Instant Pot Au gratin is made with potatoes and cauliflower in a cheesy, flavourful sauce. This simple and delicious comfort meal is finished off with a golden-brown topping. A delicious side that is perfect for a festive menu!
This delicious meal combines ingredients that define comfort – potatoes, cream, cheese. Au gratin hits all the right notes, especially during the colder months. With a gooey, cheesy, sauce that’s packed with flavour – we’re talking paprika, nutmeg, thyme and gruyere cheese here – this dish is the kind that you’d want to eat right on the kitchen counter.
And to amplify the flavour even further, potatoes and cauliflower are cooked in stock (take your pick from chicken or veggie stock). I love having this dish as a meal by itself, but it also goes perfectly well as a side for a festive menu.
What does au gratin mean in cooking?
An au gratin dish means simply refers to a baked dish with a golden-brown topping. The topping is usually made with breadcrumbs or cheese or a combination of both. In this recipe, we’re going with breadcrumbs mixed with melted butter.
What is the difference between scalloped potatoes and au gratin potatoes?
Both of these are great dishes with lots in common, and a few minor differences. While scalloped potatoes tend to be made entirely with potatoes baked in a cream—based sauce, au gratin uses cheese in addition to the cream. Scalloped potatoes also do not have the topping that is characteristic of an au gratin.
This article by The Kitchn explains the differences between the two dishes. Differences aside, both dishes are made with sliced potatoes coated in a delicious sauce, and then finished off by baking in the oven – whichever way you prefer, you are guaranteed to love the results.
Step by Step Instructions for making an Instant Pot au gratin:
In this recipe, we cook the potatoes and cauliflower in the Instant Pot, and then make the sauce in the Instant Pot. After assembling the dish and adding the topping, we finish it off by baking it in the oven.
Add 1 cup chicken stock or vegetable stock to the Instant Pot. To this, add the sliced potatoes and cauliflower florets.
Pressure cook the veggies in the Instant Pot for 1 minute on the 'High' setting. Once done, perform a quick release of pressure. Take out the veggies and reserve the stock that's left over.
In the empty Instant Pot, set to 'Saute' mode and add a tablespoon of butter.
Add finely chopped onion (red or white) and minced garlic cloves. Saute until the onions are translucent - for 4- 5 minutes. Hit Cancel on the Instant Pot.
Add 1 cup heavy cream and stir it in. Then add paprika, nutmeg, thyme and stir that in as well.
Add a 1+1/2 teaspoons of all-purpose flour and mix that in to form a smooth sauce. Break up any lumps that may form. You can use a whisk for this.
Add 1 cup grated cheese - I have used Gruyère here, but you can use mozzarella or cheddar as well.
Mix together all the ingredients to form a thick sauce. My sauce was a bit too thick so I thinned it out with some of the reserved stock. You can add more cream at this point if you want a richer sauce.
Grease a baking dish with butter. Add the cooked potatoes and cauliflower.
Pour over the sauce, and keep aside which you prepare the topping.
For the topping, mix together breadcrumbs with some melted butter.
Sprinkle the topping over the filling and bake the dish for 5 minutes at 350 F or 180 C, until the topping is nice and golden brown.
Tips for making a delicious Instant Pot au gratin:
Potatoes and cauliflower: I like a mix of potatoes and cauliflower for this recipe, but you can go with all-potatoes if you like your spuds, or go for all-cauliflower for a keto-friendly version of au gratin. Feel free to add in peas or carrots if you prefer. Slice the potatoes thick – if using a mandolin slicer, use the biggest blade. Cut the cauliflower into florets.
Using stock to pre-cook the veggies: In this recipe, we’re going for bags of flavour! Using the Instant Pot, pressure cook the veggies in chicken or vegetable stock. Set the time for 1 minute and perform a quick release after 1 minute is done. By pressure cooking the veggies in stock, the flavour gets a big boost. Once done, take out the veggies and reserve any leftover stock.
Making the sauce: We’re using the Instant Pot again to make the sauce this time. We use the Sauté function to cook the sauce. To begin, sauté finely chopped onions and garlic in butter, then add heavy cream, nutmeg, paprika, thyme, and grated cheese. I love using gruyere cheese but you can also use mozzarella or cheddar or a mix of both cheeses. If your sauce is too thick, thin it out with some of the reserved stock, or some more cream.
Topping the au gratin: To make the topping, we take some melted butter and it to breadcrumbs in a bowl. Mix well, and use as topping for the assembled au gratin. You can also use extra grated cheese and mix it in with the topping, but I like the crispy texture that results from using just breadcrumbs and butter.
Here are some more sides that you can make fully or partially in the Instant Pot:
Instant Pot Au Gratin
- Baking Dish
- For the filling and sauce:
- 1 cup chicken stock can be replaced with vegetable stock
- 4 medium-sized potatoes thickly sliced
- 1/2 small cauliflower cut into florets
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 cup grated cheese use gruyere or cheddar or mozzarella
- For the topping:
- 1/3 cup bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons butter melted
- Extra butter to grease the baking dish
- Add 1 cup chicken stock or vegetable stock to the Instant Pot.
- To this, add the sliced potatoes and cauliflower florets.
- Hit the Pressure Cook or Manual button on the Instant Pot and pressure cook the potatoes and cauliflower for 1 minute on the 'High' setting. Once done, perform a quick release of pressure.
- Take out the veggies and reserve the leftover stock.
- In the empty Instant Pot, set to 'Sauté' mode and add a tablespoon of butter.
- Add finely chopped onion and minced garlic cloves.
- Sauté until the onions are translucent - for around 4- 5 minutes. Hit Cancel on the Instant Pot.
- Add 1 cup heavy cream and stir it in. Then add paprika, nutmeg, thyme and stir it into the cream.
- Add a 1+1/2 teaspoons of all-purpose flour and mix it in to form a smooth sauce. Break up any lumps that may form.(You can use a whisk for this).
- Add 1 cup grated cheese.
- Mix together all the ingredients to form a thick sauce. If your sauce is too thick, add some of the reserved stock to thin it out. Add cream if you like a richer sauce.
- Grease a baking dish with butter. Add the cooked potatoes and cauliflower.
- Pour over the sauce, and keep aside which you prepare the topping.
For the topping:
- Mix together the breadcrumbs with the melted butter.
- Sprinkle the topping over the filling and bake the dish for 5 minutes at 350 F or 180 C, until the topping is nice and golden brown.
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