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!
Potatoes—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.
How to Bake a Potato
- 1 potato per person
- 1 teaspoon olive oil per potato
- kosher salt
- black pepper, ground
- 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.
Original: 1-14-20; Revised & Updated 9-8-23