Slightly sweet bacon baked into an easy Candied Bacon Au Gratin Potatoes casserole. Cheesy au gratin potatoes with a creamy sauce creates the bests potato side dish that’s sure to impress a hungry crowd this holiday season.
Within this post you’ll learn how to make easy candied bacon in the oven, which pairs perfectly with savory cheesy au gratin potatoes. Plus you’ll learn the food science of why and how just a bit of flour thickens sauces (hint: it requires a certain key element to do this).
What Are Au Gratin Potatoes?
Au gratin potatoes are thinly sliced potatoes layered with a creamy sauce and cheese. You might also know them as scalloped potatoes. They’re indulgent, creamy, comforting and absolutely delicious. I’ve gone a step further and added candied bacon for the ultimate treat.
Tips for Making Au Gratin Potatoes
- Instead of cheddar, you could use another good melting cheese such as gruyere or fontina
- I recommend using Yukon Gold potatoes for this recipe
- The au gratin can be made in advance just cover with foil and place in the fridge until you’re ready to bake
- Leftovers taste great and can be reheated the next day
- Freezing isn’t recommended as the dairy can curdle and split
Evaporated milk and vegetable stock, with a bit of butter and flour, create a rich, thick sauce for potatoes. Shredded cheddar and Parmesan cheeses gives it that signature ‘covered with cheese’ effect.
Candied bacon is baked in the oven with easy prep and cleanup. Brown sugar and black pepper is all you need, then let it roast while you move on to on the rest of the Au Gratin Potatoes recipe. Once the candied bacon is sweet and crisp, load it into the casserole. Just a hint of sweetness in the candied bacon works perfectly with the savory and umami flavors.
How To Make Candied Bacon
- Preheat oven to 350º F.
- Mix together bacon, brown sugar and 1-teaspoon pepper
- Arrange bacon in single layer in foil-lined baking sheet. Bake 25–30 minutes until cooked and slightly crispy.
- Cool and chop into small pieces
Why do starch and flour thicken sauces?
Starch consists of long chains of glucose sugar molecules joined together, to form a huge string. Starch from corn or wheat is stored in the form of tiny solid granules, containing a mixture of amylose and amylopectin.
These granules are starch molecules packed together in a tight rigid structure. When mixed into cold water, the granules absorb a little bit of water. When you add heat water molecules gain energy and bounce around and breaks down and interacts, which creates room for more water to be absorbed.
As they move around the join together. More and more chains bump together, they start to form a meshy network of interlocking chains throughout the liquid, which thickens your sauce to a silky, creamy texture. Read even more detail from The Molecular Circus.
Candied Bacon Au Gratin Potatoes recipe at-a-glance:
Flavor profiles: Savory bacon flavor with just a bit of sweetness, paired with umami cheese.
Texture: Tender potato slices soaked in a thick and creamy sauce, with bits of crisp bacon.
Dietary Options/Substitutions: For vegetarian au gratin potatoes, omit bacon. For gluten-free use GF flour.
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More Delicious Side Dishes You Might Like:
- Creamy Mashed Potatoes
- String Bean Casserole
- Fingerling Potato Salad
- Mozzarella Avocado Caprese Salad
- Classic French Onion Soup
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Candied Bacon Au Gratin Potatoes
- 12 slices thick cut bacon
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper, divided
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 small white onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, or gluten-free
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 ½ cups evaporated milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 pounds yellow Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced into 1/8-inch rounds
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350º F. Cover a large baking sheet with foil. Place bacon, brown sugar and 1-teaspoon pepper. Mix with hands and evenly coat. Arrange bacon in single layer and bake 25–30 minutes until cooked and slightly crispy. Allow to cool and chop into small pieces.
- Meanwhile: Melt butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, cook 5–6 minutes, stirring often, until soft and fragrant. Add garlic and cook 1–2 minutes more. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Whisk in vegetable stock, evaporated milk, salt and ½-teaspoon pepper. Cook 3–4 minutes more just until sauce simmers. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Change oven temp to 400º F. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. Spread half of the sliced potatoes in an even layer on the bottom of dish. Top evenly with half of the cream sauce, then sprinkle evenly with half of the cheddar cheese and all of Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with all of the candied bacon pieces. Top evenly with remaining sliced potatoes, remaining half of cream sauce, and remaining cup of cheddar cheese.
- Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered 20–25 minutes more, until cheese is melted and potatoes are cooked through. Let sit 5–10 minutes before serving.
- Instead of cheddar you could use another good melting cheese such as gruyere or fontina
- I recommend using Yukon Gold potatoes for this recipe
- The au gratin can be made in advance just cover with foil and place in the fridge until you're ready to bake
- Leftovers taste great and can be re-heated the next day
- I don't recommend freezing this as dairy can curdle and split
Recipe inspired by Gimme Some Oven’s Scalloped Potatoes recipe.