How to Bake a Potato

If you’ve been searching for the perfect method for how to bake a potato, I’m delighted to bring you my guide for making a perfectly baked potato with a fluffy center and a crispy, salty skin.

Here are a few of my favorite potatoe recipes: Classic Scalloped Potatoes, Instant Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup and Twice-Baked Potatoes with Bacon.

How to Bake a Potato

You may not think baking potatoes is rocket science, but I will say it’s somewhat of an art that not everyone is aware of! That’s why I wanted to collect and share my best tips for how to bake a potato to perfection — we don’t want any dry, crumbly insides or mushy skins up in here. In fact, I firmly believe the *perfect* baked potato has a slightly crispy and salty exterior with a fluffy, moist inside.

If that sounds like your idea of a good time, then you’ll love these tips and use them all the time just like I do. In fact, I serve baked potatoes as an entree to my family at least once a month! They often get cast as a side dish, but with the right selection (the bigger, the better) and toppings (get you some protein and veggies on there), they make for an easy and delicious dinner that the whole family can have fun with customizing.

Image of a perfect stakehouse baked potato

What does a perfectly baked potato look like?

The interior should be entirely fluffy and light, while the skin needs to be crispy and salty, but not burnt. (It’s a fine line!)

What is the best type of potatoes for baking?

Russets are generally considered the best potato for baking because of their thick skin that can get nice and crisp and their high starch content, which lends to that great fluffy texture inside that we want.

Do I have to prick the skin of the potato?

I’ve never personally experienced a potato exploding if you don’t prick it, but I do think it helps some of the moisture to escape.

Why shouldn’t I just stick the potato in the microwave?

Microwaves are good for reheating food, but they heat very unevenly, causing the heat to get too high and pressure to build. The potato cell walls actually burst and release starch molecules that glue together the broken cell walls. (See? It IS a little more science than you’d think!) This results in an unevenly cooked potato that is gummy in the middle. Yuck. So, it can be done in a pinch, but I wouldn’t recommend for all the time.

Why do you skip the foil?

Foil will trap the heat in and essentially steam the potato instead of roasting it. And trust me, you want it roasted because that’s what crisps up the skin and makes it SO good.

Why don’t you brush the oil on the potato before baking it?

Just like foil, oil acts as a barrier and the steam won’t be able to release the same. By adding the oil after the potato is cooked, and then baking it for 10 more minutes, you end up with the most delicious skin that is crisp but not burnt. I also recommend not using butter because the water in butter makes the skin soggy instead of crisp, and butter burns easier at high temperatures.

What if I want to bake my potatoes with another dish?

Such a great question! I do this all the time. I’ll often make a pan of my favorite chicken leg recipe and bake the potatoes alongside it. Just bake the potatoes until they register between 205 to 212 degrees F. on the inside, add your oil, and bake for 10 more minutes. You can easily check the internal temperature with a cheap instant-read thermometer.

How long do you bake a potato? What temperature do you bake potatoes at?

If your potatoes are medium sized, about 5 to 8 ounces, here’s about how long you bake them at varying temperatures:

45 minutes at 400 degrees F.
60 minutes at 350 degrees F.
90 minutes at 325 degrees F.

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baked potatoes image

How to bake a potato


  • Author: Melissa Griffiths - Bless this Mess
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 1x

Description

If you’re wondering how to bake a potato, this post is exactly what you need! This is your ultimate guide to making a perfectly baked potato with a fluffy center & a crispy skin.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 4 Potatoes (about 58 ounces each)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and scrub your potatoes clean. Poke each potato with a fork a few times to allow steam to release while cooking.
  2. Place potatoes directly on a baking rack set inside a baking sheet and place them in the oven.
  3. Bake until the center of the potato reaches between 205 and 212 degrees. This will be roughly 35-45 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes.
  4. Remove from the oven and use a pastry brush to coat each potato in a thin coat of olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and then flip them over and brush the other side with oil and sprinkle with salt.
  5. Bake the potatoes for an additional 10 minutes to crisp the skin.
  6. Remove the potatoes from the oven, cut a small X on the top of each potato and then using two hands (be careful, they are hot), gently press the potatoes inward so that they “bloom” from the X.
  7. Enjoy right away with your favorite toppings.

Notes

  • These were medium sized potatoes that came in a 10 pound bag. If you are using the large “baking” potatoes, be sure to add at least a half an hour, if not more, to the cooking time.
  • Table salt, kosher salt, and sea salt (fine to coarse) all work well here. I like a mix of fine and coarse sea salt on the outside.
  • Not committed to putting the tater directly on a oven rack? Stick a wire baking wrack inside of a rimmed baking sheet and let the potatoes cook on the rack. Last option, line a baking sheet with foil and bake on the baking sheet.
  • Category: Side
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American
Nutrition Information: YIELD: 10 SERVING SIZE: 1 Potato
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 176 Fat: 1.6g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 710.4mg Carbohydrates: 37.3g Sugars: 1.7g Protein: 4.4g Vitamin A: 0µg Vitamin C: 42mg

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Other baked potato recipes you’ll love:

Baked Potatoes go great with these easy dinner recipes:

This recipe was originally published in July 2013 and has been updated July 2019.

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Megan

They were still hard. I followed all directions to the letter. Just another baked potato recipe to throw in the “doesn’t work” pile.

Remelem

I have never gotten baked potatoes to work for me. This worked! And it was so tasty. Thank you so much!

Alex Montoya

I am going to try this recipe today. My brother in law mentioned that aluminum foil is toxic when cooked. Is that right?

Sharris

Place potatoes directly on a baking rack set inside a baking sheet and place them in the oven.
This is step 2. Does that mean you put the potatoes on a rack and put the baking sheet on the rack underneath?

RavenLenore

I love this recipe. I have been using Himalayan salt with the olive oil and it’s delicious.

P.j .

First class spuds

Karen Vasquez

We are having a Chili cook-off in the office and for those not making chili we were asked to bring in toppings. I thought why not make potatoes to top with chili. Growing up, my Mom always made red potatoes and cooked them in the oven right on the rake. I was stressed out about cooking russet potatoes and in foil to make what I thought was the more common way of serving them. Based on your recipe and advice, I’m going with the russets potatoes with no foil. Thank you for the directions. I couldn’t understand the waste of the foil or how it helped the potato cook.

Ella Wilson

A well done, superbly delicate potato is the perfect side dish to numerous a feast. However, preparing a potato however evidently basic won’t generally yield the best outcomes if done inaccurately.

Lauren Estrada

Awesome baked potato. Do this.

Gene

Absolutely perfect. Steakhouse quality baked potatoes. Would probably use instaread or continuous thermometry on really big ones. We used Kosher salt

Ardelle

I love to make baked potatoes and have traditionally used foil. I like the way these potatoes turned out, it is easy to squeeze the potato open to fill, and I too make “stuffed baked potatoes” sometimes I go crazy with a little bacon and sour cream. I know it ruins a good healthful food but we sure like them! I use broccoli but have wondered if another veggie goes as well?

Grannybee

My oh my this is not a new way of baking potatoes been doing it 50 years plus. Never used foil & didn’t have a microwave until the 80’s tried it & went back to traditional method.

Bless This Mess - About Me

I’m Melissa, and I want to help you feed your family wholesome food.

As a hobby farmer and mom of five, I’m all about keeping it simple in the kitchen. I want healthy meals that feed my family well, and then I want to get back to my (messy) life. Let’s work together to find something yummy for your dinner table.