Papas gratinadas

To me, wintertime means lots of comfort foods. And pardon the pun, but during the blizzard we had here last week, I was cooking up a storm while I was cooped up inside for three whole days. One of my favorite comfort foods is papas gratinadas, a Mexican version of potatoes au gratin.

I love it so much, in fact, that while I’m writing this, I’m thinking about going to the store for more potatoes so I can make another batch. The last two times I’ve made this dish, it disappeared in less than 24 hours. And my friend Silvia over at Mamá Latina Tips has been asking me to post this recipe for several weeks since I told her I made it because her mom used to make papas gratinadas for her and it’s one of her favorites, too.

These are a great side dish (or, um…an afternoon snack) when you need hearty, warm food to keep you full and fueled to fight the cold outside. Here’s a quick video tutorial on how to make this recipe.

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Papas gratinadas | Mexican potatoes au gratin

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Papas gratinadas | Mexican potatoes au gratin

This Mexican version of potatoes au gratin is the perfect side dish for dinner.


  • 6-8 small white potatoes, boiled until fork-tender
  • 1/2 of a white onion, sliced
  • 2 serrano chiles, sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • A pinch of kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup crema Mexicana
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups of shredded Chihuahua cheese


  1. Boil the potatoes until they're fork-tender, but not so long that they split. Remove from heat, take them out of the water and let them cool a bit before you slice them.
  2. In the meantime, heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan and slice the onion and serrano chiles. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and chiles and cook them over medium heat until the onions start to turn transparent and get browned a bit. The chiles will also brown. Add a little bit of kosher salt to season them. Once they're finished, set them aside in a prep dish.
  3. There should still be a little bit of oil leftover in the frying pan; add the potato slices to brown them for a few minutes on each side. This will give them just a little crispness on the outside so that when you bake them with the crema and cheese, they won't get soggy or mushy. Add a little bit more oil if you like or if your pan seems to be very dry, but I typically only need the little bit of leftover oil from the onions and chiles.
  4. I like to use an 8x8-inch casserole dish when making this recipe because it fills the dish about two-thirds full with some room for easy serving without making a mess. And so you don't have a sticky mess on your hands when it comes time to clean the dish, use just a little bit of cooking spray (I use Pam Cooking Spray) to prevent the cheese from sticking to the dish.
  5. After your dish is prepped, start with a thin layer of crema on the bottom. Then add the potatoes, followed by another layer of crema, onion and chiles, and then the cheese. Keep repeating until you run out of potatoes and make the final two layers crema and then cheese. Put the dish in a preheated oven at 350ºF for 10-15 minutes on the middle rack and then transfer it to the top rack and heat under the broiler on low until the cheese on top is brown and bubbly.

  • What are your favorite comfort foods for the winter? How do you make your papas gratinadas?


  1. Jamy says

    Love this recipe!! Potatoes and cheese hit me in my happy place as it is, but add crema and chiles and double yum!!

    Random question – was that casserole handed down or do they still sell those? My mamma had quite the collection of those patterned casseroles when I was a child. Happy memories :)

    Great video!

  2. says

    Papas yyyyyy queso? Delish! During the winter this is the sort of thing I crave, I’m also big on Mexican Macaroni casserole with spinach. I think it’s a cheese thing.

  3. says

    Maura, do you have any substitute for the chile? Do you think bell pepper would be good? My taste buds are not used to the chile flavor so much, would love to hear your recommendation cause I want to make the recipe but not omit that extra flavor!

    • says

      Dariela, I would not recommend using bell peppers because they will give it a very different flavor that is not really Mexican. Instead I’d recommend using poblano chiles, cut into little strips. What you can do since you aren’t used to the heat from chiles but you don’t want to omit the chile flavor is once you’ve charred your poblanos and removed the skins, soak them in a water and vinegar solution (directions are on a previous post of mine, just search for poblano chiles) to remove the heat. Then once you cut the poblanos open, remove all the seeds and veins (where the capsaicin resides; the element that causes them to be spicy) and then your chiles should be rather mild and sometimes almost sweet in flavor, but still taste like chile.

  4. says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, I feel like making them today!!! It’s refreshing to see a different version of this dish. My mom didn’t use chile (odd, I know) and add ham between layers.

    My only problem with papas gratinadas its that I cannot stop eating them!!!

  5. says

    I love those 70’s style casserole dishes as well!!!

    And the papas…oh my… I better leave your blog now…I’m on a no dairy diet atm and your recipe with crema and queso might make me change my no dairy mind ( :

    Love all your recipes!

    • says

      Adal, thanks for stopping by! I love my papas gratinadas with lots of chile, too :) But when I make this dish for company I usually reduce the amount of chile because not everybody likes them as spicy as I do.

    • says

      Ana, we are queso lovers in our house, too! This recipe is so easy to make, which you can see from the video. I just recently noticed that our local Costco started carrying queso Chihuahua rallado in a 2 lb. bag so you know I couldn’t resist buying one. I brought it home and José asked me what the heck I was going to do with so much cheese, so this recipe was the first thing I made with it. Since then, I’ve also used it to make queso fundido, rajas con crema several times and a few non-Mexican dishes. I still have about one-third of the bag left so I’m going to make more papas gratinadas and I’m thinking of what else I can make with it. :) Suggestions welcome!

  6. Carly says

    Oh, what a natural you are! I would watch you cooking show every day if you had one. p.s. I want put my face through the screen and eat this. You are amazing. *Hugs*


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