Creamy vegan scalloped potatoes are the perfect blend of tender sliced potatoes baked in a cheesy sauce with the savory flavor of vegan bacon bits.
⭐ Recipe Highlights
This healthy vegan rewrite of a holiday meal classic side dish is nut-free, oil-free, easy to make, and impossible to resist. But you don’t need to wait for the holiday season because this easy vegan side dish can be prepped on the quick and baked with oven space to spare.
📋 Key Ingredients, Notes, & Substitutions
Potatoes – In truth, any white potato can be scalloped. Yukon gold potatoes or other types, like russet potatoes with a lot of starch, cook to a creamier texture. But if you have a bag of smaller baby potatoes or red potatoes, you can add those to your casserole dish – with or without peeling, if you like.
Shallots – Sweet and mellow shallots give the creamy sauce needed depth. You can substitute with ½ a cup of diced red onion, or if you are in a pinch, use 1-2 teaspoons of onion powder or dried onions.
Nutritional yeast – Many vegan cheese sauces have a solid foundation built around nutritional yeast. In addition to being a great source of B12, nutritional yeast has a salty, savory flavor. It's a much healthier option than vegan cheddar or other commercial products that have oil and additives.
Plant milk – To make this nut-free, I used oat milk. You can also use soy milk. Using almond milk (a little sweeter) or creamy cashew milk is perfectly acceptable. Your dish just won't be entirely nut free. I've not tried coconut milk, so I can't account for the flavor if you use it.
Cornstarch – Originally, I used arrowroot as a thickener, but personally, I find cornstarch easier to work with. If you use tapioca starch, use 2 teaspoons. You can also use all-purpose flour.
Vegan bacon bits – It's optional, but you can whip up a batch of hemp seed bacon bits and bake them while you make the cream sauce. Initially, I made this recipe with our favorite tofu bacon, and I'll hold firm that if you want bacon strips, this is THE recipe. You can use the same principle for vegan parmesan cheese if you don't want the bacon flavor. But for quick bacon bits, give hemp seeds a try.
Start the sauce by heating your saucepan to medium heat. That way, the shallots hit a hot bottom and are less likely to stick.
Be sure to have all the ingredients ready to roll through the plant milk. That way, you aren’t fiddling with ingredients while the shallots scorch.
Cornstarch is easier to mix when the broth is at room temperature. If you use a veggie stock cube and a 1 ½ cup of water, mix the well before adding the cornstarch. If you do that early in the process, just give it a quick whisk before adding it to the sauce.
The best way to avoid the potato ice bath is to make the sauce first. Then adjust the stove to low while you prepare the potatoes. Stir it a few times as you add layers of potatoes into your baking dish. Once you get half the potatoes in, pour half of the sauce, and sprinkle on the bacon bits. Then repeat the process.
The first key to tender scalloped potatoes is using thinly sliced potatoes. Use a sharp knife with a steady hand or a mandoline slicer. To keep them from browning, prepare a bowl of cold water with a few ice cubes to toss the potato slices in as you slice them.
The second tender potato key is to preheat the oven and cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil. Remove the foil for the last 15 minutes, so the top layer of potatoes and sauce gets brown and a little crispy.
I used a glass baking dish for this recipe without tablespoons of oil or vegan butter anywhere (including the bottom). In the times I've made it (they're numerous), I've not had potatoes stuck to the bottom of the dish. Don't start with a thin layer of sauce on the bottom. Let the sauce cook to the bottom.
💭 Frequently Asked Questions
Cheese is the critical difference between scalloped and au gratin potatoes. If you’re thinking about a cheesy potato recipe with shredded cheddar, chances are, those are au gratin.
If you aren't a fan of nutritional yeast, a combination of yellow mustard powder, prepared mustard, and lemon juice can create a tangy cheddar flavor without using cheese. Start by adding a little of each and then adjust until the taste is where you want it.
It's best to peel and slice the potatoes right before baking, so they are fresh and don't start to oxidize. For easier prep, you can make the sauce a day ahead. You can also make hemp seed vegan bacon bits several days earlier (if you can stop eating them all.
🥗 Serving Suggestions
Scalloped potatoes make the perfect side dish for mains, from burger patties to lentil loaf to stuffed butternut squash. You can turn this great recipe into a main dish by siding it with a hearty salad and garlicky green beans or peas. Potatoes as a main dish? I'm in!
🌡️ Storage, Freezing, & Reheating
Transfer leftover potatoes to an airtight container. They keep in the fridge for 4 days. You can also freeze them for 3 months. If you freeze them, try to keep them in the same layer they were made in. This makes reheating easier.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and place the potatoes in a baking dish to reheat from the refrigerator. Cover with aluminum foil and reheat until the potatoes and sauce are hot. Remove the foil for 5-10 minutes to crisp the top.
If reheating from frozen, place the potatoes in a baking dish and add them to a preheated oven at 400 degrees. Start with the baking dish covered, and after 25 minutes, remove the foil. It will take time for the potatoes to heat through (about 30 minutes).