Gratin or Au Gratin Potatoes With Ham… No Cheese

Do you know the difference between gratin, au gratin, and scalloped potatoes? I knew it had something to do with cheese being included, or not. In a scalloped potato recipe that I posted previously Say Cheese! Scalloped Potatoes it includes a few sources and opinions on the differences — cheese or no cheese. Secretly I’m hoping that it’s the scalloped potatoes that should contain cheese. And if not, oh well.

I checked a few more sources for confirmation. From

“The key difference between scalloped potatoes and potatoes au gratin is whether or not cheese is used. Potatoes au gratin uses grated cheese. Scalloped potatoes do not, they use heavy cream or milk. Also, scalloped potato slices tend to be thicker than au gratin.”

Uh oh, that didn’t help, in fact it contradicted my theory. And let’s not muddy up the recipe with whether it is an au gratin or just plain gratin potato. I kept looking for a source that would agree with me. Taste of Home said this:

“It boils down to whether you’re using cheese or not. Like many culinary terms, the phrase au gratin derives from a French word that means something similar to “scrapings.” According to the Oxford Companion to Food, gratin simply refers to a crisply baked top.”

I’ll go with this description as these gratin potatoes do not contain cheese, although I was tempted to add some at the end. And they finished cooking with a nice crispy top. 

So all in all, I’m sticking with my theory that scalloped potatoes can include cheese and grain potatoes do not. I’m not going to give au gratin potatoes a voice in this conversation just yet. I need to take one potato at a time.

I did not peel the potatoes as eating the skin has nutritional value. 

Leftover cooked ham is perfect for this recipe. I used a version of honey-baked ham.

Cover the potatoes with cream and milk before cooking and dot with butter. 

Yum factor on this dish is high!

Gratin Potatoes & Ham

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  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked ham, cubed bite-size
  • 4 medium-sized russet potatoes, peeled & sliced thin
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Dash of nutmeg


  1. PREP: Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Rub garlic on the inside of a shallow baking dish. Generously butter the inside of the baking dish after rubbing the garlic.
  2. Using a mandolin or sharp knife, thinly slice the potatoes. Layer into baking dish, season with salt and pepper and thyme.
  3. Place 1/3 of the ham cubes on potatoes and continue to layer potatoes and ham cubes, seasoning each layer and ending with potatoes.
  4. Pour cream and milk over potatoes and ham, making sure everything is covered sufficiently with cream. Add more if needed. Dot with remaining butter.
  5. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until top is golden and potatoes are tender - about another 30 minutes.



1230 cal


132 g


10 g


9 g
Click Here For Full Nutrition, Exchanges, and My Plate Info

1 thought on “Gratin or Au Gratin Potatoes With Ham… No Cheese”

  1. I grew up thinking that Au gratin potatoes contained cheese as the word gratin traces back to something close to the word grater. As in grated cheese. Escalloped potatoes were simply in a cream sauce. Never heard them called "scalloped" until the last few years. Scalloped means an edge of semi circles as in a hem.

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