Why you’ll love it
With tender potatoes bathed in a cheese and cream sauce, this hasselback potato gratin makes a luxurious side dish. Flavoured with thyme and bacon as well, everyone will love this delicious potato dish.
Not only does this dish look striking as hasselback potatoes always manage to, it also looks, and is, super comforting. The potatoes are actually roasted first to get tender and a little crispy on top. After that first bake, the cream, cheese, bacon and thyme are added. The result is a creamy potato dish where the cream stays somewhat sauce-like rather than splitting as it would over a longer bake.
The potatoes are beautifully tender and there is no need to peel them. Win! And at the end you’ve got a little thick sauce to dribble over them. The hasselback design looks so impressive but it’s surprisingly easy to do. Also, the little pockets of cheesy-bacony-creamy goodness that caramelise in the corners are the best part!
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It always amazes me how such a few simple, everyday ingredients can turn into a seriously flavoursome dish like this hasselback potato gratin.
Jump to the recipe for full ingredients and instructions.
- Potatoes: You’re looking for an all rounder or a starchy potato in this potato and bacon gratin. They soften up nicely but will still hold their shape when done like this. Look for King Edwards, Maris Piper, Russet potatoes, Coliban, Desiree, Red Delight, Royal Blue, Sebago and Yukon Gold potatoes.
- Bacon: Grab some rasher bacon and chop it finely.
- Cream: You’re looking for heavy cream, thickened cream or double cream. Only full fat – don’t use light versions.
- Thyme: Fresh thyme adds such a lovely flavour and goes wonderfully with potatoes and bacon.
- Fresh garlic: The garlic cloves are just used to infuse into the cream for a light garlic flavour.
- Cheese: I just use a good cheddar cheese here. Gruyère is wonderful in bakes like this as it has a wonderful texture and flavour once melted and if you want something stronger, feel free to swap for Parmesan cheese (parmigiano reggiano).
How to make hasselback potato gratin
Jump to the recipe for full ingredients and instructions.
- Slice the potatoes: The first step is to slice the potatoes into the classic hasselback shape. Use a sharp knife and here’s my tip for not accidentally cutting all the way through – use metal skewers. I say metal because the knife might cut into wooden skewers and become annoying. Just place a skewer either side of the potato and slice 2mm or thinner slices into the potato – the skewers will stop you going too far.
- Season and bake: Arrange the sliced potatoes in a casserole dish where they fit quite snuggly if possible and bake for 1 hour until tender and pale golden brown.
- Cook the bacon: When the potatoes have been in about 40 minutes, cook the bacon in a pan until golden brown. Set that aside and use a paper towel to soak up any excess fat but don’t wash the pan out.
- Steep the cream mixture: Add the cream to the bacon pan with the thyme and garlic, then use it and a spatula to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Let it just start to bubble then take it off the heat and let the flavours infuse for 5 minutes.
- Add the flavours to the potatoes: Sprinkle the bacon, fresh thyme leaves and cheese over the baked potatoes, then spoon the cream over, letting it drizzle down into each potato.
- Bake again: Bake for a further 20 minutes.
Why did my cream split?
Cream has a tendency to split in dishes like dauphinois and gratin and while it still tastes amazing, it doesn’t look great. This is just a process whereby the cream heated over a period of time will separate into the fat and the curd-like proteins. In a layered potato dish like a dauphinois, it is less of a problem possibly to do with the starches in the potatoes helping to stabilise it but in a dish where we want the cream to be like a sauce, that is a problem.
I did lots of testing on this hasselback potato gratin, using various types of cream with different percentages of fat and, while many creams contain stabilisers or thickeners, I even tracked down one without them to test. I also tested different oven temperatures and length of cooking time.
At least with the creams available to me, they all split every time, except when the cream was added in the last 20 minutes. Any longer and it will split. Happily, I noticed that the flavour of the potatoes did not change whether the cream was added at the start or in the last 20 minutes and the sauce still thickened up beautifully when added at the end.
All that to say, I’ve created this recipe in such a way that you’ll have a thick creamy sauce for your potatoes but if it does split, don’t worry, it’s still totally edible. Just keep an eye on it when getting close to the end.
Tips and tricks
- Type of potatoes: Use a starchy potato or an all-rounder. Steer clear of waxy potatoes.
