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Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

Learn how easy it is to make Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes from scratch! This recipe has decadent caramelized onions in a creamy cheddar cheese sauce with simple seasonings. It’s make-ahead and Crock Pot friendly and the perfect side dish idea for friends and family.

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes in a casserole dish with a spoon in it.

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

I would love to add an extra emphasis on the word “cheesy” in this recipe. If you love your scalloped potatoes to be totally smothered in a creamy cheese sauce, without a single dry potato in the house, then this recipe is for you. Because the truth is, potatoes soak up a lot of sauce while they bake and even when they come out of the oven. This is a good thing, because that’s what makes them so flavorful. But you still want plenty of that delicious creamy cheese sauce left when you dig in or reheat!

There are some key things you need to know, especially when it comes to the best kinds of potatoes to use, how thin to slice them, make-ahead and Slow Cooker methods, and more- so read on! 

How to Make It

See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

Prepare the Cheese Sauce:

Caramelize the onions in butter, olive oil, and thyme in a dutch oven over medium-low heat until light to dark brown. Remove and set aside.

Onions in a dutch oven before and after caramelizing.

Melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in flour and cook 1-2 minutes, until raw flour smell is gone. Slowly incorporate milk, whisking as you do so. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.

Making a roux with butter and flour in a dutch oven and adding milk for scalloped potatoes.

Add remaining seasonings. Let the roux cool down a bit. Reserve 1 heaping cup of cheese and gradually sprinkle in the rest, whisking continuously to incorporate. (Note: If the base is too hot when the cheese is added, the dairy will separate and the sauce will be grainy)

White sauce in a dutch oven with shredded cheese being added to make scalloped potatoes.

Stir in 2 TBS softened cream cheese, then add the caramelized onions.

Adding caramelized onions to cheese sauce in a dutch oven.

Assemble and Bake:

Slice the potatoes: Peel the potatoes, rinse, and pat dry. Cut them into thin and even slices, about 1/8 inch thick. (See below this section for visual.)

Arrange half of the potatoes on the bottom of a lightly greased 9 x 13 baking dish and top with half of the cheese sauce. 

Thinly sliced potatoes in a casserole dish being topped with cheese sauce to make scalloped potatoes.

Add remaining potatoes and remaining cheese sauce. Top with remaining cheddar cheese.

Bake: Cover and bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 35-40 more minutes.

Optional: Broil at 400° until the top is slightly browned, watch it carefully. Let sit for 5 minutes, garnish with fresh parsley, and serve.

Cheesy scalloped potatoes in a white casserole dish before and after being baked.

Best Potatoes for Scalloped Potatoes

  • Yukon Gold Potatoes are ideal for making scalloped potatoes because they have the perfect amount of starch and absorbance. The starch keeps the cheese sauce nice and thick as it cooks, and their ability to absorb the flavors in the sauce makes each bite extra delicious. They are also firm enough where they hold up well during the baking process.

How Thin to Slice the Potatoes

  • These potatoes will cook up perfectly in just 1 hour if sliced 1/8 inch thick.
  • If your slices are too thick, and they won’t be cooked through so thin slices are important.
  • A mandoline slicer makes this process quick and easy. I’ve linked to the one I use further down in this post.

A stack of sliced potatoes for making cheesy scalloped potatoes.

Make-Ahead Method

  • Assemble the potatoes as outlined but don’t top with remaining cup of cheddar cheese yet. Bake for 45 minutes at 350°. Let it cool completely. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • When ready to serve top with 1 cup of cheese. Cover and bake it at 350° for 55 minutes. If desired, remove the cover at the end and broil at 450° for up to 5 minutes to brown the top.

Slow Cooker Method

  • Prepare sauce and slice the potatoes as outlined and layer them in a lightly greased Slow Cooker. Top with cheese.
  • Heat on low for 7-8 hours.

Pro Tips

  • This recipe uses just cheddar, but a mixture of cheddar, gruyere, Parmesan, and mozzarella are all great choices.
  • Russet potatoes make a good backup if you don’t have Yukon Golds.
  • For a crunchy twist, add Crispy Fried Onions during the last 5 minutes of baking. (Don’t broil with those on top or they’ll burn.)
  • Shred your own cheese from a block. Packaged cheese contains cellulose which prevents it from melting well. It also doesn’t taste as fresh or as flavorful. I love using Cracker Barrel Yellow Cheddar.
  • Caramelized onions add a beautiful sweet offset to the cheddar in this recipe. If you’re pressed for time, you can simply soften them, or partially caramelize them.

