Recipe Review

Tyler Florence Has a Clever Trick for Making the Best Scalloped Potatoes Ever

published Oct 1, 2019
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Celebrity chef Tyler Florence is famously known for his appearances on the Food Network, his wide variety of cookbooks, and his slew of California restaurants. But many home cooks also know him as the creator of their go-to scalloped potato recipe.

Florence’s recipe for Scalloped Potato Gratin receives five stars on Food Network’s website and has more than 550 reviews, with commenters calling the dish “outstanding” and “always a hit.” Naturally, we had to include it in our scalloped potato showdown to see if it lived up to the hype. Here’s what happened when I baked the beloved dish at home.

Get the recipe: Scalloped Potato Gratin from Tyler Florence

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

How to Make Tyler Florence’s Scalloped Potatoes

Florence’s recipe is super simple, which likely factors into its popularity. You’ll start by heating up heavy cream with bay leaves, thyme, garlic, nutmeg, and salt and pepper in a saucepan on the stove. You’re then instructed to pour the heated cream into a large bowl with the potato slices, but I saw no reason to dirty a bowl when the potatoes could just as easily go directly into the buttered baking dish, so that’s what I did. You’ll toss gently them with Parmesan and season with more salt and pepper.

You’ll then top the potatoes with Parmesan and fresh thyme, cover the dish with foil (pulling one corner back for steam to escape), and bake for 40 minutes.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

My Honest Review of Tyler Florence’s Scalloped Potatoes

These potatoes are delicious. In fact, they’re some of the tastiest scalloped potatoes I’ve ever had. They’re uber-creamy but not too rich, they pack in loads of flavor, and, after a short resting period, they’re easy to slice or scoop. My only criticism is that the recipe is hard to follow. The measurements and ingredients are mostly okay, but the instructions are vague. The only way to use this recipe to make great scalloped potatoes is to know how to make great scalloped potatoes from the get-go. I’ll tell you what I did when the recipe gave no guidance. 

The idea of flavoring the cream by infusing it with herbs and garlic is a great idea. It’s by far my biggest takeaway from this recipe, and it’s a tip I will use in my cooking moving forward. But the recipe isn’t clear about how long the ingredients should steep for — it says to strain out the aromatics as soon the cream “heats up.” To ensure the cream picks up all the flavor, I brought mine to a simmer, removed the pan from the heat, and let it stand for 10 minutes before straining. This was long enough to infuse the cream with flavor, but not so long that it grew cold. 

You’re instructed to season this mixture with “some salt and pepper,” but that isn’t very helpful in a recipe where you can’t assess the seasoning until the dish is finished and served. Based on other recipes and past experience, I used 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Similarly, when it came time to sprinkle thyme and Parmesan on top of the potatoes, I used 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves and 1/4 cup of Parmesan (the recipe called for “some”).

The recipe says to bake the dish for 40 minutes, but doesn’t give any clues as to what to look for to check if it’s done. After 40 minutes, my potatoes were still crunchy. After 50 minutes, the potatoes were tender, so I removed it from the oven.

Credit: Sheri Castle
Tyler Florence Scalloped Potatoes

If You’re Making Tyler Florence’s Scalloped Potatoes, A Few Tips

If you make Florence’s recipe as-is, you might be left with questions. But if you follow my advice above and use these tips below, you’ll be set up for success.

1. Use a 9×13-inch casserole dish. There wasn’t any guidance on the size and depth of the baking dish, which is a big factor in how quickly the potatoes will bake. I used a 9×13-inch baking dish, which worked well.

2. Broil the finished dish. Some people say that scalloped potatoes don’t contain cheese. The Parmesan used in this recipe added neither flavor nor color, and could have easily been omitted, although I think a wiser strategy is to leave the Parmesan and broil the finished dish to brown the top a little. According to the ingredient list, this might have been the plan all along, but the step never made it into the method.

3. Let the potatoes rest. Scalloped potatoes must rest for at least 20 minutes, preferably 30, for the best texture and flavor. After 30 minutes of resting, this one was firm enough that I could have cut tidy squares, but was still pleasantly warm and creamy. All of the delicious flavors and aromas were more pronounced after the rest. 

Rating: 7/10

Have you ever made Tyler Florence’s Scalloped Potato Gratin? Tell us what you thought! 

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn