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A macaroni, cheese and meat gratin
Avocado gratin

Gratin (French: [ɡʁatɛ̃]) is a culinary technique in which an ingredient is topped with a browned crust, often using breadcrumbs, grated cheese, egg or butter.[1][2][3] The term may be applied to any dish made using this method.[4] Gratin is usually prepared in a shallow dish of some kind. A gratin is baked or cooked under an overhead grill or broiler to form a golden crust on top and is often served in its baking dish.[1]

A gratin dish is a shallow oven-proof container used to prepare gratins and similar dishes.


The etymology of gratin is from the French language words gratter, meaning "to scrape" (from having to scrape the food out of the dish it was cooked in).[5] The technique predates the current name, which did not appear in English until 1846 (OED, s.v. "gratin").

In addition to the well-known potato dishes such as gratin dauphinois, gratin may be applied to many other bases of meat, fish, vegetables, or pasta.[1][6]


Many gratinéed dishes are topped with béchamel, mornay or other sauces.[7]


Potatoes gratiné[edit]

Potatoes gratiné

Potatoes gratiné is one of the most common gratins and is known by various names, including "gratin potatoes" and "Gratin de pommes de terre." Slices of boiled potato are put in a buttered fireproof dish, sprinkled with cheese, and browned in the oven or under the grill (broiler). Sliced raw potatoes may also be baked in a liquid or sauce that steams them and forms a golden crust on top. [8] In the US, the dish is referred to variously as funeral potatoes, potatoes au gratin, scalloped potatoes, or au gratin potatoes. In English Canada, it is called scalloped potatoes or potatoes au gratin. In French-speaking Canada, the dish is referred to as patates au gratin. In Australia they refer to it as potato bake, and New Zealanders refer to it as scalloped potatoes, potato scallops or (erroneously) potato cake. In North America, traditionally au gratin potatoes include cheese, and scalloped potatoes do not,[9] but this classic differentiation has been lost to time. [10]

Pommes de terre gratinées[edit]

To make pommes de terre gratinées, or "potatoes with cheese," according to the recipe of Marcel Boulestin, large floury potatoes are baked in the oven, then halved and the flesh scooped from the skins. The flesh is mashed with butter, cream, grated cheese, and seasoning(s). The mix is then scooped back into the skins, arranged in a baking dish, sprinkled with grated cheese, and browned in the oven or under the grill. This preparation is also called twice-baked potatoes.[8]

Gratin dauphinois[edit]

Gratin dauphinois is a speciality of the Dauphiné region of France. The dish is typically made with thinly sliced and layered potatoes, and cream, cooked in a buttered dish rubbed with garlic.[1] Some recipes add cheese and eggs.[11] It is called potatoes au gratin in American English.

Gratin savoyard[edit]

Gratin savoyard is a similar dish found in the adjacent Savoie (Savoy) department. It consists of alternating layers of sliced potatoes, Beaufort cheese, and pieces of butter, with bouillon as the liquid.[1][12] Cream is not used.

Other preparations[edit]


The Neapolitan dish pasta al gratin (also referred to as pasta au gratin in American English) may be made with various kinds of pasta, including penne, rigatoni, fusilli / spirelli, macaroni, or tagliatelle. The pasta is cooked al dente, then covered with béchamel sauce, cheese (typically a mixture including scamorza, mozzarella or parmesan) and breadcrumbs, then baked. [13][14] [15]


Sole au gratin is a sole gratin, often covered with mushrooms. Many fish-based gratins use a white gratin sauce and cheese and brown quickly.[3] Cozze gratinate is a mussels-based recipe found in Italy.

Janssons frestelse ("Jansson's Temptation") is a Swedish gratin of potatoes, onions, and preserved fish, somewhat similar to a French dish of potatoes with anchovies.[16]


Gratin Languedocien is made with eggplant and tomato, covered in breadcrumbs and oil, then browned.[3] This dish is similar to the Italian dish known as melanzane alla parmigiana. Other vegetables commonly used in gratin dishes include cauliflower,[17] spinach,[18] and butternut squash.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Courtine, Robert J. (ed.) (2003) The Concise Larousse Gastronomique London: Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-60863-8
  2. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition definition from dictionary.com
  3. ^ a b c Montagne, Prosper (1961). Larousse Gastronomique. USA: Crown Publishers. pp. 1101. ISBN 9780517503331.
  4. ^ "Gratin". BBC Good Food. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  5. ^ "GRATIN : Etymologie de GRATIN". www.cnrtl.fr. Retrieved 2024-02-09.
  6. ^ Le Répertoire de La Cuisine by Louis Saulnier, 17th Edition, published 1982
  7. ^ Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961)
  8. ^ a b Elvia Firuski; Maurice Firuski (eds.) (1952) The Best of Boulestin. London: William Heinemann. p. 249.
  9. ^ Lake of the Woods Milling Company, Ltd. (1913 [1967]) Five Roses Cook Book Montreal: Whitecap Books, p. 177
  10. ^ "What's the Difference Between Scalloped and Au Gratin Potatoes?". thekitchn.com. May 1, 2019. Retrieved August 7, 2021. The confusion lies in the fact that the classic definitions are often ignored. There are countless recipes for scalloped potatoes ... that call for cheese, breadcrumbs, or both, which, according to my classification above, would technically make them potatoes au gratin.
  11. ^ Elizabeth David (1964 [1960]) French Provincial Cooking. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 251–2.
  12. ^ Larousse Gastronomique (2001)
  13. ^ Pirollo, Alessandro (9 November 2020). "Nonna's Neapolitan Pasta Au Gratin". La Cucina Italiana. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  14. ^ Ramsay, Gordon (17 October 2020). "Pasta au gratin: grandmother's Neapolitan recipe". Gordon Ramsay Recipes. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  15. ^ "Pasta al Gratin". Le Ricette di Tina (in Italian). Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  16. ^ Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking I, 1961:154f "Gratin de pommes de terre aux anchois"
  17. ^ Garten, Ina (2004). "Cauliflower Gratin Recipe". Barefoot Contessa. Food Network. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
  18. ^ Garten, Ina (2001). "Spinach Gratin Recipe". Barefoot Contessa Parties!. Food Network. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
  19. ^ Stevens, Molly (November 2007). "Spinach Gratin Recipe". Bon Appétit. Bon Appétit. Archived from the original on 2021-02-14. Retrieved 2009-02-16.