Better-Than-Grandma’s Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

updated Mar 5, 2020
christmas
Better-Than-Grandma’s Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

A classic recipe for creamy scalloped potatoes with ham that can be made with or without cheese.

Serves10 to 12

Prep15 minutes

Cook1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes

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Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

I grew up thinking scalloped potatoes came from a Betty Crocker’s box (consider it one of many joys of being a child of the 90s). It wasn’t until years later, when I tasted the real deal at Easter at my in-laws’ house, that I understood the hype around the decadent side dish.

When made from scratch, classic scalloped potatoes are ridiculously delicious; add ham to the situation — as is traditional in many families — and it becomes a homey casserole that’s the perfect crowd-friendly side dish, or even a standalone main.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Skip the Flour for the Best Scalloped Potatoes

Many recipes for scalloped potatoes call for flour to thicken the cream sauce, but I find that this results in an overly thick, goopy sauce. This recipe, inspired by the technique used in our classic scalloped potatoes, relies on the potato starches alone to make the sauce velvety. The result is a casserole with a cleaner flavor and texture, while still being plenty decadent. It also makes this dish gluten-free!

True scalloped potatoes don’t contain cheese (whereas au gratin potatoes traditionally include it), but I’m pretty sure no one will be mad if you sprinkle a bit on top to get an extra-crispy browned crust. Let the casserole rest for at least 10 minutes — 30 if you’re patient — after taking it out of the oven. This helps it set and makes easier to slice and serve.

Better-Than-Grandma’s Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

A classic recipe for creamy scalloped potatoes with ham that can be made with or without cheese.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes

Serves 10 to 12

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter or cooking spray, for greasing the baking dish

  • 4 ounces

    Gruyère or sharp cheddar cheese (optional)

  • 3 pounds

    Yukon Gold potatoes (about 6 medium)

  • 1

    small yellow onion

  • 3 cups

    heavy cream or whole milk

  • 2 teaspoons

    fresh thyme leaves

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 (8-ounce) package

    diced, cooked ham (about 1 1/2 cups)

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with unsalted butter or cooking spray. If using, grate 4 ounces Gruyère or sharp cheddar cheese on the large holes of a box grater to get about 1 cup and set aside.

  2. Use a mandoline or a sharp chef’s to thinly slice 3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes into thin slices about 1/4-inch thick (no need to peel). Place the slices in a large pot. Halve and thinly slice 1 small yellow onion.

  3. Add 3 cups heavy cream or whole milk, 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to the pot. (The cream won't cover the potatoes.) Place over medium heat. Gently lift and stir the potatoes a few times with a rubber spatula to make sure all the potatoes get a turn in the warming cream. Heat just until the cream starts to bubble around the edges, about 10 minutes. (Pay close attention as the cream heats, as it can bubble quickly once warm.)

  4. Transfer 1/3 of the potatoes with a slotted spoon to the prepared baking dish and arrange in an even layer. Sprinkle 1/3 of the sliced onions and 1/2 cup diced ham over the potatoes. Repeat layering the potatoes, onions, and ham two more times to use up all of them. Pour the remaining cream over the potatoes, onions, and ham.

  5. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Rotate the baking dish and sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the top, if using. Continue to bake until the top and edges are browned and crisp, the dish no longer jiggles when moved, and a knife inserted in the middle can easily slide through the potatoes, 20 to 30 minutes more.

  6. Transfer the baking dish to a wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes before scooping or slicing.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.