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The Perfect Baked Potato

perfect baked potato

We eat a lot of potatoes in this house. Baked, fried, boiled, mashed….we’ve never met a potato dish we didn’t like. :-) But one of our FAVORITE ways to consume this starchy tuber is the traditional baked-in-the-oven way.

There’s just something about the perfect baked potato that is…well…perfect! But as simple as baking a potato sounds, the perfect baked potato doesn’t just happen. It actually took me quite a few years to realize that there was a certain “art” to it.

Here is the way I do it inspired by What’s Cooking America.

Start with the right kind of potato – a nice, starchy russet potato is my favorite for baking. According to food scientist Harold McGee, the cells of a high-starch potato separate when cooked so they soak up sour cream and butter. :-)

perfect baked potato

Make sure that the skin has a nice even brown tone, and don’t buy potatoes that have sprouted or have a green tint to them. Choose potatoes of similar sizw; they will cook more evenly.

Preparation:

Preheat your oven and move the rack to the middle position.

If time is not an issue I like to baked my potatoes at 325 degrees for 90 minutes. However, I know this isn’t always possible, so if you’re pressed for time you can bake the potatoes at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, or 350 degrees for 60 minutes.

perfect baked potato

Rinse and scrub each potato under cold running water. Dry each potato thoroughly.

Remove any bruises or discolored spots with a sharp knife.

perfect baked potato

Pierce each potato 3-4 times to allow the steam to escape during baking.

If you decide to wrap your potatoes in aluminum foil before baking, this will result in the skin being soft, not crispy, and the insides will not be the light, flaky texture you are looking for. Of course this is personal preference…but I much prefer the perfect BAKED potato to the steamed variety. :-)

perfect baked potato

perfect baked potato

Rub the outside of the potato with olive oil or vegetable oil then sprinkle with kosher salt. This will make your potato skins perfectly crisp and salty!  Yum!

perfect baked potato

Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack in preheated oven.

Bake for:

45 minutes at 400 degrees
60 minutes at 350 degrees
90 minutes at 325 degrees (preferred)

perfect baked potato

Potatoes are done if tender when pierced with a knife or fork.

NOTE: If you’re cooking more than 4 potatoes, extend the cooking time 10 – 15 minutes.

perfect baked potato

perfect baked potato

Remove potatoes from the oven, slit crosswise across the top with a knife. Squeeze and pinch the potato towards the middle.

perfect baked potato

You now have the perfect baked potato ready for your perfect choice of toppings! 

Mine are butter, sour cream, chives/green onion, salt & pepper. Perfection! What are yours?

 

perfect baked potato

The Perfect Baked Potato

Jill Nystul
There’s just something about the perfect baked potato that is…well…perfect! As simple as baking a potato sounds, it actually took me quite a few years to realize that there was a certain “art” to it.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 185 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 4 Potatoes
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil
  • 2 tsp Kosher Salt

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven and move the rack to the middle position.
  • Rinse and scrub each potato under cold running water. Dry each potato thoroughly.
  • Remove any bruises or discolored spots with a sharp knife.
  • Pierce each potato 3-4 times to allow the steam to escape during baking.
  • If you decide to wrap your potatoes in aluminum foil before baking, this will result in the skin being soft, not crispy, and the insides will not be the light, flaky texture you are looking for.
  • Rub the outside of the potato with olive oil or vegetable oil then sprinkle with kosher salt. This will make your potato skins perfectly crisp and salty! Yum!
  • Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack in preheated oven.
  • Bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees, 60 minutes at 350 degrees, or 90 minutes at 325 degrees (preferred)
  • Potatoes are done if tender when pierced with a knife or fork.

Nutrition

Calories: 185kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 5gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 1184mgPotassium: 879mgFiber: 5gVitamin C: 24.3mgCalcium: 64mgIron: 6.9mg

 

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Food & Recipes

  • My mom and grandmother ( a true “Southern” cook) both rubbed potatoes ( after scrubbed and patted dry) with old fashioned REAL butter. The butter crisps the skins better than oil or margarine. Same as using butter in cookies – they are more of a crisp cookie if you use real butter vs margarine, shortening or oil. They didn’t use salt so that may make a diff, too.

