This Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes recipe is my new favorite holiday side dish! Could anything be more classic for serving at Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas? Thinly sliced russet potatoes are layered with cheddar cheese and the BEST creamy, flavorful sauce. It all bakes together into this magical, melt-in-your-mouth experience, with an ultra crispy cheddar cheese topping! You can even make them ahead of time. Originally published March 27, 2021.

cheesy scalloped potatoes in a pan, shot from overhead with a spoon
Table of Contents
  1. What are scalloped potatoes?
  2. Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes Ingredients
  3. How do you make scalloped potatoes?
  4. What to serve with Scalloped Potatoes with Cheese
  5. How to store Homemade Scalloped Potatoes
  6. Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes Recipe FAQs
  7. Holiday side dishes to try:
  8. More like this Scalloped Potatoes Recipe
  9. Homemade Scalloped Potatoes with Cheese Recipe

Last night some old friends came over for dinner. Amelia has been a nurse for many years, but just recently got a new job in Labor and Delivery. She was VERY nervous about it at first, and even asked her supervisors if she could have an extra week of shadowing after they thought she was ready. Which they gave her. But on her last night being supervised, the hospital got totally slammed and they needed to divide forces.

So here’s Amelia, 3 hours into her first time being on the job solo, and she’s in the room alone with one of her patients. AND OUT POPS A BABY. She said that she was so flustered and in shock that she couldn’t even find the nurse bell, she just hollered toward the door, “We got a baby in here!!”

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how to make scalloped potatoes super creamy

So what’s new with you? Delivered any babies recently?? You guys, I can’t even imagine having this kind of job. Amelia is extremely talented and has since single-handedly delivered two other babies on the job, because she’s awesome like that.

scalloped potatoes recipe with cheese topping being lifted out of the pan with a spoon

I don’t think I would EVER get the hang of it. I feel like no matter how many times I’d done it before, I would be the one screaming, “We got a baby in here!!!” and frantically ringing the nurse bell, completely forgetting the fact that I’M the nurse and am supposed to know what to do. So much for instilling confidence in my patients.

cheesy scalloped potatoes stacked on a plate

I’m so glad there are calmer, not so birth-and-death type jobs, like food blogging. Ah, doesn’t it feel nice just thinking about it? You get to make food, take pictures of it, eat it, and then tell everyone how they can recreate such a fantastic experience. So soothing. So not life or death.

scalloped potatoes with cheese being lifted out of the pan with a spatula

My hats off to all you nurses out there. Catching babies like it’s nbd and making us all feel confident that you know what you’re doing. I fake it til I make it at my job, why shouldn’t you??

Well, even if I would be a failure as a nurse, at least I can make some mean scalloped potatoes. It’s the little things, right?

What are scalloped potatoes?

Who loves a good scalloped potato dish? Seems like everyone loves this holiday classic! I used to be a mashed potato girl all the way, but that was before I discovered the secret to phenomenal scalloped potatoes that are never dried out: CREAM. Cream has got your back. Cream makes the world go round.

Most scalloped potato recipes have you make a roux from butter and flour, then add milk. It makes an acceptable white sauce. Some other scalloped potato recipes, like these Gruyere-Crisped Potatoes Au Gratin, skip the flour and use straight up cream. It’s delicious, but I wanted a traditional scalloped potato recipe that held its shape a bit more (I want it nice and saucy, but not so much that it spreads into the other food on my plate.)

Today’s recipe combines both methods: first we are making a roux, then we are turning it into a thickened sauce with cream instead of milk. It makes it super rich and flavorful. Parmesan added to the sauce makes it even more cheesy!

recipe for scalloped potatoes with cheese on a plate with a fork

And don’t even get me started on the crispy cheddar cheese topping. Heaven. There is no better compliment to your Easter ham or Thanksgiving turkey. Let’s make it!

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes Ingredients

Here’s a quick shopping list for you. See the card below for the full recipe!

