How to Cook Fluffy, Perfect Baked Potatoes

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Looking for an easy way to bake potatoes that turn out amazing every time? Baked potatoes are one of the easiest things you can cook and don’t require special ingredients or tools.

How do you cook a baked potato? Simple! Wash the potatoes, rub them in olive oil, add 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 Bake a Potato Instead of Using the Microwave?

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!

Ingredients

  • 1 potato (or 1 potato per person)
  • Olive oil
  • 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 potato? We prefer russets for 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

This are the types of potatoes best suited for baking. They’re absorbent and will have that fluffy, tender inside when baked because of their starch levels. They 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 cooked. This makes them good for soups and salads where you want the pieces of 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 baking, generally because they also have a decent amount of starch. They are also a good choice when making roasted or mashed potatoes.

Prepping the Potato(es)

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 brush will do.

Once the oil part is done, sprinkle salt and pepper on each potato’s skin. Be generous with it – try to cover most of the potato.

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.

Baking the Potato(es)

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

There are two ways you can do this. You can either place the potatoes directly on your oven’s rack or use a baking sheet. Either way, it’ll be good. Most people prefer to use a baking sheet due to convenience – you can easily put it in and out of the oven.

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

The potato will be done when it’s dry on the outside but tender on the inside.

Should Baked Potatoes be Wrapped in Foil?

Wrapping the potato is the number one thing you shouldn’t do. One of the key elements of a good 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 on the outside yet tender on the inside potato – that’s exactly what you want!

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.

Potato Toppings

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

  • Butter
  • Sour Cream
  • Grated Cheese
  • Ranch Dressing
  • Bacon Bits
  • Chives
  • Jalapeños
  • Cream Cheese
  • Cilantro

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