 1/2″ high (doesn’t have to be too precise) & pour in cream

checking cream level for potatoes au gratin recipecheck the cream level by pressing on the potatoes

How to “Break The Crust” – keeping potatoes moist & creamy

potatoes au gratin 1st crust break(above)– 1st crust break (about 20 min cook time) ~ the cream is just starting to form a crust

2nd crust break potatoes au gratin(above) 2nd crust break (about 40 min cook time) ~ the cream crust is starting to show some color

potatoes au gratin recip  006(above) 2nd crust break -gently swirl & break up crust on sides & center to moisten all the top potatoes

gratin dauphinois recipe

(above) 3rd crust break (about 1 hour cook time) – the crust is starting to brown

potato gratin dauphinois recipe

(above) 3rd crust break – last crust break, same 2nd break, swirl & re-moisten top. Now time to bake for final crust.

One of the best and creamy Potatoes Au Gratin Recipe from

above  (about 1 1/2 hr cook time) – Bad-Ass Finale!! Perfect crust & oh so creamy good inside

Let’s get the sharing going. What are everyone’s must have’s on their Thanksgiving table?  If you’ve got it posted (from past or present posts) put the link in your comments for everyone to see. We’d love to see all of your favorites.

Potatoes Au Gratin Recipe

Yield: 6-8

Total Time: 2 hours

All ingredients are approximations. Learn to cook this recipe by feel and it becomes very easy to make smaller or larger dishes to suit the occasion.


  • 4 lbs. Potatoes
  • 2 whole Garlic Cloves
  • 1 - 1 1/2 T Sea Salt, or Kosher Salt
  • 2 t fresh cracked Black Pepper
  • 3/4 t freshly grated Nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 c Heavy Cream


Preheat oven to 350°F

  1. Crack the garlic cloves break them up slightly then rub the insides of a 9"x11" baking dish. Set aside.
  2. Peel and thinly slice the potatoes - @ 1/8" thick. Put  the sliced potatoes into a large bowl.
  3. Season potatoes with sea salt, black pepper, and nutmeg. Get your hands in there and toss the slices to coat evenly.  Slap a potato slice against your tongue to test for seasoning.  It should be noticeably seasoned but not overpoweringly so.
  4. Layer potatoes into prepped baking dish, smoothing the top so everything is fairly level.  Pour cream over potatoes just to the point where you can press down on the top layer and the potato slices disappear under the cream.   Give a couple presses down on the potatoes then taste cream for seasoning again.  You should just marginally taste the salt.  Add a sprinkle more if needed.
  5. Put in the oven and bake for a total of about 1 1/2 hours (larger batches will take longer, of course). Every 20 minutes or so, open oven and with the back of a large spoon, break the crust the cream is starting to form.  On the final "crusting breaking" the consistency of the cream should noticeably thicker and have absorbed into the potatoes a decent amount. For the final 20-30 minutes, leave everything untouched to form a golden top. Cream should be nearly all broke down and absorbed with just a bit of creamy, buttery-ness between the potato slices.
  6. Remove from oven allow to cool a bit before serving.  It will retain a napalm-like heat for at least 10-15 minutes.

Prep Tips:
Lay down newspaper on counter tops and peel potatoes over the newspaper. When all done - Roll up and compost or throw away~instantly clean counters!

If you are doing a large batch, put the peeled potatoes in a bowl of water to keep them from browning.

This is also a great time to hone your knife skills, but for a cheater method, slice with a mandolin or food processor slicing blade. Personally I prefer slicing by hand - it's a bit meditative with the added risk playing with a sharp knife.

Recipe Source:

Hello! All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use our images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or simply link back to this post for the recipe. Thank you.
Recipe Note for Salt: All recipes containing salt are based on kosher or sea salt amounts, not table salt. If using table salt, reduce the amount used to taste.

{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. Deby

    Ok, you got me on this one. Never met a potato I didn’t like.

  2. Lizthechef

    How about a cranberry tequila sour to start off the celebration?

