How to cook a baked potato: fluffy and perfect every time

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I got in a fabulous potato-baking rhythm when I lived by myself for the first time. I’d get home from work and pop a potato in the oven for 30-ish minutes, take a shower or sit on the porch for half an hour, then stick in large-chopped veggies like cauliflower and carrots with the potato for another 15-ish minutes.

Baked potatoes, especially baked sweet potatoes, are nutritious and low brain energy sapping. I recommend that you put them on your menu, at least once per week. Baked potatoes make for a great main dish or side and there are millions of ways to prepare them for variation. The leftovers are easy to deal with, and the dish is friendly to nearly anyone, especially people with gluten intolerances.

How to Cook a Baked Potato Perfectly

Here’s how you cook a baked potato. Looking for an easy way to bake a potato that turns out a perfect baked potato every time? Baked potatoes are one of the easiest things you can cook and don’t require special ingredients or tools.

The Perfect Baked Potato Recipe

How do you cook a baked potato so that it comes out fluffy and perfect every freaking time? This baked potato recipe is Simple! Wash the potatoes, rub them in olive oil, add some kosher salt and pepper to taste, and cook at 425F for an hour.

This classic way of cooking potatoes will become your go-to side dish for many of your meals!

Why to Cook a Baked Potato in the Oven Instead of Using the Microwave?

Bake a potato instead of using the microwave for a firm and moist, flavorful potato. Microwave baked potato for a quick dinner or to reheat a potato that’s already been baked.

If you want a baked potato, you shouldn’t use a microwave. Microwaving is the easier, faster way – but baking a potato isn’t that hard anyways!

A microwaved potato is fast. It might be the go-to option if you’re in a hurry. Then again, it doesn’t taste as good. Chances are, you’ll end up with a soggy mess of a potato. In a worst-case scenario, you’ll end up with a completely dry potato – yes, that’s possible! So, why risk it?

The oven and the potato are best friends. When it comes to baking a potato, all you have to do is season it and throw it in the oven. You’ll get a crispy on the outside, tender on the inside potato – as close to perfection as you can get!


  • 1 potato (or 1 potato per person)
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper

What is the Best Kind of Potato to Bake?

There are many different varieties of potatoes out there, but which varieties make for the best baked potatoes? We prefer russet potatoes when we’re hungry for perfectly baked potatoes. They are large enough in size to serve as a formidable side and they pair well with many main courses.

If you want to try something different though, there are a large variety of spuds to choose from. Here are a number of things to consider when picking your potato:

Starchy Potatoes

Examples: Russets, Sweet Potatoes, King Edwards

These are the types of potatoes best suited for baking. Starchy, crumbly potatoes like russet potatoes are absorbent and will have that fluffy, tender inside when baked because of their starch levels.

Sweet potatoes are some of the creamiest baked potato examples, and the ones I always go to when I’m missing home garden flavors. Sweet potatoes are an entirely different class of potato that comes with their own culinary culture and are loved around the world.

Here are some friends in Brasil getting their potato varieties straight, and here are tips on cooking sweet potatoes.

Starchy potatoes are also good for frying and mashing. They don’t keep their shape well when cooked in boiling water.

Waxy Potatoes

Examples: Kipflers, Red Royales, Fingerlings, Red-Skinned Potatoes

These potatoes keep their structural integrity when made into baked potatoes (quite different than russet potatoes, which tend to crumble). This makes them good for soups and salads where you want the pieces of baked potato to be soft but still keep their shape.

Floury or All-Purpose Potatoes

Examples: Desirees, Creme Royales, Yukon Golds

These potatoes are also good for making baked potatoes, generally because they also have a decent amount of starch. They are also a good choice when making roasted or mashed potatoes.

How to Prepare Potatoes for Baking

The potatoes from my garden or that I buy straight from the farm truck are usually clogged in dirt. Dirt keeps potatoes fresher while they’re stored. Rub ’em clean before you bake to avoid a rock between your teeth.

Step 1: Wash the potatoes

You have to wash the potatoes thoroughly. It’s highly advisable that you use a vegetable scrubber. If you don’t have one, your hands will do! Put the potatoes under running water and scrub them clean.

Step 2: Remove any blemishes

No potato is picture-perfect – but you can fix that. Using a knife, remove any blemishes or marks you see.

Step 3: Dry the potatoes

Using paper towels, pat the potatoes until they are dry. Get them ready for a round of seasoning!