  • my dear mother taught me to bake potatoes w/ a fork stuck into them. seems as tho they cook faster & more evenly because of the metal being in middle.

  • I bake the potatoes in a potato bag for microwaving. I made some for Christmas and everyone is delighted with the results. Depending on the size & quantity of the potatos, it takes from 4 to 8 minutes. Here is a link to see how the bag is made and how to cook. I also do sweet potatoes and you can also cook corn, I haven’t tried corn yet.

    http://craftsanity.com/2010/01/craftsanity-on-tv-a-potato-bag-tutorial-for-mircowaving-tasty-potatoes-on-the-fly/

  • Ugh! Don’t use the 400 degree temp with olive oil. It fills your house with smoke! I turned it down to 350 and things are better. We also loved the Mississippi-Vegas Pot Roast and are making it for some friends while the mom is recovering from surgery. Delicious!

  • My mom always baked her potatoes like this, but she stood them in a muffin tin to make it easy to pull them out of the oven. We kids would cut the potato in half, scoop out the insides and put the toppings on that. But the best part was the skins– lots of melting butter and salt inside, crunchy and packed with flavor– to hold in our hands to eat. Ah, the childhood memories.. :)

    • One way I do differently then your method is I add the addition of dried parsley flakes & garlic powder with the kosher salt and roll my tater all oiled up in that….than I skewer it on my kabob sticks and place on a shallow type pan..casserole. ..or 13th pan and it kinda let’s the heat circulate all around the tater making it alil quicker to bake as well as sooo crisp n good on the outside.
      Ok I’m ready to go bake me potato now I’m starving lol

  • Art lessons will help enhance your kid s imaginative side. Children who are subjected to the humanities at an early age have high self-esteem and incredibly expressive. The arts may help create their psychological and emotional development.;

    My current blog site
    <.http://www.prettygoddess.com

  • To encourage the “fluffy” inside further, before cutting into the potato, roll it between two hot pads just hard enough to break it up a bit. Then slice open and top as desired. Restaurants often use this trick.

  • I saw on one of Guy Fieri’s shows how he brines potatoes in salted water for a couple hours before baking them. It makes the insides “mealy” and they taste sooooo good. It’s worth it to brine them before baking.

  • When we’re short on time, money, ideas, or all of the above, we rub huge potatoes with olive oil & sea salt, throw them in the crockpot for 4+ hours and come back later for a huge “baked potato bar.” The kids LOVE it and it’s inexpensive with little effort. A favorite at our house!

  • We love this recipe in our house as well. For a truly exceptionally tasting version (not to mention a great protein addition), top the tator with cottage cheese!

  • My husband has been cooking our potatoes in the rice cooker. A little water in the bottom so they don’t stick and they come out perfectly. He turns it on and if they aren’t done in the first cycle he just turns it on again.

  • I love your blog. I have one myself & can not find the time to keep it up to date. You have posted a lot of wonderful, helpful hints. I just wanted to thank you & wish you a Happy Easter.

  • I didn’t realize I had been steaming the potatoes! I do miss eating potatoes, but my stomach feels so much better since I realized my allergy. I still fix them for my family sometimes, so I’ll try this real soon! Thanks Jillee, I learn so much from you! Have a blessed Easter!

  • I put my oiled potatoes on long metal skewers, 2 per skewer, which makes them easier to pick up by the skewer handle. OIling the potatoes makes their skin soft; maybe the addition of salt makes them crispy?

  • I scrub them, oil them and bake them as you do but I don’t poke any holes in them. When they are finished cooking I wrap them one at a time tightly in a clean dish towel and ‘roll’ them. What I mean by that is I gently roll and squeeze each potato so that it becomes fluffy inside. If you are too rough the skin may break (not a big deal tho). This way when they are cut open they are light and the toppings 9and by toppings I mean a lot of BUTTER in my case, lol) can melt down deep into the potato.

