Creamy Sweet Potato and Muenster Gratin

Recipe Pin
1 hour 50 minutes
8 servings

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Creamy Sweet Potato and Muenster Gratin elevates the southern staple sweet potato to a new level of richness without added effort. It’s altogether creamy, cheesy, and, albeit savory, a comparable side dish to the classic Southern sweet potato casserole!

Serving two types of potato sides at your holiday gathering? In addition to this delicious Gratin, consider my Cheesy Mashed Potatoes, a make-ahead casserole that’s short on time but big on flavor!

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A cast iron pan filled with a savory sweet potato casserole au gratin.

Gather ’round, y’all, ’cause I’ve got a side dish that’ll knock your socks clean off. Picture this: the comfort of southern sweet potatoes blended with the elegance of a French gratin. I’m talkin’ creamy, cheesy, and utterly delicious. A potato bake so good it might just give your main course a run for its money. Get ready to tuck into some hearty Creamy Sweet Potato and Muenster Gratin because this recipe stands out with minimal effort, ensuring it’s a crowd-pleaser every time!

Creamy Sweet Potato and Muenster Gratin masterfully combines the homely feel of southern sweet potatoes with the opulence of a French gratin. Similarly, the southern sweet potato shines in this rustic Steak Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette. And this distinct Endive Gratin showcases the French style of baking a gratin recipe with cheese, garlic butter, and heavy cream.

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Why You’ll Love This Recipe!

·         Sweet Potatoes – Not just a southern staple, they’re the heart of this dish, providing a familiar and comforting base.
·         Muenster Cheese – With its gentle tang, and its ability to melt beautifully, it partners up with the sweet potato in this gratin recipe as if they belong together.
·         Béchamel Sauce – Where French meets Southern, making this dish smooth and subtle and a surprisingly savory alternative to typical sweet potato casseroles.
·         Minced Fresh Herbs – The inclusion of aromatic herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage elevates the dish, offering bursts of earthy flavors that beautifully contrast the creaminess.
·         Ground Nutmeg – A hint of this warming spice subtly permeates the dish, adding an unexpected depth and aromatic layer to every bite.


Ingredients for Sweet Potato and Muenster Gratin

The combination of ingredients I am about to share is a testament to how diverse elements can unite to form a dish greater than the sum of its parts.

Ingredients required to assemble Creamy Sweet Potato and Muenster Gratin.
  • Large Sweet Potatoes: Opt for firm, reddish-brown sweet potatoes. Can be found in the produce section. Substitute: yams.
  • Muenster Cheese: Go for the sliced kind in the dairy section. Substitute: Havarti or mild cheddar.
  • Ground Nutmeg: Freshly ground packs more punch. Located in the spice aisle. Substitute: ground cinnamon, but use sparingly.
  • Garlic Cloves: Fresh is best, giving a sweeter flavor when roasted. Check the produce aisle. Substitute: garlic powder.
  • Salted Butter: A Southern kitchen must-have! Aisle: dairy. Substitute: unsalted butter (adjust seasoning).
  • Heavy Cream: Gives richness. Found in the dairy section. Substitute: half-and-half.
  • Milk: Whole milk for creaminess. Dairy aisle. Substitute: almond or soy milk for a dairy-free option.
  • Minced Fresh Herbs: Mix ‘n match based on what’s in season. Fresh thyme and sage are my faves. Produce section.
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See recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.

Substitutions and Variations

When experimenting with substitutions and variations, be mindful that they can alter the dish’s texture, cooking duration, and overall taste.

  • Yukon Gold Potatoes – Substitute instead of sweet potatoes for a milder flavor.
  • Havarti or Smoked Gouda – Use in lieu of Muenster while maintaining similar melting properties and flavors.
  • Ground Allspice – This can be used instead of nutmeg but remember to use sparingly as it can be intense.
  • Shallots – Used in place of garlic, they can offer a more delicate taste.
  • Full-fat Coconut Milk – Skip the heavy cream for a dairy-free option.
  • Almond Milk or Oat Milk – Instead of cow’s milk for dairy-free versions.
  • Crisp Cooked Pancetta – Layer in between for a smoky flavor.
  • Roasted Garlic – Roast the garlic before incorporating it for a deeper flavor.

Sweet Potatoes or Yams?

A quart basket with sweet potatoes.

