While mashed potatoes might be the most popular holiday potato recipe, these Vegan Scalloped Potatoes are my absolute favorite holiday potato recipe.
They are basically creamy, cheesy, garlicky potato pillows melting in your mouth, and I want to sing from the rooftops “This dish is amazing! Make it now!”.
Unlike many standard scalloped potato recipes (e.g., bland), this one is packed with so much good flavor, from caramelized onions and an herb-infused béchamel sauce, to a little chili heat and loads of savoriness.
Bonus: while these potatoes are certainly comfort food, you can eat a good amount of them without feeling weighed down. They’re dairy-free, vegan, nut-free, and easy to make gluten-free and soy-free.
Table of Contents
1. Why this recipe works
2. Ingredient notes
3. Step-by-step instructions
4. Tips for making this recipe
5. Frequently Asked Questions
6. Recipe card with notes
Why this recipe works
Most traditional scalloped potato recipes are heavy on the dairy but skimpy on the flavor. It’s just potatoes; a roux from butter, flour, and milk; salt and pepper; and (sometimes) cheese.
Rest assured, these vegan scalloped potatoes have been supercharged with flavor using a few techniques.
flavor tips for scalloped potatoes
- Herb-infused milk. Instead of using plain milk, I simmer the milk with a bundle of fresh sage, thyme, rosemary and a bay leaf (a bouquet garni), along with a touch of nutmeg, cayenne, peppercorns and salt. The infused milk is so much better.
- Add aromatics to the roux. Adding a diced onion (and garlic) to the buttery roux makes a HUGE difference, infusing each bite with the savory sweetness that only caramelized onions can bring.
- Amp up the savoriness. Some classic recipes contain cheese, an umami-rich ingredient. To bring deep savory flavors to the forefront, I use (a) a generous amount of nutritional yeast, which adds an incredible cheesy flavor; (b) white miso, which lends a more complex savory flavor; and (c) optionally, vegan parmesan, which takes the dish over the top.
Perfectly cooked potatoes
One of the most common complaints about scalloped potatoes is that they don’t cook evenly: some potatoes are super soft, others a bit crunchy and undercooked.
Why this happens: The potatoes are sliced too thick (1/4″) and/or (2) the dish is cooked for just 1 hour.
In our first three tests, we baked the dish for 1 hour, and all three had some undercooked potatoes, especially the version with 1/4-inch thick slices.
Do this instead: (1) Slice the potatoes 1/8″ thick. This is SO easy and quick with a mandoline. We use this inexpensive handheld mandoline and it ensures even thickness on each slice.
(2) Bake the dish longer: first, covered with foil for 1 hour (to prevent burning and enable steaming), then uncovered for 20 minutes (or up to 30 minutes).
Yukon gold potatoes. These have great potato flavor and are starchy but not overly so, so you end up with flavor-forward, saucy scalloped potatoes. In contrast, Russet potatoes have little flavor and absorb a lot of liquid, so they eat up the sauce and it turns dry.
Full-fat oat milk. We had the best results with a full-fat oat milk, like the one from Oatly or the creamy oat milk from Califia.
Substitute: A creamy cashew milk would also work. But we think soy milk is too naturally sweet (even the unsweetened varieties) and almond milk is not creamy enough.
Fresh herbs. A trio of sage, thyme, and rosemary infuse the milk with a deep herby flavor. Around the holidays, many grocery stores will sell these three herbs together in a package called “poultry herbs.”
Substitute: If you don’t have all three herbs (sage, thyme, and rosemary), just use one or two.
Vegan butter. Scalloped potatoes are typically made with butter, and vegan butter works like a charm here, adding rich buttery flavor.
Substitute: You can use extra virgin olive oil instead.
Nutritional yeast. A half cup sounds like a lot, but remember we have 4 pounds of potatoes! The natural glutamate in nooch will really amp up the savoriness in this dish. We don’t recommend substituting this!
Onion and garlic. These amp up the flavors in a traditional roux and make this dish 10x better (we tried a version without them and were underwhelmed).
Dijon mustard. Adds an ever-so-slight tang that cuts through the rich creaminess of this dish.
Add the milk, bouquet garni (fresh herbs tied together with kitchen twine), nutmeg, cayenne, peppercorns, and salt to a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and gently simmer on low for 7-8 minutes. Strain the milk, discarding the aromatics and herbs.
