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How to Make a Perfect Baked Potato in the Oven

If you’ve ever wondered how some restaurants turn out such perfectly baked potatoes with salty, crispy skin—potatoes that are super fluffy inside and so delicious, you’re about to discover the secrets. And don’t be surprised when once you have the technique down, your family will be all in when you announce that potatoes are what’s for dinner!

perfectly baked potato with saltPotatoes—they’re nutritious, delicious, and inexpensive. And as they come from the oven, they’re gluten-free, low-fat, dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan.

How to Bake a Potato

The perfect baked potato is crispy on the outside and soft-as-a-pillow in the middle. Baking a potato in the oven does take more time than the microwave, but the results cannot be compared. If you want the ultimate baked potato, allow the time to do it right.

Q: What is the best type of potato for baking?

Russet potatoes, also referred to as Idaho potatoes in the U.S, are best for baking. A russet’s skin or “jacket” is thicker than other types of potatoes, so it holds together well during baking. The inside of a russet is starchy, sweet, and makes for a fluffy texture once baked. Russets are usually large (6 to 8 ounces), making them perfectly sized for a side dish—or one large russet per person makes a meal on its own.

Q: Do I need to wash a potato before baking?

Yes, and it needs to be scrubbed well under running water. Use a good vegetable brush like this cute  OXO Good Grips Brush.

Q: Should a baked potato be wrapped in foil?

It depends on how you want your baked potato to come out. If you like a crisp, salty jacket you will eat right to the last delicious morsel, no foil. Bake it naked.

However, if you prefer a soft, “steamed” skin on your baked potato, prepare it then wrap it in foil shiny side toward the potato and proceed as instructed.

Q: Do I have to poke holes in a baked potato?

It’s optional; however, you’d be smart to do that to preclude a big mess in the oven. Simply pricking the potato’s skin with the tip of a knife or fork is all that’s necessary to give the steam that will build up inside the potato an easy way to leave quietly.

Q: At what temperature should I bake a potato?

425° F. is the ideal temperature for a crisp salty jacket. Because your oven may not be perfectly calibrated, check several times during the baking process by piercing the potato with a fork to test for doneness.

Q: How do I bake a potato in the oven at a high altitude?

When baking a potato at altitudes 3,000 feet above sea level or higher, it will take longer to reach your desired doneness. That’s because the air is drier; lower oxygen levels and atmospheric pressure are lower too than at sea level.

All of these things affect cooking and baking efforts. Start checking at 50 minutes in the oven. If you’re baking jumbo-size potatoes, it could take up to 15 or even 30 minutes longer, depending on the altitude over 3,000 feet. I live at 5,280 ft. and find I need to add up to 30 minutes, depending on the potato size.

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4.38 from 8 votes

How to Bake a Potato

Potatoes are nutritious, delicious, and inexpensive. As they come from the oven, they're gluten-free, low-fat, dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan.. Eat them plain or dress them up, there's just nothing quite as satisfying as a perfectly oven-baked potato.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 5 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 1
Calories: 159kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 potato per person
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil per potato
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper, ground

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425 F.
  • While waiting for the oven to reach temperature, wash the potato, scrubbing it well to remove any sediment and dirt.
  • With a paring knife, trim away protruding "eyes," and visible blemishes, if any.
  • Pat potato dry with a cloth or paper towel.
  • Using a fork, prick the potato all over, to create escapes for steam that will build up as the potato bakes. Failure to do this could create a mess in the oven as the potato will blow off steam breaking through its jacket.
  • Rub potato with olive oil, making sure it is liberally coated in oil.
  • Sprinkle oily potato liberally with salt and pepper.
  • Place potato directly on oven rack that is set to the middle of the oven.
  • Bake for 60 minutes. After 50 minutes, check for doneness by piercing the potato with a fork. The potato is done when its skin is dry and the inside feels completely soft when pierced, which is approximately 210 F. when using an instant-read food thermometer.
  • Optional: Serve with butter, sour cream, chives, cheese, bacon bits—all of your favorite toppings.

Notes

1. Russet potatoes, also known in the U.S. as Idaho potatoes, are ideal for baking. Their skin is thicker so they hold up well to baking. Their interior is starchy and sweet, yielding a fluffy, delicious result. You'll find russets from medium in size to jumbo, which makes them ideal as either a side dish or the main course.
2. Potato "eyes" are the buds for roots should that potato be planted for propagation. Sometimes the eyes begin to grow those roots while sitting in the pantry or another cool place. This is not a problem! If they're short and super immature just trim them flat with a paring knife. There is no need to dig out the eyes. If however, they've begun to grow into a tangled mess, that potato is too old for consumption and should be discarded (or planted?) 
3. To reduce the baking time, microwave the potato for 3 to 4 minutes, just prior to placing it into the oven. Begin checking for doneness every 20 seconds. Expect a slightly less crisp result.
4. If you prefer a baked potato with a soft, rather than a crisp jacket, wrap it in aluminum foil before baking. 

Nutrition

Calories: 159kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 21mg | Potassium: 880mg | Fiber: 5g | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 7mg

Original: 1-14-20; Revised & Updated 9-8-23

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6 replies
  1. Barbara Allen says:

    5 stars
    I am a lover of baked potatoes. Since I don’t always have an hour and am working to keep my sodium and fat intake low, the following recipe is one that fits my time frame and dietary concerns: I choose a medium sized russet potato and scrub it well. I then slice it thin, and place it on a toaster oven cooking spray covered with parchment paper and pre-heated to 425 degrees. I dribble a tablespoon of good olive oil (through a glass eye dropper) all over the potatoes. I sprinkle the potatoes with two teaspoons of Italian seasoning, followed by 1/4 cup shredded, low moisture, part skim mozzarella cheese. I bake them for 30-40 minutes, checking at 30. For people who are okay with added salt, the recipe can be salted before eating. (These can be dipped into low sodium salsa or another savory dip.)

    Reply
  2. Jill Dunigan says:

    I put my potatoes on a metal skewer and I brush them with soft salted butter and then I put a bit of coarse sea salt on them and I use a metal rack to keep the skewers from touching the bottom of my cookie sheet. I periodically take them out and rebaste them with butter. The skin is absolutely amazing

    Reply
  3. Kathy C says:

    5 stars
    I made this potato recipe last night and it was GREAT. I set it on a piece of foil on a small pan in the center of the oven for no mess cleanup.

    Reply
  4. Cally Ross says:

    5 stars
    I love a good baked potato! your method is mostly how I bake them, I just choose to salt the inside and not the skin so i can eat it too without going over my salt-quota. 😉
    I smiled at your description [in Daily EC Email] of fall and the aspen trees, I prefer to think of winter as a “nap” rather than a “funeral” though. a long winter’s nap!
    thank you for your wonderful tips, tricks, info and smiles.

    Reply

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