This dish makes an amazing appetizer or main course thanks to their portioning. They are SO simple to make but their luxurious taste and texture of the cheesy, creamy, tender stack of sliced potatoes makes them a bite of classic indulgence!
✨Want to know why you’ll love this recipe?✨
- It’s clean eating, gluten-free, and vegetarian friendly.
- It uses 5 minimally processed ingredients plus seasoning and spices.
- It’s very easy to make and tastes absolutely divine.
- These gratins are made to be individually portioned which makes them perfect serving sizes for a side or appetizer.
- They can be made in advance and frozen for later use! (See recipe notes for instructions on this).
Gratin -vs- Scalloped Potatoes
These two dishes are similar but there area few minor differences, the main one being the inclusion of cheese. If there’s cheese, it’s a gratin, if there’s no cheese, it’s scalloped potatoes. Another minor difference is the thickness of the potato slices. Scalloped potatoes tend to be cut slightly thicker than a gratin.
Now, this recipe has 3 parts: the potato, the cheese and the cream/sauce. Let’s talk about each element for a moment before we get to the recipe:
What type of potato should be used?🥔
For the best results use your favorite kind of starchy potato. I like using russets but other varieties include Idaho, Yukon Gold, Maris Piper, King Edward. The starchy potato has a grainy almost mealy consistency that is ideal for absorbing liquids and cooking up into a light and fluffy stack. Avoid using waxy potatoes. While they will have a smooth and creamy texture to them, they will not hold their stacked shape as well and will not absorb the cream as well as their starchy counterparts.
What type of cheese should be used?🧀
Traditional gratins use gruyere or Emmental, however you can also use and other good melting cheeses such as Swiss, Havarti, Gouda, muenster, colby, sharp cheddar or provolone! To really kick things up you can also use a smoked cheese such as smoked provolone or Gouda.
Let’s talk Cream or Béchamel? 🥛
Typically this recipe uses heavy cream but since I rarely can find any near me that is free of additives, preservatives and stabilizers, I’m opting to make a simple and easy béchamel sauce. Béchamel is one of the 5 “mother sauces” in French cooking and for a good reason, it has withstood the test of time and is both simple to prepare and incredibly versatile.
To make our delectable stacks we’ll need the following:
- Potatoes: I’m using russet potatoes but you can use your favorite kind of starchy potato.
- Cheese: For today’s recipe I’m using a smoked provolone that I got from my local deli, but you can also use your favorite melting cheese.
- Milk: Opt to use full fat/whole milk.
- Flour: To keep this recipe gluten free I’m using a gluten free flour blend. I personally like the thickening ability of Bob’s 1-1 for making a roux. If you’re not gluten-free you can use equal amounts of whole wheat pastry flour.
- Butter: Salted or unsalted butter can be used depending on your preference.
- Salt: I’m using my favorite Himalayan pink salt but you can also use sea salt if preferred.
- Pepper: I’m using both ground black and white pepper.
- Nutmeg: Do not omit this ingredient, you can of course, if you do the recipe will work, but it will not taste the same as the “real thing”. Nutmeg is one spice that really makes this dish and gives it its flavor…also, a béchamel without nutmeg?? Sacré bleu!
- Thyme: Fresh leaves of fine thyme will be used to season our sauce and used as an optional finishing topping.
- Garlic: A small clove of garlic is just enough to give our sauce a bit of zing and flavor our potatoes. The garlic plays nicely with the other seasonings and the cheese so don’t skip it!
Here’s how to make these portion-sized potato gratins:
We’ll start by preheating our oven to 350F and buttering our muffin pan. Next, we’ll prep our potatoes. To do this we’ll peel, wash and thinly slice them using a mandolin, knife or a vegetable peeler to create thin rounds.
You’ll want to ensure that your rounds are not only thin but consistent in their thickness. I don’t own a mandoline so I used my vegetable peeler to shave my potatoes into thin rounds that are about 2-3mm thick.
Once your potatoes are all sliced, submerge them into a bowl of cold water and allow them to soak while we work on our béchamel.
Next we make our béchamel sauce. To do this we’ll start by making a roux (pronounced as “roo”) by adding our butter and garlic to a saucepan and melting it down on a med-low heat (pic 1).
Once our butter is melted and the garlic is fragrant, we will set our heat to LOW and add in our flour (pic 2). Lowering the heat allows all of the butter to be fully absorbed by the flour without it burning. This ensures our sauce will be silky smooth.
Cook the butter/garlic/flour on low heat for a few minutes (pic 3) and then add in half cup of milk and whisk vigorously to prevent any lumps from forming (pic 4).
You should now have a thick paste, set your heat to medium and whisk in the rest of the milk until fully incorporated and smooth (pic 5). Let your sauce simmer for a minute before adding in your seasoning (salt, peppers, nutmeg, and thyme).
And there you have it, our sauce is done! Simple and silky smooth.
Drain your potato slices and place them onto a clean kitchen towel and pat them dry.
Now we have everything ready to put our gratins together. We have our buttered pan, our sliced and dried potato slices, our bechamel sauce and our bits of cheese that are either cut into pieces or finely grated if you’re using a block cheese. Now, before you do anything, set aside 1 oz of your cheese for later.
