Creamy Potatoes Au Gratin – No Cheese & a Secret Technique
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!
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:
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
- 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.
- Crack the garlic cloves break them up slightly then rub the insides of a 9″x11″ baking dish. Set aside.
- 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).
- 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.
- Layer potatoes into the prepared baking dish, smoothing and shifting the potatoes so everything is fairly level.
- 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.
- Bake for a total of about 1 1/2 hours (larger batches will take longer) (see following steps for instructions while baking).
- 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.
- 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.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit before serving. It will retain an intense heat for at least 10-15 minutes.
Nutrition Information per Serving
Detailed Step-by-Step Pictorial for Potatoes Au Gratin Recipe
How to “Break The Crust” – keeping potatoes moist & creamy
The cream crust is starting to show some color
Check out our Sausage Potatoes au Gratin Recipe if you love sausage!
Here’s more great holiday potato recipes.