What Is A Gratin?


What Is A Gratin? Learn all about what makes a gratin, as well as some simple tips on how you can make them at home. Adding this to your dish will give you that extra little bit of delight.

Where It Came From

The high class sounding, French word gratin referred to a delicious crust that was left in a pan after baking something in it. It was scraped off and then eaten as a special treat for the chef.

What Makes It Gratin

Today, when we say that we are preparing an au gratin dish, it is usually referring to a nicely browned crust. To have an au gratin dish, it is generally topped with bread crumbs, cheese or butter, and is then baked for a golden crust to form on top.

There are many different dishes that can be prepared au gratin. These would mostly consist of potatoes and cream, casseroles or pasta dishes that have been baked.

One example of a very popular au gratin dish would technically be macaroni and cheese. It qualifies as a gratin because once it has been baked, there is a nice thin crust that forces over the top. This gives a nicely browned topcoat that is slightly crunchy and helps to keep the meat moist.


Gratins are commonly served straight out of their dish. This is why they have gained their own dishes to be baked in, called the gratin dish. These dishes are oval shaped and are a typed of oven safe serving dish. Gratins can be made from many different things, from soup to casserole, potatoes, pasta bakes, all of these can be classified as such. The main criteria is that they have a crust, this is easily obtained, simply by topping any of these with cheese, breadcrumbs or cream and then baking. For best results, a combination of the toppings can be used.

Fun Fact

The similar term le gratin, in French is often used to refer to the upper crust of society, or the elites of society. This all came about from a crust, left in a pan for a special treat for cooks to enjoy.

Gratins are a French name referring to crust. By adding a simple breadcrumb, cheese or cream topping to a dish and then baking it until it is golden will constitute a simple gratin. There are many different types of dishes this can be added to as well.

What is your favorite kind of gratin?

Learn all about the term “Al Dente” what it means, and how you can incorporate it into your own kitchen, in What Does Al Dente Mean? Also find out, What Is Cake Flour? This is one you definitely don’t want to miss out on!

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Sarah is known for her extra fancy yeast breads, melt in your mouth pies, and everything salads. She has won awards as a home cook, and is passionate about helping others feel smarter in the kitchen. Sarah is the cooking genius of the sister duo.

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