Old Fashioned Scalloped Potatoes

Old Fashioned Scalloped Potatoes

On my site already is a recipe for Scalloped Potatoes Like Your Grandma Made. I love those and they are def a go-to at my house, especially after any holiday with ham (when I often sprinkle in both cheese and ham between the layers). But if you look at that post and get down to the comments and discussion,  you’ll see that these Old Fashioned Scalloped Potatoes also hit a nostalgic note, too. I know this recipe actually predates my “Grandma” potatoes, maybe by decades. Deb asked about these the other day, so I hope you’re following! Thanks to you, I was “forced” to eat two big helpings of this last night, lol!

Old Fashioned Scalloped Potatoes

While it’s still piping hot, run a knife around the edges and be sure to rest a few minutes before serving.


The ingredients for both recipes are almost identical, it’s the method that differs. The flavors are classic in both recipes. Potatoes, milk, and butter, flavored with just a little onion and salt and pepper. The “Grandma” recipe relies on a white sauce and is silkier than this recipe. This one is still super creamy tasting but isn’t quite as “saucy.” And both recipes are good home cooking, or what these days we might think of as “plain cooking.” There’s something to be said about letting the flavors of good food shine for what they are.

About Old Fashioned Scalloped Potatoes:

So if you want a good old fashioned scalloped potato, maybe to serve with the classic pairing of ham, some kind of sausage (hot dogs come to mind) or a pork chop, this is THE recipe. The one that’s going to take you home. To Mom, to Grandma, maybe sitting around that old Formica or white wooden table, maybe to the country.

And maybe “home” is 50 years ago like it is for me, or maybe longer for others. It makes no matter; when these creamy potatoes, delicate with just a bit of onion to the flavor and buttery richness throughout hit the table, home is right here, right now.

That being said, these days so many of us are used to so many flavors available to us today, and I know classic down-home cooking doesn’t do it for everyone. I’ll give you a few ideas to jazz these potatoes up…if you wish. Some are classic Midwest Americana cooking (although this has the same Germanic roots as so many Midwesterners, although it’s likely originally French) and some that are a little more “today.” And some of those ideas include cheese!

Old Fashioned Scalloped Potatoes

This dish bubbles up unpredictably sometimes but those edges are the best part!

Scalloped vs. au Gratin:

If you’re curious about the different baked potato dishes out there, scalloped potatoes (or scalloped anything) means the dish is either cooked with milk or cream or the design of the dish shows “scallops” or a kind of shingled look. Think of a lacy dress trim that is scalloped. So in this case, the potatoes are both shingled and cooked in milk or cream. There are all kinds of scalloped dishes, including scallops (which is where some think the names come from), tomatoes, and even meat dishes.

The name Au gratin Potatoes comes from the term of topping a dish and then allowing the topping to brown, Gratin. Usually, au Gratin Potatoes are topped with cheese. Items can be topped with bread crumbs, too and you’ll sometimes see the term used for desserts, often topped with sugar and browned or “grantineed.” The name comes from the dish, which is traditionally a shallow, oval dish that allows maximum browning.

These days, when cheese is so often used with wild abandon, you’ll find Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes, sometimes topped with cheese and au Gratin Potatoes (check out my Ruth Chris’ Copycat Recipe) that use cheese throughout and/or are made with cream and then topped with cheese, and either can sometimes be topped with bread crumbs, too. Or breadcrumbs and cheese. These “hybrid” dishes are really more of a new American tradition some based on classic French dishes, some not. Even the definitions of scalloped and au gratin are changing these days!

Varying Old Fashioned Scalloped Potatoes:

You’ll want to be careful about adding too much to these potatoes and especially go easy with any cheese. The method of cooking, sprinkling each layer with a little flour and butter and then pouring milk over all won’t support a lot of melty cheese without it breaking. I’d advise using just a little melty cheese on top if you wish, or else using a bit of a harder cheese (like a little grated Parmesan) in the layers, maybe 1/4 cup in each layer and 1/4 cup to the top.

As far as flavor, I used to just sprinkle a little salt and pepper on each layer, but you do want to be a bit generous. Over the years I’ve increased the amount to a teaspoon from a half, but honestly, even a little more won’t hurt it your diet and tastes agree. Be careful with the amount of butter, too. It might seem that more is better, but it can break, too, separating and oozing. It’s pretty normal for this dish to look a little clumpy, but even so, it should still be creamy throughout.

