Pommes Aligot (Cheesy Mashed Potatoes) Recipe (2024)

Why It Works

  • Unlike in most mashed potato recipes, you want to overwork the potatoes and release their starch here for extra-elastic results.
  • A combination of Alpine cheeses offers maximum meltiness and flavor.
  • Garlic in the potato-cooking pot, and minced in later, adds layers of flavor.

It can't be an accident that so many potato-and-cheese dishes were born in the mountains of Europe. There's Swiss raclette, an Alpine cheese that's held close to a fire or other heat source until the surface is bubbling and melted and then scraped off in stretchy strands onto boiled potatoes, bread, and other accouterments. In northern Italy, at the foot of the Alps, they bake potatoes into a gratin with Fontina and call it patate alla savoiarda. And in the French Alps, a dish called tartiflette has become popular—it combines potatoes with Reblochon cheese and lardons.

Pommes Aligot (Cheesy Mashed Potatoes) Recipe (1)

The combination makes sense—potatoes and cheese are natural partners—as does the origin. Potatoes grow well in mountainous regions, which happen to also be the source of so many great melting cheeses, from Gruyère to Emmental and Fontina.

What Is Pommes Aligot?

Today, it's all about aligot, the thick, stretchy, unbelievably rich dish from Aubrac, a once-volcanic region in south-central France. If you've never seen aligot before, imagine the perfect fusion of mashed potatoes with fondue, and you'll have just the right idea. When made right, it should be elastic enough to stretch from pot to ceiling without breaking a strand. It's not a new creation by any measure, but I've been noticing it on a lot of restaurant menus (including a taro-based version at the now-closed Fung Tu in New York).

You don't have to go to a restaurant to eat aligot, though, because it couldn't be easier to make at home. In fact, all of the pitfalls of both mashed potatoes and fondue are non-issues when it comes to aligot. If you've ever been worried about overworking your mashed potatoes to the point of glueyness, aligot is your savior, since building up the potatoes' glutinous starch is critical to the final stretchy texture.

And if the prospect of a broken fondue has ever prevented you from attempting it, once again, aligot is your friend. Most firm cheeses break into their constituent parts of fat, protein, and water when melted, unless a starch or another emulsifying agent is there to help bind it all together. (You can read a more in-depth article on the science of melting cheese here.) There are a lot of ways to solve that problem, including Kenji's use of cornstarch and evaporated milk in his stovetop mac and cheese recipe, using a roux in a classic baked mac and cheese, and adding sodium citrate (a type of salt) in a more modern cheese sauce.

With aligot, there's so much natural starch in the mashed potatoes that you can load them with melted cheese without much risk of it breaking out into a greasy slick. It stays silky and smooth the whole time.

Cooking the Potatoes

The first step when making it is to cook the potatoes. Most recipes for aligot call for a waxier variety, like Yukon Golds. They make a creamier, denser potato purée than fluffy russets, which dovetails nicely with the texture of the melted cheese.

I like to cook my potatoes in heavily salted water to ensure the potatoes are seasoned well throughout. I also like to add aromatics to the pot, like garlic cloves and thyme sprigs, both of which enhance the flavor of the potatoes. The thyme sprigs have to be discarded, but the garlic can get mashed in for even more flavor.

Skip the Rinse

In many of our mashed potato recipes, we call for rinsing the potatoes after they're fully cooked to remove excess surface starch. This helps reduce the risk of gummy potatoes later. But with aligot, I want that starch, so there's no rinsing step here: I just mash the potatoes, using either a ricer or a food mill for an extra-smooth purée, into a large saucepan with plenty of butter.

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Adding the Cream and Butter

Then I work in cream, stirring the potatoes well the entire time. This goes against every mashed potato rule in the book, but that's the point: We want to release that starch and develop it into a sticky mass.

Once your arm is tired and the potatoes are thick and tight, it's time to melt in the cheese. A true aligot uses a cheese called tome fraîche, native to the region from which the dish hails. Unfortunately, that's pretty hard to find outside of France, which means we have to use other cheeses with similar melting properties. I went for a combination of Swiss and Gruyère for a good mix of excellent meltability (the Swiss) and deep flavor (the Gruyère). Simply add the cheese in small doses, stirring the entire time over low heat to melt it in and continue to build up an elastic texture.

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By the time the last of the cheese has melted in, your potatoes will be silky and smooth, with hardly a trace of graininess, and they should pull from your spoon in endless strands. The whole thing should be just loose enough to slowly flow, like lava that's run into cool air. If necessary, you can loosen it with some extra cream, beating it in until it's fully emulsified.

