Jarred Alfredo Sauce Makes Potatoes Au Gratin An Easy Side Dish

Potatoes au gratin is the classic side dish you can't go wrong with. From boiled vegetables to roasted meats, this creamy, starchy delight can complement a host of dishes and even hold its own in a full-fledged Thanksgiving spread alongside some deep-fried deviled eggs. The original French potatoes au gratin (potatoes à la dauphinoise) recipe was made with potatoes cooked in milk and garlic. However, given its delicious simplicity, it has since seen innumerable tweaks. Cream, butter, sharp cheeses, bechamel sauce, herbs, and all manner of embellishments have given it richer textures and deeper flavor over the years. As a result, what was once a simple recipe has become somewhat tedious, even if you discount all that thinly sliced potato.

The rich modern potato au gratin flavors have spoilt us too much to even consider going back to the milk-garlic-potato version. So, here's a way that's as easy but doesn't compromise on luxuriousness. Jarred Alfredo sauce has all the creamy goodness that would otherwise require several pots and pans worth of work and can easily substitute the infused cream or bechamel sauce you'd otherwise make from scratch. The sauce's cheesiness also saves you some cheese-grating effort, though we'd recommend topping your potatoes au gratin with freshly grated parmesan for that crispy browned top.

Jarred Alfredo turns this classic side into an easy-to-assemble recipe where the only cookware you'll use is the baking dish (which you can also use for serving). The deliciousness-to-effort ratio of potatoes au gratin has never been higher!

Alfredo sauce is well-seasoned right out of the jar

Insufficient seasoning is one of the major pitfalls of potatoes au gratin, making all the difference between creamy, dreamy potato heaven and bland spud slices. Jarred Alfredo sauce takes out most of the guesswork when it comes to seasoning and requires just one and a quarter cups per pound of potatoes to do it. 

You can always add aromatics and spices (think thyme, rosemary, or nutmeg), but with Alfredo, the base flavor will be there. That said, a few healthy pinches of salt and pepper should also be added to each layer of potatoes while assembling the dish. Keeping the potato slices thin is another way to ensure no bland spots. As for the potatoes themselves, slices thicker than a quarter of an inch risk remaining raw and bland in the middle.

Of course, you can put your feet up for all the time you've saved or think of leveling up your potatoes au gratin. Consider making a batch of rich caramelized onions and adding them to alternate layers between the potatoes for a French onion twist on potatoes. Alternatively, add a few minced cloves of garlic while assembling the dish. The rest of the process remains the same — start by layering a greased baking dish with the sauce, then alternate with layers of sliced potatoes, and finish up with parmesan and Panko breadcrumbs for that crunchy top, which is what the "au gratin" originally referred to.

Alfredo sauce works with both au gratin and scalloped potatoes

Potatoes au gratin and scalloped potatoes are sometimes referred to interchangeably, but in truth, the former is a slightly more decadent dish that contains cheese and has a crispened browned top while the latter uses a bechamel sauce (of which Alfredo is a spinoff) and doesn't emphasize caramelization. The good news is that Alfredo sauce works well for both dishes. The flavors of the sauce are mellow enough for scalloped potatoes, but even without the add-ins of cheese, onion, garlic, or breadcrumbs, can, with sufficient simmering, become rich enough to hold potatoes au gratin together.

Because of the relative simplicity of flavors, scalloped potatoes rely more on base ingredients like butter, a few healthy dollops of which should be added to each layer. Mix some chicken or vegetable stock with the Alfredo sauce for a richer flavor. The proportions here are flexible, but ensure that there is enough sauce in the dish to coat all the potato slices completely. The extra sauce doesn't matter since it thickens in the oven.

For potatoes au gratin, you'll want bolder flavors to maintain the dish's decadence. Think sharp, meltable cheeses like aged cheddar and gruyère or get adventurous with even more pungent cheese varieties. Ultimately, Alfredo sauce is a flavor canvas you can add to if you want or leave it as is and enjoy its creamy simplicity.