Rich and creamy, potatoes au gratin is a must-have side dish for special occasions. This scaled-down version is still ridiculously indulgent but makes just two servings so you don’t have to worry about a ton of leftovers.
So we were more than game when a reader requested a toaster oven version of potatoes au gratin.
Rather than mess with a good thing, we kept all the yummy traditional ingredients but created a smaller two-serving recipe. It’s simple, delicious, and perfectly sized for baking in the toaster oven.
Of course, you can use a regular big oven if you want. But why wait for the old thing to heat up when you can use your toaster oven instead?
- Potatoes: Starchy russet potatoes work great in this recipe plus they’re very budget-friendly.
- Shredded Cheese: We like to use sharp white cheddar, it’s affordable and delicious. Yellow cheddar cheese or Gruyere are also tasty options.
- Heavy Cream: Creates a rich and indulgent sauce. If you want to lighten things up use half and half or whole milk or some combination of the three.
- Shallot: Infuses the cream with a delicate onion flavor. A tablespoon of finely diced yellow or red onion can be substituted.
- Flour: Helps the sauce thicken while it bakes.
- Seasonings: Thyme, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
- Butter: A tiny pat for greasing the baking dish.
Why no garlic? In such a small recipe, we found even a little minced garlic was overpowering. If you like garlic but don’t want it to be the only thing you taste, Julia Child suggests rubbing the baking dish with half a clove of garlic before buttering it.
Baking Dish Options
A pair of 12-ounce ramekins (like the ones used for this vegetable pot pie for two recipe) or gratin dishes will also work.
If you’ve got a small casserole dish with a lid that’s even better. Since the pan will be covered during 2/3 of the cooking.
How To Make Au Gratin Potatoes For Two
1. Set the cooking rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 350°F. Rub the bottom and sides of a baking dish with the butter.
2. In a pourable cup, whisk together ⅓ cup heavy cream (or more if you prefer a saucier dish), ½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, ¼ teaspoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon black pepper, ⅛ teaspoon flour, and a pinch of ground nutmeg.
3. Cut the potatoes into thin ⅛-inch thick slices. Then thinly slice the shallot.
4. Arrange half of the potato slices slightly overlapping in the buttered dish. Top with half of the shallot slices. Whisk the cream again and pour half of it over everything.
Repeat with the remaining potato slices, shallot, and cream. Gently press down on the top layer of potatoes to submerge them in the cream then evenly sprinkle the cheese over the entire dish.
5. Bake covered until the potatoes are tender (test with a knife or fork), about 35 to 40 minutes. Once you’ve tested the potatoes with a fork or knife and made sure they are tender, bake uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes more until the top is bubbly and golden.
6. Lastly, let the dish rest for at least 10 minutes before topping it with more fresh thyme and devouring.
Toaster Oven Cooking Tips
The middle rack works best. For us, it resulted in the most evenly cooked potatoes. If your toaster oven only has two positions then go with the lower one and check on the dish a few minutes earlier.
Lower and slower is the most consistent. The suggested temperature for cooking au gratin potatoes varies from 350°F to 400°F.
- 400°F was way too hot.
- 375°F was okay and pretty fast (about 40 minutes total) but a few times our potatoes got overcooked and mushy after just 25 minutes.
- 350°F was our sweet spot, it takes a little longer but we’ve never had mushy potatoes at that temperature.
Cover your pan until the potatoes are tender. The first recipe we tried instructed us to cook the potatoes uncovered the whole time. What a mess that made on the ceiling of our toaster oven! Covering the pan keeps things cleaner while creating a steamy cream hot tub for your potatoes to bake in.
Use an extra pan to keep things clean. Try and leave at least 1 inch of space between the potatoes/cream and the top of the pan to help prevent the sauce from bubbling over. If you are worried about spills, bake the dish on a toaster oven sheet pan.
Frequently Asked Questions
Don’t you need to heat the cream?
Heating the cream supposedly infuses more flavor into the sauce. But we’ve tried versions where you heat the cream and where you don’t. Both tasted great so it doesn’t seem worth the extra effort.
Help, my potato slices turned brown!
Always make sure to prep the potatoes last. Whether you use a mandoline or thinly slice the potatoes with a knife they’ll start browning after a few minutes (like apple slices do).
Should there be cheese between the layers?
We tested a bunch of different recipes and found the ones made with real cream and less cheese tasted best, so our little recipe only has the cheese on top. But if you want to add extra between the layers, definitely go for it!
More Tasty Potato Recipes
- Addictive Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds
- The Ultimate Guide to Toaster Oven Baked Potatoes
- Toaster Oven Potato Skins
- Air Fryer Baked Potatoes
- Quick Baked Sweet Potatoes
- Loaded Fries For Two
- 1/2 teaspoon Butter, softened
- 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup Cream, (substitute half and half, whole milk or some combination of the three)
- 1/2 teaspoon Fresh Thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon Fine Sea Salt
- 1/8 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon Flour
- Pinch ground Nutmeg
- 1 Shallot, peeled with the root end trimmed
- 2 small Russet Potatoes, (about 8 to 9 ounces total), peeled if desired
- 1/3 cup shredded Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
- Adjust the oven's cooking rack to the middle position and preheat to 350°F. If using a toaster oven, select the "Bake" setting.
- Rub the bottom and sides of a shallow 7x5-inch baking dish with the butter.
- Whisk together the cream, thyme, salt, pepper, flour, and nutmeg.
- Using a sharp knife or mandoline, cut the potatoes into thin slices (about 1/8-inch thick). Then thinly slice the shallot.
- Arrange half of the potato slices slightly overlapping in your prepared dish, then layer half of the shallot on top of the potatoes. Whisk the cream again and pour half of it over everything. Repeat with remaining potato, shallot, and cream. Press down on the top layer of potatoes to submerge them in the cream. Top with cheese.
- Bake covered for 35 to 40 minutes until the potatoes are tender (test with a knife or fork), then carefully remove the cover and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more until the top is bubbly and golden.
- Let the dish rest for at least 10 minutes before serving it warm topped with more fresh thyme.
Cream Measurement: We made the recipe pictured using 1/3 cup or 80ml of heavy cream. Depending on the size of the potatoes or baking dish used you may need a little additional cream to cover the potatoes during baking.
To catch any drips or spills, place the baking dish on a small sheet pan before adding it to the oven.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: Half of Dish
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 249Total Fat: 14.8gSaturated Fat: 9.3gCholesterol: 50mgSodium: 372mgCarbohydrates: 225gFiber: 1.6gSugar: 0.9gProtein: 7.7g