Potatoes Dauphinoise is a French classic from the Dauphiné region, made popular in America by the legendary Julia Child, and a perfect side dish. Thinly sliced potatoes bake in a luxurious cream sauce, flavored with Gruyeré cheese, garlic, fresh thyme and a little lemon juice.
What do you call cheesy potatoes? I have a very Americanized recipe for cheesy potatoes, also known as funeral potatoes. Those start with a bag of frozen, cubed potatoes. Potatoes Dauphinoise is most definitely not those. These potatoes are their much more sophisticated older sister. When I originally published this recipe back in 2016, I called them Julia Child Scalloped Potatoes. But I wanted to properly credit them to the Daupiné region they came from in France.
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Why this recipe works
Thinly sliced raw potatoes are bathed in a garlic-infused cream sauce. The oven does all the work after assembly, making them tender, rich and creamy, with a perfect cheesy crust on top. You might think of this dish as scalloped potatoes or au gratin potatoes. Whatever you may call them, they are most definitely an indulgent side dish!
Ingredients for Potatoes Dauphinoise
- Potatoes – I think russet potatoes or other floury potatoes work best in this recipe. But you can use yukon golds, although the waxy texture of these potatoes might affect the mouthfeel of the finished dish.
- Cream – Heavy cream is essential for this dish. Whole milk won’t give the same end result. You want a rich, creamy and dreamy sauce for these potatoes.
- Gruyere Cheese – Cheese isn’t always used in this dish, although I think a little cheese can certainly never hurt. Just 6 ounces of grated cheese is required for this recipe. Keeping with its French tradition, I like to use Gruyere. But you could use some freshly grated Parmesan instead, combined with a less expensive cheese like Monterey Jack, white cheddar or Mozzarella.
- Buttermilk – I used a little buttermilk with the cream because I had it on hand. I really liked the extra tang it added to the sauce. But if you’re going to use buttermilk, be sure and use full fat. You can eliminate the buttermilk and use all heavy whipping cream instead.
- Garlic – Fresh garlic cloves add such a nice fragrant and robust flavor to these potatoes.
- Thyme – Fresh thyme is the best choice here, but you can use dried if you prefer.
- Lemon Juice – Not a traditional ingredient in these potatoes, but the addition of a little acidic lemon juice really helps to brighten the flavor of the rich cream sauce. You can leave it out, if you don’t like the idea of a hint of lemon with your potatoes.
- Salt and Pepper
Instructions for making Potatoes Dauphinoise
These creamy cheesy potatoes start with thinly sliced raw potatoes. Peel and rinse your potatoes under cold water then slice potatoes with a mandolin. Or you could use your food processor to slice the potatoes. But I prefer the control I have with mandolin and think it’s the best way to slice potatoes.
Mix together the heavy whipping cream with buttermilk, garlic cloves, lemon juice, thyme, salt and pepper. In a shallow baking dish, scatter half of the potato slices evenly on the bottom. Pour over half of the cream mixture. Top with half the shredded cheese.
Then add the remaining potato slices and remaining cream mixture. Reserve the other half of the cheese. Press the potatoes down into the cream so they are evenly dispersed. Cover the dish with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 1 hour. Remove the foil, sprinkle the top of the potatoes with the remaining cheese and continue to bake, uncovered for 15 – 20 minutes. Check the potatoes with a sharp knife. They are ready to eat when they are tender and the top of the potatoes is lightly browned.
Can potatoes dauphinoise be prepared the day before?
They can be prepared a day in advance. Prepare according to the recipe through right before baking. Cover the assembled potato dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The next day, take the potatoes out of the fridge about an hour before baking. Bake according to recipe directions, covered with foil (don’t forget to remove the plastic wrap), then adding the rest of the cheese and baking uncovered for the final 20 minutes. Cooking time may vary since you are starting with cold potatoes. You may need to add 15 – 20 minutes to the baking time when the potatoes are covered with the foil.
Why is it sometimes called a gratin?
Au gratin means a dish is topped with cheese or breadcrumbs and baked until a golden brown crust forms on the top of the dish.
Why does cream split in dauphinoise potatoes?
To be honest, my potatoes always come out with a little pool of what looks like butter in the bottom of the dish. That’s what it means when the cream splits. You can try and prevent this by lowering the temperature and baking the potatoes even longer. Or by heating the cream mixture in the microwave for a few minutes before layering it with the potatoes. There’s no fool-proof way of preventing a split. And even if it happens, the potatoes and creamy sauce don’t suffer for it.
Keep any leftover potatoes in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to three days. I do not recommend freezing these potatoes! To reheat with best results, place the potatoes in an oven safe dish. Bake covered at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are heated through.
If you are vegetarian, these potatoes dauphinoise can easily be a main dish, served along with a salad and some fresh sliced pears or apples. And of course this classic French dish makes the perfect accompaniment for a special occasion and for roast meats like my Slow Roasted Beef Tenderloin or other similar roast beef recipe.
- A mandolin is the best way for slicing the potatoes. My favorite is this OXO brand – it’s inexpensive and simple to use.
- Cheese grater for grating the gruyere cheese.
- Shallow casserole dish or large potato gratin dish for baking the dauphinoise potatoes recipe.
- My favorite garlic press.
- 4 large russet potatoes or other starchy potato
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese freshly grated
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp fresh thyme
- 1/2 tsp salt I use sea salt or kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper I use a pepper mill for freshly cracked pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Wash and peel your potatoes. Use a mandolin to slice them into 1/8" slices.
- In a glass measuring cup or clean bowl, mix together the heavy cream, buttermilk, garlic, lemon juice, thyme, salt and pepper.
- Evenly scatter half of the potato slices on the bottom of a shallow baking dish. Pour over half the cream mixture. Top with half the shredded cheese.
- Top with the remaining potato slices and cream mixture. Press the potatoes down so they are evenly distributed and covered with cream.
- Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake the potatoes for one hour to one hour and 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Use a sharp knife to test them.
- Uncover the dish and top the potatoes with the remaining Gruyere cheese. Continue baking the potatoes for 15 - 20 minutes or until a lightly browned crust forms on the top.
- This potato dauphinoise recipe can be served hot out of the oven or at room temperature.
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