Great additions for flavor include a little garlic powder, maybe a 1/2 to a teaspoon total, some people like the faintest whisper of grated nutmeg (be especially careful if using freshly grated) maybe just a pinch or two. A touch of cayenne is nice, again just a little, maybe a quarter teaspoon – the idea is to enhance the flavor without necessarily knowing it is there. A lot of people will take this to the German side and add a little dried mustard and or celery or caraway seed. I can’t really get behind it, myself. I find it too far away from my love of these potatoes as is. Using a seasoning salt is pretty common.

Old Fashioned Scalloped Potatoes

Even when there’s lots of room, you might get boil over! Put something under your dish.

Make it a Meal:

As far as meat options, this is a dish classically paired with some kind of pork. You can add in ham, cooked sausages (great way to use up any leftover bratwurst, Italian sausages, and so on), or sliced hot dogs in the layers. Nothing too bulky and if slicing, slice thinly.

A classic dish is to add pork chops to the top and bake the whole dish together. Back in the day, no one really browned the chops before cooking, but I do, while the potatoes are in the oven for the first 20 minutes. Use thinner pork chops, like the kind that often comes in family packs, bone-in is better and nothing too lean. Just salt and pepper them, brown them quickly w/o actually cooking them, and add them to the top when the potatoes are uncovered. Turn the chops halfway through the remaining hour.

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Making Old Fashioned Scalloped Potatoes:

These are fast and easy to assemble and pop in the oven. Use a food processor if you can or maybe a mandolin because the only difficult part is slicing the potatoes!

You’ll want about two to two and a half pounds of potatoes. That’s going to be about six to seven medium potatoes. If you can’t weigh, it’s probably easiest to guestimate by looking at the amount of potatoes in a package and removing an appropriate amount.

I used two pounds here in the photos; they’re pretty rich and creamy, but I have used up to  2 1/2 pounds. Using a few more gives the dish a more solid appearance and they aren’t quite as saucy. Using more doesn’t allow the milk to boil and bubble as much around the edges, and that is a fave part of the potatoes for some people. It’s your choice. Good either way with fewer or with more.

I do love the onion in these potatoes and some recipes dice it. I was taught to use half-moons, and the advantage is that the onions stay solid long enough for the milk to seep in the spaces they provide, and that helps the milk meld with the flour. It’s a great idea after the milk is gently poured over the casserole to use a knife to nudge the layers ever so slightly to help that milk along, too. Of course, over the long cooking time, everything, including the onions melds and mingles together but the slices are still visible. If you have an onion hater, you might want to dice the onions finely so they pretty much disappear.

The key to getting this recipe right is to use hot milk and a high temperature at first to kick start the process. That’s going to make sure there is no residual “flour” taste. I like to cover for the first 20 minutes (I think it helps give the potatoes a head start) and then I uncover and place that foil on the shelf below the pan. If it’s not too messed up, I just use the same foil to cover any leftovers.  Not every recipe I’ve seen uses foil to cover, but be aware that even with room at the top, this casserole often spills over in the oven. You’ll want something under it.

Make sure to know your oven…baking these potatoes at too high of a temperature can cause a curdled appearance. If your oven runs hot, adjust the temperature. This is not an uncommon issue, but to save, you might pour in a little more milk, nudge it around and bake for another 10 minutes or so. If you have cream, that would be even better. Using a richer dairy, maybe subbing in half and half or a little cream for part of the milk helps to keep curdling from happening, and the starch in the potatoes helps, too, so don’t sub in a waxy potato for the russets. If you read the notes below, a reader recently gave a hint to use cake flour rather than all-purpose to keep “clumping” to a minimum.

Saving Money on Old Fashioned Scalloped Potatoes:

Buy your potatoes in larger bags, pick out the smaller, misshaped potatoes for mashing or for recipes like this where size doesn’t really matter and save the more regular-sized ones for baked. Store in a loosely closed paper bag away from onions.

Onions keep well, so try to buy on sale. Aldi is a good place to find reasonably priced onions. If you’ve bought too many onions to use, don’t let them go bad. Slice or dice them, saute, and portion into Ziplocs labeled “onions” and freeze. You’ve just saved yourself a step for next time you make a dish. Store the other half of your onion in the door where you’ll see it when you’re cooking next.

