How to Make Baked Potatoes
Wondering how to make baked potatoes with a crispy brown exterior and fluffy white interior? Enjoy perfectly baked potatoes as a filling main dish, or versatile side dish.
While baked potatoes aren’t a quick dinner idea, they are super easy. Spend 5 minutes getting the potatoes ready, and pop them in the oven for awhile. Totally hands off time!
While the potatoes are in the oven, you’ll have time to get the rest of dinner ready or, here’s an even better idea, enjoy baked potatoes as your main dish. They are filling, nutritious, and economical. They smell sooooo good while they’re baking. You won’t have any pans to wash. What more can I say?
Maybe you’re wondering how to make baked potatoes? Keep reading to learn how to make perfectly brown and crispy potatoes with a fluffy white filling. I have lots of tips and information below to help you out.
Need a faster way to bake potatoes? Try baking them in your air fryer if you have one. They turn out pretty much the same as oven baked potatoes but in only 40 minutes. Or try easy Instant Pot baked potatoes (especially if you prefer softer skins) or loaded baked potato slices.
How to Make Baked Potatoes:
The first thing: choose the right potato! While other potatoes will be okay, russet potatoes are definitely the king of baking potatoes. Russet potatoes have thicker skins which turn into a nice crispy exterior, and starchy flesh, which yields a fluffy white interior.
Scrub, scrub, scrub! You’re going to eat the skins, so please make sure they’re clean. Nobody wants to bite into a gritty piece of dirt.
And dry, dry, dry! A dry potato equals a crispy potato.
Check the potato for bad spots: green spots, eyes, sprouts, or damaged skin. Just trim the bad spots off.
Poke the potatoes a few times with a fork or the tip of your paring knife. No need to go deeply, just puncture the skin.
Cover the potatoes with a thin coat of oil. I like olive oil, but butter or another kind of oil is fine. Don’t want to get your hands dirty? Spray the potatoes with olive oil spray.
Sprinkle the potatoes liberally with coarse salt and pepper.
Okay, now we’re up to the actual baking part. There’s more than one way to bake a potato so choose the way you like best. I think the easiest way is to put the potatoes on a foil lined baking sheet, sides not touching. Or bake them on a wire rack set on a baking sheet. Or set the potatoes directly on your oven racks (put a pan on a lower rack beneath the potatoes to catch drippings).
To serve your perfectly beautiful baked potatoes, immediately make a slice in the top with a sharp knife. Squeeze the bottom (wear an oven mitt!) to open the top of the baked potato up a bit. Or use a fork to spread it open.
Top with your favorite toppings! Keep reading for lots of great suggestions.
Can you bake potatoes at different oven temperatures?
Baked potatoes are pretty forgiving. That’s one of the reasons they make a perfect side dish–you can usually bake them at the same temperature of whatever else you have in the oven. The oven temperature can range anywhere between 300°F to 450°F.
The optimal range is 375°F-425°F.
Just remember that lower temperatures will increase baking time, higher temperatures will decrease baking time. For this recipe, I suggest baking the potatoes at 400°F for 45-60 minutes.
Can you bake a potato too long?
Again, baked potatoes are pretty forgiving. They need at least 45-60 minutes to get done, (internal temp should be between 205°F-212°F) but if dinner’s not quite ready yet, don’t worry, baked potatoes will be fine if they spend extra time in the oven. Some people say the longer the better, up to two hours. You be the judge. You can always turn the oven temp down a little if you’re worried they’ll get too done.
Should baked potatoes be wrapped in foil?
It depends on how you like the skin. I love the salty crispy brown skin of a baked potato–it’s the best part! Potatoes wrapped in foil will have soft skins.
Why do you have to poke the potato with a fork?
The theory is that steam will build up inside the potato as it bakes, and if there’s no outlet, i.e. holes made with a fork, the potato may explode in the oven or microwave. While this occurrence is rare, who wants to take a chance?
I poke the potatoes a few times with a fork, not deeply. Sometimes I simply use the tip of my paring knife to poke a few holes. Just remember: Do the poking right before baking. If you do this step too far ahead of time, oxidization will occur and the flesh of the potato will turn an unappetizing gray.
How to make these baked potatoes your own:
Now that you know how to make baked potatoes, it’s time to be creative. While baked potatoes are totally delicious with just a pat of butter pooled inside, they really are a blank slate. Keep reading for lots of topping ideas. Make baked potatoes a main dish, perfect for meatless Mondays.
What’s your favorite way to top a baked potato?
- Bacon. Obviously. Or diced ham.
- Chili, because we’re taking things seriously here.
- Cheese or cheese sauce. Or both.
- Sour cream or Greek yogurt.
- Green onions or chives, or caramelized onions, because caramelized onions make everything better.
- Avocado, because like bacon and caramelized onions, it makes everything better.
- Broccoli – the perfect match to creamy cheddar cheese sauce.
- Salsa! I like to do a southwestern baked potato with taco meat, pinto beans, salsa, cheese, avocado, and heaps of cilantro.
- BBQ chicken piled on a baked potato is so good! Pulled pork, too.
- These Shepherd’s Pie Stuffed Baked Potatoes from Cupcakes and Kale Chips look amazing!
Storage and Reheating Tips
Baked potatoes will keep well in your fridge for 4-5 days, wrapped well. The skins won’t retain the crispiness of a freshly baked potato but if you reheat them in the oven or toaster oven, they will be refreshed.
More delicious ways to cook potatoes
I love potatoes in any shape or form, don’t you? Try one of these delicious ways to prepare potatoes:
- Crispy roasted potatoes – learn how to make really crisp potatoes
- Instant Pot mashed potatoes – the best way to make mashed potatoes
- Brown butter slow cooker mashed potatoes
- Air Fryer French fries
- Garlic roasted potatoes or Rosemary roasted potatoes
- Seasoned grilled potatoes – perfect for summer
- Dill potato salad (only two ingredients)
- 4 russet potatoes (about 2 pounds total), scrubbed well
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- coarse ground black pepper
- Place oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper for easy clean up.
- Wash and dry potatoes well. Poke potatoes a few times lightly with a fork or the tip of a paring knife.
- Rub potatoes with oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet, sides not touching each other.
- Bake for 45-60 minutes or until fork tender.
- Remove from oven. Using a sharp knife, immediately make a cut in the top of the potatoes. Using an oven mitt, gently squeeze the bottoms of the potatoes to open up the tops. Or spread them apart with a couple of forks.
- Serve with desired toppings.
- Make as many potatoes as you like, just don’t overcrowd the baking sheet.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 potato
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 179Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 289mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 4gSugar: 2gProtein: 5g
RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.