  3. Karen

    These are awesome…I added a little of the French spice Piment d’ Espelette to the cream before pouring over the potatoes. Heavenly!

  4. Scruz

    fourth year of making these for christmas dinner. a real winner. i even have my friends making them. what is it about simple recipes and a few ingredients that take some dishes to great heights…is it because you can taste the ingredients? the technique is brilliant.

  5. Amy

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe. I made them last night, using red potatoes, and they were phenomenal!!! My son, who is a very good cook, thought I had outdone myself. It is also a very beautiful, elegant dish. He took a picture. HA! I have never seen him photograph his food before.

  6. ian

    Just made this recipe, and more importantly “ate it” – it’s absolutely gorgeous – Ian

  7. Miyuki

    My family is gonna try to make this dish for Thanksgiving this year! I’m super excited. This is the perfect dish to have for Thanksgiving.

  8. Francesca

    Hi Todd and Diane! I recently used your recipe as a loose framework for a spin on this recipe. I added some kale because I had so much in my fridge and had no idea what to do with it. But the base ingredients were really helpful and it turned out great!
    Really enjoyed my visit, and what a cute pup Lexi is!
    Kind greetings from Amsterdam, and my kitchen!
    Here’s what they ended up looking like, just incase you ever have too much kale, too.

  9. Soak

    Thank you for this recipe. This was my fourth time at trying this dish and your recipe is the only one that resulted in a successful dish.
    Could you just let me know why you recommend seasoning in a bunch rather than layer by layer. Also why not add in the cream layer by layer instead of over the top. Don’t get me wrong I followed your instructions but would just like to know if there is a reason you do it this way

  10. Gina

    Just wondering if I can prepare these today and bake them tomorrow?

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Hi Gina,
      If left unbaked, the potatoes will start to brown, however if you need to, you can par-bake them today (up to the last crust breaking), then finish them off tomorrow. Hope you love them. We will be making them for tomorrow as well. Merry Christmas!

      T & D

  11. Rob

    It’s Wednesday, November 23, 2011. I just wanted you to know that this will be the third consecutive Thanksgiving where I’ve included this great dish at our gathering. Tomorrow, like all Thanksgivings, we’ll have 20+ over for the feast. This year though, I will double the double recipe as the regular recipe of this potato au gratin would not even last the first wave of eaters.

    Thank you!

    1. White on Rice Couple

      That is awesome. Thanks for sharing! Have a great Thanksgiving.
      T & D

  12. vanin

    Will try this today, best recipe on the internet. I like to research a few different ones to see which are the most feasible in my kitchen. Some recipes are uber fancy calling for ingredients that normal people don’t keep in the kitchen and some are insultingly calling for canned cream of mushroom soup or something else pre-made. What’s the point, might as well microwave it too! lol Yours is perfect! Homey and elegant and completeley fresh! I ESPECIALLY LOVE the tasting method of slapping a slice against your tongue. I laughed a good minute on that and had to re-read. Just bought some individual au gratin boats, can’t wait to use!

  13. Melissa Johnson

    I have just recently discovered not only that I truly enjoying cooking, but that I’m actually pretty good at it! Since Ive discovered this new found passion of mine, I have been on the search for recipes to try, and this led me to your website. It is a wonderful site and the photographs are captivating. Anyways, My first recipe( of which im sure will be many from your site) was these potatoes. WOW!!! HOLY #*%&@*# These are incredible. They are the best potatoes I have EVER eaten and one of my favorite foods as well. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I have a personal blog, nothing fancy but would it be ok if I post the printable recipe on there with my photos of the potatoes I made? I would love to share this with my friends and family but wanted to get your permission first. Thanks:)

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Hi Melissa,
      We say that every time we make these too. We’d love that you’d share the recipe on your site. General recipe blogging etiquette is to just re-write the recipe instructions in your own words (this helps prevent google from penalizing either party for duplicate content and we find this also helps to personally understand the recipe) and to mention where the recipe is adapted from, giving a link back to the post you were adapting from. So glad you loved them and are sharing them.
      T & D

  14. Melissa

    I just recently began discovering my love of cooking and have been searching for recipes when I came across this. Last night, I decided to make this dish as a side dish and WHOA! These potatoes were absofreakin amazing. The only word to really describe these are Perfection. They were hands down the best potatoes Ive ever eaten and my husband whole heartedly agrees. Thank you so much for sharing this. They are so warm and comforting. Exquisite.

