Simple Potato Gratin

When you’re needing potatoes as part of a side dish, try Simple Potato Gratin.  Why?  Because it’s very simple. And it only takes a few ingredients.  And it’s delicious.  Do you need more convincing?

Typically a gratin is heavy with loads of cheese, butter and heavy cream.  This simple version uses milk instead of heavy cream, has only two ounces of cheese and is dotted with a few tablespoons of butter.  While I’m not going to say it’s healthy, it is definitely healthier than other versions!

To make this dish, thinly slice Yukon Gold or yellow potatoes.  I used a mandoline as the slices are very consistent but if you don’t have one, it’s okay to slice with a knife.  I also used Yukon Gold potatoes instead of russets as they hold their shop better without getting floury and falling apart.

Layer the potato slices slightly overlapping them in the bottom of the gratin dish.  Sprinkle with lots of salt and pepper.  Be generous as this is where you get the bulk of the flavoring from.  Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese over the potatoes and repeat until you have 3 layers.

Don’t spread the cheese over the top layer; we’ll save that for later.  Pour the milk carefully into the gratin.  The milk should just come to the bottom of the potatoes…if it doesn’t, add more milk.

Dot the top with butter and pop into the oven for an hour.  After 30 minutes of baking, remove the gratin from the oven and press it down with a spatula to help compress the layers and to make sure that they are all covered by the milk to keep them moist.

At the end of the hour of baking, sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and bake another 15 minutes.  If you want the top to be more brown, broil the gratin for a few minutes but watch very carefully (I burned the first one I made)!

Sprinkle some chopped chives over the top, if you’d like, and enjoy this delicious side dish!

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Lastly, if you make Simple Potato Gratin, be sure to leave a review down below at the bottom of this page (stars are also appreciated)! Above all, I love to hear from you and always do my best to respond to each and every review. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is one of my favorite things to do!

Simple Potato Gratin

Makes: 4 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Bake Time: 1 hour & 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour & 35 minutes


  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus an additional pat for buttering gratin dish
  • 4 large yellow potatoes (about 1 & 1/2 pounds), peeled (see Chef’s Notes)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup milk, half-and-half or cream (if using something richer than milk, you can skip the butter)
  • 2 ounces cheese, grated or crumbled (Parmesan or Gruyere are the classics, but that doesn’t mean that goat cheese, blue cheese or any of your favorites won’t work as well)


Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9 x 12-inch gratin dish with the pat of butter. Slice the potatoes as thinly as you can (a mandoline works great for this) and arrange them in a layer, overlapping the edges slightly like shingles. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and freshly ground pepper and don’t be stingy — this is where the bulk of your flavor comes from and a third of the cheese before before repeating this process with your remaining potato slices. (If you are using a sautéed vegetable filling, this is where you’d want to add half of it.) Depending on how thinly sliced your potatoes are, you should end up with approximately three layers, with a third of the cheese between each layer. Reserve the last third of your cheese for later.

Carefully pour the milk over the potatoes. It should come up to the bottom of the top layer of potatoes; add more if this was not enough. Dot the top of the gratin with the three tablespoons of butter and bake it for 60 minutes. Halfway through the baking time, take the gratin dish out of the oven and gently press the potatoes flat with a spatula to keep the top moist, then return to the oven for the rest of the hour.

After 1 hour, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the gratin and bake for a final 15 minutes. The gratin is done when the potatoes are soft and the top is golden brown. For more color, you can run the gratin under your broiler.

Chef’s Notes:

More gratin ideas: Use duck fat instead of butter. Swap celery root, parsnips or turnip slices for half the potatoes. Add chopped herbs such as parsley, thyme, chives or chervil between the layers. Sauté mushrooms, sorrel, spinach or leeks, with or without a finely-chopped shallot, and layer them between the potato slices.

Yukon Golds and other waxy, yellow-fleshed potatoes work best in gratins, keeping their texture without getting floury and falling apart as Russets do.

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen


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