Simple gratin potatoes – Until you’ve made your own au gratin potatoes, you haven’t lived! Cheesy, creamy, and utterly perfect. No powdered junk – just real food here.

Simple Gratin Potatoes

I don’t know what my deal is recently but I have been craving eggs like it’s no one’s business. I’m fine with curbing the non-stop thoughts with a couple of fried egg whites on some buttered-toasted rye but what really (and I mean really) makes me happy is poached eggs. 

What got me back in the mood for runny eggs on top of foods other than toast was the brunch I had in Richmond last February.  Annie, Josie and I all ordered the same thing: two poached eggs with hollandaise on top of shrimp and cheesy pimento grits.

Needless to say, I fell hard.

Simple Gratin Potatoes

So it I considered it the natural choice to top some leftover gratin potatoes with a poached egg and some spinach and kale.

I made these potatoes for our Christmas brunch which also consisted of a to-die-for beef tenderloin, baked spinach, hot fruit compote, pierogis, sausage-egg casserole, and cinnamon buns.

It was an incredible holiday meal! But while the tenderloin completely stole the show, these French au gratin potatoes were a pretty close second. 

Sliced super thin, layered with Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses, soaked in cream, then baked to tender and crispy perfection, I was totally smitten.

Simple Gratin Potatoes

What Are Au Gratin Potatoes

Au gratin potatoes are simply a mixture of milk and cheese that are layered with thinly sliced potatoes in a large baking dish. The potatoes are baked for about 1 hour and in that time, the milk soaks into the potatoes while they cook and tenderizes them. The top of the potatoes become browned, crispy, and totally delicious!

How to Customize Au Gratin Potatoes

Here are a few ideas for how to make au gratin potatoes with your own spin:

  • Au gratin potatoes with herbs: You can add 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs
  • Au gratin potatoes with heavy cream: In place of milk, you can use heavy cream. This will make for a richer dish but it’s well worth it!
  • Au gratin potatoes with cheddar cheese: Instead of the gruyere-parmesan mixture I recommend here, try making them with gruyere and sharp cheddar. I wouldn’t recommend you use only cheddar cheese since this cheese can be a bit greasy when it’s melted. Trader Joe’s sells an awesome combo cheese called Melange which is a mix of gruyere and cheddar so all of the mixing work is done for you!
  • Au gratin potatoes with fontina cheese: Shredded fontina would also be really delicious with these potatoes!

And even though I had this odd preconceived notion that gratin potatoes were a pain to make, I was purely wrong. It’s a 3-step process that I made a day in advance to save time (the potatoes did get discolored in the fridge but the taste wasn’t altered). However, I certainly could have squeezed in 15 minutes to prep these potatoes shortly before our meal.

Either way, these easy au gratin potatoes are now my go-to potato dish and whether I top them with a poached egg or add some herbs or use a different cheese (blue cheese would be amazing!). Or you know, all of the above!

Simple Gratin PotatoesWhat to Serve these Au Gratin Potatoes With

As I said, I served these potatoes with an incredibly delicious beef tenderloin. And while I know au gratin potatoes are served with beef pretty frequently, there’s no reason at all why you couldn’t serve them with roast pork, grilled pork tenderloin, turkey meatloaf, or parmesan crusted chicken.

If you want to go in a completely different direction flavor-wise, try serving some shakshuka over these potatoes. The fiery tomato sauce and runny poached eggs would be absolutely amazing on top of these gratin potatoes!

And when it comes down to it, any which way I’ll eat them, they’ll make me a happy, happy girl!

Simple Gratin Potatoes

Simple Gratin Potatoes

Yield: 8 to 12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Simple gratin potatoes are cheesy, creamy, and utterly perfect. Until you've made your own au gratin potatoes from scratch, you haven't lived! With only 4 ingredients, this gluten-free side dish will quickly become one of your favorites.


  • 3 tbsp butter, cut into pieces, plus an additional pat for buttering gratin dish
  • 4 large yellow potatoes, like Yukon gold (about 1 ½ pounds), peeled and slices 1/16-inch thick, if possible
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup milk, half-and-half or cream (if using something half-and-half or cream, skip the 3 tbsp butter from above)
  • 2 oz cheese, grated or crumbled (I used Gruyere and Parmesan but sharp cheddar, gouda, blue, or goat cheeses, to name a few, would also work great here)


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F and butter a 9x13-inch glass baking or gratin dish. Layer a third of the potatoes on the bottom of the pan so that they are slightly overlapping in rows, like shingles. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the potatoes and then a third of the cheese. Repeat with the remaining two thirds of potatoes, reserving the last third of cheese. If your potatoes are thin enough, you should end up with 3 layers.
  2. Slowly pour the milk, half-and-half or cream over the potatoes. If the milk doesn't come up to the bottom of the top layer of potatoes, add a little more milk. The potatoes should not be drowning in milk. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese. Dot with butter, if using.
  3. Bake for 1 hour, pressing down the top of the potatoes with a spatula halfway through. The potatoes will be done with the top is golden brown, the edges are slightly crispy, and the potatoes are soft.


To slice the potatoes super thin and not lose patience in doing so with a knife, use a mandoline, a thin slicer blade on the food processor, or the nifty slicer/shredded attachment for the Kitchenaid stand mixer. I doubled the recipe, by the way, and popping 3lbs of potatoes through the KA attachment was waaay easier than using a mandoline or my own knife skills. Just sayin'.

adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters via Smitten Kitchen

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Leave a Comment

  • January 7, 2013 at 7:38 AM

    RUNNY eggs are the bomb!!!!!!! Love this.

  • January 7, 2013 at 9:44 AM

    That egg dish is my dream breakfast!

  • January 7, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    I seriously think about that brunch all the time. That was one of the best breakfasts of my life!

  • Amy
    January 7, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    YUM!! this entire dish looks like a dream. I’d love to know what your process was in the morning for prepping everything- how did you poach enough eggs and prep the rest of the dish to be sure they were all served warm?

    • January 8, 2013 at 10:27 AM

      Well, I actually ate this meal as lunch with leftover potatoes and spinach so I only had to reheat both of them while the egg poached. With that said, I haven’t done this yet but from what I understand, you can poach the eggs and keep them on a paper towel-lined plate (you could warm the plate first) until you’re ready to serve. If you’re making everything fresh, the potatoes take an hour to bake, so start poaching the eggs when there is less than 10 minutes left for the potatoes to bake. I’ll post the baked spinach recipe soon too but you can just saute some spinach or just use fresh instead.

      • Amy
        January 8, 2013 at 11:55 AM

        That’s helpful- thanks so much!

  • January 8, 2013 at 12:03 AM

    Oh, my! It’s midnight and now you have me craving this in a big way. 🙂

  • January 10, 2013 at 9:27 PM

    This is such a brilliant idea! What a lovely, savory breakfast. 🙂