Serving the Pommes Aligot

When serving, either serve it directly out of the pot you made it in, or transfer it to a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately. Transferring the potatoes to an unwarmed bowl will cause them to cool and thicken. Pommes aligot is a dish that should only be served piping-hot.

There's no denying how hearty and rib-sticking this dish is. It's true winter food, best eaten in a snowy landscape. In France, it's often served over sausages and other meats, but if that feels like overkill, you could take a lighter approach by pairing it with roasted vegetables or even drizzling it over a bed of polenta.

Don't overthink it, though. This is mountain fare, and you need your energy for the chilly months ahead. Eat up.

December 2016

This recipe was cross-tested in 2023 to guarantee best results.

Recipe Details

Pommes Aligot (Cheesy Mashed Potatoes) Recipe

Prep10 mins

Cook40 mins

Active30 mins

Total95 mins

Serves6to 8 servings


  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (24 ounces; 675g), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

  • 2 sprigs thyme

  • 2 medium cloves garlic, 1 whole and 1 minced, divided

  • 3 tablespoons (27g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt use half as much by volume or the same weight

  • 1 stick unsalted butter (4 ounces; 113g), cut into tablespoon-size pieces

  • 1 cup heavy cream (240ml), warmed, plus more if needed

  • 10 ounces (285g) mixed Alpine cheeses, such as Swiss, Gruyère, Comté, and/or Fontina, grated (see notes)


  1. In a large saucepan, cover potatoes, thyme, and 1 whole clove garlic with cold water by at least 2 inches. Stir in salt until dissolved. Bring water to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until a knife easily pierces potatoes with no resistance, about 20 minutes. Drain potatoes in a colander, shaking the colander well to get rid of excess water. Discard thyme.

    Pommes Aligot (Cheesy Mashed Potatoes) Recipe (5)

  2. Using a ricer or a food mill fitted with the finest disk, purée potatoes back into saucepan (make sure the saucepan is dried), mixing butter cubes in as you go. (If using a food mill, you can add the butter to the potato chunks and work it through the mill; if using a ricer, add the butter to the saucepan with the riced potatoes.) Add remaining 1 clove minced garlic. Set saucepan over medium-low heat. Using a silicone spatula, stir potatoes well until butter and garlic are fully combined. (Alternatively, you can use a wooden spoon for this, though it won't conform to the sides of the pot like silicone will.)

    Pommes Aligot (Cheesy Mashed Potatoes) Recipe (6)

  3. Slowly add cream in 3 parts, stirring well until cream is fully incorporated before the next addition. Continue stirring and working potatoes, lowering heat to low if potatoes begin to sizzle and steam, until potato mass feels thickened and sticky, about 3 minutes.

    Pommes Aligot (Cheesy Mashed Potatoes) Recipe (7)

  4. Add grated cheese in small batches, stirring between each addition until cheese is fully melted and incorporated. Continue stirring potatoes until they become thick, silky, smooth, and elastic (do not worry about overworking the potatoes in this recipe, since you want to develop that starch), about 3 minutes longer. The aligot should form long, stretchy strands when you lift it from the pot.

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  5. Season with salt. The aligot should be thick, with a very slow-flowing viscosity, like cooling lava; if too thick, work in additional cream in small amounts until it is loose enough.

    Pommes Aligot (Cheesy Mashed Potatoes) Recipe (9)

  6. Transfer to a warmed serving dish and serve right away. Aligot is traditionally served with sausages and meats, but you can also serve it with roasted vegetables or on a bed of polenta. Leftover aligot can be refrigerated in a sealed container. To reheat, add to a saucepan with a small amount of cream. Bring cream to a simmer before stirring it in, then continue to cook, adding more cream as necessary, until aligot is heated through and consistency is correct.

Special Equipment

Ricer or food mill


The traditional cheese in aligot is called tome fraîche, but it's hard to find outside of France. Instead, use any combination of semi-firm Alpine cheeses with good melting ability, such as Swiss, Gruyère, Fontina, and/or Comté.

  • Vegetarian Sides
  • Vegetarian
  • Potatoes
  • French
  • Gruyere
Pommes Aligot (Cheesy Mashed Potatoes) Recipe (2024)


What is a good substitute for aligot cheese? ›

The traditional cheese in aligot is called tome fraîche, but it's hard to find outside of France. Instead, use any combination of semi-firm Alpine cheeses with good melting ability, such as Swiss, Gruyère, Fontina, and/or Comté.

