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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.

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.

Print
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

Keywords: how long to bake a potato, how to bake a potato, easy baked potatoes recipe, temperature for baked potatoes, how long do I bake a potato, baked potato time and temp, best baked potato recipe, perfect baked potato

baked potatoes image

 

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.

Don’t you feel like a baked potato master?! Now you have everything you need to know about how to bake a potato to perfection to get a nice and fluffy inside with a crispy and delicious skin!

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59 Responses
    1. I’ve never understood poking them so moisture goes away but don’t use foil because it keeps the moisture.

      Every story about baking potatoes says they’ve never seen one explode without poking.

  1. charlotte

    My ex used to slow bake them without the foil – maybe in a 300F oven. They were out of this world! Thanks for the reminder, and I’ll have to try the higher temp – could never justify having an oven on for several hours to cook a potato!

  2. jess

    I stuff my spuds with cooked chicken breast chuncks and monterrey cheese and I also do brisket baked potatoes with sliced meat, cheedar cheese, sour cream. chives , bacon bits, and bbq sauce(optional)

  3. C Morrison

    I’ve cooked them this way for years, and it really makes them special to add cracked pepper, dill weed, and garlic salt with the olive oil! This may sound unusual, but a dollop of raspberry salsa is also delicious as a topping…along with the cheese of course!

  4. Cindy

    My favorite is what I call the Terlingua – topping of chili, cheese, chopped onions, butter, sour cream and jalapenos. Makes a nice meal..

  5. Nancy Wittig

    Putting Lawreys Seasoned Salt on the potato will make them outstanding too. I cook mine at 475 because I like really crunchy potato peelings.

  6. Wilma Knipe

    I have been cooking potatoes like this for years. My favourite topping is Garlic butter, Colslaw, grated cheese and topped with sour cream. Yummy

  7. How To Bake A Potato With Foil In The Oven | My Blog

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  8. How To Bake A Potato No Foil | My Blog

    […] How to bake a potato – ditch the foil – Bless This Mess – Did you read the title and laugh at me today?! How to bake a potato doesn’t seem like rocket science, I know, but I just started baking them a new way and I am in love. […]

  9. Laura

    I cook my potatoes like this all the time. I just pour a small amount of oil in my hand and start rubbing it on. I use kosher salt and I don’t bother putting them directly on the rack of the oven. I just put them on my pan and pop them in. The whole reason why this works is that when you wrap them in foil you are actually steaming them. Doing it with oil actually roasts them and it makes sense. You do it that way with every other vegetable when roasting. Why not a potato? 🙂 Growing up my mom would pop them in the oven with no oil or foil. They would come out shriveled up and dry. It was probably why we would scoop out the inside and give dad the potato skin. 🙂

  10. Tracy

    “1 potato per person”?? I don’t think so. LOL! I have these in the oven right now. Instead of salt I sprinkled on Mama Garlic by Frontier (love that stuff!). Thank you for posting this!

  11. Mary Johnson

    My mom use to make baked red potatoes on the oven rack, no foil, with our weekend meals. It has been so long since I’ve done it this way, I had forgotten how long to bake them! She cooked hers at 350°, so I’m assuming about 1 hr and 45 mins. I hope I’m right!

    1. The skin doesn’t quite act the same, it kind of dries up and I don’t love to eat it (I don’t normally eat the sweet potato skin anyways, it just too tough for me), but they are delicious cooked like this and the flesh scoops right out. I love making sweet potatoes like this.

  12. Vivian Pilger

    I poke a two pronged fork through each russet potato. Then I rub real butter all over them (generously). Then I put salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder in a zip bag. I then put the buttered potato in the bag and roll it gently until it’s surface is coated with the mix. I then place them on foil in a cookie pan and bake at about 400° until done. When done and slightly cooled, cut horizontally in half, scoop out the fluffy potato. Then put a pat of butter in the scooped out skin, squish the open end shut and massage a bit for the butter inside to melt evenly. Wait a few minutes while you add your toppings to the fluffy potato that was scooped out. Then open the skin and add salt and pepper to your liking, close again and eat “sandwich style”. You can also add your favorite cheese when adding the pat of butter if you like. It like two meals in one. Very tasty.

  13. Carmen

    Love these baked potatoes! So nice you don’t even have to wrap them in foil. Our family loves these potatoes as a main dish. (I get large potatoes) We are happy with just butter, sour cream, cheese and a little salt & pepper! Thanks for the recipe ?

    1. Melissa

      You set them on a rack IN a baking sheet. So set a cooling wrap in your baking sheet and then set them on the cooling rack so that they are off the pan but have the pan underneath to catch any drips. You could also set them on your oven rack with a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drips. Both work! I just find it easier to get them in and out of the oven on a rack inside a pan.

  14. 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.

  15. 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?

  16. Gene

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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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?

    1. Melissa

      The rack, in the pan, with a tater on top. It just helps the air to flow around the potatoes and to catch any drips!

  20. Remelem

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

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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.

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