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This gluten-free gratin dauphinois recipe is based on Julia Child’s recipe for French scalloped potatoes, and is made with milk and freshly grated cheese.
I know what you’re thinking.
You’re asking yourself, “What in the world is gratin dauphinois?”
Oh, and also– “Where has it been all my life?”
Gratin dauphinois is a type of scalloped potato dish, and it’s one of my absolute favorite French side dishes.
This recipe is modified from Julia Child’s version of gratin dauphinois, using her techniques, but with a few extra flavors added.
If you’re looking for other classic French recipes for a special night in, try these: ratatouille, fish meunière (fish in butter sauce), French onion soup, French crêpes (or gluten-free crêpes or vegan crêpes), and crème brûlée (or coconut crème brûlée).
Is gratin dauphinois the same as potatoes au gratin?
Not technically, but you might see the terms used interchangeably.
Traditionally, the potatoes in gratin dauphinois are sliced and placed in a dish raw with cream and/or milk. Then the potatoes are cooked in the dairy.
Since the potatoes are added to the dairy while they’re still raw, the starch mixes with the dairy and forms a gluten-free, rich, and creamy sauce— no flour or thickeners needed.
In contrast, potatoes au gratin traditionally uses sliced potatoes that are boiled in water, drained, and then cooked again with dairy.
Au gratin recipes often include a flour roux to help thicken the milk.
Confusingly, both gratin dauphinois and au gratin are often called scalloped potatoes.
Do I Really Need a Cast-Iron Pan for This Recipe?
Not technically, but you do need a pan that is both stovetop and oven safe.
Cast-iron pans are generally the easiest and most affordable option for an oven-safe pan, and since they retain heat well, your potatoes will cook evenly.
I use this Lodge 10″ cast iron skillet to make gratin dauphinois.
Gratin dauphinois step 1: slice the potatoes
Start with two pounds of Russet (or Idaho) potatoes. Peel and thinly slice the potatoes.
I prefer to use a sharp chef’s knife to slice potatoes (this is my favorite knife), but if you have a mandoline (like this OXO mandoline), you’ll be able to cut your potatoes more quickly.
Safety tip: Mandolines are VERY sharp and can be fairly dangerous to unprotected fingers. Make sure to wear a cut-resistant glove while using a mandoline, or at the very least, use a cutting guard.
Layer the Potatoes
Add the potatoes concentrically to the pan.
This part does not have to look perfect– I just happen to think it’s kind of fun to swirl the potatoes into pretty layers.
If layering potatoes stresses you out, remember that you’ll be adding cheese, and the cheese will cover any potato layering that didn’t go as planned.
Add the Milk + Cream
Next, you’ll heat a small pan with milk, cream, garlic, herbs and spices.
Pour the warm milk over the potatoes.
Par-Boil the Potatoes in the Dairy
Place the pan on the stovetop, and bring the milk to a simmer.
Add Cheese to the gratin dauphinois
Traditionally, gratin dauphinois doesn’t have cheese.
But I say– go ahead and add it anyway!
Freshly grate some cheese– my favorites in gratin dauphinois are smoked Gruyère or blue cheese, but you could also use Parmesan– and layer it on top of the potatoes.
Bake until golden
Slide the potatoes into the oven, and bake until the cheese is golden and gorgeous.
Serve these potatoes while they’re warm (or reheat them in the oven later), and– as Julia would say– bon appetit!
Want more Julia Child? Snag my favorite Julia book– Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom.
Gratin Dauphinois (Scalloped Potatoes)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 clove garlic, finely diced
- 1 sprig rosemary, removed from stem + roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¾ cup whole milk, plus more if needed
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 2 pounds Russet (Idaho) potatoes, peeled + thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 ounce Parmesan, freshly grated
- 2 ounces Gruyere (traditional or smoked) or blue cheese, freshly grated or crumbled Swiss cheese or extra Parmesan would also work well
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Add the butter to a 10" cast-iron pan, and slide it in the oven until the butter melts. Remove the pan, and butter the bottom and sides of the pan. (Pay extra attention to the sides of the pan, which may not be well-seasoned.)Tip: An 11" or 12" cast-iron pan will also work, but the potatoes may cook more quickly. Any medium-large pan that is both stove-top and oven-safe will work.
- Add garlic, rosemary, paprika, milk, and cream to a small saucepan and heat until warm. Keep milk warm while preparing the potatoes.
- Layer potatoes concentrically in the pan. Sprinkle with salt.
- Pour the warm milk mixture over the potatoes, and press down gently on the potatoes with the back of a spoon to ensure that the milk goes between all the potatoes.The liquid should be ¾ of the way up the potatoes. If it's not, add a little more milk.
- Heat the potatoes on the stove top over medium heat, bring to a simmer, and continue to simmer for two minutes.
- Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the potatoes, and slide into the oven.
- Bake 25 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and bubbly and the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
- Serve Immediately:Let the cheese cool slightly, and serve these while they're still hot!Make Ahead + Refrigerate: Make these potatoes up to one day ahead. Tent with foil, and reheat at 350°F for 20 minutes.
OMG I LOVE these potatoes. For some reason, my family does not like scalloped potatoes. Perhaps if I made this delicious recipe they would change their minds. Anyway, it is a win for me!!
Marisa F. Stewart
I need these potatoes in my life. I LOVE the idea of making them like this rather than gratin. And the extra touch of layering them as you do gives them a festive feel. The cheeses are scrumptious. Will be making them soon.
I’ve never thought about the effect that the potato starch has on the sauce, but that makes perfect sense now that you mention it! There are so many great French potato recipes out there, but honestly I think anyone’s going to have a hard time beating this cheesy, starchy, crispy delight. I’ve been getting lots of local potatoes in my CSA box this year so I think I’m going to have to dive into this soon (and repeatedly!).
Potatoes gratin are one of our favorite special occasion dishes, especially for the fall! I love the look of your recipe because you haven’t skimped on the creaminess or the flavor at all. The step by step instructions with photos are also brilliant and helpful!
Girl I want to dive into that crispy cheesy skillet of carby goodness! My husband, believe it or not, hates potatoes. When my mother-in-law was visiting over the weekend she made me some roasted smashed potatoes and it was SUCH a treat. I’ve decided I’m going to go back to making potatoes, even if I’m the only one who will eat them. SO GOOD. This just might have to be my first recipe.
The perfect use for my new cast iron pan. The directions are perfection….and therefore the finished product beautiful. I love how crispy you were able to get the top. My family will go nuts for this creamy, dreamy potato dish.
Anything with gruyere and I’m drooling everywhere. But man, THIS just looks so perfect and delicious. You’re right, I was thinking “where has this been all my life” and now I’m off to buy a bag of potatoes to make this all fall long. LOL!