There are a few secrets to cooking the perfect baked potato. You know … a baked potato with pillowy-hot insides, just waiting for melty butter … plus crispy, flavorful skins that you actually want to eat?!

Ready? Here’s how to make perfect baked potatoes!

A fluffy baked potato on a white plate, with butter, chives, salt, and pepper. Steam escapes from the hot baked potato.

Table of Contents

The Story Behind the Recipe

It took me a while to figure out how to bake a potato in the oven – with amazing baked potatoes as a result. And I thought perhaps there are others out there who needed to know what I needed to know: How in the heck do I roast the best baked potato?! One that’s crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside?!

What’s the best oven temp? And how long to bake them? Should I make a no foil baked potato or one with foil wrapped around it? I did a bunch of research and baked up a few test batches, and now I think I’ve got it down!

How to Choose Potatoes for Baked 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.

A side-by-side collage of two images. The first shows plain russet potatoes, ready to be made into baked potatoes. The second shows a fluffy baked potato, topped and ready to eat.

How to Make a Baked Potato

Wash Your Potato

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

A russet potato is being scrubbed under water for baked potatoes.

Rub with Olive Oil & Sprinkle with 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.

Olive oil is drizzled onto russet potatoes for a baked potato.
Salt is sprinkled onto russet potatoes for roasted baked potatoes

Prick Your Baked Potato with a Fork

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

Prick potatoes with a fork to allow the steam to escape for perfect baked potatoes.

Bake Your Potatoes

My favorite temp for cooking baked potatoes is 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This way it cooks through but the skin gets crispy … yummm.

Place potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake at 400 degrees until tender. How long to bake potatoes at 400? Usually 40-50 minutes, depending on the size of your potatoes.

Check Baked Potato for Doneness

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).

Some people wonder what the internal temp should be for a baked potato but I don’t think that’s necessary – just stick a fork in it and, er, you’ll know it’s done.

Potatoes baking in the oven

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.

A knife slicing open a baked potato right out of the oven.

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

Squeezing a baked potato right out of the oven to make it fluffy

How to Top a Baked Potato

Baked potatoes are endlessly versatile! You can keep it simple with a pat of butter, some salt and pepper, and maybe a few snipped chives for some green. Or you can load it on – the more toppings the merrier!

Here are some baked potato topping ideas. Choose a few, or arrange them all and you have the perfect array of baked potato toppings for a potato bar!

  • Butter or vegan butter
  • Sour cream or vegan sour cream
  • Bacon bits or tofu bacon
  • Guacamole
  • Chives
  • Scallions
  • Salt & pepper
  • Sauteed mushrooms
  • Chili
  • Shredded cheddar cheese, parmesan, Monterey Jack, or another fave cheese
  • Salsa
  • Steamed or roasted broccoli
A top view of a baked potato ready to serve on a marble background. A plate of baked potatoes, butter, and chives are ready for serving too.

What to Serve with Baked Potatoes

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why is my baked potato still hard after baking?
A: There are a few things to check. First, is it simply because you haven’t cooked it for long enough? Your baked potato may need to bake for a bit longer. Second, make sure your oven is at the correct temperature (400 degrees Fahrenheit). Next did you prick your potato to allow the steam to escape? That’s important. Did you start with russet potatoes? Those are the best potatoes for baking. Keep in mind that larger potatoes take longer to bake than smaller potatoes.

Q: Should I bake potatoes in foil?
A: I strongly recommend against baking potatoes in the oven in foil. This method will not allow the steam to escape, resulting in a soggy potato.

Q: What is the best potato for baked potatoes?
Good old russet potatoes, also known as Idaho baking potatoes, are the best potato for baking.

Q: Can I freeze baked potatoes?
A: You can, but I don’t recommend it. The taste and texture is just not the same.

More Potato Recipes

Baked potatoes make the perfect easy and budget-friendly meal – and each baked potato can be customized to individual tastes. Perfect for vegetarians and carnivores living together.

How to Cook Perfect Baked Potatoes
4.75 from 4 votes

Baked Potato Recipe

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Author: Kare
Yield: 4
The perfect baked potato. Crispy on the outside, pillowy on the inside. Here are a few key secrets for making it happen!


  • 4 each russet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or other 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!


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Scrub the potato with water and a vegetable brush until well-cleaned. Blot dry with a kitchen towel or paper towel.
  • Rub the entire potato with olive oil, then sprinkle on some kosher salt and rub that all over the potato as well.
  • Prick each potato with a fork three or four times. This will allow the steam to escape while baking.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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!

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 32kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 291mg, Sugar: 1g

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