- Slicing the potatoes: I find a metal skewer is good because a sharp knife can get stuck in wooden skewers.
- Slice at the slightest angle: So that you don’t cut through the bottom of the last slice you cut, angle the blade ever so slightly away from the last cut. So if you’re cutting right to left like I do, angle the blade just a tiny bit to the left and vice versa. If you do happen to cut through the last slice and it pops out, just stick it back in – no one will ever know.
Leftover hasselback gratin should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Reheat in the microwave or in the oven.
Hasselback is a technique whereby potatoes are sliced very thinly leaving just the base intact. The edges of all the slices get nice and crispy when roasted but the inside of the potato stays tender and moist.
Hasselback potatoes were first created in a restaurant called Hasselbacken in Stockholm, Sweden back in the 1940’s.
Technically the sauce for scalloped potatoes is made with milk thickened with a roux and they don’t always contain cheese, whereas potatoes au gratin are made using cream and always have cheese. These days though, techniques are mingled.
The cream curdling in potatoes au gratin is common and while it may not look very pretty, it’s still completely edible. Under high temperatures or lengthy cooking times, the fat in cream will separate from the proteins giving the look of almost curds in melted butter. Steer clear of low fat creams which will split much quicker than a full fat cream. Using a higher fat content cream can also be helpful and some suggest adding a little cornflour/US cornstarch to the cream before cooking to help hold it together.
Did you try this hasselback potato gratin recipe?
Leaving a rating and comment below the recipe is so helpful!
- 12 small potatoes, 110-140g each / 4-5oz (or 6 medium cut in half), unpeeled (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼-½ teaspoon finely cracked black pepper, to taste
- 85 g bacon (finely diced) (3oz/3 rashers)
- 1 ½ cups thickened cream (heavy cream)
- 8-10 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 large cloves garlic, peeled
- ¾ cup packed grated cheddar cheese (85g/3oz)
For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided
- Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan forced) / 350F.
- Give the potatoes and wash and dry first.
- Choose the flattest side of one of the potatoes and trim off a thin slice so that it’s perfectly flat. Place the potato flat side down on a chopping board and place a metal skewer either side of the longest sides. Using a sharp knife, cut the potato into 2mm slices allowing the skewers to stop you from cutting all the way through (notes). Repeat with remaining potaotes.
- Place the potatoes into a large baking dish but one where they sit quite snuggly together. Drizzle over the oil, salt and pepper. Very gently roll and toss them around to coat evenly, being careful not to break them.
- Turn them all so they’re hasselback side up and evenly spaced out.
- Bake on the middle oven rack 50-60 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
- When there is about 20 minutes to go, in a medium saucepan, cook the bacon bits over medium heat until just starting to turn golden brown. Set aside.
- Use paper towel to soak up any large pools of grease in the bacon pan but don’t rinse or wash it. That flavour will add to the cream sauce.
- Add the garlic cloves, cream and three thyme sprigs to the bacon pan.
- Heat over low-medium heat, scraping the bottom of the pan to get all that bacon flavour, until you see bubbles start to break the surface. Don’t boil. Take it off the heat immediately and set aside to allow the flavours to steep for about 5 minutes. Pick out and discard the garlic and thyme stalks (a few leaves left behind is fine).
- Remove the stalks from the remaining sprigs of thyme until you have about 1 teaspoon of thyme leaves. Discard the stalks.
- Once the potatoes are tender, scatter over the bacon bits, cheese and thyme leaves. Spoon the cream over the top allowing it to seep down into the potatoes.
- Bake for a further 20 minutes.
- Please take a moment to leave a comment & rating. It's appreciated and so helpful.
- Tablespoons: I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equal to 4 teaspoons). Check yours before measuring.
- Best potatoes are Royal Blue, Sebago, Russet, King Edward or Maris Piper.
- Potato size: Aim for around 110-140g / 4-5oz per potato. Try to get them all around the same size so they all cook in the same time. Since some of the bottom is trimmed to give a flat base, you can adjust their sizes this way too. If you use larger potatoes, you’ll need to bake them longer in the first part of baking but still keep the final portion with the cream to 20 minutes.
- Slicing the potatoes: Be careful when you slice them. If you find you’re cutting on an angle and a slice or two cuts through and comes out with the blade, simply slot it back into place.
- Nutrition details are approximate only – scroll below the recipe to find the full nutritional information.
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