  15. Tracy

    I’ve made potatoes similar to this every Christmas for years but never “broke the crust”. It is unbelievable what a huge difference that makes. They were always delicious. This took them to sublime. Thanks!

  16. sonya

    Thanks so much for this recipe and helpful photos. I’m curious whether you recommend adding vegetables or whether you have tried? I think artichoke bottoms and califlower would complement the potatoes. My first tastse of Au Gratin was vegetable only and it was delicious. I’m looking forward to trying this! Happy Holidays!

    1. White on Rice Couple

      We never have because of pure adoration to the original, but we especially love your idea of cauliflower. Maybe sauté them up with a little garlic first, then layering it into the potatoes. Would love to hear back with your results.

  17. Ari Baruch

    I made two 9×13 pans of this for Passover on Monday evening… oh. my. god.

    Forget the brisket and matzo ball soup — THIS was the star of the show! Thanks for sharing such a delicious (and EASY!) recipe!

  18. veronica

    Just have to say…OMG!! THE best ever! My friends and i thought we had died and gone to heaven when we ate this. I have never done “the breaking of the crust”. That is genius. I added a little shredded Gruyere cheese on top too. I had to post this, because i am once again making this for our friends tonight. Thanks for the fab recipe.

  19. Hsin

    Very tasty looking gratin dauphinois. This is a dish that we have to have at our house too, although I’m the only one in the family who knows how easy it is. I too always rub the dish with garlic and use sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
    But I haven’t tried cracking the cream crust. It never caused me a problem before, but I’ll try it and see how it makes a difference.

  20. caitlin

    These are the BEST potatoes!!! Made them for Christmas- everyone loved them!!! I am going to make a double batch for Easter, so I have enough for leftovers!!!

  21. Heather @ (The Single Dish)

    This looks delicious. Such a pretty dish, and tasty I am sure!

  22. scruz

    hi. i used your recipe for christmas day dinner and it was unbelievable. we had the remainder tonight leftover and my hubbie liked them even better. i got a mandolin for christmas so it made quick work of the yukon golds. thans so much as it gave me the confidence to have them as the main side to the boneless leg of lamb i made for hubby’s family. a big success…and they were beautiful.

  23. Anne

    Very, very good. I added a touch of Gruyere cheese on top; not too much, just enough to scatter on the top. The first time I made it I left the cheese off; and found the potatoes just a bit salty. This is individual taste though. No problem, just don’t add as much! Definitely lower the salt, though, if you add a bit of cheese.

    This was a real winner at my garden club pot luck.

  24. My First XMas Dinner

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe, it looks absolutely delicious. I’m making it right now! Hopefully it turns out just as delicious as yours did! I’ll keep you posted!

    Thanks and Happy Holidays!

  25. Kristen

    I am doing this ahead of time for Christmas Day dinner. I have parboiled, sliced, seasoned, and layered the potatoes. May I add the cream and keep it in the refrigerator overnight and cook tomorrow? Or just bake and reheat tomorrow. It really looks scrumptious and we all can’t wait to try it. Thanks

    1. White on Rice Couple

      We’ve never tried it by par-boiling the potatoes, so we aren’t 100% sure on this, but…
      Usually we would bake it now & re-heat it the next day. We’d slightly under-bake it, so when reheated, the cream will have absorbed the perfect amount and the potatoes aren’t over cooked & dried out the top. We bake the day before because if the raw potatoes are left exposed to air they will start to oxidize and discolor. Since you par-boiled them, I’m not sure you would have that problem. If I was in your place, I think I would still bake now, under-baking by about 15 minutes, (baking times will also be less since you par-boiled the potatoes) then re-heat to finish on Christmas. Hope that helps. Have a great Christmas.