Then we’ll get to the assembly: layer a few slices of potato, top with a teaspoon of sauce, and a bit of cheese. Repeat these layers until you’ve reached the top of the muffin pan. Your last layer should be potato slices.
Press down on your gratins to compact them. When you do this, some of the sauce may ooze up the sides, if they do, simply scrape the sauce over the top layer of potatoes.
Loosely tent your muffin pan with foil and place onto a baking tray. Then, pop your gratins into the preheated to bake for 30-35 minutes.
Once the time is up, remove them from the oven, uncover them and top with the reserved 1 oz of cheese. Then place them back into the oven at 400F for an additional 10 minutes. Once that time is up your gratins should have a nicely browned top, if not, you can turn on the broiler function and let your gratins broil for 2-3 minutes (enough to make the cheese brown and bubbly). If desired you can insert a sharp knife tip into the middle of one of the gratins to ensure your potatoes are fully cooked. The knife should slide in and our without resistance.
As soon as you remove your tray from the oven use a heat resistant spatula (I love using my silicone spatula for this because of the flex) and run it around the full length of the gratins’ circumference. This will ensure that the sides are free and clear as well as help shape your gratins to make for easy removal once cooled. If you don’t do this, there is a chance that some little but of cheese will make the gratin stick to the side and once it cools and sets it will be harder to remove and unmold them.
Let your gratins cool and rest for at least 15-20 minutes before you attempt to unmold. Unmolding is honestly as easy as scooping them out.
And there you have it, simple, easy, clean and delicious. These decadent stacks of layered potato, cream and cheese are guaranteed to be a hit however you serve them. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do. And as for what to pair it with, well the options are endless really!
Some of my favorite options include:
- The Perfect Skillet Steak (GF)
- Simple Sautéed (Rainbow) Chard (GF)
- Skillet Charred Green Beans (GF)
- Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts (GF)
- Sautéed Broccolini (GF)
- Cheesy Bacon Butternut Squash (GF)
- Honey-glazed Carrots (GF)
- Easy Crispy (Air) Fried Chicken Thighs (GF)
- Incredibly Easy Pan Fried Chicken Drumsticks (GF)
- The Easiest Pan-Seared Chicken Recipe Ever (GF)
- Grilled Beef Heart with a Chimichurri Sauce (GF)
- Coconut Shrimp (GF)
- Crunchy Pan-Fried Lemon Pepper Fish Fillets
- Salmon and Vegetable Tray-Bake (GF)
Individual Potato Au Gratin
- 1½ lbs Russet Potatoes approx. 4-5 medium potatoes
- 3 tbsp salted butter reserve ½ tbsp to grease the muffin tin
- 1 clove garlic grated
- 2 tbsp Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour
- 1½ cups Whole Milk
- 1 tsp Himalayan salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- ¼ tsp Ground Nutmeg
- ½ tsp fine thyme leaves only, sticks discarded
- 8 oz Provolone or Gouda - use a smoked variety for more flavor. (Finely grated or cut into small slices)
- Preheat oven to 350°F and grease 12 muffin molds with butter.
- Prep Potatoes: Wash, peel and thinly slice potatoes into thin rounds using a mandoline or potato peeler. Set the rounds to soak in cold water.Drain and place your potato rounds onto a clean kitchen towel and pat dry to remove any excess water.
- Make the Béchamel: To a small saucepan on med-heat, melt 2.5tbsp of butter along with the finely grated garlic. Lower the heat and add the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes stirring occasionally. Add in the milk, 1/2 cup at a time, whisking continuously until you have a smooth sauce. Set the heat back to med and allow the sauce to thicken and simmer. Turn off the heat an add in all seasoning (salt, peppers, nutmeg, and thyme) and whisk it in. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Make your Gratins: Set aside 1oz of your cheese. Layer a few rounds of potato into the bottom of your buttered muffin pan, add about 1 tsp of the sauce and a small bit of cheese. Repeat the layers (potato, sauce, cheese) building until you've reached the top of the pan and end with the potato. Gently press down to compact all the ingredients (some sauce might come up the sides, that's okay, simply scrape it over the top layer of potato).
- Bake: Loosely tent the muffin tray with foil and place onto a baking tray. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350°F. Remove the foil and sprinkle the reserved 1oz of cheese over the tops of each gratin and place them back into the oven and set the temperature to 400F and bake for an additional 10 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbling. If after 10 min the cheese isn't golden, you can set the broiler on and let it broil for 4-5 minutes.
- Shape for Unmolding: Remove your gratins from the oven and, using a heat proof silicone spatula, gently run it along the edges of each muffin mold to pull the gratin away from the sides, this helps to shape the gratins into a more compact shape and will make it easier to remove once cooled.
- Cool and Serve: Let your gratins cool at room temperature for at least 15-20 minutes before unmolding them and serving.
- Storage: To store any leftovers allow them to come to room temperature after baking and store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days, or freeze them for up to 2 weeks.Reheating: From the fridge, place your gratins onto a baking tray and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until warmed through. From frozen, place your gratins onto a baking tray and bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes.
- Serving size: As an appetizer this recipe serves 12, as a side/entrée it will serve 4.
- Nutritional information is calculated for 1 individual gratin.
- You may not use all of your béchamel depending on how you portion it and how many layers you create, if there is leftover you can use it as a sauce for plating your gratins.