One potato, two potato…let’s bake the best ever Baked Potato! Crispy skinned and spectacularly-seasoned, with steamy, fluffy insides, the perfect baked potato is one of life’s great pleasures. Learn how to bake perfect potatoes, top them, and what to serve with them (hint: they are good with everything!).
Why You’ll Love this Oven Baked Potato
- That Crispy Outside. Just like your favorite steakhouse, the skin is crispy and idyllically golden with seasoning and shine.
- The Fluffy Inside. Picture it: the plums of steam revealing the airy, tender inside that’s fluffy, yet creamy at the same time. Mmmmmm.
- The Comfort Factor. It’s hard to beat a perfect baked potato. While Oven Roasted Potatoes have their moment, sometimes it’s this personal package of carby comfort that hits the spot.
- Versatility. As a side, baked potatoes go with everything from classics like Air Fryer Steak and Baked Fried Chicken. You can add toppings (like Turkey Chili or Vegetarian Chili) and turn them into a main dish or make Baked Potato Skins as an appetizer.
- Beloved by All. Not only are potatoes universally appealing, but also if you opt for oil over butter, this baked potato recipe is vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free, making it the perfect side dish recipe for a crowd.
How to Make the Perfect Baked Potato in the Oven
- Potatoes. The star! I recommended starchy russet potatoes if you want your baked potatoes as fluffy as possible. Plus, they’re rich in vitamin C and a source of fiber.
- Butter or Oil. The potatoes will be roasted at 450 degrees F, so you will need to use an oil that has a high smoke point, such as avocado, vegetable, peanut, light/pure olive oil, or canola oil, or ghee. Do NOT use extra virgin olive oil in this case. Melted butter is also an excellent option to give more flavor.
- Salt. Use kosher salt or sea salt for a delightful salty crunch on the peel.
- Pepper. Got to have the P to go with the S.
- Scrub, Dry, and Prick. YES you do need to prick potatoes so the steam can escape. The explosion risk is small (but we want that risk to be zero).
- Wire Rack. This elevates the potatoes off the baking sheet so the air can circulate and create maximum crispy skin.
- Bake Until Tender. Bake potatoes at 450 degrees F for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until center of the largest potato is 205 degrees F.
- Brush and Salt. Brush with melted butter or oil. Sprinkle outsides with salt and pepper.
- Bake for 10 More Minutes. This crisps the skin.
- Cut and Fluff. Cut open potatoes upon removing from the oven. Fluff, season, and top as desired. ENJOY!
Slicing and Fluffing Baked Potatoes
To best slice a baked potato and prepare it for toppings:
- Cut an X over the top of the potato with a paring knife.
- Squeeze the sides to push it open. BE CAREFUL. It’s hot!
- Use a fork to really get in there fluffy! Then, add toppings.
Baked Potato Toppings
From classic to fully-loaded, these toppings have you covered.
- The Classics. Butter (salted or unsalted) and freshly ground black pepper.
- Loaded. Cheddar, sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt), and chives.
- Fully-Loaded. Cheddar, sour cream, chives, and cooked, crumbled bacon (see Air Fryer Bacon and Bacon Bacon in the Oven for easy cooking methods)
- Ranch. Swap Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip for the sour cream for a zippy ranch flavor.
- Tex-Mex. Give your potato a Mexican spin by topping with Instant Pot Black Beans, pico de gallo/salsa, and the Best Guacamole Recipe.
Stuffed Baked Potatoes
To turn a baked potato into a complete meal, try one of these stuffed variations.
- Broccoli Cheddar. Use pre-cooked broccoli, plus shredded cheddar cheese. Roasted Broccoli or Air Fryer Broccoli deliver much more flavor than steamed.
- Buffalo Chicken. Swap the sweet potatoes for white potatoes in this Healthy Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken.
- BBQ. Stuff your baked potato with Slow Cooker Pulled Pork or Crockpot BBQ Chicken.
Make a Baked Potato Bar
This is one of my favorite easy entertaining ideas!
- Cook a big batch of baked potatoes (or Air Fryer Baked Potatoes or Crockpot Baked Potatoes).
- Arrange a variety of toppings in separate bowls (see “Baked Potato Topping Ideas” above), and have each guest prepare their own.
- Include at least one protein and two vegetables, along with cheese, butter, salt, and pepper.
- You could make it an entire chili-themed baked potato bar, with Instant Pot Chili along with traditional chili fixin’s.
- To Store. Refrigerate baked potatoes in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftover baked potatoes in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Not recommended, as frozen baked potatoes are likely to become mealy.