  • Butter
  • Onion
  • Seasonings (kosher salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, dried thyme)
  • Garlic
  • Flour
  • Heavy cream
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Russet potatoes (peeled and sliced into 1/8″ rounds)
  • Sharp cheddar cheese

What’s the best cheese to use in scallop potatoes?

I love using cheddar and parmesan here because they contrast beautifully. Cheddar is tangy and melty, Parmesan has a fruity, nutty, umami taste. Even a small amount of Parmesan can take a dish from your average weeknight something-something to a real party in your mouth, because it’s so strongly flavored. We’re loading in the cheddar, then just hinting at the Parmesan. I am obsessed with this combo but you could do something totally different! Gruyere and Romano would be a fantastic pairing too (mostly Gruyere, just a little Romano).

How do you make scalloped potatoes?

First we’re starting out with some sliced onions and garlic. The beginning of so many amazing dishes, right? Bring on the flavor.

cheddar, parmesan, onion, potatoes, cream on a countertop, onions and garlic chopped on a wooden board.

On the left are all the main ingredients you need to make scalloped potatoes. Pretty simple!

adding cream to a mixture of onions and flour, a creamy sauce.

Cook the onions and garlic in butter, then mix in the flour. This is our “roux.” Add in the cream SLOWLY so that you don’t get any flour lumps! Sprinkle in your parmesan so that it melts into the sauce.

potatoes in a food processor, ready to be sliced.

I love to use my food processor for slicing the potatoes. It takes about 2 minutes and they get sliced to the perfect 1/8 inch size.

thinly sliced potatoes held in fingers, sliced potatoes in a pot of cream.

Of course you can just use a knife too! Here’s about how thick to slice your potatoes. Then add them in to that gorgeous cream sauce. Cook for about 10 minutes on the stove, using a rubber spatula to stir so that you don’t break all your potatoes into mush. This time on the stove is the secret to not having a ridiculously long bake time! We are parboiling the potatoes in cream, half cooking them. This means less time in the oven!

layering creamy potatoes in a glass dish and topping with cheese.

Layer half the potatoes in the pan and top with sharp cheddar. Get that mild cheddar outta here. We want these potatoes to taste sharp!

Add the rest of the potatoes and sprinkle on some more cheese! It’s ready for the oven.

How long do I cook scalloped potatoes?

Potatoes take forever to bake and get fully tender in the oven. If you put raw potatoes in the oven, expect it to take about 80-120 minutes (not a typo!) before they are ready.

cheese scalloped potatoes with crispy edges being lifted from a clear casserole dish.
You might think this looks burned. I think it looks PERFECT. Gimme all the crispy cheese!

The good news is that this recipe gives you a shortcut! Because we are parboiling the potatoes (cooking them for a while in a pot on the stove) we get to cut our oven time in half. These scalloped potatoes only need about 40 minutes before they are perfectly melt-in-your-mouth tender, and the cheese on top is at crisp-level-ultimate.

Can you make scalloped potatoes ahead of time?

Yes, scalloped potatoes are a great candidate for making ahead, unlike mashed potatoes which pretty much need to be done last minute. This is a life saver for holiday meals! Oh scalloped potatoes, how we love you 2 days in advance.

Make the recipe as instructed. MAKE SURE the potatoes are all coated in plenty of sauce; if they are exposed to oxygen they will turn dark brown. Once you’ve sprinkled the cheese on top, cover and refrigerate. When you are ready to bake, let it sit out on the counter for about 15-30 minutes, then bake for 40-50 minutes as instructed (uncovered). We are letting them sit on the counter for a bit so that your glass dish doesn’t shatter going into a hot oven. If you have a metal pan, you can put it right in the oven.

cheesy scalloped potatoes in a glass casserole dish with a tan napkin and parsley.

Can you freeze cheese scalloped potatoes?