Make the sauce. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion in a bit of vegan butter until fully golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add the rest of the butter and cook the garlic and red pepper flakes for 1-2 minutes.
Stir in the flour and whisk for 1 to 2 minutes until it’s a bit pasty.
Gradually pour in the infused milk, whisking as you go.
Simmer 3 to 5 minutes, until it has thickened, then whisk in in the nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, and miso.
Layer half of the potatoes (peeled and sliced 1/8″ thick) in a greased 13×9″ (33×23 cm) baking pan in an overlapping fashion, about 3 layers. Season the potatoes pretty well with salt and pepper.
Add half of the sauce on top.
Spread the sauce out to the edges using a silicone spatula.
Add the remaining half of the potatoes in overlapping layers, and season with salt and pepper.
Add the remaining half of the sauce on top of the second layer of potatoes and spread out.
Top with vegan parmesan cheese, if using.
Bake at 400ºF/205ºC for 1 hour, covered with foil. Uncover the foil and rotate the pan by 180º. Bake uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is deeply golden brown and potatoes are fully softened.
Top with a bit of flaky sea salt and chopped chives. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
Tips for making vegan scalloped potatoes
Use a creamy plant-based milk.
We need to replace the high-fat content of whole milk, and I found the best option was full-fat oat milk (we love the one from Oatly or the creamy oat milk from Califia).
Yukon Gold Potatoes are the best for flavor and texture.
As mentioned earlier, Yukon gold potatoes have more potato flavor than Russets and have just the right amount of starch.
In our test, the version with 100% Yukon Gold potatoes was noticeably more flavorful and saucier than the version with 50% Russets & 50% Yukon Gold.
Slice potatoes with a mandoline.
The key to perfectly baked scalloped potatoes are thin slices, 1/8″ (.3 cm) thick.
To speed up prep time and ensure uniform slices that bake evenly, a mandoline is your best best.
We use this inexpensive handheld mandoline and it works like a charm (affiliate link). If you don’t have one, you can try the slicing disc of your food processor if it slices thinly enough (or slice by hand, but it is more time consuming).
Let it rest!
If you immediately slice into this dish, it’ll burn your mouth. So there’s that. Also, the flavors still need a bit of time to meld together.
Plus, resting the dish thickens it and “sets” those casserole-like layers. This is especially important when using Yukon Golds, as they have a higher water content than Russets and need time to rest
Frequently Asked Questions
Just use a gluten-free all-purpose flour in the roux (we like King Arthur’s). Or you could try using half the amount of cornstarch (2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons).
Our favorite is from Follow Your Heart! It’s sold at Sprouts, Whole Foods, Vons, Foodtown, Target, and smaller specialty stores. It doesn’t have a weird artificial taste and melts SO good in this recipe.
Yes, definitely! Even without the parmesan, this dish still looks remarkably cheesy and bubbly on top when removed from the oven, and thanks to a generous amount of nutritional yeast, it has some pretty good cheesy vibes.
Just add the herbs to the milk and strain the milk as instructed. The twine just makes it easier to fish out the herb bundle at the end.
Yes. You’ll miss out on some savory complexity of flavor, but this dish still has a lot of flavor going for it. Also, be sure to use a soy-free vegan butter.
We recommend Yukon Gold potatoes for the best flavor and sauciness. That said, you can use half Russets and half Yukon Golds and it’ll still be good (just don’t use all Russets – they will absorb a lot of the sauce and make this dish much drier).
Store leftovers, once cooled, in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Transfer to a heatproof baking dish or food storage container, cover with foil, and reheat at 350ºF/175ºC for 20 to 30 minutes, or until heated through.
Sure, you can bake them up to 3 days in advance. Once cooled, cover the baking dish tightly with foil (or use a pan that has a lid) and refrigerate.
On the big day, cover the pan with foil and bake at at 350ºF/175ºC for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are warmed through. For a crispier top, remove the foil after 20 minutes and bake uncovered for 10 more minutes.
Grab your favorite vegan sausage (I like Beyond Meat hot Italian and Field Roast Italian) and brown it in a pan. Layer it on top of the potato layers before adding the sauce! If you do this, reduce the salt in the sauce.