What does aligot mean in English? ›

Noun. aligot (uncountable) A dish traditionally made in the south of Auvergne from melted Tomme cheese blended into mashed potatoes, often with garlic.

Why soak potatoes before cooking mashed potatoes? ›

Soaking potatoes in water helps remove excess starch. Excess starch can inhibit the potatoes from cooking evenly as well as creating a gummy or sticky texture on the outside of your potatoes. Cold water is used because hot water would react with the starch activating it, making it harder to separate from the potatoes.

What tastes like cheese but isn't cheese? ›

Nutritional Yeast

These little golden flakes offer a quick source of vitamin B 12 and a cheesy taste to boot. Just a few tablespoons of this stuff is all you need when making a rich, cheesy sauce. Or, you can simply sprinkle the flakes overtop any dish as if it were a parmesan cheese shaker.

What cheese tastes like brick cheese? ›

If the recipe you're preparing calls for an authentic brick cheese and you want to substitute something similar, you can go with another smear-ripened cheese such as Limburger, Époisses, Tilsiter, Taleggio, or an aged Muenster.

Why do restaurant mashed potatoes taste better? ›

Instead of regular milk, pro chefs generally use a generous helping of buttermilk and plenty of half-and-half or (even better) heavy cream in their potatoes. If you think the bartenders up front are pouring heavy, they've got nothing on the cooks in the back who are in charge of the mashed potatoes.

Why put a raw egg in mashed potatoes? ›

Adding egg yolks to a pot of mashed potatoes is an easy, dairy-free texture and taste upgrade that doesn't require any special techniques. The yolks harbor all the flavorful fats and emulsifying components and will thus effectively unify the fat and water in potatoes, translating to a smoother, uniformly creamy pot.

Why are Bob Evans Mashed Potatoes so good? ›

Made with fresh real potatoes, butter, and milk, Bob Evans Mashed Potatoes tastes like homemade. We put extra care into making our mashed potatoes rich and creamy to deliver that homemade flavor you expect.

What do you eat with aligot? ›

Aligot is typically served with sausage

Per French Entree, if you are vacationing in L'Aubrac, aligot is traditionally served with local sausages, spit-roast veal, lamb, or even pork.

How do Mexicans say mashed potatoes? ›

Now you know how to say "mashed potatoes" in Spanish! Whether you are in Spain, Mexico, Argentina, or any other Spanish-speaking country, you can confidently use the term puré de papas to refer to this beloved dish.

What are mashed potatoes called in Germany? ›

Kartoffelbrei m

I make mashed potatoes with milk and butter. Ich mache Kartoffelbrei mit Milch und Butter.

Is it better to cut potatoes before boiling for mashed potatoes? ›

Drop a whole russet into the pot and by the time the outside has cooked through, the inside will still be raw. Larger potatoes should be cubed to ensure they cook evenly (peeled first if desired). Smaller potatoes tend to have thin skins and can be boiled whole, no peeling required.

Should you soak potatoes in cold water before boiling for mashed potatoes? ›

The secret ingredient is just ice-cold water.

You soak the potatoes in iced water before they are cooked. This eliminates much of the starches in the potatoes, resulting in a super light and fluffy mash. It's also like when you make rice.

How long should potatoes soak for mashed potatoes? ›

Soak the potatoes in water for at least 4 hours, up to overnight. This step is crucial to really get all of the excess starch off. Fill a large pot with water, rinse off the potatoes one last time and add them to the cold water. Salt the water, place the pot on the stove and turn on the heat.

What is a close substitute for Gruyere cheese? ›

Substitutes for Gruyere
  • Cheddar.
  • Comté Cheese.
  • Edam Cheese.
  • Emmentaler.
  • Fontina Cheese.
  • Gouda.
  • Havarti Cheese.
  • Manchego Cheese.

Which cheese is used for stretching? ›

Mozzarella cheese stretching is a thermomechanical treatment influenced by factors such as pH, acidity, stretching time and temperature. The aim of this minireview is to provide information about the stretching step and the effect of the main factors on the functional properties of mozzarella.

What is a substitute for Fontina cheese in pasta? ›

Mild provolone, gruyere, and gouda cheeses may all be substituted for fontina, depending on your personal preference and the other ingredients in your dish. Why such a wide range of choices? Because fontina cheese is similarly available in a wide range of flavors and textures.

What hard cheese is similar to Swiss? ›

American “Swiss” cheese is Emmantal, Bavarian Emmanthaler is actually the exact same thing. Gruyere is a similar flavour, also from Switzerland though a different texture. Jarlsberg and Maasdam are made in a very similar way and as such also taste very similar.

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