Yes! Scalloped potatoes freeze very well. If you are planning ahead, I recommend making them in a disposable aluminum pan so that you are not holding one of your casserole dishes hostage in the freezer. You can freeze the potatoes either before OR after you bake them. Cover well, and then wrap tightly several times in aluminum foil. If you have a 2 gallon freezer bag, that will keep it even fresher. The potatoes can be frozen for up to 3 months.

  • To prepare unbaked frozen scalloped potatoes, remove any plastic you may have used for wrapping. Cover the potatoes with foil that you have sprayed with nonstick spray, and bake at 350 for about 50-60 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15-30 minutes until tender.
  • To prepare already baked scalloped potatoes, remove any plastic you may have used for wrapping. Cover the potatoes with foil that you have sprayed with nonstick spray, and bake at 350 for about 50 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes until tender and the cheese is browning.
cheesy scalloped potatoes recipe in a pan topped with thyme.

What to serve with Scalloped Potatoes with Cheese

Scalloped potatoes are a great side dish option for so many main dishes! Try out these favorites:

scalloped potatoes in a clear glass pan sprinkled with parsley.

How to store Homemade Scalloped Potatoes

Leftover scalloped potatoes can be stored in the fridge for up to a week. I like microwaving individual servings, but you can also reheat the whole dish in the oven. You can also freeze scalloped potatoes for up to 3 months! If you’re planning ahead, I recommend making them in a disposable aluminum pan. Cover well, and then wrap the container tightly several times in aluminum foil. If you have a 2 gallon freezer bag, that will keep it even fresher.

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes Recipe FAQs

What makes Scalloped Potatoes scalloped?

The word “scalloped” refers to a pattern made up of semicircles. Scalloped potatoes are “scalloped” because they’re sliced into super thin rounds, then layered so that they’re overlapping one another in a baking dish in a way that looks scalloped. 

What is the difference between Scalloped Potatoes and Au Gratin Potatoes?

It’s not surprising that scalloped potatoes and potatoes au gratin are often confused. While the two creamy potato dishes are super similar–they’re both baked, thinly sliced potato dishes with a creamy sauce–there are traditionally some differences. Au gratin potatoes are layered with cheese (and sometimes breadcrumbs) to create a crispy crust, while scalloped potatoes simply require a cream sauce. But cheese is delicious, and it’s definitely a delightful (though technically optional) part of any scalloped potato recipe. The focus here is on the creamy, saucy, cheesy potatoes, not on creating a crispy, breadcrumb crust.

What type of potato is best for cheesy scalloped potatoes?

All potatoes are awesome in their own way, but for cheesy scalloped potatoes, russet potatoes reign supreme. The starch in Russet potatoes helps the sauce thicken up as the potatoes bake, which creates the perfect thick and creamy texture. You can try Yukon gold or red potatoes too, they won’t melt into the sauce the same way though.

Why did the milk curdle in my scalloped potatoes?

High heat can curdle milk. We’re keeping the heat at medium or even medium low. Yes, this takes longer, but as anyone scraping burned potato gunk and curdled milk out of their saucepan can tell you, IT’S WORTH IT. The milk can also curdle if you’re using low-fat dairy. Maybe there is a time and place for skim milk but this is absolutely not it, unless you have a secret ambition to be Little Bo Peep eating her curds and whey. Go heavy whipping cream all the way!

cheesy scalloped potatoes in a casserole dish with a spoon lifting some out.

Holiday side dishes to try:

More like this Scalloped Potatoes Recipe

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Homemade Scalloped Potatoes with Cheese

4.78 from 97 votes
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 12
This Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes recipe is my new favorite holiday side dish! Could anything be more classic for serving at Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas? Thinly sliced russet potatoes are layered with cheddar cheese and the BEST creamy, flavorful sauce. It all bakes together into this magical, melt-in-your-mouth experience, with an ultra crispy cheddar cheese topping! You can even make them ahead of time.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter, (1/2 stick)
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups heavy cream*
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 4 pounds russet potatoes**, peeled and sliced to 1/8 inch
  • 3 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and divided in half

