Take ordinary scalloped potatoes and ham to extraordinary with this recipe that includes plenty of cheese. Your family will be coming back for seconds!
This is one of those dishes that reminds me of childhood. Growing up, however, we ate the boxed version. This scalloped potatoes recipe is so much better than what you can buy in a box.
Overtime, however, I really began to notice how salty the boxed mix was and how bad all the artificial ingredients and preservatives in it tasted. As I grew up, I developed a taste for real food instead of the “convenience” box mixes I grew up on.
Scalloped potatoes with ham is one of my husband’s favorite meals. He, too, used to eat the box version and was quite disappointed when I told him how much I disliked it and wouldn’t be eating it again. I set out to learn how to make it from scratch and he hasn’t been disappointed since.
Of course, with all the preservatives and artificial ingredients in it I couldn’t eat it now even if I wanted to. My body really has decided those are not actual food, and I can’t say I’m sorry to see them go now that I’ve had a taste of something better.
As an added bonus, this recipe gives you scalloped potatoes with a milk and cheese sauce. Anything cheesy and creamy is good in my book.
Tips for Making the Best Scalloped Potatoes With Ham
When I make this dish, I always use the best quality of potatoes I can. When I don’t have potatoes that I’ve grown myself, I try to source them from a local farmer. You certainly do not have to do this, store bought potatoes will work fine. I just prefer to support local whenever possible and I like to encourage others to as well when they can.
Always use a whole milk for the sauce. Do not use skim or 2% milk when you make this dish. The fact content is higher in whole milk, and that adds a really nice creaminess to it. Scalloped potatoes should be creamy, so don’t skimp on the fat.
On the flip side, don’t use too heavy of a cream either. If you do, your sauce could end up too thick and it won’t seep into all the little spaces between the potato slices. You want lots of creamy goodness filling every little space in the pan.
The third key is cheese. You can absolutely skip this ingredient if you prefer, but I believe the cheese gives this dish such a nice depth of flavor that you won’t want to. Making scalloped potatoes au gratin (with cheese) is my favorite way to have it.
It took me about 10 medium sized potatoes to make a full 9 x 13 pan of scalloped potatoes and ham. If you are using larger potatoes, it won’t take as many. I don’t recommend using small potatoes because they’re hard to handle. I’ve done this and trust me, it was not the way to go!
Ham is the other main ingredient for this dish, however it is not necessary. If you do not eat ham, don’t like it, or want this to be more of a side dish than an entrée, feel free to leave the ham out. You don’t have to add ham to make this dish amazing. If you do choose to add ham, you’ll need about 1-1/2 pounds depending on how heavy you want to be with it.
The sauce uses 1/4 of an onion, 2 garlic cloves, 1-2 tablespoons parsley, salt, pepper, 2 cups of milk, 4 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons of flour, 1/2 cup of chicken or vegetable broth, and 1 3/4 cup cheese. I used 1 1/2 cups of white cheddar and 1/4 cup of parmesan. It gave it a wonderful flavor, but feel free to change the cheeses up and see what you like!
Using different cheeses each time you make it is a great way to change the flavor slightly and jazz it up.
How to Make Scalloped Potatoes and Ham
Preheat the oven to 350℉, 176℃.
Start by washing and peeling the potatoes, this can be a bit of a tedious task, but leaving the peels on it would add a strange texture that I don’t think would fit this dish well.
Grease your pan with butter, lard, or a good quality oil. This will help keep the potatoes and sauce from sticking. It also makes clean up a breeze!
Rinse the potatoes again and slice them thinly. A knife will work fine for this task, but it will take you a while to do. I recommend using a mandolin slicer, just watch your fingers! If you don’t have one, this is one I really like and it comes with a guide to keep your fingers from being sliced too. These are great to slice all types of vegetables and even cheese. You won’t regret having it!
You can start the sauce before you slice the potatoes, but I chose to do it after. For the sauce, melt one tablespoon of butter in a pan. While the butter is melting, dice your onion and garlic. When the butter is hot, add the garlic and onion and cook until the garlic is fragrant and the onion is soft, about 3-4 minutes on high heat.
Stir in the broth and flour. This creates what’s called a roux; this is what will thicken up the sauce.
Add salt and pepper to season it. There is no exact amount, just season it to your taste preferences.
Now go ahead and add the milk. Stir this in until everything is fully incorporated. Heat the milk up until it starts to get a little bubbly, stirring frequently to avoid burning the milk.
While the milk is heating, go ahead and dice the ham if you’re using it. I diced mine into bite sized pieces, but feel free to cut it however you like.
When the milk is heated, turn off the heat and add the cheese. Stir constantly until the cheese is melted. Do a little taste test here to see if you need to add more salt and pepper.
Assemble and Bake
Arrange the potato slices in the pan. Don’t stack them on top of each other, arrange them so they are more vertical and there is space for the sauce to get in between the potatoes.
Sprinkle the potatoes with half of the ham. You don’t have to split the ham up, you can put it all in now, but I like the way alternating it with the sauce breaks it up a little bit. It also looks prettier with some of the second layer of ham peeking through the sauce.
Pour half of the sauce over the potatoes and ham, making sure to evenly distribute it.
Top it with the rest of the ham and sauce. It’s ready for the oven!
Place the scalloped potatoes, uncovered, on the middle rack of your oven. Bake it for 50 minutes or until the top is nicely browned and the sauce is bubbly.
That’s all there is to a great scalloped potatoes and ham that your family will ask you to make again and again. Enjoy!
- 10 medium potatoes
- 1 1/2 pounds ham
- 1/4 onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 4 Tbsp butter, divided
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 1/2 c chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 c whole milk
- 1 3/4 c cheese
- Preheat oven to 350℉, 176℃
- Butter or grease a 9 x 13 baking dish
- Thinly slice potatoes
- Heat 1 Tbsp of butter in a sauce pan
- Dice onion and garlic and add to sauce pan when butter is hot, cooking until the garlic is fragrant and the onion is soft
- Add flour and mix.
- Add broth and season with salt and pepper to your liking
- Add the remaining butter, stirring until it melts
- Pour in the milk and heat until it's starting to bubble, stirring frequently
- Slice the ham, if using, into bite sized pieces
- Take the milk sauce off the heat and add the cheese, stirring constantly until the cheese is melted
- Layer the potatoes vertically in the baking dish
- Add half of the ham and spread half of the sauce on top
- Add the other half of the ham and remaining sauce, layering each
- Bake for 50 minutes, uncovered, until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly