Rich from heavy cream, whole milk, and shredded cheese, this is the Best Scalloped Potatoes Recipe on earth. Just ask my husband!

With the addition of some Easter leftovers, baked ham, and heavy cream, this Scalloped Potatoes and Ham hit all the marks. You can make a batch without ham for Easter, then take some frozen ham leftover to create another version next month. Both versions are creamy, tender, savory, and undeniably irresistible.

Oval casserole dish of scalloped potatoes

Best Scalloped Potatoes Recipe

It was an America’s Test Kitchen email mentioning their holiday scalloped potatoes that got my attention. A Rack of Lamb was on our Easter menu, so I had cooked a Glazed Ham earlier in the week, leaving us with a multitude of leftovers. Ham sandwiches weren’t cutting it anymore. The aha moment was to transform our leftovers into scalloped potatoes and ham.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does Scalloped Mean in Cooking?

The word means having an edge or border marked with semicircles, but in cooking, it is a baked dish with a sauce, typically cheese, that’s served in a casserole.

Where Did Scalloped Potatoes Get their Name? 

Although the potatoes are cut into circle shapes, their name actually comes from the Old English word, collop which means to cut very thin.

What’s the Difference Between Scalloped Potatoes, Potatoes Gratin or Au Gratin?

Well, if you want the official culinary definition, scalloped potatoes are typically thicker sliced potatoes baked in cream. No cheese is added. Potatoes Gratin, with au gratin translating to a dish topped with cheese and breadcrumbs in French, are potatoes with those exact toppings. Note that gratin potatoes are often sliced a bit thinner than scalloped potatoes.

But like with these cheesy scalloped potatoes, the rules are broken all the time. Though my “scalloped potatoes” might be more appropriately named potatoes gratin, call them whatever you want! This is one rich and creamy side dish you’ll want on your menu ASAP

What Makes Scalloped Potatoes Gray

Peeled potatoes turn gray due to oxidation or exposure to air. To minimize this, do not peel and slice your potatoes until right before you need to add them to the recipe. You can also keep whole potatoes in a bowl of cool water after peeling, but do not slice as the excess water on the slices will affect the recipe.

Why Won’t My Potatoes Soften?

When there is an acidic ingredient added to the recipe like sour cream, excess onions, or garlic, the pH change may prevent the potatoes from getting soft.

Can You Overcook Scalloped Potatoes?

Yes, you want to cook just until the potatoes are tender. If you overcook this dish, the potatoes may get mushy and the sauce may curdle.

Close view of  a small bowl of scalloped potatoes next to the casserole dish

Tips for Making Scalloped Potatoes with Ham

These scalloped potatoes are foolproof. If you’ve ever made a potato casserole, and remember going back and forth to the oven, poking the potatoes with a knife to find out if they’re tender, this recipe eliminates that tedious step.

  • These potato slices are actually simmered in a seasoned mixture of cream and whole milk until they’re almost tender. Adding a few sprigs of thyme, salt, and pepper makes for a flavorful sauce. A bay leaf would be nice or even a few gratings of fresh nutmeg.
  • Use a waxy potato like Yukon Gold or red potatoes. Russet potatoes will add too much starch to the sauce and get mushy faster.
  • PRO-Tip: Cooking the slices first shortens the time in the oven to 20 minutes, just enough time for the cheese to melt and top to brown.
  • Don’t bake this potato casserole at too high of a temperature. Cooking at 325-350° is ideal. Hotter may curdle the sauce. Also using low-fat ingredients isn’t suggested. Just modify your portion size.
  • PRO-Tip: Slice your potatoes about 1/8 inch thick. Thinner slices will end up falling apart. Plus, don’t slice to early or they will oxidize.
  • Use a benriner slicer to make even slices. A mandoline or a chef’s knife works well, too.
  • I used half sharp cheddar cheese and half Gruyere, a Swiss cheese. Feel free to mix things up with just one cheese or a mixture of your favorites.
  • Cover with foil and let rest 20-30 minutes before serving if you have the time. That will allow the dish to cool slightly so you don’t scald the roof of your mouth.
  • Adding ham is totally optional. These scalloped potatoes are terrific even without it!
Overhead view of cheesy scalloped potatoes

More Potato Recipes:

Oval casserole dish of scalloped potatoes

Scalloped Potatoes Recipe

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Yield 8 servings

A rich, cheesy potato casserole that's perfect for holidays, company or any family dinner!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch-thick slices
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped cooked ham, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt butter in a large pot, then saute the onion and sauté until soft. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant and remove from heat so the garlic doesn't burn.
  3. Add the cream, milk, thyme, salt, pepper, and potatoes, return to heat and bring to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are almost tender. Gently mix in the ham.
  4. Remove the thyme, then place the potato mixture into a shallow, 3-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with the shredded cheese.
  5. Bake until the cream has thickened and the top is browned, about 20 minutes.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 659Total Fat: 42gSaturated Fat: 26gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 142mgSodium: 954mgCarbohydrates: 54gFiber: 5gSugar: 8gProtein: 19g

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