A baked potato is so lovely just on its own, with a pat of good butter, a sprinkle of coarse salt. But it can also become dinner; a wonderful translator of leftovers into a meal, and a way to serve myriad people at the table with the odds and ends that are in the fridge.
First of all, here’s how to bake that potato.
11 Baked Potato Toppings
1. Meatball Baked Potato “Sub”
Give your baked potato an Italian-American accent with mini meatballs, a generous spoonful of tomato sauce, and a shower of grated Parmesan cheese. You can also halve large meatballs and tuck those into the opened potato. Feel free to use frozen meatballs, or your favorite recipe. Big thumbs up from the junior set on this one.
For super simple turkey meatballs, mix together 2 eggs, 1 cup Panko bread crumbs, ½ teaspoon each of oregano, Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, and 1 tablespoon minced garlic. Blend well, then using your hands blend in 1 pound ground turkey and 1 pound turkey sausage. Form the mixture into ½-inch balls and bake on an oiled baking sheet at 375°F for 20 minutes until cooked through.
2. Garden Baked Potato
For a healthy vegetarian spud, top a baked potato with a colorful medley of your favorite sautéed or steamed vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, onions and fresh tomatoes. You can cook the vegetables with dried or fresh herbs for extra flavor. or give them a drizzle of pesto.
3. Beef Stew Baked Potato
This is as hearty as hearty gets. Often potatoes are a part of beef stew – here, the stew contains meats and veggies but the potato is the delicious medium that presents it. Try any beef stew recipe you like, skipping the potatoes. Also try stews made with lamb, pork, chicken…this is a perfect way to stretch a not-quite-enough amount of extra beef stew into a whole new dinner.
4. The Classic Baked Potato
This is what the quintessential baked potato with all the works looks like: shredded cheddar, sliced scallions or green onions, crumbled bacon and a big dollop of sour cream. This is bar food and comfort food rolled into one.
5. Hummus and Roasted Red Pepper Baked Potato
This vegetarian option can be put together in a snap with store-bought hummus. It can be made with a regular Idaho potato, but it’s really dazzling in looks and flavor with a sweet potato as the base. On top of the hummus, try some strips of roasted red peppers or some red pepper puree, which can be made by whirling some roasted red peppers in a food processor with a touch of olive oil and salt. For texture, sprinkle on some whole chickpeas.
6. BBQ Pulled Pork Baked Potato
Top a spud with pulled pork with some barbecue sauce, maybe a few shots of hot sauce and a helping of coleslaw — it’s like a pulled pork sandwich, only with the potato standing in for the roll. Shredded chicken is another option, and you might want a crunchy pickle on the side.
7. Pizza Baked Potato
We’ll take pizza in any way, shape or form we can get it! Using a baked potato instead of a dough crust, not only provides a gluten free choice for those who want it, but bumps up the nutritional value as well.
Spoon some jarred or homemade pizza or pasta sauce over the potato, then add a nice layer of sliced or grated fresh mozzarella, and a sprinkle of dried oregano. You can play around with any toppings that you like on a pizza, from pepperoni to olives. A shake of red pepper flakes is a nice finish. After the potatoes are topped, place the potatoes on a baking sheet and give them a quick blast under the broiler to melt the cheese and give everything a bubbly finish.
8. Japanese Restaurant Salad Baked Potato
You know that awesome dressing you get at Japanese restaurants? The one you want to spoon over absolutely everything, because it’s that good? Wait until you try it on a potato. The bright, gingery carrot dressing is so fresh tasting against a simple, earthy spud. You can also try this with cold or room temperature potatoes for an unusual take on potato salad. Top the whole thing with arugula and cherry tomatoes.
This recipe is also great for a brown bag lunch. Just pack the dressing and veggies in separate small containers and assemble when you’re ready to eat.
9. Tex Mex Baked Potato
The flavors of the Southwest continue to captivate us, and this potato brings them all together in one seriously savory package. Queso fresco (a tangy Mexican cheese, also called “queso”), fresh salsa, avocado, sour cream and cilantro make this a potato as fun to look at as it is to eat. If you can’t find queso fresco, you can substitute mild feta cheese.
10. California Baked Potato
This potato highlights flavors with a fresh, West Coast vibe. Just pile on some cooked chicken, diced avocado and either creamy, mild Monterey Jack or tangy goat cheese crumbles.
11. Buffalo Chicken Meatball Baked Potato
Stuff your potato with small meatballs, like these Slow Cooker Buffalo Meatballs. Then top with a drizzle of blue cheese dressing (thin out this blue cheese dip with a couple of tablespoons of milk, or use bottled dressing). Top with a sprinkle of sliced scallions or chives if you like.