Storage

Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Scalloped Potatoes vs. Au Gratin Potatoes

Scalloped Potatoes: Made with a roux of butter, flour, + milk. Some also contain cheese, but there are many versions without any cheese at all. (You know where I stand on that 😁.)

Potatoes Au Gratin: Made with cream, butter, + cheese. Often times it’s also topped with breadcrumbs. The potatoes are often very thinly sliced as well, while scalloped potatoes may be cut slightly thicker.

Gratin” means “a dish with a light browned crust of breadcrumbs or melted cheese”

For more info, check out this resource from TheKitchn.

A white plate with Cheesy Scalloped potatoes on top and a fork on the side.

What to Serve This With

Tools For This Recipe

(Amazon affiliate links)- Check out all of my kitchen essentials here.

  • Mandoline– Makes it super easy to slice potatoes, onions, carrots, cucumbers, etc.
  • Long Chefs Knife– An alternative to a mandoline slicer. I have this knife, it’s affordable but works really well.
  • 9 x 13 casserole dish– This is the one I use and that is pictured in this recipe.
  • Box Cheese Grater– Always shred your own cheese. It melts much better and tastes much more flavorful.
  • Dutch Oven– Perfect for caramelizing onions and preparing the cheese sauce as it conducts heat very well and the surface isn’t prone to sticking or staining.

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A spoon scooping up cheesy scalloped potatoes from a casserole dish.

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

5 from 26 ratings
Learn how easy it is to make Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes from scratch! This recipe has decadent caramelized onions in a creamy cheddar cheese sauce with simple seasonings.

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons butter, separated
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 ½ cups shredded orange cheddar cheese, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2.5 lbs. Yukon Gold Potatoes, about 6 medium potatoes

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Note: While the onions caramelize, measure out your remaining ingredients.
  • Soften/Caramelize the Onions: Cut the onions into ¼ inch strings. Melt 2 tbsp. butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and thyme. Let them cook slowly for about 30 minutes, until they’re brown and caramelized. Stir every few minutes. Once done, remove and set aside.
  • Combined Butter & Flour: Increase heat to medium. Add 4 tbsp. butter to the pot along with the garlic. Cook for 1 minute and use a silicone spatula to “clean” the bottom and sides of the pot. Add flour and whisk to incorporate. Continue to whisk for 1 minute or until you can no longer smell flour.
  • Add the Milk: Gradually add the milk, splashes at a time, and whisk to incorporate. If you add it too fast the roux will thin out too much. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.
  • Add Seasonings: Add mustard powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Stir to combine.
  • Add Cheese: Let the roux cool down a bit. Reserve 1 heaping cup of cheddar cheese and gradually sprinkle the rest in. If the base is too hot when the cheese is added, the dairy will separate and the sauce will be grainy
  • Stir in cream cheese, then add the caramelized onions.
  • Slice the potatoes: Peel the potatoes, rinse, and pat dry. Cut them into thin and even slices, about 1/8 inch thick. (See post for visual.)
  • Fill the Casserole Dish: Arrange half of them on the bottom of a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish and top with half of the cheese sauce. Add remaining potatoes and remaining cheese sauce. Top with remaining cheddar cheese.
  • Bake: Cover and bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 40 more minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
  • Optional: Broil at 400° until the top is slightly browned, don't walk away. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, garnish with fresh parsley, and serve.

Notes

Caramelizing the onions is optional but adds a really nice sweet offset to the savory flavors in this dish. To save time, you can simply soften them, or even just caramelize them slightly.

Shred the cheese from a block, packaged cheese contains cellulose which doesn’t allow it to melt as well. It also doesn’t taste as fresh.

Instead of using all cheddar, you can also use gruyere which pairs nicely with the caramelized onions. Mozzarella and Parmesan are good additions as well.

This recipe makes a lot of sauce, but the potatoes absorb a lot of the sauce as they bake and even after they come out of the oven, so this ensure that they remain nice and cheesy. Especially if you have leftovers.

