The two terms are used interchangeably, but let’s find out what the actual difference is between scalloped potatoes and au gratin potatoes.
The reason why people confuse scalloped potatoes and au gratin potatoes today is because we Americans put cheese on absolutely everything – it used to be the cheese that really differentiated between the two.
The definition of au gratin is: cooked or baked with a topping of either browned bread crumbs and butter or grated cheese, or with both.
Au gratin potatoes are supposed to be the ones with cheese. But of course everyone adds cheese to their scalloped potatoes, including me.
- Typically include heavy cream or a creamy condensed soup.
- Often include garlic.
- Sometimes include cheese.
Au gratin potatoes:
- Always include cheese.
- Often have a buttery, breadcrumb topping.
- Au gratin dishes can be made with vegetables other than potatoes.
. . .and that’s pretty much it. Both potato dishes consist of very thinly sliced potatoes in a sort of casserole-style dish, often with a creamy sauce and cheese.
With everyone adding cheese to scalloped potatoes these days (and everything else. . .) the two are now essentially the same dish.
I haven’t made my scalloped potato recipe in awhile, come to think of it. I should do so, because I can make it prettier now that I have a mandolin slicer!