What Are Lyonnaise Potatoes?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

In French cuisine, Lyonnaise potatoes is a popular recipe used for preparing pan-fried potatoes. Classic versions of the recipe call for onions, parsley, and garlic for flavoring. Like many other potato dishes, the product is also heavy in butter or cream.

Some recipes for Lyonnaise potatoes call for the addition of Swiss cheese.
Some recipes for Lyonnaise potatoes call for the addition of Swiss cheese.

Butter and oil are traditionally used to prepare Lyonnaise potatoes. Olive oil is generally the favored oil for this recipe by most chefs. In addition to or in place of butter, some chefs may also use heavy cream or rendered fat from an animal, such as a goose or duck.

Lyonnaise potatoes get their name from the city of Lyon in France, where they originated.
Lyonnaise potatoes get their name from the city of Lyon in France, where they originated.

Most chefs advise that when preparing Lyonnaise potatoes, the two main ingredients, onions and potatoes, should first be pan-fried separately. This is to ensure that both receive an optimal amount of cooking time without being over or undercooked. Potatoes are often boiled and blanched before being cooked.

Once the basic ingredients have all been prepared to the point of being a rich, warm shade of brown, they may be mixed together and cooked for a brief time with any remaining ingredients. The onions themselves should also have a sweet, caramelized consistency before being mixed with the potatoes. When the vegetables are ready to be prepared together with the rest of the spices, the dish is often completed not on the stove, but inside a hot oven.

Seasoning the dish usually consists of treating it with white or black pepper, salt, and parsley. Many chefs also incorporate garlic or other seasonings based on personal preference. Paprika is sometimes added for an extra tasty kick. For an even more decadent flavor and consistency, some cooks even add various types of cheeses, such as Swiss cheese, to their Lyonnaise recipes.

The classic preparation of Lyonnaise potatoes is considered heavy in calories. In order to prepare a healthier version of these home fries, some chefs incorporate chicken stock in place of butter. Such substitutions eliminate the heaviness of the dish while retaining its richness and flavor.

Lyonnaise potatoes get their name from the city of Lyon in France, where they originated. The name for the food literally translates to “Lyon style” potatoes, or potatoes “of Lyon.” The French phrase à la Lyonnaise is also idiomatically used in French to simply imply any being prepared with onions.

Though the dish is of French origin, it is also commonly available in many countries, and is often served alongside pasta dishes. It can also be a particularly tasty side dish to steak or pork entrees. It may be prepared alone and served as a favorite comfort food as well.

Olive oil is traditionally used when preparing Lyonnaise potatoes.
Olive oil is traditionally used when preparing Lyonnaise potatoes.
Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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Discussion Comments


I have a question for all you cooks out there. When making Lyonnaise potatoes, do you use fresh parsley and freshly chopped garlic, or do you use the powdered or minced kind?

Chopped parsley tastes totally different from the dried version of the herb, but I don't like it as well. However, it might be able to impart a more intense taste to the potatoes and onions if I were to use it. I just don't want them to end up tasting so overpoweringly like parsley that I can't stand to eat them.

I've been using minced garlic, but I have heard that if you chop it yourself right before adding it, then you could get a better flavor. I would be more apt to use fresh garlic than fresh parsley, but I'm just wondering if I'm missing out by using the dried parsley in some way.


I think that Lyonnaise potatoes are the perfect accompaniment to a nice steak. The flavors all meld together so well. Meat and potato guys will love the combination, too.

My husband grills steak now and then, and I always make Lyonnaise potatoes to go along with it. The funny thing is that if I made some sort of green vegetables, he wouldn't touch them. However, he will devour the potatoes.

They do contain a lot of flavor. It takes a lot to compete with the excellent taste of his steaks, but these potatoes hold their own and stand out just as much.


@Perdido – I agree that this dish sounds similar to many others. My mother's scalloped potatoes are made with a lot of the same ingredients used in making Lyonnaise potatoes.

She uses a glass baking dish and makes several layers of potatoes and breadcrumbs. She puts butter and milk into the dish, putting small pats of butter across each layer of potatoes. She uses parsley, salt, and onions, also.

The only thing that she doesn't do is boil them first. They bake for nearly an hour, so there really is no need to boil them. In fact, if she did, they would fall apart.


I had never heard of Lyonnaise potatoes before, but this recipe does resemble several other potato recipes that I have used in the past. I have often found that topping them with parsley and minced garlic results in a wonderful flavor.

I would definitely use chicken stock instead of butter. I can't stand to eat very much of foods heavy in fat. I always dissolve a chicken boullion cube in boiling water to make my own chicken stock quickly before adding it to any potato dish.

I used to always cut up a potato and bake it with chicken stock after sprinkling it with salt and garlic. The only thing missing was the onion, I suppose. That would definitely add more flavor to the dish.


@MikeMason, @turquoise-- I understand both of your concerns about this dish being high in fat. But what makes the Lyonnaise potatoes recipe "Lyonnaise" is the butter and/or lard in it. I wouldn't consider a recipe without butter or lard to be Lyonnaise potatoes.

The original Lyonnaise potatoes are made with natural, rich lard-- goose fat being one of the most prized ones. Not only does the fat give the potatoes that distinct flavor and richness; but all-natural animal fats are also better for us (in moderation) than their chemical and preservative filled counterparts from groceries.

Our ancestors used to eat butter and lard all the time and they were much healthier than we are! So I would suggest, don't shy away from using these ingredients in your Lyonnaise potatoes. But find good quality butter and lard and use less of it if you want to.


@MikeMason-- You absolutely can! It will be just as delicious in the oven, the only difference is that it will take longer for the potatoes to cook all the way through.

I make Lyonnaise potatoes in the oven all the time. Butter and cream are tasty but not tasty enough to raise your cholesterol over if you ask me. And this version of Lyonnaise potatoes are delicious enough that you won't regret it.

All you need to do is layer potatoes and onions in an oven safe glass or ceramic tray. Heat some chicken broth with milk and some olive oil in a small pan and pour that over the potatoes and onions. Sprinkle your spices, cover with foil and put it in the oven. Mine usually take about forty-five minutes to cook. Enjoy!


Can I cook potatoes Lyonnaise in the oven entirely, drizzled with some olive oil and mixed with caramelized onions?

I'm trying to eat healthier and I'm hosting a dinner party at my house this weekend. I want to make a side dish with potatoes that's going to be rich and tasty for my guests, that I can also enjoy without guilt.

I had potatoes Lyonnaise at a restaurant once and I remember it being very buttery and delicious. Just wondering if I can get a similar flavor if I bake it instead of cooking it in a pan?

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