South African Recipes

South African Potato Bake Recipe: History, Tips & More

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Howzit, friends! It’s time to introduce you to a homely classic from South Africa, our hearty and delectably rich “Potato Bake”. This dish promises layers of creamy, cheesy goodness that will warm your heart!

south african potato bake

South African Potato Bake

Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine South African
Servings 4 people


  • 1 Mixing Bowl
  • 1 Knife
  • 1 Garlic press (A garlic press is nice to have, but if you don't have one, just mince the garlic with a knife)
  • 1 Casserole dish (If you don't have a casserole dish, any oven-safe dish would work)
  • 1 Oven


  • 1 kg Potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 cups Cream
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 2 tsp Dried rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Grated cheddar cheese


  • First off, preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Get ready for a treat!
  • Place your thinly sliced potatoes into your casserole dish. Don't be shy to make a beautiful arrangement, layer them up nicely!
  • In a mixing bowl, combine your finely chopped onion, minced garlic, cream, milk, dried rosemary, salt and pepper. Give it a good mix, mates!
  • Pour this creamy mixture over your layered potatoes in the casserole dish. Ensure the potatoes are well covered.
  • Sprinkle the grated cheddar cheese on top. Because who doesn't love more cheese, right?
  • Pop your dish into the preheated oven and bake for about 1 hour, or until the potatoes are soft and the top is golden and bubbly.
  • Take the dish out of the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.
Keyword potato bake, South African Potato Bake

potato bake in casserole dish

Potato Bake History

Despite being beloved across South Africa, the origins of the Potato Bake, or “Aartappelgebak” in Afrikaans, are somewhat unclear. Potatoes were introduced to South Africa by Jan van Riebeeck, the first Dutch colonial administrator, in the 17th century. The word “aartappel” is Dutch for “earth apple,” illustrating the potato’s status as a staple crop.

As for our potato bake, its evolution is likely a product of European culinary influence, particularly from the French and their gratin dishes, combined with local preferences for hearty, comfort food. While these details may be conjecture, the Potato Bake is undeniably a cherished part of South African cuisine today.

Tips & Tricks

Over the years, I’ve learnt a few secrets to perfecting this dish. Firstly, don’t skimp on the layering; this is what gives the bake its beautiful texture. Slice your potatoes thinly for a more delicate bake. As for the cheese, feel free to go wild! A strong mature cheddar can give the bake a lovely punch. Lastly, patience is key; wait until the top is golden and bubbly before removing from the oven.

Best Occasions to Serve Potato Bake

The South African Potato Bake is an all-round crowd-pleaser. It’s a fantastic side for a braai (our version of a barbecue), a cosy family dinner, or even a holiday feast. Its rich, creamy flavour makes it a beloved comfort food during the colder months.

Recipes & Sides That Go Well With Potato Bake

Braai Meat: The creamy potato bake balances the smoky flavour beautifully.
Green Salad: For a fresh contrast to the rich bake.
Grilled Vegetables: Adds a nice charred flavour to the meal.

Ingredient Alternatives for Potato Bake

Sweet Potatoes: For a healthier, sweeter twist.
Lactose-Free Cream and Milk: To cater to those with dietary restrictions.
Vegan Cheese: To make it suitable for vegans.

Nutritional Facts

Per serving for four people:

Calories: Approximately 600
Carbs: Roughly 60g
Sugars: Around 6g
Fats: About 35g
Protein: Close to 15g
Fibre: Approximately 5g
The Potato Bake is indeed rich in calories and fats, but it also offers a good source of fibre and protein, making it a satisfying dish.

Troubleshooting (Common Problems)

Overly Thick Slices: Can result in undercooked potatoes, slice thinly for best results.
Too Dry: Ensure enough cream and cheese to create a rich, moist bake.
Not Golden Enough: Leave it a bit longer in the oven, the cheese should bubble and brown.

Potato Bake Alternatives and Similar Recipes

Butternut Squash Bake: Offers a sweet, autumnal variation.
Cauliflower Cheese: A lighter, yet still creamy and cheesy, alternative.
Shepherd’s Pie: An English classic with similar hearty appeal.
Time to get cooking, chinas!

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