  • Around here potatoes guarantee a complaint-free meal. Mashed are probably the favorite.
    And Easter is no exception–dough pockets filled with mashed potatoes AKA pierogi.
    Perhaps our biggest surprise since moving from NJ to CA is that most people out here have never heard of the pierogi. For those of who have never had–it is a Polish food–think of it like a ravioli filled with mashed potatoes & cheese. Half-moon shaped, they are boiled until they float, patted dry and then sauteed with onion & served with sour cream. There are all kinds of fillings– we like the potato with cheese best; Cabbage filled are popular and Farmers’ Cheese with white grapes & nutmeg are favorites too. I make my own but the commercial brand is Mrs. T’s in the frozen section-which we have had on occasion and like.

  • This is the way I have cooked mine for years, the only thing I do differently is I use seasoned salt or garlic salt and sprinkle over the oil before baking. Gives a wonderful flavor!

  • Our favorite baked potato is cooked on the grill. We wash the potatoes good (scrub them). Coat in butter or oil, wrap in foil and cook till done. The outside of the potatoes are crispy and the inside is fluffy and moist. We had them last night with BBQed chicken and baked chicken. We made extra baked potatoes and will use them today in a Baked potato soup with bits of baked chicken in it. I make the soup by coarsely grating the potatoes and heating them in chicken broth. Chop the leftover chicken into small pieces (1/2 inch or so). I then add sour cream, cheese and bacon bits. Green onion tops or chives is excellent on top of the soup. I also make hash browns with the leftover potatoes. They are really good, too.

    • I love potatoes baked on the grill this way. I use this method whether I bake them on grill or in oven. No more hit or miss! Will have to try in the slow cooker. I also love grilled garlic!

  • I love, love, love the baked potatoes at Red Lobster and learned about the oil/salt trick when trying to recreate them. It’s always shocking to see how many people DON’T like baked potatoes. When I’m at RL, my entire potato is history by the time I leave!

  • Love this!!! They look SO pretty, too! Can’t wait to try–baked potatoes are always so hit or miss for me, and now I have some tricks up my sleeve :-)

  • Have you tried “baking” them in the slow cooker? Prepare them the way you describe. Then cook them on HIGH about 3 hours, depending on quantity and size.

    On hot summer days, just put your slow cooker outside and you don’t even heat up your house!

  • Jillee, I made your Mississippi-Vegas Pot Roast last night. I have to tell you that this was the best I have ever eaten and I am not a pot roast fan. Thank you for the recipe, it was wonderful.

  • I place my potatoes on a bed of kosher salt in a cake pan or similar. This makes them come out crispy on the outside and very creamy on the inside.

  • I love baked potato! Longer the cooking the better however the ‘smashed spud’ is high on our list of culinary delights? I usually microwave the potatoes til tender, place them on a lined tray, smash them with a potato masher, sprinkle diced onion over the top, spray with cooking spray or just put dobs of butter around, salt, pepper and bake til golden! :)

  • jillee, i can’t wait to try this method–i didn’t know about coating the skins with oil and salt.

    isn’t it irritating that it’s hard to tell that the potatoes are green tinged until you get them in a different light at home?

    deborah j, i remember my mom had ‘special potato nails’ someone had given her—made of aluminum—for that purpose.

  • I prepare the skin of my potatoes just as you do but instead of piercing the potatoes I put a long nail in each one to spead up the cooking time. Something I learned from both my Grandma and my Momma.

    • I do this too! The other suggestion, if you’re really pushed for time is to stick them in the microwave for maybe 3 or 4 minutes per potato then finish them in the oven!

      • Put a long nail in the center of the potato (a clean nail, of course!) – I’d use a flower nail from my cake decorating stash, because I know those are food-safe – I use the same trick to get my big cakes baked all the way through.

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