How to Cook Perfect Baked Potatoes in the Oven

The perfect baked potato. Crispy on the outside, pillowy on the inside. Here are a few key secrets for making it happen!

Total Time: 55 minutes

How to Cook Perfect Baked Potatoes in the Oven - Crispy on the outside, pillowy on the inside. Look at these key secrets for making it happen!

It took me a while to get oven-baked potatoes just right, so I thought perhaps there are others out there who need to know what I needed to know: how in the heck do I cook the best baked 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.

How to Cook Perfect Baked Potatoes in the Oven - Crispy on the outside, pillowy on the inside. Look at these key secrets for making it happen!

It’s definitely not as simple as giving a potato a rinse and slapping it in the oven. There are a few secrets to cooking the perfect baked potato. Baked potatoes with pillowy-hot insides just waiting for melty butter and crispy, flavorful skins that you actually want to eat.

Step 1: Choosing Your Potatoes

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.

Step 2: Wash Your Potatoes

Hold the potato under water and scrub well with a vegetable brush to clean the skin. Blot dry with a towel.

How to Cook Perfect Baked Potatoes in the Oven - Crispy on the outside, pillowy on the inside. Look at these key secrets for making it happen!

Step 3: Rub & Salt

Rub the entire potato with a drizzle of olive oil and generous pinch of kosher salt. It’s messy business, but your hands will feel so soft afterwards! Bonus.

How to Cook Perfect Baked Potatoes in the Oven - Crispy on the outside, pillowy on the inside. Look at these key secrets for making it happen!

How to Cook Perfect Baked Potatoes in the Oven - Crispy on the outside, pillowy on the inside. Look at these key secrets for making it happen!

Step 4: Prick It, Prick It Good

Prick each potato with a fork three or four times to allow steam to escape while baking.

How to Cook Perfect Baked Potatoes in the Oven - Crispy on the outside, pillowy on the inside. Look at these key secrets for making it happen!

Step 5: Bake ‘Em!

Place potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake at 400 degrees until tender. This takes 40-50 minutes, depending on the size of your potatoes. I test to see if they’re done one of two ways:

  1. Inserting a fork into the potato (it’s done if the fork goes in easily) OR
  2. Give the potatoes a quick squeeze (they’ll give easily if they’re done).

How to Cook Perfect Baked Potatoes in the Oven - Crispy on the outside, pillowy on the inside. Look at these key secrets for making it happen!

Step 6: Slice Open ASAP

Remove from the oven and, as soon as you can handle them, slice them down the middle. Then place your forefingers and thumbs on the bottom corners (as much as potatoes have corners) and squeeze toward the center. This “fluffs” the insides and keeps moisture from getting trapped inside the skin as the potatoes begin to cool.

How to Cook Perfect Baked Potatoes in the Oven - Crispy on the outside, pillowy on the inside. Look at these key secrets for making it happen!

Try to imagine both hands squeezing here – I had to take the photo with my other hand!

How to Cook Perfect Baked Potatoes in the Oven - Crispy on the outside, pillowy on the inside. Look at these key secrets for making it happen!

Step 7: Top and Devour!

That’s it! Serve warm with butter, vegan butter, sour cream, bacon, chives, scallions, salt, black pepper, sauteed mushrooms, chili, grated cheese, salsa, steamed broccoli, pretty much whatever you want. The perfect easy meal – and each potato can be endlessly customizable. Perfect for vegetarians and carnivores living together.

How to Cook Perfect Baked Potatoes in the Oven - Crispy on the outside, pillowy on the inside. Look at these key secrets for making it happen!

Originally published on August 21, 2012. Updated March 3, 2016.

How to Cook Perfect Baked Potatoes

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

The perfect baked potato. Crispy on the outside, pillowy on the inside. Here are a few key secrets for making it happen!

Ingredients:

  • Russet potatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Coarse Salt
  • Toppings of choice: butter, vegan butter, sour cream, bacon, chives, scallions, salt, black pepper, sauteed mushrooms, chili, grated cheese, salsa, steamed broccoli, you name it!

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Scrub the potato with water and a vegetable brush until well-cleaned. Blot dry with a kitchen towel or paper towel.
  3. Rub the entire potato with olive oil, then sprinkle on some kosher salt and rub that all over the potato as well.
  4. Prick each potato with a fork three or four times. This will allow the steam to escape while baking.
  5. Place potatoes directly on the oven rack. Bake until potatoes just begin to appear wrinkly and papery on the outside, and when you squeeze the potato, it gives - 40-50 minutes, depending on the size of your potato. Another way to test is to insert a fork into the potato (it's done if the fork goes in easily).
  6. Remove from the oven and, as soon as you can handle them, slice each potato down the middle. Then place your forefinger and thumbs on the bottom ends and squeeze toward the center. This helps to fluff the insides, and helps keep moisture from getting trapped inside the skin as the potatoes begin to cool.
  7. 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!

How to Cook Perfect Baked Potatoes in the Oven - Crispy on the outside, pillowy on the inside. Look at these key secrets for making it happen!

How to Cook Perfect Baked Potatoes in the Oven - Crispy on the outside, pillowy on the inside. Look at these key secrets for making it happen!

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Karen Raye

Kare is a vegetarian home cook living among carnivores. She loves creating irresistible and flexible recipes that help multi-vore families like hers keep the peace - deliciously.

16 Responses to “How to Cook Perfect Baked Potatoes in the Oven”

  1. I spent a good 40 minutes laughing at the comments on the recipe for ice cubes. But, in other news, great post about potatoes! I have no idea why the pinching part never occurred to me…

  2. Properly baked potatoes are an art! I have one additional tip that I picked up in the restaurant business: instead of slicing the potato open, prick an X pattern on the potato with a fork…then squeeze. It’s almost as if the potatoes are mashed inside!

  3. I stumbled across this and chose it over F-Network’s. Thank you for sharing some simple, yet easily fumbled.

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  7. No reason to use kosher salt. regular salt is just fine, if your religious beliefs allow it.

    • Yep. No religious beliefs in that regard here; I just prefer kosher because it’s coarser and has a milder taste. 🙂 Usually if you’re subbing table salt for kosher you’ll want to use a lighter hand, as well.

  8. These are the best baked potatoes I have EVER had as they came out PERFECT with your recipe!! Thank you!!

  9. I’m bookmarking this!  Great layout, pics and steps are easy and to the point!  Thanks, I cannot wait to make them! 

  10. Made these. Wow. The best yet! Thanks.

  11. I followed the recipe exactly and they were perfect!  My husband is a hard one to please and I thought they were excellent!  Thank you!

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