Thinly sliced potatoes are layered with sautéed onions, an easy homemade cream sauce, and some Parmesan cheese and baked until tender, golden brown and bubbly! Perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or just a big family dinner… this is one side dish you need on your table!
This is one of my Thanksgiving recipes I know you’ll want to keep on hand!
Holidays are busy, chaotic, and so much fun! What I love most is coming together with family members and sharing a delicious meal, and thinking of all we’re thankful for.
While there are so many options for your holiday table, a classic staple like scalloped potatoes is always a winner!
This recipe goes back to the basics, with a mouthwatering cream sauce made with sautéed onions, garlic and herbs, layered together with thinly sliced buttery Yukon gold potatoes, and baked with a little cheese until tender and golden!
If you’d like a version with 3 types of cheese, try these Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes.
Plus I’ve also shared tips for making these potatoes ahead of time, how to freeze them, and how to make them in the slow cooker… all down in the post. Scroll for all the details!
How to make scalloped potatoes?
This is just an overview; the full ingredients and directions are in the recipe card toward the bottom of this post.
- Cook onions. Doing this with the thyme in the butter infuses the whole sauce with an herb-y thyme flavor. Add garlic.
- Make the roux. This is adding the flour and seasonings to the butter, onion, and garlic. Stir it around and cook for a minute to get the raw flour taste out.
- Make the sauce. Stirring as you pour in the milk will keep lumps from forming.
- Thicken. For this recipe you want a fairly thick sauce, similar to making a cheese sauce for mac and cheese.
- Layer. The order is sauce, potatoes, sauce, potatoes, etc. ending with a sauce layer and topping that with cheese.
- Bake. This gets a two-part baking process. The covered part makes sure the potatoes are nice and tender, then the uncovered part ensures a nice golden brown top.
To make scalloped potatoes, you need the potatoes to be sliced very thinly. The best way to accomplish this is with a mandoline slicer (clickable link), but you can also use a sharp knife and a steady hand. You’ll want the potatoes to be about 1/8″ thick.
Variations of this recipe
- Type of potatoes – if you’d like to switch up the type of potatoes, in theory red potatoes, white potatoes or russets should work just fine. However I haven’t specifically tested all types of potatoes, so the baking time might be slightly altered.
- Onions – if you’d rather skip the onions, you can, I would just add 1/4 – 1/2 tsp of onion powder to the cream sauce.
- Dried herbs – to use dried thyme, use about 1 tsp.
- Other dairy – if you want to change up the type of milk/dairy used in this recipe, feel free to use half and half, heavy cream, or a combination. I wouldn’t use less than whole milk, as the sauce may not thicken up like it should, and won’t have a creamy mouthfeel.
- Non-dairy – unsweetened plain non-dairy milk should work fine for this recipe, however, I didn’t specifically test non-dairy milks.
- Add-ins – if you’d like to add some extra flavor, try adding some diced ham, sliced mushrooms, additional garlic, peas, or more/different cheeses.
I think this dish tastes best if baked in the oven, but if you absolutely cannot or would rather not bake them, you can layer the scalloped potatoes in a greased slow cooker in the same manner as directed in this recipe. Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours, or until potatoes are fork tender.
If you’d like the extra crunch on top, yes you can add breadcrumbs. I recommend panko breadcrumbs tossed with some melted butter or olive oil.
Making scalloped potatoes ahead of time
Usually this recipe is made on a holiday, when oven space is at a premium, and your time is precious. For that reason, I did some extra testing so you can make this side dish ahead of time.
I’ve found making this recipe ahead works best when you partially cook the potatoes first. Plus, that means you don’t have to bake them that long when reheating!
Baking the dish for 60 minutes (covered) gets the potatoes about 75% of the way cooked through. Let the dish cool, then cover tightly and refrigerate for 1-2 days.
Reheat at the same baking temperature, for 40-50 minutes.
As a bonus, this dish can also be frozen, using the same instructions as the make ahead directions. Just freeze the covered, partially cooked dish instead of refrigerating it.
Scalloped potatoes can be frozen for 2-3 weeks. Defrost by setting the dish in the refrigerator overnight, then bake at the original baking temperature for 40-50 minutes.
Leftover scalloped potatoes should be refrigerated in an airtight container and enjoyed within 4-5 days.
I love making slicing easy by using this mandoline slicer! Just make sure to go slow, use the cut-resistant gloves and food holder.
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @the_chunky_chef on Facebook and Instagram!
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp of dried thyme
- 1 medium yellow onion minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced or grated
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg optional but recommended
- 3 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes sliced very thinly, about 1/8 inch thick
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese freshly grated tastes best
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Set out a 9×13 or other 3 quart baking dish and a rimmed baking sheet. Spray baking dish lightly with cooking spray or grease lightly with butter. Set aside.
Make cream sauce
- Add butter and thyme leaves to a saucepan, and heat over MED heat. Once butter has melted, add the onion and cook for 3-5 minutes, until softened.
- Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds or so, or until fragrant. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg (if using), and flour. Whisk or stir together to combine well. Let cook for about a minute, so the raw flour taste is gone.
- Slowly pour in the milk, whisking as you pour, until all the milk is added. Continue whisking frequently and bring the mixture to a bubble and cook about 5 minutes, or until thickened enough to be a rich cream sauce and coat the back of a spoon.
- Add about 1/2 cup of the cream sauce to the bottom of the prepared baking dish and spread it out into an even layer.
- Top that with some of the sliced potatoes, slightly overlapping each other, covering the bottom of the baking dish.
- Repeat the layers (cream sauce, then potatoes) for as long as you have sauce and potatoes. You want to end the layers with a layer of cream sauce.
- Top that final cream sauce layer with the Parmesan cheese.
- Place baking dish on the rimmed baking sheet (this is in case of any potential bubbling over – that way you won't have a mess on the bottom of your oven).
- Lay out a sheet of aluminum foil and spray one side with cooking spray. Cover the baking dish, sprayed side down, with the foil.
- Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and continue baking another 40-50 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.
- Keep the rack in the middle position (don't move it higher or the potatoes may burn), and broil on high (mine is 550°F) for a couple of minutes, or until as golden brown as you'd like. Please watch closely, broiling can go from done to burnt very quickly!
- Sprinkle with additional fresh thyme if desired and serve hot.
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- For make ahead, freezing, and slow cooker instructions, please scroll back up to the post above the recipe. There are headings and frequently asked questions with all the information and details 🙂
- I’ve estimated this will serve about 8 people, but as always, the exact serving size will be up to you.
- Please note that baking times are approximate, as all ovens cook differently. Check the potatoes by piercing them with a fork. If the fork goes in easily, they’re done.
The Chunky Chef is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.