Potatoes are good, old-fashioned comfort food. But when you thinly slice them and bake them with heavy cream and cheese, they become heavenly.
These Ina Garten scalloped potatoes are a culinary masterpiece, but they’re also really simple to make. I’ve taken her original recipe and tweaked it a bit to make it even easier.
For example, the original is a potato fennel gratin recipe, but I’ve just stuck to the basics with potato and onion.
But this is also a versatile recipe, so feel free to play with adding the fennel back in, or experimenting with different types of cheese.
Potatoes au Gratin vs. Scalloped Potatoes
These two dishes are very similar, and both involve baked sliced potatoes and cream. However, there are a few key differences.
Potatoes au Gratin
Potatoes au gratin is also called potatoes dauphinoise. For this dish, you rub butter and garlic on a baking casserole dish, then layer slices of potato with cream or milk in the dish.
For the potatoes, you thinly slice them, usually with a mandoline.
And when you cook the casserole, you do so for a long time at a low heat. And you only raise the temperature at the end of baking to brown the top.
A potato gratin is a very simple dish, and it doesn’t have flour, roux, or bread crumbs. And it doesn’t even involve cheese.
However, you can add gruyère cheese or another variety. But, this is not traditional for a gratin, and if you do add it, the dish is called gratin savoyard.
In fact, many French chefs sprinkle grated gruyère cheese on top to make the potato au gratin dish even richer.
Scalloped potatoes, on the other hand, is a more complicated dish. And it’s often even richer because you make a cream sauce.
For the sauce, you cook butter and flour in a pan and then add milk or cream. Then you add this thick sauce to the potatoes in a baking dish and cook everything until it’s soft and golden brown on top.
In addition, many people add herbs or other vegetables to the scalloped potatoes. For example, garlic, onions, rosemary, or fresh thyme leaves are common additions.
Ina Garten’s Potato Fennel Gratin
Ina Garten’s potato fennel gratin recipe was the inspiration for this dish. Her cheesy scalloped potatoes are unique because she adds a special ingredient: sliced fennel.
Since she loves both fennel gratin and potato gratin, she decided to combine both into one side dish. And while her take is delicious, I wanted to do my own twist on her recipe.
So, this is a copycat of the Ina Garten gratin recipe, but with my own spin. For the biggest change, I left out the fennel and onion mixture. I also rewrote the steps to give you my way of doing it.
Picking the Best Ingredients for Ina Garten Scalloped Potatoes
If you pick quality ingredients, your scalloped potatoes will taste amazing!
Look for potatoes that aren’t too soft or too firm – it’s like Goldilocks.
If the spuds are too soft, they’ll turn into mashed potatoes when they bake. Or if they’re too hard, the potato gratin won’t have its beautiful melt-in-the-mouth texture.
As well, it’s good to choose a starchy variety. So, the best ones for these Ina Garten scalloped potatoes are russet or Yukon gold.
In fact, Ina Garten’s recipe calls specifically for russet potatoes.
Use heavy cream, or whipping cream, for really creamy potatoes au gratin.
Heavy cream is at least 36% milkfat, which will taste much better than just using milk. As well, it will make the potatoes more tender.
But if you don’t have heavy cream, you can substitute milk and butter. Just use ¾ cup milk and ⅓ cup melted butter to equal 1 cup of heavy cream. The butter will make up the extra fat, and your scalloped potatoes will taste great.
As I mentioned before, traditional potatoes au gratin doesn’t use any cheese. But cheese is delicious.
So, many chefs add it in, including Ina Garten. She uses gruyère cheese in her potato fennel gratin.
But you can add whatever cheese you like! For example, you can use cheddar, parmesan, or comté. Or, try a mixture!
Ina Garten adds fennel to her potato mixture, which adds an unusual flavor.
Some people love the taste, but it’s very strong. Therefore, I’ve left it out of this potato au gratin recipe.
However, feel free to stick with the original! Just add two bulbs of sliced fennel. First, saute the fennel with the onion in the olive oil and butter. Then add the fennel and onions to the cream before you bake everything.
Easy Tips for the Best Ina Garten Scalloped Potatoes
- Slice thinly the potatoes and onions. And, you want the slices to be even so the potatoes cook properly. So, the best way to do this is with a mandoline set to 0.10 – 0.20 inches. Then you can cut round potato slices – just watch your fingers! If you don’t have a mandoline, you can always use a sharp kitchen knife to thinly slice the veggies.
- Do not wash the thinly sliced potatoes. If you do, it will remove all the starch from them. However, when the starch cooks, it will thicken the potatoes and cream. And this will make the dish very smooth and rich.
- Plan ahead. You need to plan ahead for this recipe because it has a very long baking time. Ideally, you cook it for 3 hours at 250 degrees F. This will allow the potatoes to soften and the cream to get thicker.
- Add a little garlic for an extra boost of flavor. You can either rub the baking dish with garlic or you can add some pressed garlic directly into the cream.
- Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil while it’s in the oven. This will keep the top from browning too quickly before the potatoes are soft. And 10 minutes before the scalloped potatoes or potato fennel gratin is done, remove the aluminum foil and add a few dabs of butter to the top of the potatoes. Then, cook for the remaining time uncovered so that the top can brown.
Ina Garten Scalloped Potatoes Recipe
- Prep Time35 min
- Cook Time2 hr
- Total Time2 hr 30 min
For an amazingly creamy potato dish, just slice and bake!
- Set Up
First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F°. Then, grease your baking dish with butter.
- Prep Your Ingredients
Next, heat your medium pan and add the butter and olive oil. Then, add the onions and cook until tender, about 10 minutes on medium low heat.
- Managing the Potatoes
For the potatoes, use your mandoline or knife to thinly slice them. Once they’re prepped, put your large saucepan on the stove.Add 2 cups of cream, the sliced potatoes, salt, and pepper to the saucepan. Turn the heat to medium, and bring the mixture to a boil.And then keep the potatoes simmering for about 10 minutes.
- Arranging Your Dish
Arrange the potatoes in your prepared baking dish. Then, top them with the onions. Next, pour the rest of the cream mixture on top of the potatoes and onions. Then pour the remaining ½ cup of heavy cream on as well.Finally, take the grated gruyère cheese and sprinkle evenly on top of everything.
Bake your potato au gratin for 1-1 ¾ hours. At this point, the potatoes should be very soft, the top should be golden brown, and the sauce should be bubbling.
- Let Cool
Remove from the oven and let the dish cool for 10 minutes. Then, serve hot.
What to Serve with Ina Garten Scalloped Potatoes
- Red Meat: If you’re serving this potato au gratin dish with meat, it’s best to pair it with red meat. The flavors won’t balance as well if you serve it with chicken or fish. For example, this easy recipe is a great side dish for steak or ribs. Or if you want to be even fancier, you could serve it with duck breast.
- Poultry: However, if you prefer poultry, you could serve it with roast chicken or turkey, and it will still be a great dinner.
- Vegetables: for a vegetarian meal, why not let the potato au gratin be the star of the show? You can serve it as the main meal with a side salad. As well, other fresh veggies pair beautifully with the gratin. So, try a side of sauteed green beans, a cup of gazpacho, or roasted carrots.
- 27.2g Fat
- 20.3g Carbs