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13 inch casserole dish with a little butter, or use nonstick spray. Set aside.
  • Melt 1/4 cup butter over medium heat in a large pot. Thinly slice 1 onion and add to the butter. Saute for 4-6 minutes until the onion is translucent.
  • While it’s cooking, add 1 tablespoon kosher salt (use less if all you have is table salt), 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (this adds flavor not heat), and 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme.
  • After sautéing for 4-6 minutes, add 5 cloves of smashed and minced garlic. Let cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  • Gradually sprinkle in 6 tablespoons of flour, adding about a tablespoon at a time and stirring in between. It will form a thick paste with all the onions. Cook the flour for about 30 seconds to cook out the “raw flour” taste.
  • Use a whisk to SLOWLY stir in 4 cups of cream. The process of adding the cream should take at least 2-3 minutes. Your burner should still be at medium heat. Add a little bit of cream, whisk it in completely, then add a little more. The goal is to form a smooth sauce; if you add the cream all at once, you will have flour lumps.
  • Once all of the cream is added, stir in 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, sprinkling it in a little at a time so that it melts nicely.
  • (If your potatoes are not prepped and ready, remove the sauce from heat and set aside.)
  • Peel 4 pounds of russet potatoes** and slice thinly into 1/8 inch rounds with a sharp knife, mandolin, or food processor. See photos. If you have a food processor, I highly recommend using it. The slicer attachment cuts them to exactly the 1/8 inch size you need, and it’s so much faster. If there is any lag time in between when you slice the potatoes and when you add them to the sauce, place them in a large bowl of water to prevent browning. Drain well.
  • Add the sliced potatoes to the pot of sauce with the heat set to medium. Use a rubber spatula to stir the potatoes into the sauce, separating any slices that stick together to make sure they are all coated in sauce. Let the mixture come to a low bowl over medium heat, then reduce heat to medium low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Be gentle when stirring your potatoes; you don’t want to break them all into pieces. A rubber spatula is better than a wooden spoon.
  • After the cream and potato mixture has bubbled for about 10 minutes, turn off the heat.
  • Pour or spoon half of the mixture into the greased 9×13 inch pan. Sprinkle the first layer with 1 and 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese.
  • Top the cheese with the rest of the potato and cream mixture and spread to the edges. Sprinkle the top with 1 and 1/2 cups cheddar cheese.
  • Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes.
  • You will know the potatoes are done when the mixture is very bubbly, the cheese has started to brown, and a butter knife inserted into the potatoes slides through easily. If your cheese is browning but the potatoes are not tender, cover with foil and bake another 10 minutes.
  • Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
  • Store leftovers covered in the fridge. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for about a week. Reheat in the microwave for lunches. Or if you have enough leftover that you want to serve it for dinner again, sprinkle a little extra cheese on top and bake at 400 for 20 minutes, to recreate that perfect crispy topping.

Notes

*Heavy cream is usually sold near the milk at the store. It is sometimes called whipping cream. The different names refer to different fat content levels. (Any type of cream will do for this recipe. The higher the fat content, the richer your sauce will be.) Heavy cream is not coffee creamer. It is the thick, rich part of milk that rises to the top when you milk a cow. Those of you who know what cream is think it is odd that I am explaining this, but it is one of my most-asked questions when I post a recipe involving cream!
** I prefer russet potatoes because they break down into the sauce a little bit while you’re cooking, making the texture amazing. But Yukon gold potatoes will work too! The creamy sauce might be a little thinner. If you use Yukon potatoes, you don’t need to peel the potatoes. They are tender enough to be left on. 
MAKE AHEAD INSTRUCTIONS:
If you are making this for a holiday meal, you can make this up to 24 hours ahead of time! Make the recipe as instructed, and once you’ve sprinkled the cheese on top, cover and refrigerate. MAKE SURE the cheese completely covers the potatoes and that you seal it well with plastic wrap. Raw potatoes that are exposed to oxygen will turn black in the fridge. Add extra cheese on top if the potatoes aren’t covered!
When you are ready to bake, let it sit out on the counter for about 30 minutes, then bake as instructed (uncovered). 
FREEZER INSTRUCTIONS:
Scalloped potatoes freeze very well. If you are planning ahead, I recommend making them in a disposable aluminum pan so that you are not holding one of your casserole dishes hostage in the freezer. You can freeze the potatoes either before OR after you bake them. Cover well, and then wrap tightly several times in aluminum foil. If you have a 2 gallon freezer bag, that will keep it even fresher. The potatoes can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • To prepare unbaked frozen scalloped potatoes, remove any plastic you may have used for wrapping. Cover the potatoes with foil that you have sprayed with nonstick spray, and bake at 350 for about 50-60 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15-30 minutes until tender.
  • To prepare already baked scalloped potatoes, remove any plastic you may have used for wrapping. Cover the potatoes with foil that you have sprayed with nonstick spray, and bake at 350 for about 50 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes until tender and the cheese is browning.

