The best baked potato is crispy on the outside like a potato chip and perfectly soft and fluffy on the inside! Friend, you can’t get those results with foil!!! I tested too many potatoes to count and figured out the BEST method to make baked potatoes.
Last year I realized I’ve been making baked potatoes WRONG forever! My potatoes were dense, wet, and just plain BAD. I thought I knew how to bake a potato but turns out I had a few things to learn!
(Spoiler Alert: There is NO SUCH THING as a great potato in foil! Let’s just kill that idea now!)
A perfect baked potato is wonderfully simple and delightful to eat! This is a great skill everybody should have. You won’t regret having a perfect baked potato to go with your steak, loaded up as a main dish, or for a simple dinner full of butter or my magical Sour Cream Herb Sauce (included in the recipe).
My Secrets: How to Make Baked Potatoes
It turns out the best baked potato recipe is simple enough your kids can learn to cook a baked potato for dinner!
The very best way to bake potatoes is simply to wash them, bake to the correct temperature, coat with oil / salt and then make sure to cut them open right after so the seam can escape.
I’ve found that making sure to let the steam out at the end is a BIG deal. If the steam escapes the potato stays light and fluffy inside. If the steam stays in the potato it condenses as it cools making the potato wet, soggy, and can we just say sort of nasty!?!
The Magic Baked Potato Temperature
Over and over I have discovered that using a digital thermometer is the secret to getting food cooked perfectly! Most foods have a “perfect” temperature they should be cooked to and baked potatoes are no different.
I suggest baking potatoes to 205 degrees on a digital thermometer and then brushing on the oil and baking another 10 minutes to crisp up that skin! Owning a good quality digital thermometer that is accurate and quick to respond will make your cooking life significantly better.
How Long Does It Take to Bake a Potato?
The time it takes to bake a potato depends on the size of potato you are baking! I only suggest baking russet potatoes because they have the perfect texture for a good baked potato. Of course russet potatoes come in a bunch of different sizes…
I’ve weighed different potatoes to estimate how much time you will need to plan on for perfect baked potatoes!
- 5oz potatoes take about 40 minutes
- 8oz potatoes take about 45 minutes
- 10.5oz potatoes take about 60-65 minutes
If you want to know exactly what size your potatoes are a good quality kitchen scale won’t set you back very much! (And it is helpful in all sorts of recipes!)
Should Make a Baked Potato In The Oven?
YES! This is the ONLY place you should be baking a potato!
- Using an Instant Pot to make baked potatoes is going to get you a steamed, soggy potato
- Microwaving baked potatoes also makes soggy potatoes. Microwaves cook unevenly so you have a real problem getting the potato cooked correctly. Sure, it will get cooked but the results are sad. Anything that cooks a potato rapidly (like a microwave) will cause the cells in the potato to actually burst! This releases starch molecules and you get a more gluey, sticky potato instead of a fluffy one!
- Slow Cookers also make soggy baked potatoes.
- Every method I’ve seen for using a BBQ to make baked potatoes involves foil! However, to be totally fair I’ve not tried cooking them on a BBQ! If you can get the heat nice and even and avoid foil this might work? (If you try it tell me!)
Baked Potato Toppings (Making a Loaded Baked Potato)
Having some creative baked potato toppings can make for a great dinner. Heck you can have an entire dinner party economically out of a baked potato bar! Here are my 30 top suggestions to loading up those ‘taters 🙂
- Butter (I hope this goes without saying but let’s list it anyways!)
- Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper (yes, classic but try smoked salt to dress it up!)
- Sausage – you can’t go wrong with any meat topping
- Roasted Vegetables
- Steamed Broccoli
- Sour Cream
- Sour Cream Herb Sauce
- Sauteed Mushrooms
- CHEESE! Really any kind: Blue Cheese. Sharp cheddar, medium cheddar, Colby, pepper Jack
- Chives or other fresh herbs
- Sauteed bell peppers or spicy peppers like Serrano or jalapeno
- Plain Yogurt / Greek Yogurt
- Artichoke Parmesan Dip
- Fresh Salsa
- Cottage Cheese
- Green onions
- Diced sweet onions, red onions, or white onions
- Roasted Chickpeas
- Spinach and Artichoke Dip
- leftover BBQ meats like chicken, sausage, or beef brisket
- Black Beans
- Hatch Chili or other diced fire roasted chili
- Goat Cheese
- Baked Beans
- Ranch dressing or other salad dressing
- Ketchup (for the child in me who still loves ketchup, ranch and cheddar on a potato!)
Make Extra Baked Potatoes For These Great Meals
If you have a few extra potatoes make more baked potatoes than you need! You can take the extras and make a brand new meal the next day that will make you super happy!
How to Make Baked Potatoes
For Baked Potatoes
- 4 Russet Potatoes 7oz-9oz is a good size
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- Kosher salt
For the Sour Cream Herb Sauce
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 Tbsp. freeze dried chives or Salad Dressing Herb Blend see note
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp. coarsely ground black pepper ½ tsp. for pepper lovers
- Put the oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 F.
- Scrub potatoes under running water to remove any dirt.
- Use a fork to pierce the potato skin in several places.
- Place potatoes in preheated oven and bake until the center of the biggest potato is 205F on a digital thermometer. (This will take 45-60 minutes depending on the size of your potato. See note at bottom of recipe for more details.)
- While the potatoes are baking combine the ingredients for the sour cream herb sauce and refrigerate. (Taste before serving and add additional salt if desired.)
- Working quickly, remove the potatoes from oven and brush the sides and tops with oil. (If you don’t have a brush you can drizzle the oil on but it takes more oil this way.)
- Sprinkle salt over the potatoes and return them to the oven for 10 more minutes.
- Remove the potatoes from the oven and use a small paring knife to cut an “X” into each the top of each potato. Use a kitchen tongs to grab each potato by the end, cut the “X” and then squeeze the ends together to push the inside of the potato up and out.
- Serve immediately with your favorite toppings. (See the post for my favorite 30 toppings.)
8oz potato 45 min
10oz potato 55 min
10.5oz potato 60 min Herb Mixes for the Sour Cream Herb Sauce I’ve found Lighthouse brand Salad Dressing Herb Blend available in many grocery stores (produce section). This is a great blend of parsley, red onion, chives, shallots, garlic and dill. If I have this on hand, I use it in my sour cream herb sauce. If not I use chives or whatever else I do have. Any herbs will make a great sauce.