A Classic with a Twist: Mom’s Scalloped Potatoes with Truffle Butter and Parmesan

Is it possible to make scalloped potatoes taste better?

Making a good pan of scalloped potatoes takes some patience, but not a lot of hands-on work. It takes a good hour and a half, plus maybe longer, to bake, and more time to rest and set up. But there’s lots to be done while playing the waiting game.

Yes, you can make them on a weeknight, if you start early enough

      My mother would often make these on the weekend, but since she got home from work at 3:30 in the afternoon, she would put them together and serve this luscious, creamy dish for supper. There were never any leftovers, we all loved them.

Things to consider

      The first thing to remember about making scalloped potatoes creamy is to use a starchy potato such as a russet, this is no place for a waxy red. Mom always peeled her potatoes for this dish. This is what takes the most time, so if the potatoes are newish and have a thin skin, don’t bother to peel them. I don’t. There’s also a lot of nutrition in those peelings. If the russets are older, give them a good scrub, or peel if you like. The second thing to remember is to not have your heat higher than 350 degrees F., even if it seems like the potatoes are taking a long time to cook. Resist the urge to crank it up, remember, these take time.

A mandolin makes it easier

      She used her knife to cut the potatoes evenly. A mandolin is quicker and more uniform, so if you have one use it; if not, all is well, just keep them thin.

Canned milk to the rescue

      Mom used canned evaporated milk or whole milk. If you want a richer sauce, use half-and-half or light cream, but cut the flour back by a bit. Use soy milk and vegan cheese if you want a dairy-free, vegan dish. The flavor will be virtually unchanged. 


     This is the traditional technique New England cooks used to make their scalloped potatoes: layer the potatoes and onions with the flour and butter, pour over the milk, and in the long cooking the sauce takes care of itself. The canned evaporated milk is much less likely to ‘split’ in the oven, look separated or curdled. However, if your sauce looks split when you take it out of the oven, it is probably not really curdled; after the rest it will be remarkably creamy and delightful as the butter firms back up. Remember, this is about patience.

Or, make a bechamel

     Some people make a bechamel sauce (white sauce) with the butter, flour, and milk and add that extra step, but I’m making it the way mom did here, just layering up with the baking creating the sauce. Additionally, it is fun to make those layers.

You have options

      You can also use half milk and half stock in this dish, it will still come out creamy. In fact, you can use all stock and skip the dairy altogether and the potatoes will be deliciously smooth. If you are getting creative here, you can infuse the stock or milk with herbs, something as simple as a bay leaf, or make a little bouquet garni of your favorite herbs to enhance potato dishes –chives, rosemary, thyme? Just tuck them in a little cheesecloth pouch and simmer the liquid for a few minutes. You know what you like.

Cheese or no cheese

      We never had this with cheese when I was growing up, that would be potatoes au gratin according to my mother. However, if you like, after uncovering at the end of the baking time, add a cup or so of your favorite baking/melting cheese here, or use a vegan cheese if you avoid dairy. I like a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan.

Toss in a bit of this or that

      While she didn’t use cheese in scalloped potatoes, she would often use the leftover bits of ham from a Sunday meal and call the whole thing dinner. Or, she would toss in some bacon. My father loved it this way.

Enter, black truffle butter

     Now, one of my favorite cheats is Parmesan and truffle French fries, specifically those made at a certain restaurant we love. It’s a good flavor combination if you don’t go too far with the truffle. My twist for these scalloped potatoes is to swap out some of the butter in mom’s recipe with an ounce of black truffle butter. I buy this at a speciality store in a three-ounce container, and there’s more than enough for several dishes, so it is not nearly as extravagant as it sounds – remember, a little truffle goes a VERY long way.

The truffle in this dish, combined with some good Parmesan, make a heavenly flavor; the potatoes are even more addictive than the original if that is possible! I think Mom would agree, and maybe even Dad. 

Mom’s Scalloped Potatoes with Truffle Butter and Parmesan

  • 2 ½ lb. Russet potatoes, sliced about 1/8 inch thick
  • 1 large onion, diced, about 1 ¼ cups
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 oz. truffle butter, diced
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter or vegan butter, diced
  • 2 cups evaporated milk, whole milk, half-and-half, or soy milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • A bit more butter
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, or vegan Parm

      Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9″ X 13″ baking dish.

      Place 1/3 of the potatoes in the bottom of the dish in a single layer. Sprinkle half the onions in an even layer, followed by half the butters and half the flour. Season with salt and pepper, and pour 1/3 of the milk over all. Repeat this step, and then add the last of the potatoes on top. Pour the last of the milk over, and season. Dot with a bit more butter, and cover tightly.

      Bake for 1 ½ hours and uncover. Add a quarter cup of freshly grated Parmesan to the top if using cheese. If the potatoes are soft, uncover and bake until the top is browned, about 20 minutes. If they are not done, cover and cook an additional 20 minutes and check before adding the Parmesan.

     Let sit for a half hour, then serve! You can add a few freshly minced chives to the top if you like. Nothing better.

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62 Comments Add yours

  1. No one could resist this yummy dish. Great recipe.

    1. Thanks Jovina! It was hard to not eat it when it was still bubbling from the oven!

  2. Misky says:

    Hi, Dorothy. I’m guessing this recipe serves 4? It’s just two of us here, so maybe reduce quantities by half? I’m looking forward to trying this.

    1. The recipe could easily serve six. We had it for breakfast the next day, and finished it up later i the week.
      You can easily reduce this and make it in a smaller casserole.

      1. Misky says:

        Excellent. Thank you for your quick reply, Dorothy.

    1. Thanks! We loved it!

  3. Jenna says:

    I know the truffle butter really takes these over the top, sounds like heaven to me!

    1. Thanks Jenna! It becomes a totally different dish with the truffle butter, one that we all loved!

  4. NativeNM says:

    Looks delicious Dorothy, my mom used canned milk as well. The crispy top layer almost looks like potato chips. Yum!

    1. Thank you Jan! That crispy top was the best!

  5. Oh. My. Gosh. Looks utterly delicious.

    1. Thanks Laurie! It’s divine!

  6. Nancy says:

    I could eat just this for dinner.
    I have not made this in a long while. It’s time!
    Thanks for the idea of truffle butter. I will be on the lookout for it.

    1. I know Nancy, I’m happy with a dish of potatoes of just about any sort!

      1. Nancy says:

        Ditto! 😁

  7. Sheree says:

    I bet those were delicious

    1. They really hit the spot Sheree!

      1. Sheree says:


  8. I don’t have the patience to cook it all the way in the oven and precook the potatoes. I like the idea of using evaporated milk to prevent the sauce from curdling, will have to try that. Haven’t made dauphinois potatoes (that is the french name) in ages. Thanks for reminding me to make them again some time.

    1. They are such a classic, and I wonder why I sometimes forget about them. Then they pop into my head and I have to have them!

  9. Bernadette says:

    Dot, this looks delightfully delicious. And, thanks for the suggestions on the substitutions and the step by step directions really come in handy. We had this as a child but it came out of a box. I am sure this will be a 1,000 times better.

    1. It was a standard at our house Bernie, and everyone loved them. We always had the ingredients on hand, so even if mom had to skimp on the protein, we would have plenty of potatoes to keep us happy.

  10. Ronit Penso says:

    Adding black truffle butter to this tasty classic is a brilliant idea! The aroma must be amazing! 🙂

    1. Thanks Ronit! The aromas were indeed tantalizing, we couldn’t wait to dive in!

  11. Love scalloped potatoes and I love your twist of truffle butter!

    1. Thank you! It was really quite different, and so delicious!

  12. Truffle butter, potatoes and parmesan cheese – amazing and delicious!

    1. Thanks! Who could ask for anything more!

  13. Kevin says:

    Sounds delicious, and I’m with your father, Dorothy – the idea of adding bits of ham to this would be a delight 🙂

    1. He loved it with the ham, but would have also settled for bacon!

  14. Mary says:

    Comfort dish!! For such simple ingredients an extraordinary dish emerges from the oven. I have often made little individual size for guests to a huge family size for an all in ‘scoff’. I would like to taste and smell your truffle one – ir must be mouth-watering! :))

    1. Thanks Mary! It was really delicious! And it would be perfect for company, humble beginnings dressed up a bit.

  15. Elizabeth says:

    While I enjoyed reading about how you dolled this up, I will remain content with just potatoes, milk and flour.(Into a white sauce) My mom was never much of a cook, but she did make these now and then.

    1. So many of us have memories of these!

  16. This is my kind of food and I absolutely love that you added truffle butter. I discovered that when we visited Italy and I can’t get enough. This is like a reward, a gift, an indulgence. Thanks for sharing the story and the secrets. Hugs, C

    1. Thank you Cheryl! The truffle butter was actually not that expensive, and when I finished making the potatoes, I had some cut-up regular butter left over and I tucked it in the truffle butter container. A few days later, I discovered the regular butter was now truffle butter! I was back where I started!

  17. Christy B says:

    Great idea to include the leftover bits of ham — I always enjoy the story behind the recipe, by the way. Not a parmesan fan, but I would use a different cheese, as you suggest.

    1. Ah, think Gruyère!

      1. Christy B says:

        Yes! Great suggestion 😊

  18. Americaoncoffee says:

    You’re awesome! This is tops!

    1. Thanks! You’re invited next time I make them!

  19. Yum – these sound incredible! Thank you for sharing them with us.

    1. You’re very welcome! We just loved them.

  20. Natasha says:

    I haven’t had scalloped potatoes in ages and now I’m on the hunt for vegan truffle butter! Thanks, this looks incredible!

  21. Oh, my Lord, D! Truffle butter AND parmesan? I’m thinking this would be a lovely change for Thanksgiving dinner instead of the same old mashed potatoes. Do you think it makes a nice pairing with turkey? I make a traditional turkey with cornbread/cranberry/chestnut stuffing and another sausage stuffing on the side.

    1. Yes. Yes.
      I’ve made the mashed potatoes with the truffle butter and they were gobbled even faster than the usual.
      The next time I make them I’m adding parm.

      1. That was my thinking, too. I doubt I’ll be able to wait until Thanksgiving, though!

  22. CarolCooks2 says:

    A little truffle butter works wonders my favourite version is just stock and herbs however the family loves cream so I compromise and make one one time and the other the next..The things we do-sigh….they would love your version with the truffle butter with the parmesan 🙂

    1. Thank you!
      I love it using the stick as well, I think it has more potato flavor with less creaminess.

      1. CarolCooks2 says:

        I agree and they seem to crisp up better as well 🙂

  23. Gail says:

    Truffle butter. Say no more. 😍🍃

  24. The addition of Truffle butter sounds delicious!

    1. Thanks, it was really divine!

  25. terrie gura says:

    I love scalloped potatoes so much! My method has always been to make a sauce, so this idea of layering the sauce ingredients with the potatoes is intriguing, and I’m going to try it next time!

    1. That’s how mom did it, all my aunts, friends’ mothers, etc, the starch in the potatoes helps the thickening as well.

  26. nancyc says:

    I love potatoes made any way…I really like the idea of using Parmesan cheese in this recipe! 🙂

    1. Thanks Nancy! I love potatoes too, some of my favorite foods! The Parm really works well here.

  27. Peeling and cutting the potatoes may take a longer time, but I guess is so worth it! Super delicious 😋

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