Yams and sweet potatoes are distinct, despite often being confused. Yams, with rough bark-like skin, are starchy and can grow quite large. Their flesh varies from white to purple. Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, have two main types: firm with pale flesh and soft with orange flesh. They’re sweeter and softer when cooked. While yams are common in African and Asian dishes, sweet potatoes are popular worldwide, especially in the US. So remember, they’re not the same, even if they seem so!

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Tip: Pat Potato Rounds DRY!

Be sure to pat your potatoes very dry before layering! This will ensure the delightful, melty texture you want.


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This recipe has not been tested with other substitutions or variations. If you replace or add any ingredients, please let us know how it turned out in the comments below!

Can All or Parts of This Gratin Be Made Ahead?

By preparing some or all components in advance, you can cut down on ‘day-of’ cooking stress!

  • Sweet Potatoes – Peel, slice, and submerge the sweet potatoes up to a day in advance. Submerge and store the slices in a bowl of cold water in the refrigerator to prevent them from browning. When you’re ready to assemble the gratin, drain and pat them dry.
  • Béchamel Sauce – The creamy béchamel sauce can be prepared a day or two ahead. After cooking, let it cool, and then store in an airtight container in the fridge. Before using, gently reheat it on the stovetop, stirring constantly until it reaches a pourable consistency.
  • Cheese Preparation – Grate the Muenster cheese ahead of time and store it in a sealed container or zip-top bag in the refrigerator.
  • Assembled Gratin – You can assemble the entire gratin (without baking) a day ahead. Just cover it tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate. On the day of serving, allow it to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking as directed.

Step By Step Instructions

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Tip: Overlap the Potato Slices!

When layering, make sure each potato slice overlaps slightly for that luscious, stacked effect.


A cast iron pan with butter, and a saucepan with milk, cream, butter, and herbs warming on a stove.

Make a Thin Béchamel

Step 1. Preheat the oven 400°F. Liberally grease a shallow enameled cast iron braiser with 1 tablespoon of salted or unsalted butter. (Image 1)

Step 2. In a saucepan, combine 3/4 cups cream, 3/4 cups whole milk, 2 tablespoons of whatever combination fresh herbs you will use, Kosher salt, black pepper, and remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. For the salt and pepper, I like to say, ‘to taste’ or ‘whatever your heart tells you.’ But if you need a definitive starting point, 1 teaspoon salt if using unsalted butter, and 1/2 teaspoon salt if using salted butter. Pepper is HALF the amount of salt you use. Simmer until butter melts and mixture is hot. Remove from heat but keep on the warm burner to continue steeping the flavors. (Image 2)

Sweet potato slices beneath a mandoline blade.

Prepare the Potatoes

Step 3. Peel 3 large sweet potatoes and remove black spots with a paring knife. Slice them 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick using a mandoline or, if unavailable, a sharp knife, ensuring thin slices. (Image 3)

Step 4. Rinse the slices and pat dry very well. Load into a bowl and transfer to a clean workspace along with the herbs you plan to use. (Image 4)

The buttered cast iron filled with layers of the sliced sweet potatoes, chopped cheese, and the milk, cream, and butter mixture.

Assemble the Gratin

Step 5. Begin a layering process using overlapping potato rounds in the bottom of the braiser, covering the entire bottom of the dish. Depending on the circumference of your braiser, you can expect to build either 2 or 3 layers. The braiser I use measures 12-inches, so 3 large potatoes enable me 2 layers. (Image 5)

Step 6. Alternate sprinkling the potatoes with a portion of the nutmeg, some of the Muenster cheese, and the milk/butter/cream mixture. (Images 6 & 7) Begin the process again starting with another layer of the potatoes. (Image 8)

Two images demonstrating the completed sweet potato casserole unbaked and also baked.

Step 7. Press down on the layers to completely submerge the potatoes in the cream mixture and top with additional cheese and a very small final grind of nutmeg. (Image 9)

Step 8. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 30-45 minutes until cream is absorbed and potatoes are browned. Let gratin cool slightly, then sprinkle with additional minced herbs if desired. Here, I have added torn rosemary leaves during the final 30 minutes of the bake, so be creative and think about the flavor you want to stand out. It needn’t be an herb, maybe it’s the nutmeg or simply the potatoes themselves. (Image 10)

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Tip: Allow to Stand Post-Bake

Allow the gratin to stand for 15 minutes prior to serving. This crucial cooling time allows the dish to finish baking outside of the oven and gives the flavors more time to blend together.

