The hardest part about making au gratin potatoes in the crockpot is patiently waiting while you smell all that melting cheese and garlic.
If you’ve ever baked scalloped potatoes the traditional way, you know that they take a long time. There’s always a risk of under-cooking the potatoes in the center, and that can be stressful when your mission is a simple, comforting side dish.
It’s so much easier in the crock pot! Everything stays moist and the potatoes get crispy around the edges.
I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to try it, especially when I grew up eating scalloped potatoes with polish sausage on a weekly basis.
Au Gratin vs Scalloped
To cheese or not to cheese? Both au gratin and scalloped potatoes are thinly sliced and layered with a roux-thickened white sauce made from butter, flour, and milk. Scalloped potatoes often involve cream and have a little bit of a milder flavor profile with no cheese; whereas, au gratin potatoes contain cheese.
Now that we got that out of the way…
Which Cheese Is Best?
When it comes to cheese and potatoes, you can hardly go wrong. I like to grate medium to tangy medium-firm cheeses, depending on how I’m serving the potatoes.
Gruyere is a classic choice and has a nutty, creamy, and rich profile. Sharp cheddar has a bit more of a stretchy or string quality and has a nice tanginess, which is bolder. I might choose cheddar if serving with bacon and green onion.
Which cheese you choose is more about what you hope to accomplish. I might choose gruyere for a traditional Thanksgiving side dish because it will work well with stuffing and turkey. Cheddar or cheddar jack might make for a bolder side dish with some crisped bacon and green onions.
How Thick To Slice the Potatoes
My mom used to make paper thin sliced scalloped potatoes, but I decided to cut mine thicker. Use a mandolin if you have one, aim for 1/4-inch thick slices.
Making Au Gratin Potatoes in the Crock Pot
- It’s important to season each layer of the potatoes with salt and pepper so that the depth of flavor is distributed throughout.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the top and just let the sauce work its way down.
- Set timer to 4 hours, high heat.
Technical Tip: In testing this recipe, I liked the texture after 3 1/2 hours, but I think 4 hours would make the consistency a bit more scoop-able.
More Slow Cooker Favorites
- Forever Barbacoa – Mexican Shredded Beef
- Crockpot Pork Green Chili
- Cuban Ropa Vieja (Shredded Beef)
- Green Chile Chicken Crockpot
For this recipe, I use a 5-quart crock pot. If your slow cooker has a larger or smaller capacity, you may find that the potatoes cook faster or slower, respectively.
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