Nutrition

Calories: 536kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 27g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 151mg | Sodium: 893mg | Potassium: 533mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1620IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 325mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Calories: 536
Keyword: Cheesy, Potatoes, scalloped
Did you make this? I’d love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! Made this for family dinner and had compliments from everyone on how yummy it was!!! Will definitely be making this again 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    This is my go to “Cheesy Scalloped Potato” recipe… It’s the only recipe that I use now, and I had a really good one of my own that I have made for years.. lol They are creamy, cheesy and delicious and I never have any leftovers, (Thank God) because I would eat them all myself.. The sharp cheddar gives these potatoes a lot of flavor. Fantastic!!

    1. That’s so great to hear Lark, thank you for taking the time to review this recipe! (I mean…you can’t go wrong with cheese and potatoes, right??)

  3. 5 stars
    I made these for Easter this weekend and they were delicious! My teenage niece liked them and my husband said ‘I don’t know what you did to those potatoes but those were some of the best I’ve ever had’. I will be keeping this recipe on hand!

  4. 5 stars
    I made these for Easter this year and they were so delicious! I have been asked three times since yesterday for the recipe! Recipe was easy to follow as usual. Thank you!! 😊

  5. 2 stars
    Sorry but the methodology is for the birds. I would never cook the potatoes in cream sauce again. I added more cream because 4 cups was not sufficient for potatoes to serve 6 adults and 3 children. You cannot parboil potatoes for 10 minutes without having them cooked sufficiently. In order to do so, everything burned on the bottom of the saucepan. I’ll just follow my own method and make it with cream. Have to find a store open on Easter because everything has to go in the garbage.

    1. Hi Norma! I’m so sorry this recipe didn’t work for you. I just made a double batch of this recipe in two pans for Easter yesterday and it worked fine as written. If your potatoes are burning on the bottom, lower the heat and keep stirring!

      1. Karen, keep cooking & blogging & Mom-ing. I’ve been a nurse for almost 50 years, am still at it. Some of us are made for certain things & it is a blessing when we know it. You help the nurses & teachers get good ideas on our tables!

        1. Cathy you are the sweetest! I love this sentiment, I do believe that we were made for certain things. Thanks for all your years of serving as a nurse that’s amazing! Here’s to keeping it going 💕 Love that you chimed in, so good to hear from you.

    2. 5 stars
      You obviously didn’t follow the recipe, why would you comment on a recipe and then say you basically make it better??? Um yes ma’am don’t make sense , if something is good why would you be looking to find new recipes?? Crawl back n your lonely corner

  6. Correct me if I am wrong, I thought scalloped potatoes were made without cheese, while the addition of cheese changed the name to au gratin.

    1. Hi Jerry, you’re not wrong! While the two creamy potato dishes are super similar–they’re both baked, thinly sliced potato dishes with a creamy sauce–there are traditionally some differences. Au gratin potatoes are layered with cheese (and sometimes breadcrumbs) to create a crispy crust, while scalloped potatoes simply require a cream sauce. But cheese is delicious, and it’s definitely a delightful (though technically optional) part of any scalloped potato recipe. The focus here is on the creamy, saucy, cheesy potatoes, not on creating a crispy, breadcrumb crust, so we’re calling them scalloped. Either way, if you try the recipe I hope you love it!

