This easy baked Cheesy Leeks recipe smothers leeks in a homemade cheddar cheese sauce, then it's topped with seasoned breadcrumbs and baked in the oven gratin style. A tasty, easy side dish that's full of great flavor and ready in under 25 minutes.
Cheesy leeks or leeks au gratin is a delicious side dish that can be paired with many dishes as a creamy, taste side dish.
It's made with fresh leeks, homemade cheese sauce, and seasoned bread crumbs for an extra crunchy texture.
The dish is then baked to crispy perfection on a bed of soft, tender leeks smothered in a rich cheese sauce.
This recipe is simple to make but tastes like it took hours of work!
Leeks are part of the allium family, like onions and garlic. They have a cylindrical white bulb and broad leaves and look like a large green onion/scallion/spring onion.
When raw, they have a stronger taste, but when cooked they mellow with a mild oniony sweetness.
Serve cheesy leeks at your next dinner party or holiday feast!
This was inspired by my Sauteed Leeks and Cauliflower Cheese recipes on this site! Cheesy leeks pair well with Portobello Mushroom Steaks, Eggplant Steaks, or as a holiday side dish for Christmas or Thanksgiving.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
A great way to use fresh leeks in a decadent side dish recipe.
It’s warm and comforting and can be paired with many mains, from quiche and pies etc...
Leeks are inexpensive and can be found in most grocery stores.
You can change up the flavors by adding your favorite herbs and spices or change the type of cheese you use to make the sauce.
You only need simple ingredients to make cheesy leeks!
- Leeks - Fresh leeks look like a giant scallion. The white and light green parts are edible and used to make soups and side dishes. They have a mild onion flavor and can be found in the produce section of your grocery store.
- Butter - Used to make the base of the roux. Adds a buttery flavor that cooks in with the flour to help thicken the sauce naturally.
- Milk - Used to thin out the cheese sauce while keeping it creamy and smooth.
- Dijon Mustard - Adds a layer of tangy mustard flavor that pairs well with the mild onion flavor of the leeks.
- Nutmeg - A small amount of dried nutmeg gives this dish a light warming flavor.
- Shredded Cheddar - Used to make the creamy sauce cheesy. I used white cheddar, but you can use regular instead. Or switch it up with gruyere, Monterey Jack etc... The cheese melts down into a creamy sauce when mixed with milk, flour, and butter.
- Breadcrumbs - Adds a layer of crunchy texture on top that brings the dish together. Use panko or regular breadcrumbs.
- Dried Italian Herbs - Adds a bold herb taste to the top of the dish that pairs well with the other flavors.
- Salt & Pepper - Balances and enhances the flavor profile of the leeks and cheese together.
Please see the recipe card below for quantities.
How to make cheesy leeks
Wondering how to make this cheesy leeks recipe? It's easy! Just follow this step-by-step photo tutorial. Then, scroll down for the recipe card for the full ingredients list and recipe method.
Prepare for baking: Preheat the oven to 400F/200C. Get out a rimmed baking dish that is at least 8x8-inch, 20cm and set aside.
Prepare the leeks: To prepare the leeks, cut off the stem and the woody green parts. Soak in cold water removing any dirt present inside the vegetable. Chop into one-inch pieces with a sharp knife.
Boil the leeks: Add a medium saucepan to the stove along with water. Bring the water to a boil, then add the chopped leeks. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the leeks are fork tender and soft. Drain them in a colander to remove any excess moisture.
Make the cheese sauce: In a medium pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for another minute to create a thickening roux. Once the flour turns into a paste, whisk in the milk a little bit at a time until a creamy sauce is formed. To the sauce, add the mustard, nutmeg, and half of the cheese along with salt and pepper until all of the ingredients are combined and the cheese is melted.
Assemble the cheesy leeks: Stir the cooked leeks into the cheese sauce, then pour them into the baking pan. Sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs, Italian herbs, and the remaining cheese.
Bake and serve: Bake the cheesy leeks in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Serve and enjoy!