If it’s a big holiday meal, this Vegan Wellington would make an epic pairing! Or, a stuffed winter squash, like this Creamy Lentil Stuffed Butternut Squash or Wild Rice Stuffed Squash.
For something lighter, a green salad or some steamed or roasted broccoli, asparagus, or green beans would be great. For a heartier salad, try this Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Salad, or just peruse this list of 30 sublime salad recipes.
If you have my cookbook, The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook, the Lemony Asparagus with Gremolata, Garlicky Broccoli, Sicilian-Style Chard, Sweet and Spicy Braised Red Cabbage (all in chapter 4) would be nice veggie choices!
Looking for more vegan holiday side dishes?
- Mashed Potatoes: fluffy yet creamy mashed potatoes, made vegan
- Vegan Gravy: a boldly flavored, deeply savory mushroom gravy
- Crispy Baked Mac and Cheese: cheesy, creamy, and crispy (and more nourishing than you’d expect!)
- Wild Mushroom Stuffing: an umami-rich spin on the classic stuffing
- Pumpkin Stuffed Shells: cheesy, chewy, garlicky, and creamy!
- Vegan Cornbread: crispy-crusted and buttery and practically melts in your mouth!
If you love these Vegan Scalloped Potatoes, please be sure to rate and review them below! Your feedback is always so valuable :)
The Best Vegan Scalloped Potatoes
- 4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes*
- 1 large sprig of sage (8 to 10 leaves)
- 8 to 12 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 large sprig of rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cups (720 mL) full-fat oat milk
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns (or freshly cracked black pepper)
- 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons vegan butter or extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 medium-large yellow onion, finely diced
- 8 large garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ⅓ cup (42g) all-purpose flour**
- 1/2 cup (35g) nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon white miso paste, at room temperature***
- ½ cup to ¾ cup vegan parmesan (optional but recommended)****
- flaky sea salt
- 1 big handful of chopped chives
- Peel and wash the potatoes. Dry well. Use a mandoline to slice them ⅛” (.3 cm) thick.*****
- Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400ºF/200ºC. Grease a 13×9” (33×23 cm) square baking dish with a bit of oil on the bottoms and up the sides.
- Make a bouquet garni: tie your sage, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf in kitchen twine. If you don't have twine, leave herbs loose.
- In a medium saucepan, add oat milk, bouquet garni, nutmeg, cayenne, peppercorns and salt. Bring to a simmer and then turn heat to low and gently simmer for 7 to 8 minutes. Once cooled, strain over a sieve and save the infused milk; discard herbs & aromatics.
- In a deep 10 or 12-inch frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of vegan butter or olive oil over medium-high heat. Once melted or hot, add the onion and season with salt and pepper. Stir fairly frequently until the onion is fully golden brown, about 15 minutes. This is key for that deep savory caramelized onion flavor!
- Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter or oil. Once melted, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 1-2 minutes, until the garlic is golden and aromatic, stirring frequently.
- Add in the flour and whisk for 1 to 2 minutes to cook the flour into a paste. Gradually pour in the infused milk, whisking as you go to prevent clumping. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, whisking often, for 3 to 5 minutes, until creamy and thick but pourable (it should coat the back of a spoon). Add in the nutritional yeast, mustard, and miso, and whisk until smooth. The sauce should be quite thick at this point. Take off the heat.
- Add half of the potatoes to the bottom of the prepared baking pan in overlapping layers (it took us 3 layers to go through half of the potatoes). Season the potatoes pretty well with salt and pepper. Top with half of the sauce and smooth it out evenly to the edges with a silicone spatula.
- Add the remaining potatoes and season again with salt and pepper. Top with the rest of the sauce. Take a silicone spatula and and scrape any sauce stuck on the sides down into the potatoes (this prevents burning). Scatter the vegan parmesan evenly over the top, if using.
- Cover the pan with foil and bake for 1 hour, until the sauce is bubbly around the edges. Remove the foil and rotate the pan by 180º. Bake uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, until a fork inserted all the way to the bottom gives no resistance and the top is a bit browned. If they're not quite tender, bake for another 10 minutes. Note: The top should be nicely browned by now, but if not, you can briefly stick it under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes (watch closely!).
- Sprinkle it with a bit of flaky salt and top with the chopped chives. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before slicing. It will thicken more as it rests.
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