Step 4: Season the potatoes

Rub olive oil on the potatoes first. It’s recommended that you use your hands for this step. If you don’t feel like getting your hands dirty, a pastry brush will do.

Once the oil part is done, sprinkle salt and pepper on the potato skins. Be generous with it — try to cover most of the potato.

If you go overboard on the spices, don’t worry because you can always dampen the bite with some sour cream when you serve the baked potatoes.

Step 5: Fork each potato

Using a fork, add a couple of holes here and there into your potato. You don’t have to overdo it but you do have to cover most sides with at least a couple of holes.

You need to do this to let steam escape from the potato as you bake it. This step might seem unnecessary – but it’s not. Don’t skip it! Otherwise the steam that can’t vent easily from the potato will build up pressure, making it possible that the potato will split open or explode.

How to Make Oven Baked Potatoes

This easy baked potato recipe takes about an hour and 15 minutes. Just five of those minutes physically involve you.

Step 1: Preheat the oven

Heat your oven at 425F (or 220C ). While the oven heats up, decide whether you’re going to use the oven’s rack or a baking sheet.

Step 2: Cook the potatoes

Cook baked potatoes on a baking sheet or wrap them in tin foil. Either way, poke holes in each potato by using a paring knife or fork so you don’t end up with exploding potatoes.

Bake a Potato With Crispy Skin

Potatoes baked bare get nice crispy skin. Paint them with melted butter or bacon grease and sprinkle with herbs.

Bake a Potato With Soft Skin

Foil-wrapped baked potatoes turn out with moist skins. Most people prefer to use a baking sheet due to convenience – you can easily put it in and out of the oven. Paint them with melted butter or bacon grease and then wrap. Poke holes in the bare potatoes before wrapping them in foil to avoid punching little pieces of foil into the potatoes.

Step 3: Wait it out

The only downside of a baked potato is that it takes a little bit of time to cook. Once the potatoes are in the oven, wait for 60 minutes. The maximum baking time for an average potato is one hour, but some potatoes cook much faster, depending on their size and variety.

Every 20 minutes or so, flip the potatoes and check if they are done by sticking them with a fork.

The potatoes are done when they’re dry on the outside but the potato flesh is tender on the inside. Serve immediately.

Toppings for the Best Baked Potato Recipe

One great thing about serving baked potatoes is that people can add various toppings, customizing their baked potatoes to match their individual preferences. Here are some favorites you and your loved ones can try out.

  • Melted butter
  • Bacon grease (yummy painted on the potato skins before wrapping them in foil. Paint on using a pastry brush)
  • Sour Cream or nut cream sour cream vegan substitute
  • Grated Cheese
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Ranch Dressing
  • Bacon Bits
  • Chives
  • Jalapeños
  • Cream Cheese
  • Cilantro

Dishes That Go With Baked Potatoes

Ahhh I can’t get over how many side options there are for baked potatoes. Here are more favorite potato recipes and sides for baked potatoes:

Frequently Asked Baked Potato Questions

Here are the answers to questions about baked potatoes.

Should Baked Potatoes Be Wrapped in Foil?

Baking potatoes in tin foil is the number one thing you shouldn’t do. One of the key elements of the best baked potato is letting the steam get out. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a soggy potato due to the moisture trapped inside.

By allowing the steam to get out, you’ll get a crispy skin on the outside yet tender on the inside potato – perfectly crispy is exactly what you want!

Poke holes in the whole potatoes and lay them on a baking sheet or directly on the oven rack to bake.

Can You Save Baked Potatoes for Later?

Of course, you can! The best way to do it is by storing them in an airtight container. Put them in the refrigerator and wait until you crave them again! When you do, reheat them at 325F in the oven until they are warm.

If you’re in a hurry, you can reheat them in the microwave, but the texture and taste won’t be as good. Keep in mind that baked potatoes last for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator.

What Fork Do You Use to Eat a Baked Potato?

You should use the large dinner fork to eat a baked potato, and a butter knife to cut it open and spread melted butter inside.

Potato Meal Substitutes for Gluten Meals

If you or someone at your table doesn’t eat gluten products, fancy baked potatoes can be a good sit-in for a gluten-heavy dish like burgers. In place of burgers, serve burger patties with all the fixings alongside a fancied-up baked potato. Accompany the baked potato with plenty of sour cream, melted butter, and french onions and maybe even some balsamic vinegar or wine-glazed onions.

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