What to Serve with a Baked Potato
- Steak. The classic “steak and potato” combo. For a twist, try a Steak Sandwich or Steak Salad.
- Chicken. Pan Fried Chicken Breast or Baked Bone In Chicken Breast would be a juicy companion. For thighs, check out my Chicken Thigh Marinade and Air Fryer Chicken Thighs.
- Pork. A fluffy baked potato would go great next to Smothered Pork Chops, Grilled Pork Chops, or Instant Pot Pork Tenderloin.
- Turkey. If you are making a holiday meal, these potatoes go great with Spatchcock Turkey and classic Thanksgiving Turkey.
- Salmon. Potatoes should not just be a side for chicken or steak! Pair them with your favorite fish, like this Honey Garlic Salmon.
- Braised Short Ribs. The potato would soak up the short rib sauce beautifully. Yum!
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Wire Cooling Rack. To elevate the potato and help it cook evenly on all sides.
- Rimmed Baking Sheet. These premium bakeware pans are a must for your kitchen.
Tips for the Perfect Baked Potato
- Use Russet Potatoes. Russets are best for baked potatoes, because their high starch content makes the fluffiest baked potatoes. Yukon golds are denser and more buttery in flavor. They won’t be as light and fluffy as a russet but are still delicious. Save red potatoes for Roasted Red Potatoes; they are too small and waxy for baked potatoes.
- Dry Thoroughly. After rinsing and scrubbing your potatoes, pat them completely dry. Excess moisture on your potato will seep into the skin and prevent it from getting that crispy peel we desire.
- Bake on a Wire Rack. Bake the potatoes on a wire cooling rack on top of a baking sheet (or lay straight on the oven rack if you don’t have cooling racks). This will help the potato crisp up and bake on all sides evenly.
- Bake at High Heat. The best temperature for baking baked potatoes is 450 degrees F (HOT, I know!) This will make the peel crispy.
- Check Internal Temperature for Doneness, Not the Clock. Rather than focusing on the timer, check potatoes for doneness by giving them a squeeze and checking their internal temperature. Potatoes are ready for the final step (coating with melted butter or oil and returning to the oven for a final finish) when their internal temperature at the largest part of the largest potato reaches 205 degrees F, they feel soft when squeezed, and pierce easily with a fork.
- Coat with Melted Butter or Oil Towards the End of Baking. The best baked potato has a crispy, salty exterior with light and fluffy interior. We achieve a delightfully crispy peel by coating the potato in oil or butter at the end of baking, and then returning to oven for 10 more minutes.
- Cut Right Away. To keep the inside fluffy, don’t let it sit uncut after it is done baking, as the potato will trap the steam and continue cooking. Instead, cut it after it comes out of the oven.
- Top Them Off! Potatoes on their own are bland by nature. Properly season with salt, pepper, butter, and your toppings of choice.
For the Baked Potatoes:
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F.
- Scrub the potatoes, then with a paper or kitchen towel, pat very dry. Prick the skins all over with the tines of a fork.
- Set an oven safe wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet. Place potatoes on top of. If you don’t have a wire rack, you can bake the potatoes directly on the oven rack (place a cookie sheet on the rack below to catch any drips).
- Bake potatoes for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the center of the largest potato is 205 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. The potatoes should feel soft when squeezed and easily pierce with a fork.
- Remove the potatoes from the oven. Brush the outsides all over with melted butter or oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Return the potatoes to the oven and bake for 10 minutes more.
- As soon as the potatoes come out of the oven, cut a slit in them to allow the steam to escape (this keeps them fluffy). Gently press the ends of the potatoes to push them open. Fluff and enjoy with salt, butter, and other toppings of choice.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate baked potatoes in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftover baked potatoes in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze baked potatoes in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, I recommend poking holes in the potatoes before baking. This will allow some steam to escape while baking, preventing the potato from potentially exploding (and no one wants that mess in the oven!).
Some people like to wrap their baked potatoes in foil while baking. This may speed along the baking process because it traps in heat. With my method, the potatoes are not wrapped so as to deliver a crispy-as-possible peel—if you wrap them, the skin won’t get as crisp. It’s worth the time!
My method (a.k.a., the best baked potato recipe) calls for baking baked potatoes at 450 degrees F, until the potato pierces easily with a fork and feels soft when squeezed.
Of course. Just as you can cook chicken fingers in the microwave but will be left with a soggy nugget, the convenience of cooking potatoes in the microwave does sacrifice the texture of the baked potato.
Sweet potatoes are firmer than russet potatoes and usually take a little longer to bake. You can follow this method, adding about 10 minutes to the cook time, depending upon the size of your potatoes.