Easy Gratin Dauphinois (French Recipe)

A simple au gratin potatoes recipe direct from France. With its cheesy goodness, we look at what to serve with the potatoes, alternative ingredients and more.
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This Recipe uses:

  • Potatoes
  • Heavy cream (or Philadelphia cream cheese)
  • Grated cheese such as gruyére, emmental, or cheddar
  • Nutmeg
  • Garlic
  • Butter
  • Parsley or chives

You can’t go wrong with the cheesy goodness of Gratin Dauphinois (otherwise known as au gratin potatoes). It is an easy recipe to put together that even your pickiest eaters will enjoy.

Originating in the Dauphine region of France (in the Alps), this now-classic French potato dish was first mentioned in 1788 being served to the Duke of Clermont-Tonnerre.

It was the eve of the 1789 French Revolution, and food shortages were common. People were looking for a simple and hearty meal, and Gratin Dauphinois definitely fit the bill. The duke did not survive the Revolution, but fortunately for us, the recipe lives on.

Making the sauce

In France, crème fraîche (heavy cream) is a staple, and we tend to use it in a lot of recipes. Some of the recipes I have seen, however, use milk and flour in a béchamel sauce, which you can find here.

If you can’t find heavy cream, the alternative I like best is to use Philadelphia cream cheese and mix that with milk. It gives that added punch that milk and flour by itself don’t have.

Traditional and Optional Ingredients

Now the traditional French recipe for Au Gratin Potatoes just calls for cheese, heavy cream, and potatoes but you can easily add other optional ingredients. The typical cheeses used are gruyère and emmental, but any hard cheese will do.

The Savoyard classic tartiflette builds on the classic au gratin potato recipe by adding bacon and onions, and there is no reason that you cannot as well.

If I’m planning it as a whole meal and not as a side, I usually add bacon lardons and fresh spinach, as well as finely chopped onions. Chopped up broccoli or fresh tuna also does really well in this dish.

Potatoes and sauce before cooking
Potatoes and sauce before cooking

Cooking Shortcuts

The main problem with Gratin Dauphinois is that it takes quite a while for the potatoes to cook in the oven. If you are in a hurry, you can lightly boil the potatoes the night before to cut down the cooking time in the oven. I put them in the Instant pot for 8 minutes high pressure with quick release, peel them and then put them overnight in the fridge.

☞ READ MORE: Classic French Recipes remade in the Instant Pot

The next day I slice the potatoes, add the sauce and put in the oven for 20 minutes (you may need to precook the bacon if you are adding any). Some people try to arrange the potatoes in proper slices, but I confess I just toss them in. It hasn’t affected the taste just yet!

The total time over 2 days is about the same but for a working weeknight dinner, it is easier to put it in the oven for just 30 minutes, than a full hour.

☞ Similar Recipe: Mushroom and Potato Gratin

Gratin dauphinois
Gratin dauphinois

Frequently asked questions

What to serve with it?

cutlery

The original gratin potatoes recipe that served was as a side dish along with a fowl (chicken, duck, etc.) main dish.

Any type of roasted meat will do, but in France, it is most often served with oven-roasted pork cooked in its own sauce. An alternative would be lamb or duck, along with a bottle of chilled dry white wine such as a Savoie or Chardonnay.

For a quick dinner, you can however also serve it with just some bread (a baguette) and a salad with balsamic vinaigrette.

What drinks to serve with it?

two wine glasses

Since gratin potatoes is a heavier cheesy dish, it is usually not served in the summer months. Because of that, it is usually served with a dry red like Vin de Savoie.

If you prefer white, go for a dry white like a bottle the aforementioned white Savoie or Alsace Pinot Gris. A Coteaux d’Aix en Provence also is quite lovely.

Can you freeze it?

freezer

I wouldn’t really recommend it because the cheesy sauce will not survive. I have kept it overnight in the fridge, but that is about the extent of it. Add more heavy cream and cheese if the gratin potatoes look dried out.

Similar recipes

gratin dauphinois with peas and ham

Easy Gratin Dauphinois Recipe

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

A delicious and hearty dish that can be served as a main or a side.

Ingredients

  • 5-6 Medium-sized potatoes
  • 1.5 cups of grated cheese such as gruyére, emmental, or cheddar
  • 1 cup of crème fraîche (heavy cream).  Alternative: 1/2 cup of milk with 1/2 cup of philadelphia cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • pinch of finely grated nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a few leaves of parley (or chives)

Optional

  • 2 cups of pre-cooked bacon lardons
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped onions
  • 1 cup of rinsed fresh spinach

Instructions

  1. Wash and peel the potatoes and chop into thin round slices.
  2. Grease the casserole dish and layer the sliced potatoes across.
  3. Add any optional ingredients (bacon lardons, onions, etc) in between the potato slices.
  4. Mix the crème fraîche, butter, garlic, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  5. Add the mixture over the top of the potatoes in the casserole.
  6. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top.
  7. Add a few leaves of parsley on top for decoration.
  8. Cook in preheated oven for 25 minutes at 200C° (400F°) until potatoes and cheese are lightly browned.

Notes

If in a hurry, you can lightly boil the potatoes the night before to cut down the cooking time in the oven. Put in the Instant pot for 8 minutes high pressure with quick release, peel them and then put them overnight in the fridge.

The next day, slice the potatoes, add the sauce and put in preheated oven for 20 minutes. (Precook the bacon if you are adding it to the recipe.)

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1277Total Fat: 88gSaturated Fat: 43gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 39gCholesterol: 250mgSodium: 2450mgCarbohydrates: 66gFiber: 7gSugar: 7gProtein: 57g

Note: We are not certified nutritionists and these estimates are approximate. Each individual’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. This website is written and produced for informational purposes only.

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☞ READ MORE: ABC of French Cuisine (the Food Dictionary)

If you enjoyed that, check out our other classic French recipes that are easy to prepare. You can also find more comfort food recipes here. Bon appétit and à bientôt !

This Post Has One Comment

  1. sarabottn

    Why do people called scalloped potatoes au gratin? Unfortunately I can’t have cheese. I’ve wasted so much time looking for recipes only to find they have cheese. These do sound delicious for scalloped potatoes.

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