Milk is about three bucks a gallon in my area on sale, the cost for this recipe runs about 60 cents. Watch for sales – unopened it keeps a week to 10 days past it’s “sell by” date – then you can pick up one for the beginning of the week, and another at the end of the week for the week following. Be careful with your milk, and even opened it will last a lot longer – pour, lid and put away on the bottom shelf, not the door, don’t bring it to the table or leave it on the counter while you eat dinner or down your cereal and you’ll notice it stay fresh last MUCH longer.

Butter can seem like a bit of a splurge, cost, and calorie-wise – but for taste and health, I’d rather use real butter than trans fat laden margarine or oils. Yes – they do have trans fat, even if the label says they don’t. Buy on deep specials, often around the holidays with store coupons or pick up at Aldi or your buyer’s club and freeze; it will stay fresh for months.

Old Fashioned Scalloped Potatoes

Old Fashioned Scalloped Potatoes


Old Fashioned Scalloped Potatoes

  • Author: mollie kirby
  • Total Time: 1 1/2 hours
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Side
  • Cuisine: German



2 to 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced into circles
1/2 small onion, sliced in half, then into thin half-moons
3 tablespoons flour, divided
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (optional), divided
3 tablespoons butter (about 1/2 tablespoon for pan), the remainder divided
3 cups milk, preferably whole, heated


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Generously butter a 2-quart casserole (use about 1/2 a tablespoon of butter.)

Add about 1/3 of the potatoes to the bottom of the dish, sprinkle with 1/2 the onion, a tablespoon of flour, then with a little of the salt and pepper. Dot the layer with small bits of butter totalling about a tablespoon. Repeat the layer. For the top layer, shingle in the potatoes, sprinkle with flour, salt, and pepper and dot with butter.

Gently pour milk over the top layer in a light stream; aim to pour some milk over each potato slice on the top layer without washing off the flour mixture. If needed, take a thin knife and nudge the potatoes around so the milk can flow through.

Cover with foil and place in preheated oven. Set timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes,  working quickly so as not to lose heat, remove foil (foil may be placed on the rack under the potatoes to catch any drips if desired), turn oven down to 350 degrees F. Continue to cook for another 50 to 60 minutes until potatoes are tender throughout when poked with the tip of a knife and top is browned to your liking.

After removing from oven, run a knife around the edge of the potatoes to loosen them from the pan; it will prevent the browned crusty bits from staying behind as you serve. This is best if allowed to cool for several minutes before serving to allow to set up.


  • Measure the butter out first, butter the pan, then divide the remaining into approximate thirds so you’ll know how much goes on each layer.
  • It is easiest to get even coverage on the flour, salt, and pepper by mixing them together in a small bowl and then sprinkling each layer. You’ll need a little more than a tablespoon per layer if you mix.

Keywords: German, milk, Pork, pork chops, Potatoes, Scalloped Potatoes

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This is really Old Fashioned Scalloped Potatoes, creamy, delish, economical. You might recognize it from the method of sprinkling each layer with flour and dotting with butter. Grandma would approve!

51 thoughts on “Old Fashioned Scalloped Potatoes

  1. Elaine Tsialafos

    Hi. This is exactly how my Mom made them. I do make them this way but when the mood hits me I make a light cream sauce with cheese. Yours takes me back to my younger days at home. I’m going to be 80 in September so you know how old this recipe really is. Take care.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Elaine, it was fun to hear your Mom made these! I have suspected these might have had roots in the Great Depression. Just because it is conservative in it’s ingredients! My kids like my recipe that uses the cream and of course they love the cheese, too.

      Happy early birthday!


  2. Sandy

    This recipe is now in my rotation, I layer ham with it….delish! Do you think I could make ahead and then cook next day? We’re going camping…

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Sandy I have noticed sometimes when potato dishes are made ahead of time, the potato turns kind of a grayish color. I think what I would do if it were me Is make it ahead just until the potatoes are tender, cool it, and wrap it well and then just reheat it when you get to your destination. You didn’t say what kind of camping You do but you might be able to dutch oven cook it or turn it into hobo packs. Just a couple of thoughts. Have fun! Mollie

  3. Wendy L

    This is just how my mom made her scalloped potatoes. She used a sifter and said she put flour over each layer until it made mild “snowdrifts”. LOL. I loved that woman! I cannot get my potatoes to turn out as good as hers and have resorted to doing a bechamel sauce that I pour over instead. Oh the nostalgia.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Wendy, I love the sifter idea!! I have heard people use Wondra flour in this recipe; it is supposed to help prevent the flour from clumping. I’m pretty sure that’s why your Mom sifted, too.

