Thinly sliced scalloped potatoes with bacon and caramelized onions is a rich and flavorful side dish you’ll want to serve with your next meal.
A few weeks ago, The Husband, out of the blue, requested scalloped potatoes. Like me, he probably grew up eating the freeze-dried potatoes from a box and that’s what he was actually craving. Oh, no sir, we’re not serving potatoes from a box in this house.
Scalloped Potatoes and Potatoes Au Gratin, What’s the Difference?
While most people use the terms interchangeably, there is actually a difference between the two dishes. Au gratin is French for “with cheese.” Scalloped potatoes contain some sort of dairy other than cheese, like milk or cream. Don’t get hung up on the legalese of the matter. Call them whatever you like, either way they are delicious!
Slice the potatoes and onions
Scalloped potatoes are always very thinly sliced. While you could do this the old-fashioned, by hand with a sharp knife, a mandolin slicer is a real time-saver here. I chose three pounds of Yukon gold potatoes over standard Russets because of their waxy texture, which allows them to hold up better during cooking.
I cut my potatoes 1/8-inch thick. Cutting them much thicker than that may increase your cooking time. Before I put my mandolin away, I went ahead and sliced up one yellow onion. Again, you want those onion slices as thin as possible.
The potatoes can be sliced up to 24 hours in advance. However, they will start to oxidize and take on a grey hue once the surface is exposed to air. It won’t hurt you to eat them, but it doesn’t look very appetizing. To prevent this, cover the sliced potatoes with cold water and store in the fridge until you’re ready to use them. The caramelized onions can be prepared up to five days in advance and also stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Bacon can be cooked two days in advance.
Cook the bacon and fry the onions
Roughly chop six slices of bacon. We want bigger chunks of bacon dotted through the dish, so refrain from mincing the bacon up into tiny little pieces. Add the chopped bacon to a hot skillet and fry until it’s crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain, but don’t dispose of that bacon grease just yet.
Turn the burner temperature to medium heat. Add the onions to the bacon drippings along with ¼ teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring frequently until onions start to become soft and caramelized. This will take about 15 minutes. Transfer the onions to a large bowl, then return the saucepan to the hot burner.
Pour two cups beef broth into the saucepan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up any bits of bacon or onion that have formed on the bottom of the pan. Add one teaspoon of dried thyme and ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper, one teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon ground black pepper. Bring the broth to a simmer.
Assemble the Scalloped Potatoes with Bacon
Combine the bacon, potatoes and onion in a large mixing bowl. Stir them together to combine. I arranged my potatoes like dominoes in a greased 2.5-quart casserole dish. It makes an impressive presentation, but you can also spread the potatoes in an even layer in a greased 9 x 12 x 2-inch baking dish.
Carefully pour the hot broth over the top of the potatoes. Cube four tablespoons of butter and arrange them over the top of the dish. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Bake uncovered for 45-55 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender and the edges are golden brown.
Spread one cup of shredded Pepper Jack cheese over the top of the scalloped potatoes. Return the potatoes to the oven and bake them until the cheese is melted, about five minutes. Remove the potatoes from oven and allow them to sit for 15 minutes before serving.
Storage, Reheating and Freezing
Storage: Allow any leftover potatoes to cool completely. If you casserole dish comes with a lid, you can store them in that. If not, transfer the potatoes to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator and consume within four days.
Reheating: Scalloped potatoes with bacon can be reheated in the microwave for a few minutes. Likewise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and reheat, covered for 10 – 15 minutes until heated through.
Freezing: Once the potatoes have been fully baked, I do not recommend freezing. This will change the texture of the potatoes and they can become grainy and mushy. However, it is possible to freeze a partially baked casserole to save time later. Bake the scalloped potatoes for 30 minutes. Cool completely, then wrap well with aluminum foil. Freeze for up to two weeks. Thaw the potatoes in the refrigerator, bake for the remaining 20-25 minutes, top with cheese and bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted.
Scalloped Potatoes with Bacon and Caramelized Onions
- 6 slices thick-cut bacon coarsely chopped
- 1 yellow onion thinly sliced
- 1 ¼ teaspoons salt divided
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes sliced to about 1/8-inch thick
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into cubes
- 4 ounces (about 1 cup) shredded Pepper Jack cheese
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9-inch casserole dish.
- Cook bacon in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until crisp, about 10-13 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove the bacon from the pan and onto paper towel. Reserve the bacon drippings in the skillet.
- Turn the temperature up to medium heat. Add the onions to the bacon drippings along with ¼ teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring frequently until onions start to become soft and caramelized, about 15 minutes. Transfer onions to a large bowl. Return the saucepan to the hot burner.
- Pour the broth into the saucepan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up any bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan. Add thyme, remaining salt and pepper to the broth. Bring broth to a simmer.
- Add the bacon and potatoes to the mixing bowl with the onions. Stir until mixture is well-combined.
- Spread the potatoes into the casserole dish.
- Carefully pour the hot broth over top.
- Dot the surface of the casserole with butter.
- Bake uncovered for 45-55 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender and the edges are golden brown.
- Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the casserole. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted, about five minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow potatoes to sit for 15 minutes before serving.