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A true French classic, these Boulangère Potatoes are rich, delicious and the perfect accompaniment to a good old roast. They are also pretty easy to make and can be thrown in the oven and pretty much forgotten about. You can even prepare everything in advance, making life a little easier when you have guests or don’t want to spend your afternoon in the kitchen!
What is it?
Boulangère Potatoes translates from French as ‘potatoes from the bakery’. The name comes from the fact that hundreds of years ago, people did not always have an oven. Therefore, on their way to church on Sunday, they would pop into their local bakery and use their oven to cook their Sunday roast.
This recipe was a popular option because the potatoes hold up well to being in the oven for a prolonged period of time, so there wasn’t the risk of overcooking them.
What is the difference between Dauphinoise and Boulangère Potatoes?
Dauphinoise and Boulangère potatoes do have a lot of similarities. Both are thinly sliced potatoes baked in the oven, although what is added to the dish makes them distinctly different dishes.
Dauphinoise uses cream and butter whereas Boulangère uses stock and onions. Traditionally neither recipe is made with cheese. Although I do add a dusting of parmesan to make these extra delicious. If you’d like to try dauphinoise potatoes then you can also check out this recipe.
You might be wondering how they actually bind together in the dish if there isn’t any cheese added. That’s the miracle of starch from the potatoes at work, which mixes with the liquid during cooking and makes a thick and silky sauce. Potato choice is important for the perfect result. For more information and suggested varieties see below.
Can I freeze them?
Boulangère potatoes can be frozen for up to 3 months. Transfer to a freezer-proof container and press clingfilm across the top of the potatoes to prevent freezer burn before adding a lid.
Leftovers can also be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days and then reheated. When reheating use the oven rather than the microwave, as it will help them crispen up on the top, which will retain more of that ‘freshly baked’ feel.
Can I make them in advance?
This is the perfect side dish to make in advance. Simply prepare everything as directed and then instead of baking, cover tightly with clingfilm and place in the fridge for up to 2 days.
You may find that the potatoes on the top which are exposed to the air become a little discoloured. This shouldn’t affect the dish after you’ve baked it. However, if you want to avoid this then you can prepare all the ingredients separately and submerge the potatoes in a bowl of water in the fridge so no air can get to them. Then you simply assemble when you are ready to cook.
What type of potatoes should I use?
The type of potato that you use will hugely affect the end result of the dish although there is a little flexibility based on your texture preferences.
The most ideal type of potato to use is one which is classed as all-purpose. The two ends of the potato spectrum are waxy and starchy. Waxy ones will hold their shape well and remain firm when cooked while starchy varieties will become softer and crumbly. When cooking Boulangère potatoes choosing a variety that falls in the middle means that you will have enough starch to create a thick sauce, while the potatoes will still hold their shape when you dig in.
Great varieties of all-purpose potatoes to look out for are Desiree, which is easily found in the UK, or Yukon Gold in the US. If you can find Sebago potatoes they are also a good choice.
You can also opt to use a more floury potato variety. Although note that the layers will be very crumbly and the potatoes will break apart a lot. Although you will get a super tender and soft result. Good varieties of floury potatoes to choose from include Maris Piper or Russet.
For a full list of ingredients with weights and measurements jump to the printable recipe card.
- Potatoes, thinly sliced (use a mandolin if you have one) – ideally find an all-purpose variety. See notes above
- Onion, thinly sliced – brown or white onions both work fine
- Garlic, very finely chopped
- Fresh thyme, leaves stripped from the stems
- Vegetable stock
- Parmesan cheese, grated (grate your own and steer clear of the pre-grated stuff) – this is non-traditional and can be skipped but it does add great extra flavour
- Unsalted butter
- Oven-proof baking dish. For 2 portions (the default recipe below) you’ll need one with around 1 litre / 1-quart capacity. This set of 4 baking dishes are great to make sure you always have the right size to hand (the second to smallest is perfect for 2 portions).
How to make it
For a more detailed list of instructions with recipe tips jump to the printable recipe card.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
- Saute the onions for around 5 minutes until softened and lightly golden.
- Layer the potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish, followed by a layer of onions and then a little of the thyme and garlic. Repeat until all the potatoes and onions are used.
- Sprinkle parmesan and a little thyme over the top and a few blobs of butter. Bake in the oven for 1 hour.
Looking for more great potato recipes? Try:
- Individual dauphinoise potatoes
- Lemon and thyme roast potatoes
- Garlic and leek mashed potatoes
- Parsnip and potato mash
- Cheese and potato pie
Products that work well for this recipe:
Set of 4 Ceramic Baking Dishes
Joseph Joseph Multi-Grip Mandoline
Joseph Joseph Fold Flat Grater
These Boulangere Potatoes are a true French classic. Soft and rich potatoes slowly baked in the oven and topped with crisply baked parmesan.
The default recipe serves 2.
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 400g / 14oz potatoes, thinly sliced (see note 1, 2 & 3)
- 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves stripped from stems
- 125ml vegetable stock
- 40g parmesan cheese (see note 4 & 5)
- 1 tsp unsalted butter
For 2 portions (the default recipe) a baking dish around 1 liter / 1 quart works well. Check out this set of 4 baking dishes so you always have the right size on hand (the second to smallest is perfect for this recipe).
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and gently fry for around 4-5 minutes until softened.
- Place a layer of sliced potatoes in the base of the baking dish, overlapping slightly so there aren’t any gaps. Layer some of the onions over the top followed by some of the thyme and garlic.
- Repeat the layering until all the potatoes and onions are used. Carefully pour the stock over the top and season with salt and pepper. Scatter over the parmesan.
- Place a few blobs of the butter over the top of the cheese and then bake for 1 hour until the potatoes are tender and you have a crisp layer of cheese on top.
- The best potatoes to use are all-purpose, which are starchy enough to give a soft result and thicken the sauce, but not so floury that they will fall apart. Desiree and Yukon Gold are good options.
- You can also use a floury variety but the result will be more crumbly and soft. In this case, use a variety such as Maris Piper or Russet.
- Ideally use a mandolin to slice the potatoes – around 3mm thick is a good guide.
- Make sure to grate your own parmesan as the pre-grated stuff has additives to stop it clumping, which actually stops it from melting as well.
- The use of cheese is not traditional in Boulangère potatoes, so you can skip the parmesan if you want. However it adds great flavour, and there is nothing better than golden and slightly crispened parmesan cheese on top!
- Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. Press a layer of clingfilm over the top of the potatoes before freezing to prevent freezer burn.
- To reheat use the oven rather than the microwave, which will help the edges crisp up and give more of a freshly baked texture.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Category: Side
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: French
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 314
- Fat: 13g
- Carbohydrates: 36g
- Protein: 12g
Keywords: potatoes, side, French, vegetarian, bake, easy