      I made these for my Mom once, but she preferred the bechemell recipe that’s on my site, She didn’t say a word but I could tell! I love ANY scalloped potato, myself, lol!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting and telling your story!!


    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Nadine! Thanks for stopping by and sharing! I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe.

      I can see in my mind how the cream corn would be delish but I’m something of a separatist!! I didn’t even realize I was one of those that prefers to eat most food in separate little piles on my plate and I don’t like mixing, until I was in my 50’s….isn’t that funny? So nope, for me the creamed corn would have to be in a bowl, haha!! I feel that others will chime in and join you sooner or later here!! 🙂 Who knows, I may be outnumbered yet!! Take care and hope to “see” you here again! Mollie

  4. jada A bishop

    I was just curious if I could find a recipe similar to my grandmother’s recipe and this is just about spot on except we add hotdogs to ours! What a yummy dish that’s been in my family for such a long time! I hope others use this and enjoy!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      I knew a lot of people that hve used hot dogs in this recipe! It’s a great way to use up those odd ones if your family isn’t the exact size of the packages lol.

      Since I grew up in Iowa where we had a lot of German folk I know some people that have used sausages sliced and sauteed 1st, But then what is a hot dog but a sausage after all?

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Jada!


  5. Mary A

    Thanks for posting this. This is an incredible recipe and so hard to find. I honestly like this recipe a lot better than the ones that have the cream sauces.

  6. Lynn Daws

    Thank you for this recipe, I have looked all over for this. The only difference is my Mama didn’t use onions because I HATE them, lol…My Mama passed away in 2006 at the age of 59 and I am now 57 and can’t wait to make this…I never got a chance to get this recipe from her so thank you!!!

  7. Stacy Peterson

    I am tickled pink to have found this vintage scalloped potato recipe! We planted potatoes in our garden this year and I thought of this recipe with wisps of sauce with its network of delicately crunchy strings of sauce on top you don’t see in any other recipe I know of. I googled everything I could think and finally found a recipe on here – but no that wasn’t it either. It called for making a bechamel. But I read the comments and I could have written one of them. The woman was describing exactly what I was looking for, one my grannies made with flour, salt, and pepper sprinkled and butter dotted between the layers of potato and onion! And lo and behold, you pulled it out of your memory and posted it! It’s in the oven as I write, and I have high hopes for the final product. I’ll let you know how it turns out.THANKS for posting this recipe.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Stacy, thanks for stopping by and your lovely comment! I hope it met all your expectations! I love to get adventurous in my cooking but I always go back from time to time to my old faves because sometimes “granny” recipes are the BEST!


  8. This is the recipe I’ve been searching for, for absolutely ages. Just like my Mom and my 2 gramma’s used to make them. Most people add cheese to their scalloped potatoes – – yuk. In my opinion, when you add cheese to them they then become Au Gratin ‘tater’s, right?!! I’m in the process of making potato and navy bean with ham soup, so I saved out some of the already peeled potatoes and am going to make a small batch of scalloped potatoes for myself ! I loved them as a kid, with ham or bacon on the side and some kind of veggie (in my house, usually homemade sauerkraut). DELICIOUS!!!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Sounds like you’re into some good down-home cooking – the BEST imho!! I’m glad you were able to find this, and thanks for taking the time to comment!


    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Meemee. I know just how you feel. I am so touched by so many of the stories related here! There are some people my family that think my blog is silly. They’re like a recipe is just a recipe. To me food isn’t just food or a recipe just a recipe. Especially with recipes like this, there’s some history and often tradition. It is a chance to connect with people and sometimes like this recipe, a chance to bridge the past to the present and sometimes on into the future.

      Some of our strongest memories are associated with taste and smell. I always feel honored when someone shares a family recipe with me and I feel like I’m able to honor past generations of women when I share a recipe like this one here.

      Take care, and thanks for commenting,


  9. Barbara Buehner

    I have been searching for a recipe that was like my mom’s scalloped potatoes….I never could get them to turn out like hers. I am 71 so you know how long I have searched. LOL Your recipe was it. I was making dinner for my family and my brothers since he had surgery yesterday. I told him I was making scalloped potatoes like mom’s and if they turned out as good as mom’s then he would get that bowl and my family would eat the boxed mixed potatoes. My family is having to eat the boxed mix scalloped potatoes! My brother says: These are awesome! Thanks so much.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Barbara – Thanks for stopping by to share your story! I’m glad these met your expectations, sorry you had to “eat your words” and hoping for a speedy recovery for your brother
      (and for many more batches of these potatoes in your future!)