Crock Pot Method:
  • Prepare sauce and slice the potatoes as outlined and layer them in a lightly greased Slow Cooker. Top with cheese.
  • Heat on low for 7-8 hours.
Make-Ahead Method:
  • Assemble the potatoes as outlined but don't top with remaining cup of cheddar cheese yet. Bake for 45 minutes at 350°. Let it cool completely. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • When ready to serve top with 1 cup of cheese. Cover and bake it at 350° for 55 minutes. If desired, remove the cover at the end and broil at 450° for up to 5 minutes to brown the top.

Nutrition

Calories: 464kcal, Carbohydrates: 34g, Protein: 19g, Fat: 28g, Saturated Fat: 17g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 80mg, Sodium: 563mg, Potassium: 802mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 878IU, Vitamin C: 29mg, Calcium: 489mg, Iron: 2mg
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82 comments on “Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes”

  1. Don’t skip on the caramelized onions, and use shallots instead. I like to get them almost a bit crunchy.

  2. Should I bake prior to freezing?

  3. My Christmas celebration fell apart, and I have 10lbs of potatoes. Can this be made per directions and frozen in smaller portions? Maybe 8×8” and smaller dishes?

    Thank you,
    Cindy

  4. Made for Christmas dinner 2023 
    It was a process for sure, make sure you don’t have to walk away. 
    I cut sliced, diced & measured ahead of time. 
    The instructions were clear & easy to fallow. 
    5 ***** for instructions & recipe. 
    5 *****for Yummy 

  5. Nice simple recipe. Just like making Mac n cheese but with potatoes instead of noodles. If you have KitchenAid cheese grater attachment it also has a potato dicer that makes this one easy. Came out good thanks. 

  6. I made these for Thanksgiving this year, 2023. They were amazing!! Possibly the best thing on the table!
    I did sub in 8 oz of Smoked Gruyere (and removed 8 oz of cheddar). I didn’t bother to peel the Yukon Gold Potatoes. I also didn’t bother to lay out the potatoes neatly like you do. I’m just too lazy and no one in my family cares. I just mixed the potatoes into the sauce and then dumped them in the baking dish.
    Thank for you posting this recipe!! An instant family favorite!

    • Hey Michelle!! I’m so happy that this was a hit at your holiday table!!! Thank you so much for sharing and for taking the time to leave a review, I really appreciate it!! 🙂 -Stephanie

  7. I have a question…I am in the middle of making this recipe for Christmas. It calls for 12 tablespoons of butter. I used the 2 tablespoons in the skillet for the onions. Then it calls for 4 tablespoons in the pot to lightly brown the garlic. I don’t see where the other 6 tablespoons are used…what am I missing? I hate to mess this up now.
    Thanks

    • Hi Wendy, the recipe calls for 6 tablespoons of butter, not 12 🙁 If you’re doubling it, the quantities in the written instructions need to be doubled as well, and then it would add up to the 12.

  8. Can you prepare the night before and wait to cook the next day?

    • Hi Tina! Here is the make-ahead method from the blog post:

      -Assemble the potatoes as outlined but don’t top with remaining cup of cheddar cheese yet. Bake for 45 minutes at 350°. Let it cool completely. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
      -When ready to serve top with 1 cup of cheese. Cover and bake it at 350° for 55 minutes. If desired, remove the cover at the end and broil at 450° for up to 5 minutes to brown the top.

  9. Made this tonight. I tweaked a few things. I added slap ya mama to my roux and garlic pepper blend seasoning. I also tossed my potatoes in the same seasoning as well before layering. Turned out fabulous and my family loved it.

  10. I made this dish for Thanksgiving. 
    It was a hit with my entire family.  Instead of using bagged shredded cheese, I bought a block of mild & medium cheddar and shredded myself. Wow, what a difference in taste when you shred the cheese yourself! My daughters have already told me I am making this with our Christmas meal. 
     It did take me a little while to prep this dish, as I made it the night before Thanksgiving, so I just had to heat & brown the top on the big day. It seems like my prep time always takes longer than the instructions say it should take. I spent a total of almost 2 hours making this dish, (including baking time) but it was absolutely worth it! I will absolutely make these yummy potatoes more than just for holiday meals. I’m sure as I get used to making these, it won’t take as long in the future.  Made my family happy and full!!
    Another phenomenal recipe by Stephanie! Thank you for sharing!

    • Nice work Kristin! I love that your daughters already put in their Christmas meal request! Thanks so much for the great comments and for taking the time to leave a review!🩷

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