Posted by on Tuesday, August 21, 2012 in Foundations

Yeah, I know this is right up there with a recipe for ice cubes, but frankly, it took me awhile to get oven-baked potatoes just right. So I thought maybe there are others out there who need to know what I needed to know: how in the heck do I bake a perfect potato?! One that’s crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside? I did a little research and baked up a few test batches, and now I think I’ve got it down.

And so, here’s today’s Tuesday Tip: How to Bake Perfect Baked Potatoes. Oh, and this probably goes without saying, but loaded baked potatoes are an ideal meal for the mixed diet household. Top ‘em with what you want – meat or veggies or a little bit of both.

How to Bake Perfect Baked Potatoes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
The perfect baked potato. Crispy on the outside, pillowy on the inside, easy to make, and even easier to tailor to individual tastes – meat-eaters and vegetarians alike.
Recipe type: Side
Yield: Varies
  • Russet potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  1. Start with a nice, firm (not soft or spongy) russet potato (sometimes called “Idaho potatoes” or “baking potatoes”) with very few blemishes or eyes. If baking more than one potato, try to select potatoes that are similar in size for even cooking.*
  2. Hold the potato under water and scrub well with a vegetable brush to clean the skin. Let dry.
  3. Rub the entire potato with olive oil and kosher salt. Prick with a fork three or four times to allow steam to escape while baking.
  4. Place potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake at 400 degrees for about 50 minutes, depending on the size of your potatoes. I start checking the potatoes at about 40 minutes. Check to see if they’re done one of two ways: either by inserting a fork into the potato (it’s done if the fork goes in easily) or by giving the potatoes a quick squeeze (they’ll give if they’re done).
  5. Remove from the oven and as soon as you can handle them, slice them down the middle. Place your forefinger and thumbs on the bottom ends and squeeze toward the center. This “fluffs” the insides and keeps moisture from getting trapped inside the skin as the potatoes begin to cool.
  6. That’s it! Serve warm with butter, sour cream, bacon, chives, scallions, salt, black pepper, sauteed mushrooms, chili, grated cheese, salsa, steamed broccoli, pretty much whatever you want. The perfect meal!

* More on choosing russet potatoes from Fine Cooking