Baked Potato 101

Baked PotatoI have to say, I love what I do, I really, really do. I like writing, I like cooking, and I like talking about writing and cooking (and just talking in general).  But sometimes I find myself in a slightly strange moment, often having to do with a particular article or project, where I am cooking and writing about one particular thing, and lots of it.

My kids usually start off very enthusiastically, and then as the same food group presents itself over…and over….and over again, they start to wilt, and protest.

One of the most extreme versions of this was when I was asked to test every frozen and refrigerated cookie dough I could find, and conduct mini focus groups to rate them for flavor and texture. As you might imagine, the first couple of weeks were like a party everyday. But by weeks three and four, cookie fatigue (in fact, cookie nausea) had set in. Everything has a limit.

But a recent project has been seriously enjoyable, and none of us are tired yet (and there are only 14 in this scenario, vs. 63 or so cookie doughs).  I have been working on a piece about 10 Ways to Top a Baked Potato, and it’s just SO MUCH FUN. I find myself staring into the fridge, humming a little, imagining surprising combos. I certainly found this to be a good reason to ingest copious amounts of sour cream. And the possibilities are titillating.

Meatball Baked Potato SubSo far the two biggest hits with the kids have been the Meatball Sub potato and the Taco Potato (not surprising), while I am planning to subsist at least partially on the Japanese Salad potato.

But this did also get me thinking that I have never really mastered the art of the perfect, simple baked potato: that ratio of oven temperature to timing, which results in a perfect baked potato, complete with chewy skin, cooked through interior that is ready to be fluffed and fluffed with a fork, and then meet up with any number of glamorous fillings. Or just a big fat pat of butter and generous sprinkle of salt.  A great Fork-in-the-Road dinner, and a good ways to use up leftovers, since everyone can top their potatoes as they see fit.

Start with large, firm Idaho or russet potatoes; sweet potatoes can also be baked using the same method.    Add some butter, some salt, some pepper, or make it a full on side dish or meal with any toppings you can think of.  Now the fun begins….

Baked Potato 101


  • 1 large Idaho or russet potato

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Scrub the potatoes, dry them and use a small sharp knife to remove any dark brown or greenish spots, or “eyes.” Use a fork, a skewer, or a thin sharp knife to poke several holes all around the potato.

2. Bake the potatoes for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours, until a thin sharp knife slides easily into the potato. Let it cool for a couple of minutes, then take a the knife and slit it right down the middle, give it a squeeze, spread it open and use a fork to loosen up the insides a bit.

3. Top as you like – butter, sour cream — and then the sky’s the limit.

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8 thoughts on “Baked Potato 101”

  1. Beth Webster says:

    As a kid was taught to take out the half- cooked potato from the oven and spread the top bity of skin removed area with heavy pile of your favourite grated cheese…

  2. Sally says:

    The meatball sub potato and the pizza potato make me think that an Italian sausage and pepper potato could be very good.

    The sautéed mushrooms and gruyere version is calling my name. I just need some gruyere.

    1. Sharp cheddar (or really any other cheese) also good options!

  3. Stacie says:

    A few years ago, I was taught a super simple recipe. Ground meat, (fry up), add chopped onion and garlic. Then add a jar of cheese whiz. and then put on top of the deli rye bread, and bake. Well, I have done this recipe a couple of times, and put it on top of a baked potato. Sometimes I have even used used sausage instead. Its all yummy!

  4. Gepetto says:

    I found that rubbing olive oil and salt all over the skin before baking makes it delicious!

    1. you almost don’t need any toppings then!

  5. Carole says:

    If you want a quick and perfect baked potato, pierce and microwave large russet potatoes for about 10 minutes. The bake in a very hot (450) oven for about 15 minutes. You’ll get a fluffy interior and a great crispy skin. you can rub with olive oil, salt, or any other seasoning for great flavor.

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