How to Cook a Baked Potato in the Oven

I 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.

How to Bake a Potato

But a project a few years back was seriously enjoyable and none of us got tired of it.  I was working on a piece about Ways to Top a Baked Potato, and it was just SO MUCH FUN. I found myself staring into the fridge, humming a little, imagining surprising combos. This certainly seemed like a robust reason to ingest copious amounts of sour cream.  And the possibilities were…and remain… titillating.

How to Make Baked Potatoes

Perfect Baked Potatoes

Baked potatoes are pure comfort food (also gluten-free in case anyone was wondering).  It’s well worth taking a moment to master 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, and cooked through interior that is ready to be fluffed and fluffed with a fork. And then you can keep it very simple or go nuts with the toppings. A great customizable dinner, and a good ways to use up leftovers, since everyone can top their potatoes as they see fit.  

Or just a big fat pat of butter and generous sprinkle of salt, maybe some chopped scallions or green onions, or chives. 

How to Make a Perfect Baked Potato

What to Serve with Baked Potatoes

Pair them up with Rib Eye Steaks with Thyme-Garlic Butter (few things are more satisfying than a steak and baked potato dinner), Greek Roasted Chicken Thighs, or Horseradish Ginger Salmon, to name but a few delightful partners to baked potatoes.

How to Make a Perfect Baked Potato

Oven Baked Potatoes

Start with large, firm Idaho russet potatoes; sweet potatoes can also be baked using the same method.  Then once the potato is baked and fluffy – 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…click here for 10 Ways to Top a Baked Potato!

How to Make Baked Potatoes

Preheat the oven to 375° F. The baked potato oven temp is actually pretty fluid, from 350 to 400°F so if your oven is set at a different temperature go ahead and cook the potatoes at that temperature, just know they might take a little shorter or longer to become soft.  Wash and dry the potatoes, removing any “eyes” with a small sharp knife.  Prick them several times with a fork (or a skewer or the tip of a sharp knife), piercing the skin, to allow moisture to escape while they cook, and prevent them from bursting.

How to Make a Perfect Baked Potato

At this point you can bake them as is, directly on an oven rack, or you can rub them with oil, and season with salt and pepper if desired.  In that case you can still place them directly on a rack in the middle of the oven, but place a baking sheet on the rack below them to catch any drips of oil.  Rubbing them with oil will get you a more crackly crisp skin. 

Baking Potatoes in Foil

I am not a fan of baking potatoes in foil, because I like a crunchy skin. If you prefer a softer skin, then you can wrap the potatoes in foil before baking.

How Long to Bake a Potato

The cooking time will vary depending on size, but a fair estimate is that baked potatoes will take for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. If you have a bunch of potatoes you may need to add another 10 to 15 minutes or so to the cooking time, or again if the potatoes are quite large.  They are done when the skin is firm and crisp, but when squeezed the inside feels soft.  You can also insert a knife into the potato; when there is barely any resistance once you poke through the skin, the potatoes are done.

How to Make a Perfect Baked Potato

Remove the potatoes from the oven, and let them sit for a minute or two. Make a slit on the top lengthwise from one end to another.  Squeeze the potato on each end and it will open up (watch out for the hot steam rising).

How to Make a Perfect Baked Potato

You can fluff the insides with a fork if you like, and then it is ready to serve topped with whatever you like.  A traditional loaded baked potato will have a bit of butter, some sour cream, a sprinkle of chives or sliced scallions (green onions), and some crumbled cooked bacon.  

How to Make a Perfect Baked Potato

Baked Potato Nutrition

Baked potatoes have about 150 calories for a medium sized potato (without any toppings, of course), and 5 grams of fiber (with the skin).  They are a good source of vitamins B6 and C, and potassium.  And they have no fat (yes, again, without any toppings!).  

How to Make a Baked Potato in the Microwave

While this isn’t my favorite method, because you don’t have the great crusty crispy potato skin, it sure is faster.  And yes, it’s not really baked.  You just want to scrub your potatoes and dry them.  then poke them with a fork so that they can release steam – this is very important, even more so in a microwave than in an oven (though it’s important there, too).  Steam builds up in the potato as it heats and without these little holes to release the steam it could explode – not all that fun to clean.

How to Make a Perfect Baked Potato

How Long to Microwave a Potato:

Microwave your potato for 5 minutes, then turn it upside down (hopefully you have a rotating tray, if not, turn it around on the tray as well), and microwave it for another 4 minutes, and check to see if it’s soft enough.  Add more time as needed, 1 minute at a time.  If you are microwaving more than one potato at a time it may take longer.  Never put foil in the microwave!

Other Potato Recipes:

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How to Bake a Potato

Easy step-by-step instructions (and photos) for getting a perfect baked potato every time (multiply as needed!).
Yield: 2 Servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 2 large Idaho or russet potato

Directions

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Top as you like — butter, sour cream, salt — or go for something more adventurous!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 168kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 11mg | Potassium: 888mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 2IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 2mg

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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…

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