How to Serve Sweet Potato and Muenster Gratin

The Creamy Sweet Potato and Muenster Gratin is a versatile side that can be paired with various main dishes and settings. Here are some ideas for serving it:

Pairings

  • Holiday Gatherings – Place it alongside roast turkey, honey-glazed ham, or prime rib for a festive spread. The rich flavors make it a fitting accompaniment for special occasions.
  • Barbecue – Serve the gratin with smoked meats like pulled pork, ribs, or brisket. Its creamy texture can be a delightful contrast to barbecued dishes’ smoky, charred flavors.
  • Vegetarian Nights – Pair it with a refreshing green salad, roasted Brussels sprouts, or grilled asparagus for a hearty, vegetarian feast.

Presentation Tips

  • Garnish with extra minced herbs or a sprinkle of paprika for color.
  • Serve in individual ramekins for a personalized touch at dinner parties.
  • If serving buffet-style, pair it with a decorative serving spoon and label the dish for guests to identify.

Jenny’s Recipe Pro Tips

  • Use a mandoline for quick, even potato slices.
  • Think presentation! Sprinkle fresh herbs such as whole rosemary leaves over the final layer of potatoes before you top with the final scattering of Muenster. The oil from the cheese will keep the rosemary from drying out as it melts.
  • When layering, make sure each potato slice overlaps slightly for that luscious, stacked effect.

Recipe FAQs

What is the difference between potatoes au gratin and scalloped potatoes?

Gratin includes a cheese component, while scalloped potatoes typically do not.

How can I store leftovers?

Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave for about one minute or until heated all the way through.

Can I use a different type of cheese?

Yes, Havarti or mild cheddar are good alternatives because of their tangy flavor and ability to melt similarly to Muenster.

More Potato Recipes to Love!

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After trying this recipe, I would love to hear your thoughts! Consider leaving a star rating in the recipe card located below or sharing your feedback in the comment section. Your reviews and comments are highly valued and appreciated.

An enameled cast iron pan filled with sweet potatoes and cheese.

Creamy Sweet Potato and Muenster Gratin

Jenny DeRemer
Creamy Sweet Potato and Muenster Gratin fuses Southern warmth with French elegance, creating a side dish brimming with rich flavors.
5 from 1 vote
Servings: 8 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Resting Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, Southern
Servings 8 servings
Calories 307 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 3 large sweet potatoes peeled, black spots removed, sliced 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick on a mandoline
  • 1 cup Muenster cheese shredded or finely cubed from a single, large block
  • 1 tablespoon nutmeg fresh; plus more to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter softened; divided
  • ¾ cups heavy cream
  • ¾ cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons herbs fresh; minced; any combination of thyme, sage, parsley, marjoram, and rosemary
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a shallow enameled cast iron braiser with 1 tablespoon of salted butter.
  • To a saucepan, add the remaining 3 tablespoons butter, cream, milk, chopped herbs, Kosher salt, and black pepper. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, until the butter is melted and the mixture is heated through. Cut the heat but leave atop the warm burner.
  • Begin a layering process using overlapping sweet potato rounds in the bottom of the braiser. Make sure the entire surface of the cast iron bottom is covered. Next, sprinkle with 1/3 of the nutmeg followed by 1/3 of the Muenster and 1/3 of the warm cream mixture. In the skillet, arrange the potatoes in an even layer.
  • Repeat with the remaining potatoes, nutmeg, Muenster cheese, and cream mixture to form 3 layers. Press down on the layers to completely submerge the sweet potatoes in the cream mixture and top with additional cheese and a very small final grind of nutmeg.
  • Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and continue baking until the cream has been absorbed, the potatoes are cooked through, and the top is browned, another 30 to 45 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven. Allow the gratin to stand for 15 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with additional fresh minced herbs if desired.

Notes

Make Ahead by several hours and cover with plastic film. Refrigerate until ready to bake. Remove from refrigeration 30 minutes before placing into fully preheated oven. Drizzle 3 to 4 tablespoons of heavy cream over the potatoes if they have absorbed most of the original liquid. Continue with directions for baking as indicated in the recipe card.
Store Leftovers in an airtight container under refrigeration for up to 4 days. Reheat Leftovers in the microwave in one-minute increments or until heated all through.

The nutrition value can vary depending on what product(s) you use. The information below is an estimate. Always use a calorie counter you are familiar with.

Please note that table salt and iodized salt are NOT substitutions for Kosher salt. Do not deviate unless otherwise specified.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 307kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 7gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 12gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 219mgPotassium: 513mgFiber: 4gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 18799IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 188mgIron: 1mg
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