    • MEEMEE

      Barb your story has me crying honestly I had my favorite cousin make these for me one day years ago and wasn’t ever able to ask why she used flour opposed to cream of mushroom like my mother used… Lol I didnt say anything because i thought she was low on cash 😆 Also those flour potatoes had me sold… Yummy They are in the oven as we speak…

    • Marcia J. Kipp

      Cooking tomorrow for a community gathering! Had to have one “like mom’s! You dit it! So many ‘happy taste-bud’, thanks!!!….

      • FrugalHausfrau

        Oh my gosh that sounds like fun! I’m glad you like the recipe and thank you for taking the time to stop back in comment! 🙂 I hope it’s a hit for you. Mollie

  10. Whacky Jack's Cajun Cafe at Sunset Beach

    This recipe is so close to how my Grandma (Bama) used to make for me. She said to use a good russet and she scalded her milk. I made these last night with some creamer taters I had and it took me back 30 years. Great recipe! Thank you! Jack, age 62

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Nancy here I am, replying way late! I’m so sorry I missed your comment until today. Hope you enjoyed them and it’s a nostalgic recipe for me, too!


  11. Thanks for this recipe. Very close to my grandma’s. She layered in bits of mild cheddar cheese, which didn’t melt or dissolve into the sauce. Made for nice contrast with some bites cheesy and others not.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Interesting, I usually find it melts in mine, but she might have used a thicker layer. You can’t beat cheese~~


  12. BRIAN

    This is just like the the recipe in my head that I use. However, I noticed that it says to sprinkle the first layer with salt and pepper, but does not mention flour until the very last layer. I assume the flour gets divided and spread on each layer layer????

    • FrugalHausfrau

      My goodness, thanks so much for the catch and the comment. Several friends look over my recipes and still every now and then something gets by us. I’ll make the correction asap! I’m sure you just saved someone’s dinner! Mollie

  13. That looks sooooo good. When I was little I would ask for “cheesy potatoes” (au gratin) or “milky potatoes) (scalloped). LOL

    For some reason no matter what potato recipe I try to make that has sliced potatoes, baked in the oven, my potatoes REFUSE to cook. I end up cranking the heat, cooking for hours before they finally get done. I’m sure it’s me or my oven, not the recipe itself.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Oh gosh, my Stepmom had a slow oven and when I was there we had so many problems. One year I made a scalloped dish for Thanksgiving and it wasn’t done when we had to leave! So embarrasing!!

      Sometimes it’s the temperature, get a cheapo thermometer from the dollar store or that big one that starts with a W. Then you have an idea how accurate the oven is. You might have to check more than one area…sometimes the circulation is the issue.

      But I have a save for you….try my Ruth Chris potatoes. Link is above in the post. They are partially cooked in cream and then put in the casserole and only take 20 minutes or so in the oven!!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      I’m holding my own! So far no one in family, friends or neighbors has gotten covid! Most are being careful. Hope all is well with you Sophie!!

      • Hi Mollie, So happy to hear that you and your family are doing well. These are trying times…who knew that we would all be going through something like this in our lifetime. We are doing ok…Take care and stay safe

  14. Shelia

    Finally! A scalloped potato recipe that doesn’t have a ton of cheese because that’s not scalloped but au gratin!! Spouse will love because I always had to add the onions if we tried a new recipe.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      You’re lucky there, my husband HATED onions. It was so difficult! I’m a firm believer cheese shouldn’t be in everything…but when it is, it should be a lot, lol!! I guess that makes me all or nothing! Have a great day, hope you enjoy!


  15. Ron

    Scalloped potatoes are very popular dish here in Sweden. We often pair scalloped potatoes with pork, beef, or lamb. Your old fashion scalloped potatoes recipe is very similar to ours and sounds mighty tasty. Here, we don’t add butter, we use two parts whole milk to three parts heavy cream. Then a light sprinkle of parmesan or chèvre cheese only on the top. Other than that, our recipes are the same.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Ron, I am all for the heavy cream!! I suspect this more pared-down version might have been popular through the depression.

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