Fully washing leeks is very important before cooking with them. Since they grow in the ground, it's easy to trap dirt inside which may go into the dish if not washed properly.
The leeks need to be fully cooked before adding them to the cheese sauce. This will prevent them from being chewy and undercooked, instead, they'll be soft, unctuous and delicious!
For a more intense leek flavor, try roasting the leeks in the oven tossed in oil until fork-tender before adding to the cheese sauce.
When chopping the leeks, make sure only the white and light green parts are used. The dark green parts are tough and too fibrous. You can save them to use in a homemade vegetable stock.
This cheesy baked leek recipe pairs well with side dishes made of roasted vegetables with bold herb flavors.
Pile on top of a serving of rice, quinoa, or roasted potatoes.
Leeks in Cheese Sauce makes a tasty Christmas or Thanksgiving side dish.
Cheddar cheese gives the leeks a great contrast in flavor, however, you can add your favorite melty cheeses including swiss, gruyere, or comté cheese.
Instead of using dried herbs, try using fresh rosemary, basil, sage, and parsley to elevate the fresh flavor.
Spice it up by adding cayenne pepper to the cheese sauce or adding red chili flakes to the breadcrumb topping.
Instead of breadcrumbs, try using crushed butter crackers on top such as Ritz or even saltines.
A sprinkling of grated parmesan or pecorino romano on top before baking adds even more salty bold flavor to the dish.
Storing: Cheesy leek bake can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat using the microwave or in a skillet over medium heat.
Freezing: Homemade cheese sauce along with leeks will not thaw well once frozen. Therefore freezing is not recommended for this dish.
Make ahead: You can make this cheesy leeks recipe ahead of time. Prep it up until the point of baking, wrap well and store in the fridge (cool first) for up to 3 days. Then just bake in the oven until golden and heated through.
Cheesy leeks is a side dish that is popular in British culture as leeks are well used throughout the UK.
Since this side dish is flavored with cheese and onions, it pairs well with roasted meats and proteins. It also pairs well with lighter side dishes such as vegetables and grains.
Since a lot of the dirt is trapped inside the vegetable, the best way to clean them is to cut the stem and soak them in a bowl of cold water or run under cold water. This will help the dirt fall out of the layers. Check out this guide to leeks.
More leek recipes
If you love this cheesy leeks recipe, then I hope you'll also love these other ways to use leeks too!
Vegetable Side Dishes
Make it a full meal with another vegetable side dish! Check out these recipes.
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- 4 medium leeks approx 450g/1lb
- 3 tablespoons butter plus extra for greasing
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour (plain flour)
- 2 cups 450ml milk
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1 cup 115g shredded cheddar cheese (I used white cheddar)
- 5 tablespoons breadcrumbs (I used panko breadcrumbs)
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.
- To prep and clean leeks:Trim and discard the tough top tough green part and the root bottom. Cut into 1" slices, then run them under cold water so any dirt is flushed out.
- Bring a medium saucepan to the boil, add the leeks, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until knife tender. Drain.
- Meanwhile, for the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a medium pan, then stir in the flour and cook for a further minute. Whisk in the milk, a little at a time, until thick and creamy.
- Stir in the dijon and nutmeg and half the cheese and season with salt and pepper.
- Stir the leeks into the cheese sauce, then pour it all into the baking pan.
- Mix the breadcrumbs with the Italian herbs and cheese, then sprinkle it all on top. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden.
- Fully washing leeks is very important before cooking with them. Since they grow in the ground, it's easy to trap dirt inside which may go into the dish if not washed properly.
- The leeks need to be fully cooked before adding them to the cheese sauce. This will prevent them from being chewy and undercooked.
- For a more intense leek flavor, try roasting the leeks in the oven tossed in oil until fork-tender before adding to the cheese sauce.
- When chopping the leeks, make sure only the white and light green parts are used. The dark green parts are tough and too fibrous.
- If you love cheesy leeks, you'll also love Cauliflower Cheese or Sauteed Leeks!
The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors, so is not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietician for special diet advice.