      1. Kristen

        Thank you and Merry Christmas.

  26. Rachel

    I stumbled upon your website by accident while looking for a recipe to try. I had never made potatoes au gratin before, and the pictures really drew me in!! I made it and I could not believe such a thing could come out of MY kitchen!! My roommate, who, as a rule “does not like potatoes au gratin” ate more of them than I did!!! This recipe now has a permanent page in my personal family cookbook. Thanks!!!

  27. mary

    Yum. I keep sticking my fork against the computer screen.

  28. Holly

    We have to have mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving My boys wouldn’t have it any other way but I will try this for Christmas. I am making your brussel sprouts for Thanksgivng and also two types of stufffing, Sippty Sup’s carrot tart and………………………

  29. Jessica

    This is exactly the alternative I need to regular mashed potatoes. These seem more sophisticated. Just wondering if I should sprinkle some parm-regg. cheese on top during the last 20 min. of cooking or if that would be overkill…

    1. White on Rice Couple

      We’ve never tried adding parmesan at the end because the Potatoes Au Gratin are just so good by themselves, but sometimes when you experiment you’ll discover something wonderful. If you are hesitant, maybe try to adding it on just one half of the dish & see which side you like better. Have a great Thanksgiving.

  30. Barbara

    Oh my. Is there anything better???? I end up picking and picking around the crunchy corners. I’ve never put garlic in mine ( I will now) and I always use fresh nutmeg. Makes all the difference.
    Great recipe, great photos!

  31. {kms}

    beautiful post! with potatoes a plenty around the house, this is a must for the feast!

  32. Christine Ames

    Awesome! I made these for dinner last night, and they were exquisite! Excellent directions. It was fun tossing the potatoes with my hands, which allowed me to get the spicing just right.

    Totally a keeper. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe!

  33. misskristin

    I just made a version of this with turnips yesterday for a potluck… my dish came home empty!! It was delicious. :)

  34. Tartelette

    Learned that trick from my brother but we only break the cream crust twice. I’ll make sure to do it three times this year at Christmas. I am off duty on Thanksgiving! It started when I was working that day back at the restaurant and it remained like that ever since….I do bring some macarons though!!

  35. Lauren

    This looks amazing! Wishing I’d had a heartier dinner, and that these only took 5 minutes ;D.

  36. Mrs. L

    You say that all creams are not equal…any specific brand, type that you use?

    1. White on Rice Couple

      For the stores that are close to the house, we like the Trader Joes heavy cream. Best advice is to try the different ones available in your area & find the one you like best.

  37. TheKitchenWitch

    My carb-loving self is just drooling over here…GOD, I need a bowl of those…preferably eaten in bed! Amazing recipe!

    I did a rather curmudgeonly rant on my blog about Thanksgiving food in my family:

  38. Connie

    I know these are delicious because it’s just about the same way I make mine. They have to go to any potluck I attend or my friends won’t let me come.

  39. Stephanie - Wasabimon

    LOVE gratin. One of my favorite dishes while growing up. :)

  40. Sarah

    This is just the recipe I was looking for, thank you! Do you think these would re-heat well? I’m trying to figure out this year’s Thanksgiving logistics. If I bake it at my house, make the 30-45 minute drive over to my sister’s, and the re-heat it again there for serving, do you think they would dry out?

    1. White on Rice Couple

      They do reheat well. We have actually done just what you are proposing on several occasions. Usually we will under bake the Potatoes Au Gratin by about 10 or 15 minutes, then finish at the final destination. When finishing you’ll have to bake for 20-25 minutes usually, depending on how much they have cooled off. The potatoes do retain their heat very well, and by keeping it wrapped up in foil, they will probably be pretty warm after just 30 minutes.
      Reheating leftovers, when there are any, we’ve found the cream just absorbs into the potatoes even more, so you’ll loose a bit of that creaminess between potato slices, but the flavor and texture are fantastic. Have a great Thanksgiving.