  7. 5 stars
    Is there a difference between au gratin potatoes and this cheesy scalloped potatoes recipe? I wasn’t a fan of scalloped potatoes (they seemed like blan potatoes baked in milk), but I’ve loved au gratin potatoes (flavorful orange cheesy sauce)… this is called scalloped but it looks like au gratin potatoes I’ve enjoyed so I just wanted to be sure…

    1. Hi Deborah! Russet potatoes can vary so much in size and weight it’s best to weigh them, if you have a kitchen scale. If you don’t, two medium russet potatoes, which will fit in your hand, weigh about 1 pound together. A large russet potato weighs a pound all by itself; smaller russets are about 3-4 to a pound. I hope this helps – enjoy!

  8. 5 stars
    OMG Wow! That’s the only way I can describe this dish. My daughter requested Scalloped potatoes so I did a search. So glad I found yours. My husband and myself don’t typically like scalloped potatoes, but I wanted to do something nice for my daughter. I did a search and your ingredients and photos looked so good I decided to try. Thank God I did! These are better than Carson’s “Potatoes AuGratin” (An old Chicago Restaurant). Absolutely loved them..Thank You!

    1. Hey Cheri! So happy you tried these for your daughter! You’re a nice mom :) And woohoo, better than Carson’s! I haven’t tried his but I’m glad we’re winning over here. 😉 Thank you so much for taking the time to review, that means so much to me!

  9. I love this recipe.made it many times. Definitely a fitting title. Thanks for sharing it. Your food processor looks like it has a large feeding tube, which I can’t seem to find. Which one do you have?

    Thanks,
    Noelle

  10. Hi, can I make this with whole milk? I have cream but not enough and during the holidays I don’t know how available more cream will be.

    1. Hi Mindy! Heavy cream is a significant part of this recipe, and its thickness contributes to the texture of the finished dish. Whole milk is much thinner and will likely not give you the same results. If you need to substitute a cup or so of milk for cream (still using mostly cream) you’ll probably be just fine. Best of luck and enjoy!

  11. Hello! Absolutely love this recipe. I do 1/2 cup sharp cheddar and 1/2 cup white sharp cheddar as my moderation. I have made this recipe at least 6 times. However, even after following the instructions I can’t ever get them to turn out right when I make them ahead and actually bake them the next day. The potatoes come out too firm and never as good. 

    1. Hi Lauren! It’s always frustrating when a beloved recipe doesn’t turn out as well as you’d hope. With the overnight instructions, it’s essential to be sure that the cheese is completely covering the potatoes and that they’re well sealed. It’s also important to make sure that the made-ahead, fridge-cooled potatoes sit on the counter for 30 minutes before baking. I hope your next batch turns out perfectly!

      1. Thank you!! I will try doing that next time. I’m making comfort food for a funeral and I immediately said “I know what I’m making!” This recipe is never too old for these taste buds ❤️❤️❤️❤️

  12. Can I make this in a large crockpot? What difference would there be? I have made potatoes before and they were garbage because they turned black 🤢 I would rather cook in crockpot and serve when needed, as my oven will be occupied with other things!

    1. Hi Rachel! We haven’t tested this recipe in a crockpot. I hear you about oven space! If you do want to make this ahead to save some prep time, you can make the recipe as instructed up to 24 hours ahead of time. Once you’ve sprinkled the cheese on top, cover and refrigerate. MAKE SURE the cheese completely covers the potatoes and that you seal it well with plastic wrap. Raw potatoes that are exposed to oxygen will turn black in the fridge. Add extra cheese on top if the potatoes aren’t covered! When you are ready to bake, let it sit out on the counter for about 30 minutes, then bake as instructed (uncovered). Best of luck!

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