Since 2009, this potatoes au gratin recipe has been a holiday favorite for so many of you. We’re sharing it again with you all along with a brand new video. These potatoes are crazy good and incredibly don’t have any cheese. The secret is in the technique. Read on to find out how to make the magic. Enjoy! 

Potatoes au Gratin Recipe Best Scalloped Potatoes in a baking dish

Family Favorite Holiday Potatoes Recipe

With the holidays in full swing, we are always planning a feasting menu (we actually always are planning feasting, but it is even more so now). We are always the key menu planners/cooks for just about any gathering and there are some dishes which are a requirement in our circles.

The menus are often a delicious mix, where traditional dishes are entwined with cultural ones.  A common menu for us on Thanksgiving might be the turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cha gio (eggrolls), nuoc cham for everything, bun bo hue. Christmas will usually be similar but swap out the turkey and stuffing for something more fun and delicious (whole cooked fish, ribs, steak, steam buns, etc.)

For the family gatherings, Diane’s mom takes care of the Vietnamese dishes & we’ll do the American or whatever various deliciousness we are obsessed with at the time (and sometimes help a bit with the Vietnamese dishes beyond what mom is cooking).

But there is one “everyone-will-boycott-if-it-isn’t-there” dish. These legendary Potatoes Au Gratin. We don’t say this lightly. People have wooed their future spouse with these potatoes. These Potatoes Au Gratin are amazing, creamy, tender and addicting. And beautifully simple to make. All they need are some good potatoes & cream, and time in the oven. And a bit of a “secret technique”.

Video showing us making the Potatoes Au Gratin Recipe:

Potatoes au Gratin Recipe Best Scalloped Potatoes in a baking dish

The Key to a Great Potatoes Au Gratin

Simplicity can be heavenly, especially when you use good ingredients and techniques. That mantra completely surmises this Potatoes Au Gratin recipe (when they are this good, they should always be capitalized.) 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.

What are the Best Ingredients?

Because of the simplicity of the ingredients, the little details make all of the difference in the final outcome. A garlic rub on the baking dish. The pop of flavor from lots of fresh ground black pepper and a bit of fresh grated nutmeg give a level above any pre-ground counterparts.

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 measurement of the nutmeg because the fresh grated will have more fluff then its pre-ground counterpart. You might need to reduce the salt amount if using table salt instead of kosher salt. Use how ever much black pepper you like. Preferably a lot.

Go for the Gold Potatoes

For the potatoes, good Russets are the best economical choice but if you want to go delicious, grab some Yukon Golds or something similar. Get the a nice thick heavy cream (all heavy creams are not equal-you’ll know it when you pour as the better creams have a thicker consistency. Around us the Trader Joe’s heavy cream and the Horizon Organic Heavy Whipping Cream (we’ll get the big one at Costco) are our regular go-to’s).

The Secret Technique

Then comes the “secret technique”. Several times while the potatoes cook, with the back of a large spoon, break the crust the cream is starting to form. Swirl the back of the spoon over the creamy that is starting to brown, smoothing it out with the more liquidy cream which is directly underneath.

This will allow the cream to slowly cook into the potatoes without overcooking or drying out the top as everything bakes to a tender, delicious creaminess. For the last 20-30 min. 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.

Do you need cheese?

No. Many are shocked that there is no cheese in this recipe. With the secret technique is doesn’t need any cheese to create the top crust and we like the texture much more than if you had used cheese. If you are a doubter, try this recipe and you may love it as much as us, our friends, and family all do!


Potatoes Au Gratin Recipe

All ingredients are approximations. If you learn to cook this recipe by feel and it becomes very easy to make smaller or larger dishes to suit the occasion.
Folks are always shocked there is no cheese in this potatoes a gratin. The key to this is the technique of breaking the cream crust while baking as well as using a lot of fresh cracked pepper. If you can, try to use fresh cracked pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. They both are much more flavorful than their pre-ground counterparts.
4.88 from 33 votes


  • 4 pounds (1800 g) Potatoes , scrubbed clean (preferably gold potatoes)
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1 to 1 1/2 Tablespoons (30-45 ml) Kosher Salt , or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) fresh cracked Black Pepper , or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) freshly grated Nutmeg , or to taste
  • 2 1/2 cups (600 ml) Heavy Cream



  • Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.
    Preheat oven
  • Crack the garlic cloves break them up slightly then rub the insides of a 9″x11″ baking dish. Set aside.
    Rubbing garlic on baking dish
  • Peel and thinly slice the potatoes – about 1/8" thick. Put the sliced potatoes into a large bowl (some like to use a mandoline for slicing the potatoes – if you do we highly recommend using cut resistant gloves – personally we prefer to slice with a knife).
    Slicing potatoes
  • Season potatoes with 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.
    Grating nutmeg over potatoes
  • Layer potatoes into the prepared baking dish, smoothing and shifting the potatoes so everything is fairly level. 
    Layering potatoes in baking dish
  • Pour heavy cream over potatoes 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.
    Pressing down on potatoes with spoon to see cream amount
  • Bake for a total of about 1 1/2 hours (larger batches will take longer) (see following steps for instructions while baking).
    Baking dish in oven
  • Every 30 minutes or so, break the crust the cream is starting to form with the back of a large spoon.  On the final "crusting breaking" the consistency of the cream should noticeably thicker and have absorbed into the potatoes a decent amount.
    Breaking the cream crust with a spoon
  • 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.
    Finished potatoes au gratin
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit before serving.  It will retain an intense heat for at least 10-15 minutes.
    Cutting into a piece of potatoes au gratin with a fork


Nutrition Information per Serving

Calories: 290kcal, Carbohydrates: 28g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Cholesterol: 68mg, Sodium: 900mg, Potassium: 681mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 734IU, Vitamin C: 30mg, Calcium: 53mg, Iron: 1mg

Detailed Step-by-Step Pictorial for Potatoes Au Gratin Recipe 

One of the best and creamy Potatoes Au Gratin Recipe from
slice the potatoes nice & thin
One of the best and creamy Potatoes Au Gratin Recipe from
use fresh nutmeg, fresh cracked black pepper & sea salt for best taste
laying in potatoes with cream
layer 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 recipe
check 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 20-25 min cook time) ~ the cream is just starting to form a crust
2nd crust break potatoes au gratin
(above) 2nd crust break (about 40-50 min cook time)

The cream crust is starting to show some color

Creamy Potatoes au Gratin or Scalloped Potatoes Au Gratin that's tender and delicious | @whiteonrice
(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 (over 1 hour cook time) – the crust is starting to brown
Creamy Potatoes au Gratin or Scalloped Potatoes Au Gratin that's tender and delicious | @whiteonrice
(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)
Sausage potatoes au gratin recipe or sausage scalloped potatoes @whiteonrice
Finale!! Perfect crust & oh so creamy good inside

Check out our Sausage Potatoes au Gratin Recipe if you love sausage! 

Here’s more great holiday potato recipes.