  41. Jennifer

    This is a must-try recipe that has my stomach reaching its maximum pre-lunch growling quota. Seriously. The detailed step-by-step photos are not only helpful but also delectable.

  42. jb SAVOR

    Long time reader, first time commenter. I simply had to post. The potatoes look amazing, but I literally laughed out loud when I read Matt’s comment. Thanks for the laugh!

  43. lee

    thank you so much for this recipe!!

    i’ll definitely try this!!

  44. Reni

    Oooohhh… Nutmeg.. I love the aroma of freshly grated nutmeg.. Have u tried using freshly ground nutmeg for beef stew or beef & vegetable soup ? That’s how we usually do.

  45. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best

    I’ve been meaning to make potatoes au gratin, and this looks like just the recipe to try! I like the suggestion of adding different herbs to this recipe, but for now I’ll try the tried and true classic. Thanks for sharing!

  46. Brooke

    My god. This is going to definitely make an appearance on my Thanksgiving table. If I can’t have you both sitting with me and Hans, then Potatoes Au Gratin it will have to be. And thanks for the detailed instructions. Looks like I’m gonna need it!

  47. Tokyo Terrace

    These look so delicious! I am a huge fan of potatoes for the holidays, mostly because I don’t often make them the rest of the year. For Thanksgiving, I can’t go without my mom’s recipe for sweet potatoes. The midwestern way, of course! Sweet potatoes, pecans, brown sugar and butter, topped with marshmallows. The recipe will be up on my blog next Monday!

  48. matt


    Oops sorry. I just got a bit carried away because they are seriously the best thing ever. I’ve eaten myself stupid with these things and I’m crying right now because I want this. But only Todd’s version. Nothing comes remotely close.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Matt- You so funneeee!!! A big batch is arriving on your doorstep soon. 😀

  49. Gastronomer

    Oh Lord these potatoes look good! I can totally see why they’re demanded year after year.

    Thanksgiving isn’t complete without Stove Top stuffing with little bits of chicken gizzards chopped in. Ghetto fabulous!

  50. Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary

    Wow breaking the crust – what a great idea….another reason why I love you guys.

  51. on the rocks

    i’ve never heard of that method before. Im glad I stumbled upon this, being that I am planning on making potatoes au gratin next week for thanksgiving!

  52. Cathy/ShowFoodChef

    Made these for years and years and the idea of breaking it down during cooking is genius! Can’t wait to give that a go. Pics are so fab.

  53. Kate @ Savour Fare

    I LOVE potatoes au gratin. A very similiar dish is an integral part of Christmas dinner — we heat the cream with the garlic for just a touch more garlic flavor, but it’s the most decadent amazing thing ever.

  54. Kristina

    i’ve found that as many times as i try to use nutmeg, i absolutely hate it. it ruins every savory dish i’ve put it in, from the tiniest feeble half grate worth to the amount called for in the recipe.

    is there another spice you could recommend i use in these potatoes that would provide some additional flavor?


    1. White on Rice Couple

      Kristina -The Potatoes Au Gratin would still be very tasty without the nutmeg, so omitting altogether is always an option. There is always a ton of different things you could do if you wanted an extra layer of flavor in there. Some finely diced rosemary, heat the cream a touch with some bay leaves before pouring over the potatoes. Or maybe some cumin, paprika, or going with a touch of spice with chili flakes or cayenne. Think of what flavors you really enjoy with potatoes and try the recipe with that added in. There is no better recipe than that which you personally love! Todd

  55. Holly

    Absolutely gorgeous! One of my most favorite dishes as well – can’t wait to try this version. We go with mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving, but I would love to have these with ham for Christmas!!

  56. matt

    WOW – a classic guys. fantastic recipe, and I just adore the photos – especially the how-to series (the picture of pressing down on the potatoes is genius – the hand in there just makes the picture perfect). Love the breaking the top idea.

    Totally agree about using freshly ground nutmeg and pepper, really does make a difference.

Leave a Reply