Au gratin potatoes are a family meal staple, and though they’re delicious when homemade, it’s a lot of work to chop all those potatoes, making a boxed version much more appealing to anyone who’s short on time.
However, as we all know, box recipes don’t always taste homemade, making it necessary to become inventive and find ways to make them a little yummier. Here’s how to make boxed au gratin potatoes taste better:
Whether you’re making them au gratin or not, your first instinct to enhance the flavor of potatoes may be to add cheese. If so, that’s a great instinct.
Cheese, whether you’re adding it to potatoes or not, instantly adds flavor and dimension to any dish, and with potatoes, it brings out more of their delicious natural flavor. Top your boxed au gratin potatoes with a little bit of cheese and broil them before serving to thoroughly melt your cheese and give it that delicious texture from a little bit of charring.
You can also add a little bit of cheese into the potato mix to have them cheesy throughout. Either way will result in a totally tasty dish. White creamy cheeses like cheddar, Havarti, and gouda will taste amazing, but you can always try something a little bit stronger, too. Just make sure it has good melting properties.
Another quick and easy way to add flavor and texture to your au gratin potatoes is by adding some meat. You can go for something standard, like cubed ham or bacon bits, but you can also just as easily add some shredded chicken or turkey for a lighter, less salty option.
If you have leftover meat, simply heat it up and mix it right in with your au gratin potatoes, or bake it right along with them. Either way, you’ll be happy with the outcome, and you’ll turn a side dish into a full meal.
To add some nutrients, color, and flavor, try adding some veggies to your au gratin potatoes. Potatoes taste great with just about any vegetable, but some that are especially good are broccoli, carrots, celery, and onions. Mixing them into the dish and cooking them until they’re tender is probably the best way to go, but other methods can be utilized, as well.
If you add meat, cheese, and vegetables altogether, you’ll have yourself an au gratin casserole, which again can be served as a full meal. This is also a great way to get picky kids to eat their vegetables. It’s a fool-proof solution to improving boxed au gratin potatoes.
Season Them Up
Never underestimate the power of good seasoning. Of course, start with the salt and pepper, but don’t forget about the other tasty seasoning options at your disposal like basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, Italian seasoning, or other herb blends. Just mixing those in will add flavor and brightness to your dish, as will the help of an acid, like lemon juice or vinegar.
And never count out fresh herbs. You can always top your boxed au gratin potatoes with some fresh parsley, rosemary sprigs, or chopped chives. This will instantly elevate both the flavor and the presentation of your dish.
Never forget how important the cooking method is to whatever you’re making. If you’ve ever had chicken boiled versus chicken grilled, you know this to be true. Apply the same principle to your boxed au gratin potatoes and consider alternate ways to cook them.
Just because the box says they have to be baked doesn’t mean you have to bake them. You can also grill your dish. Grilling your boxed au gratin potatoes will instantly enhance both the flavor and the texture, making them a step up from the boxed directions version.
Use the Air Fryer
In that same line of thinking, consider using your air fryer as your method of cooking. Depending on what kind of air fryer you have, you can change the setting and don’t necessarily have to use the air fry setting. You can use the convection baking setting or any other setting you think would lead to a good result.
Using an air fryer to cook will add a different texture to your box of au gratin potatoes and get you excited about eating them again.
Make Package Ingredient Substitutions
Your box of au gratin potatoes will call for additional ingredients such as milk, water, and butter, but you can very easily change the flavor by making some simple swaps.
Instead of using milk, try cream. Instead of butter, use margarine or flavored butter. And instead of water, use vegetable or chicken broth. Any of these substitutions will add flavor, dimension, and a little bit of texture, making for a really rich creamy au gratin meal. You’ll be wondering why you didn’t try them sooner.
Spice Them Up
If your mouth can handle it, try spicing up your box au gratin mix. Try some cumin, paprika, red chili flakes, chili powder, or some Calabrian chili oil to really elevate the flavor and make for a totally unique au gratin potato meal.
Health Benefits of Potatoes
If you’re wondering why you should go to the trouble of making boxed au gratin potatoes better, it’s because potatoes are a wonderful food. In fact, they’re a superfood, meaning they have tons of health benefits.
If you’re trying to lose weight, have a medical condition that requires a new diet, or just want to improve your health in general, turning to potatoes might be a great idea. Of course, check with your doctor, but note some of these health benefits of potatoes:
- Great source of fiber
- Full of antioxidants
- Lowers blood pressure
There are several other health benefits inside potatoes, and an improved box of au gratin potatoes may be just the trick to get you to eat them!