Savory Sweet Potato Gratin with Parmesan and Pancetta

I don’t post recipes nearly as often as I used to, mainly because I don’t experiment in the kitchen too much these days. That’s life with a picky 4 year old. However, on the rare special occasion that we’re having guests over, I do get to play…like last year for Thanksgiving.

Yes, I tucked this recipe away for a whole year! Definitely the best dish of our entire meal, this savory sweet potato gratin is decadent and rich, so not something I’ve added to our everyday menu rotation, but certainly worth a splurge every now and then. You guys, it is insanely delicious.

My apologies for having only one (not great) photo, but the holiday was so chaotic that I completely forgot to snap pics until the next day when I was eating leftovers. (BTW this dish is still great leftover!) Please don’t let the number of ingredients and steps dissuade you, as this is one dish that is definitely worth the extra effort. I know it will certainly be making a repeat appearance on our Thanksgiving table!

Savory Sweet Potato Gratin with Parmesan and Pancetta


  • ¼ pound pancetta, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2½ cups heavy cream
  • 5 fresh sage leaves
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch rounds
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

For the topping:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped sage


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Heat a large pan or skillet over medium heat and add the pancetta. Cook for 5-6 minutes until browned and crispy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. When melted, add the minced shallots and garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes until the shallots have softened. (Be careful not to burn the garlic) Add the cream, sage, thyme and salt to the saucepan and heat until it is just simmering. Simmer very gently (don’t let the cream boil) for 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to infuse.
  4. While your cream is simmering, prepare the sweet potatoes. Peel the potatoes and slice them in 1/8-inch discs (best to use a mandolin if you have one). Your discs should be as even in width as possible so that they cook evenly. Briefly set the potatoes aside.
  5. Remove the sage and thyme from your cream, and taste the mixture. Add a little more salt if necessary and season with fresh ground pepper. Pour 1/2 cup of the cream into a shallow baking dish. Add 1/3 of the sweet potatoes to the dish in an even layer. Add another ½ cup of the cream, ¼ cup grated Parmesan and half of the pancetta.Top with a second layer of potatoes, followed by ½ cup cream, ¼ cup grated Parmesan and pancetta.
  6. Finish with the remaining potatoes, and pour the remaining cream over the top of your gratin. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 50 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender when pierced with a sharp knife.
  7. While your gratin is in the oven, prepare the crunchy topping. Heat the butter in a large pan. When melted add the Panko and stir until the breadcrumbs are well-coated. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the Panko is golden brown. Transfer the toasted Panko to a bowl to cool. When cool, mix in the grated Parmesan and smoked paprika.
  8. After the gratin has baked for 50 minutes, remove the foil. Add the topping in an even layer. Return the gratin to the oven for another 10-15 minutes until the top is crispy and browned and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Allow it to rest for 10 minutes before serving.