I am such a potato person.
Maybe it’s my Irish heritage, or maybe it’s because my mom prepared them with many of our meals growing up, or maybe it’s just because they are damn delicious, no matter how they are prepared.
Seriously. I’ll take a potato in any form.
Today’s form are these cheesy pesto scalloped potatoes! Perfect for the holiday season.
So. These potatoes are a labor of love. It took me three tries to get this recipe juuuuust right, and I have to say, I think I finally nailed it. They are the perfect balance of creamy, cheesy, carby, and herby. Which was my ultimate goal when developing this recipe.
A pesto-infused cream sauce, thinly sliced potatoes, and tons of gruyere and parmesan cheese. That’s what we have going on here, and it is nothing short of spectacular.
The cream sauce starts out with a quick homemade pesto. Except it’s not technically a pesto because we don’t need the oil in traditional pesto. Instead, we want all the flavor without the fat.
I pulse fresh basil and parsley in a food processor with some fresh garlic and parmesan cheese until it is finely chopped and pesto-like in consistency. It gets stirred into a white sauce flavored with sautéed onion. Then the cheeses go in.
And I swoon over the stove.
Creamy, cheesy, herby deliciousness. All poured over my favorite starch: potatoes!
This recipe is great because the handling of the potatoes themselves is generally low maintenance. No peeling! Just scrub them well and thinly slice them. Line ’em up in a pan. That’s it.
Once everything has been combined in a baking dish, we top with more shredded cheese (duh) and pop it in the oven to bake until everything is tender, gooey, and golden brown.
The resulting potatoes are creamy, cheesy, and with a distinct herby kick that brightens it up just a tad.
This is an ideal side dish for Thanksgiving because you can make it ahead and then bake it in the oven for a couple hours leading up to serving time. It’s a mostly hands-off thing once you get it assembled.
Plus, it goes well with everything. Turkey. Gravy. Even beef would be heavenly with these (maybe as a Christmas side dish?).
Cheesy, creamy, pesto potatoes make everyone happy.
These Cheesy Pesto Scalloped Potatoes are a carby, cheesy dream! Potatoes bake in an herby gruyere and parmesan cheese sauce until tender and creamy. This is the perfect side dish for the holiday season, or anytime you’re craving a cheesy carb hug.
For the Quick Herb Pesto:
- 1 garlic clove, smashed
- 1/2 cup fresh basil
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley
- 2 oz parmesan cheese, grated
- Salt and pepper (roughly 1/2 teaspoon each)
For the Potatoes:
- 3 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced (no need to peel unless you want to) — see NOTE
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups 2% or whole milk
- 2 oz parmesan cheese, grated
- 8 oz gruyere cheese, grated
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Fresh herbs, chopped, for garnish
For the Quick Pesto:
- In a food processor, combine the garlic, basil, parsley, parmesan cheese, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse to combine and chop everything very fine. The consistency will not be as runny as traditional pesto, but that’s OK. We just need the flavor here.
- Set aside.
For the Gratin:
- Preheat the oven to 375°F and butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
- Arrange the potatoes in the baking dish, stacking them in an accordion style. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan or skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and pinch of salt and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the onion is soft and translucent.
- Add the flour and mix until combined, stirring constantly. Cook for a minute to get rid of the raw flour flavor.
- Slowly and very gradually, stream in the milk, stirring constantly. Cook for a couple minutes or until the milk has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Add half of the grated gruyere and parmesan cheeses, along with the pesto, to the white sauce. Stir until the cheeses are melty and everything is smooth and creamy. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
- Pour the pesto cream sauce over the potatoes in the baking dish. It will be thick – this is OK! Just smooth it out as best you can with a spoon or spatula, gently nudging the sauce down into the cracks and crevices of the potatoes.
- Top with the remaining cheeses and season with more black pepper over top.
- Cover the pan with foil and transfer to the oven. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, or until a sharp knife easily pierces the potatoes without resistance.
- Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and crusty in spots. If a deeper crust is preferred, you can broil it for a minute, watching it closely.
- Garnish with fresh herbs and serve while hot.
- I recommend making the quick herb pesto yourself and avoiding store-bought or even homemade pesto (the traditional kind with nuts and lots of olive oil). Based on my multiple testings of this recipe, traditional pesto makes this overly greasy and takes away from the creaminess of the sauce and potatoes.
- While you can certainly slice your potatoes with a knife, I do recommend using a mandolin tool to thinly slice the potatoes. Not only does it go faster with less effort, but your potatoes will be evenly and very thinly sliced.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 hours (mostly inactive time)
- Category: side dishes
Keywords: cheesy pesto scalloped potatoes, pesto cream potatoes, pesto potatoes au gratin, cheesy pesto potatoes au gratin, holiday potato side dishes, thanksgiving potato dishes