An easy recipe for slow cooker potatoes au gratin — simple and delicious comfort food. Plus a secret tip to keeping the potatoes crispier in the crockpot. These potatoes make for the perfect Thanksgiving side-dish — they can be made ahead and save that precious oven space!
Calling all potato au gratin fans!! This recipe is our new favorite twist on a classic family recipe. Potatoes au gratin have always been a favorite in my family, but now they can be made in the CROCKPOT! It’s totally revolutional, right?! Not only is this great news for next summer (yummy potatoes and no turning on your oven!), but it’s also a great idea for Thanksgiving. While your oven is stuffed to the brim with everything else, you can have these going in the crockpot.
It’s also got a few other twists from the classic family recipe. Like NO cream of soups are needed! Tons of au gratin potato recipes call for lots of processed ingredients and these, while not the epitome of healthy by any means, have much better ingredients.
Because there are no cream of soups (but we still want that ultra creamy and cheesy sauce famous in au gratin potatoes) you will need one additional pot. But don’t be scared away from this recipe!! Making your own cheesy cream sauce for this au gratin is seriously easy. It takes less than 10 minutes honest!
It’s some easy whisking of ingredients and before you know it you’ve got your own homemade simple cheesy sauce. And it is so delicious!
For this recipe I used a few lower fat products and seriously did not even miss any flavor! After making a simple roux with butter + flour, the recipe calls out to whisk in some milk. I used low fat (1% milk). I wouldn’t recommend skim milk or a non-dairy milk, but for a richer au gratin you could use 2% or whole milk. Don’t do heavy creams as those will likely curdle in your crockpot.
After the milk is whisked in you’ll add some sour cream. I used Horizon organic sour cream which is SO delicious. It’s super rich and creamy!! I used the lowfat version and didn’t miss any flavor. But, again, you could absolutely use full-fat sour cream if you prefer that or for a richer final dish. 🙂
And the secret to keeping these from getting soggy? It’s SO easy! Top your crockpot with a few layers of paper towels! Genius, right?! I learned that trick from a crockpot apple crisp recipe I tried once and it works for these as well.
The paper towels absorb lots of liquid which keeps the potatoes from getting “soggy.” I change out the paper towels halfway through the cooking time because by that time they are completely wet through. After the potatoes are cooked through, leave off the lid for just a bit to help the top get slightly more crisp. These aren’t as crips at the edges and top as oven-baked au gratin potatoes, but pretty close for a crockpot recipe!
P.S. Please don’t hate me for talking about Thanksgiving when we are only halfway through October. It’s the curse of food blogging I suppose…or maybe I’m just crazy. Probably a little of both… But don’t worry, I have a witch treat coming soon. 🙂
- 4 cups (~5 potatoes) very large Yukon Gold or Russet Potatoes peeled and sliced
- Lots of seasoned salt and fresh cracked pepper
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons white flour
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 and 1/2 cups milk I used 1%
- 1/2 cup sour cream I used low-fat
- 1 and 1/2 cups sharp freshly grated cheddar cheese*
- Fresh parsley or chives
VERY generously spray your slow cooker with nonstick spray. I used a 6-quart slow cooker for the recipe. Note that smaller crockpots may not be able to cook through all the potatoes evenly so you will have to halve (or cut in thirds) this recipe.
Wash and peel the potatoes. Cut into medium thick slices (see picture for general width). Measure the potatoes -- you should have about 5 cups total.
Place a layer of potatoes at the bottom of the crockpot. Generously (or to your preference, but don't skimp on the salt or it will be more bland) sprinkle on seasoned salt and pepper. Layer another layer of potatoes and sprinkle on salt and pepper. Repeat this process until all the potatoes are layered in the crockpot.
In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, add in the butter. Melt completely and then vigorously whisk in the flour until a thick dough forms. Whisk constantly for 1 minute. Add in the garlic and onion powder and continue to whisk.
Very slowly add in the milk whisking as you add it. In between milk additions whisk the mixture and allow it to thicken.
Once all the milk is added in and the mixture is completely smooth and thick, add in the sour cream. Whisk to add. Add in the freshly grated cheddar cheese and whisk until completely melted and the mixture is smooth.
Add some more salt and pepper here if desired.
Pour this cheese sauce evenly over the potatoes. Shake the slow cooker to get the creamy cheese sauce evenly throughout the crockpot. Do not stir it in.
Place 3 paper towels on top of the crockpot (this will absorb lots of moisture and keep the potatoes crispier) and then place on the lid.
Place on high (my experimentation with low heats were unsuccessful.) for 3-5 hours depending on the heat of your slow cooker. Slow cookers cook at different temperatures and speeds! Mine took just under 3 hours -- check frequently to avoid burning the edges or over cooking the potatoes so they are mushy.
Halfway through the cooking time, change out the paper towels for fresh ones.
Once the potatoes are tender and cooked through, remove the lid and garnish with fresh parsley or chives and additional seasoned salt and pepper. Allow to cook without the lid for 15-20 minutes to get a bit crisper on top if desired.
This recipe is for classic au gratin potatoes -- feel free to add more toppings or seasonings as you enjoy your au gratin potatoes. Some ideas are to chop up an onion and add that in (I would sauté it in olive oil first), add some red pepper flakes for heat, some cooked and chopped bacon, paprika, more or different flavors of cheeses...
*Avoid the pre-shredded cheeses as it will make this dish greasy. (Most pre-shredded cheeses have a wax coating.)
Highly adapted (particularly method) from AllRecipes.
More delicious crockpot side dishes:
Some more Thanksgiving Ideas: