Serve up scalloped sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving or with a special meal. This lightened-up recipe gets an extra flavor boost from a layer of smoked Cheddar cheese on top.
Save this scalloped sweet potatoes recipe for your holiday table – fantastic with my “go to” roast turkey recipe – or treat your family to a special weekend meal by serving it with turkey cutlets or oven roasted pork tenderloin.
We often serve scalloped potatoes with ham at Easter. However, turning this classic recipe on its head by making it with thinly sliced sweet potatoes and smoked Cheddar makes it ideal for a fall meal.
I lightened things up by reducing the amount of fat in the sauce. Additionally, using a boldly flavor cheese such as smoked Cheddar allowed me to reduce the amount of cheese needed to achieve the same great flavor without sacrificing the cheesiness that scalloped potatoes are known for.
What you need for scalloped sweet potatoes:
These are the main components of this recipe (affiliate links may be included):
- Sweet potatoes: Look for red-skinned sweet potatoes (orange flesh) in your grocery store’s produce department. They are sometimes labeled as yams.
- Aromatics: Shallots and plenty of garlic!
- Butter & oil: I used a combination of butter and oil to reduce the saturated fat grams without completely eliminating that buttery taste.
- Cheese: Smoked Cheddar cheese adds fantastic flavor with every bite. Smoked Gouda or Gruyere cheese are good substitutes.
- Broth: Use a little broth in place of some of the milk to reduce the fat count without sacrificing creaminess.
- Milk: I used reduced fat (2%) milk. If preferred, use whole milk. However, I do not recommend using a lower fat milk.
- Flour: A couple of tablespoons of all-purpose flour helps to thicken the milk/cheese sauce.
- Seasoning: Nutmeg and cayenne. Nutmeg does wonders to cream sauces of any kind!
How to make scalloped sweet potatoes:
Making au gratin sweet potatoes isn’t difficult, but there are some key tips that ensure your success at achieving the best scalloped potatoes.
First, thinly slice the potatoes using either a sharp chef’s knife or a mandoline. If you have a mandoline, it is ideal for this task, as it will produce consistently even slices. The slices should be thin – about 1/8-inch thick.
Arrange the sliced sweet potatoes in a baking dish. I like to do this in overlapping rows, with the slices at angle, rather than layer the slices horizontally on top of each other. Each potato slice will cook evenly and will be coated with the sauce and melted cheese.
Next is the sauce. This is where the REALLY IMPORTANT TIPS come into play. The greatest risk with any creamy sauce is that it can break and become watery.
Two tips to help avoid this:
Heating the milk:
At all costs, avoid boiling the milk. Not only will overheating give the milk a scalded taste, but it always increases the chances of the sauce separating. Rather, just heat the milk long enough to warm it and to give the sauce a chance to thicken slightly (thanks to the flour). This should be done over medium-low heat.
Adding the cheese:
When adding cheese to the sauce, first remove the sauce from the heat and allow it to cool for about 5 minutes. Stir in the cheese until melted.
Pour the sauce over the potatoes in the casserole dish, top with the remining cheese and bake.
Sweet potatoes have a tendency to turn to mush when overcooked. The first time I tested this recipe, I baked it for an hour, which was far too long. Baking for approximately 45 minutes did the trick. Test the potatoes with a fork. They should be tender, but not mushy.
What to serve with sweet potatoes gratin:
There are so many options for serving these creamy scalloped potatoes. They can elevate any meal, whether you’re serving them for a holiday or special occasion, or a weeknight meal. Here are a few entrée ideas:
Holiday or Special Occasion Entrées:
- Roast Turkey with Herb Butter
- Prosciutto Wrapped Stuffed Turkey Breast
- Roast Leg of Lamb with Blackberry Glaze
Frequently Asked Questions:
Go up, not down. What do I mean by that? It’s fine to use a milk with a higher fat content, such as whole milk, but not a milk lower on the fat scale. Low-fat (1%) and nonfat (skim) milk don’t provide enough fat to achieve the creamy sauce.
I haven’t tested this recipe with non-dairy milks.
Yes! A half-and-half combination of sweet potatoes and russet potatoes works well in this recipe. Alternate the slices for a pretty presentation.
Baked scalloped potatoes are at their best when served hot from the oven (with a little rest time). However, they hold up well as leftovers. Allow the sweet potato casserole to cool, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Reheat portions in the microwave. Alternatively, remove the casserole from the fridge about 15 minutes before heating, then reheat in a 400 degree F oven for about 20 minutes.
There are quite a few good options to achieve cheesy scalloped potatoes. Smoked cheeses, such as smoked Cheddar or smoked Gouda, or a nutty cheese like Gruyere have bold flavors that hold up well to the flavor of the sweet potatoes.
Choose a cheese that melts well to achieve both a creamy sauce and a bubbling, gooey topping.
Scalloped Sweet Potatoes Recipe
- 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (red-skinned)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 large shallot minced (about 3 tablespoons)
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth (See Note 1)
- 1 1/2 cups reduced fat (2%) milk
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 cups grated smoked Cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- Peel the sweet potatoes. Using a sharp knife or a mandoline, cut the potatoes into thin (1/8-inch thick) slices.
- Arrange the sweet potatoes slices in rows, overlapping one potato slice with the next one. Arrange in a single layer.
- Heat the olive in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Add the shallots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are soft, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Push the shallots to one side of the saucepan. Add the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the flour and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
- Gradually add the broth, whisking the whole time until the broth and flour are combined. Continuing to whisk, slowly pour in the milk. Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne pepper.
- Lower the heat to medium-low. Whisking frequently, heat the milk but do not allow it to bubble. Boiling the milk may lead to the sauce separating when the potatoes bake.
- Once the milk is warm, immediately remove it from the heat. Let it sit for about 5 minutes. Stir in ½ cup of the grated smoked cheese until the cheese is melted Pour the mixture evenly over the rows of sweet potato slices.
- Top the sweet potatoes with the remaining 1 cup of grated smoked Cheddar.
- Bake until the sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork and the cheese is melted. The potatoes should not be mushy.
- Let rest for 10 minutes. Garnish with parsley, if desired. If there is some liquid in the bottom of the pan, use a slotted spoon to serve.
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