Perfect Scalloped Potatoes


I’ve always loved scalloped potatoes–they turn up often at potlucks, and yum, I go after them like the deviled eggs. However, when attempting to recreate the dish at home, I always had trouble. Until I stopped following the directions I found in every recipe for scalloped potatoes. Then it worked just perfectly!

Now I make scalloped potatoes on a regular basis and Morgan will stand at the refrigerator with a spoon eating the leftovers like candy whenever she needs a bite of yum.

The trouble I used to have with scalloped potatoes? No matter how thinly I sliced the potatoes, the potatoes never seemed to cook through and soften enough. Never. Maybe this works for you, but it never worked for me.

The solution? Thinly slice then parboil the potatoes before assembling the casserole. Works every time, for perfect scalloped potatoes–every time.

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How to make Perfect Scalloped Potatoes:

6 cups thinly sliced, peeled potatoes
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup flour
garlic salt
2 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup diced onions or peppers*
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (any kind)

*You can combine onions and peppers, or just one or the other. Peppers can be sweet or hot. Spicy is good! Though if you’re taking it to a potluck, you better include a warning label.
Parboil the potatoes. This means bring them to a light boil. For thinly sliced potatoes, parboiling only takes a couple of minutes. The edges will be cooked but the centers should still be firm. Take them off the heat and drain the water. Set aside.

In a sauce pan, melt the butter. If adding onions and/or peppers, add them now while the butter is melting to saute them. Stir in the flour to make a roux. Add pepper and garlic salt to taste. (I add them quite generously!)
Gradually add milk, a little at a time, stirring as you go to make a sauce that is not lumpy. Cook and stir til thickened and bubbly.

If adding cheese, add it after the sauce is ready. You can just turn off the heat and let the cheese melt as you stir. Use any kind of cheese. Typically, I use a combination of shredded Cheddar and Velveeta–because why do you think Morgan eats this dish like candy?
But for something different and special, sometimes I use shredded Swiss or Monterey Jack. Think outside the Cheddar!

Lightly grease a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Add one-third of the potatoes, then one-third of the sauce.
Repeat until the sauce and potatoes are all in the dish. I like to top it with some dried parsley.
Or–use any kind of herbs, or french fried onions, or some seasoned bread crumbs for the topping. Bake at 350-degrees, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Serves 8 (which is why we always have leftovers for Morgan to spoon in to at the refrigerator door). You can cut it in half or multiply it. I never cut it in half–we like leftovers, and we especially like scalloped potato leftovers!
Using different cheeses and toppings, you can really create a special dish that is fit for a holiday table, or make it simple and it’s a favorite everyday supper side dish not to mention a popular showing at potlucks–trust me.

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  1. Stick Horse Cowgirls says:

    Thanks for the tip – I love scalloped potatoes, but rarely make them–I could eat the entire dish! I’ve even wondered if the cubed Southern style (instead of shredded) frozen hash browns could be used to make scalloped potatoes. My daughter doesn’t like to cook much, especially if it involves peeling and slicing (which I like to do if I have time)! I wonder if those potatoes couldn’t be parboiled in a little bit of broth for even more flavor!

  2. whaledancer says:

    I like to precook the potatoes before I bake them, too, but I parboil them in the white sauce. Before I started doing it that way, I had the same problem you did of underdone potatoes. I just make a white sauce in a saucepan, add the potatoes and simmer for a few minutes until they’re about half cooked. Then if I’m making them “au gratin” style, I add the cheese. Dump the whole thing into a casserole dish and bake until bubbly and beginning to brown, about 40 minutes.

    When I was a kid, we considered it a treat when my mom would make au gratin potatoes; we called them “ol’ rotten potatoes”.

  3. ncastlen says:

    I always had the same problem with undercooked potatoes as well. Your method is one good way to prevent it. The one I learned was to put the sliced potatoes (no added liquid) in a microwave-save glass bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and zap for about 5 minutes.

  4. pugwaggin says:

    This time last year, my daughter, Noelle, and I were having a memorable time at the CITR Retreat. It was so wonderful to meet so many talented ladies from all over the US and Canada. I can’t say enough about the wonderful instructors who were so encouraging and so passionate about helping me on my path to my true heart. Thank you Suzanne for the CITR Retreat!

  5. DeniseS says:

    This brought back memories of my Mom and her Scalloped Potatoes. A treat for us at dinnertime in the Fall. I never did learn how to make them and now I can with your recipe and tips. I definitely see a Thanksgiving Side Dish. My family loves potatoes any way you can make them.

  6. theo says:

    Bake them covered for half an hour, then uncovered for half an hour. Your potatoes will be soft and comforting and totally yummy and you won’t have to dirty a pot or use that extra step. Works every time for me. The last half hour just browns the top up a bit and finishes the cooking.

  7. milesawayfarm says:

    Funny, Cooks Illustrated came to the same conclusion you did about the parboiling. I’ve been making them that way for years too. Yum! Great minds and all that.

  8. Granma2girls says:

    I, also, parboil the potato slices in the microwave. To really make them special, I layer potatoes and sliced onions,sprinkling Parmesan cheese between layers. Then I pour plain whipping cream over the potatoes till just covered. Sprinkle over Parmesan cheese and fresh thyme leaves. Bake. It is delicious! I only make these once or twice a year b/c they are rich.

  9. anghaley says:

    First time I have ever made scalloped potatoes and these were a big hit! Love the recipe, I will be making these quite often now! Thanks! :hungry:

  10. ataylor says:

    I love scalloped potatoes made with pepper cheese!

  11. Joell says:

    I used to have a problem with the slices until I started using my mandolin, picked it up at a bargin price of $4.99 several years ago. I always use it for slicing potatoes, onions, and cucumbers.
    I like the sauce recipe you used, definatley a keeper, thank you for sharing.

  12. pattymommie says:

    This was soooooo good! Thanks for sharing! I haven’t been around here for awhile and all your wonderful recipes are so tempting, going to challenge myself to make one a week! Pepperoni rolls are next!

  13. MousE says:

    These are sooo good! The parboiling sure makes a difference. I kicked up my cheese sauce with a little smoked garlic chipotle salt, wow. And carmelized three thinly sliced onions, and layered that. It’s so good, Suzanne.

    I love my food processor’s slicer blade, made this extremely easy.

    Thank you and happy holidays :snoopy:

  14. brookdale says:

    Just tried this recipe, and I have to say they are by far the best I ever tasted! My mother used to make scalloped potatoes but I never liked them because the potatoes were always undercooked, and too many onions. Your pre-cooking method works just right. Thank you! I will be making them often now.

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