How to Bake a Potato

5 from 18 votes

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If you’ve been searching for the perfect method for How to Bake a Potato, I will tell you all the tricks for making a perfectly baked potato with a fluffy center and a crispy, salty skin.

close up view of baked potato with baked potatoes in the background
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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.

top view of baked potatoes with butter on board with knife

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  1. Simplicity: Baking a potato requires minimal ingredients and effort, making it an ideal choice for busy weeknights or lazy weekends.
  2. Customization: Potatoes are like blank canvases; you can customize them with your favorite toppings and seasonings, making each bite uniquely delicious.
  3. Family-Friendly: Baked potatoes are a crowd-pleaser, loved by both kids and adults. They can be tailored to suit different tastes within your household.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Potatoes: grab your favorite Russet or Idaho potatoes for this recipe, you can use what you like best but Russet potatoes are known for being extra fluffy inside.
  • Olive Oil: you’ll use this to brush the outside of the potatoes, it helps the skin to crisp up
  • Salt: I like to use a nice flaky salt for this recipe like kosher salt, but use what you like or have on hand
  • Toppings for your potato: you can use whatever you like here. We love baked potatoes with butter, green onions or chives, more salt, and I’ll even turn them into the meal by putting cheese and broccoli and/or adding chili to the potatoes.
  • Baked Sweet Potatoes: For a healthier twist, swap out russet potatoes for sweet potatoes. They have a natural sweetness that pairs well with both savory and sweet toppings.
  • Loaded Baked Potatoes: Top your baked potato with classic toppings like sour cream, cheddar cheese, chives, and crispy bacon for a hearty meal.
  • Vegan Options: Skip dairy and meat toppings. Instead, load your potato with vegan alternatives like dairy-free sour cream, vegan cheese, and sautéed vegetables.
  • Herb and Garlic Potatoes: Season your potatoes with fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme and roasted garlic for a fragrant and flavorful twist.

How to Make a Baked Potato

four potatoes

1.Wash up your potatoes and dry them off.Poke each potato with a fork a few times to allow steam to release while cooking.

hand holding potato that is being cut

2.Place potatoes directly on the baking rack.Bake until the center of the potato reaches between 205 and 212 degrees. About 35-45 minutes.

Potato being brushed with oil by pastry brush

3. Remove from the oven and brush each potato in olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and then flip them over and brush the other side with oil and sprinkle with salt.

close up view of baked potato with other baked potatoes in the background

4.Bake the potatoes for an additional 10 minutes to crisp the skin. Then Serve and enjoy.

Frequently Asked Questions

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?

POKE THOSE POTATOES! I had one explode and it was a mess to clean up and I’m just grateful it happened when the oven door was shut!

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.

top view of baked potatoes cut open

Expert Tips

  • Scrub Thoroughly: Before baking, make sure to scrub the potatoes under cold running water to remove any dirt. Pat them dry with a paper towel.
  • Skip The Foil: The 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.
  • Don’t Brush on Oil Before Baking: 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.
  • Baking Times and Temperature: 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.

What To Serve With Baked Potatoes

Baked potatoes are a blank canvas that can be paired with a wide range of delicious accompaniments. Whether you prefer the classic combination of a juicy steak, the simplicity of a fresh salad, or the heartiness of chili, baked potatoes can adapt to your culinary preferences, making them a versatile and satisfying choice for any meal.

How do I reheat baked potatoes?

To reheat baked potatoes, preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and bake for 15-20 minutes. You can also reheat them in the microwave, but they may lose some crispiness.

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close up view of baked potato with other baked potatoes in the background
5 from 18 votes

How to Bake a Potato

If you're wondering how to bake a potato this is your ultimate guide to making a perfectly baked potato with a fluffy center & a crispy skin.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

  • 4 Potatoes, about 5-8 ounces each
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt

Instructions 

  • 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.
  • Place potatoes directly on a baking rack set inside a baking sheet and place them in the oven.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bake the potatoes for an additional 10 minutes to crisp the skin.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1potato, Calories: 195kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Sodium: 13mg, Potassium: 897mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 4IU, Vitamin C: 42mg, Calcium: 26mg, Iron: 2mg
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56 Comments

  1. 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. You’ll love it! I think that sounds about right for cooking time though it depends a whole lot on the size of potato! ENJOY!

  2. “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!

  3. 5 stars
    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. 🙂

  4. I know it’s not the healthiest but I love to dip baked potatoes in a mixture of olive oil and pressed garlic.

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

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

  7. I eat potatoes as a main dish a lot. I like them better than the meat. I will definitely try your method next time!