Meet the baked potato of my dreams! These baked potatoes are fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside. They’re exactly the kind of baked potato I’ve been craving. If you share my definition of what a baked potato should be, you could call these potatoes perfect.
I baked potatoes every which way to arrive at this recipe. I tried various baking temperatures, different crisping methods, and even analyzed how and when to slice open those beautiful baked spuds.
If you’re accustomed to run-of-the-mill baked potatoes, this might sound like a silly amount of effort. But if you have savored the glorious contrast between crispy potato skin and fluffy potato interior, you know there must be a trick to it.
The good news is that baking the perfect potato isn’t complicated when you follow this method. There’s not much better than a piping hot baked potato on a chilly day, so preheat that oven already!
How to Bake the Best Potato
Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Baked Potato
Russet potatoes are the classic choice for good reason. Russets are high in starch and low in moisture, which makes them nice and fluffy after baking. Their thick skin crisps up well, too.
Choose medium-sized potatoes, each around the same size (about one-half pound) so they’re all done at the same time. Large potatoes will take absolutely forever to cook through.
Prick your potatoes with a fork about six to eight times per potato. You don’t have to aggressively stab the potato. Pricks about 1/4-inch deep will do. Without these ventilation holes, potatoes can explode in the oven—don’t let this happen to you!
Do not wrap your potatoes in aluminum foil. Foil traps moisture, which produces a soggy exterior. We want the excess moisture to escape from the potato during baking. That way, we’ll get crispy outsides and condensed potato flavor on the insides.
Bake at a relatively high temperature (450 degrees Fahrenheit). This is a trick I learned from America’s Test Kitchen that proved true in my recipe tests. They explain that baking in a hot oven prevents a leather “pellicle” from forming underneath the peel.
You’ll know the potatoes are cooked through when you can slide a skewer or fork into the center of the potato with little to no resistance. That’s a reliable indicator that your potatoes have reached an internal temperature of 205 degrees Fahrenheit, which is just right. Baking time to reach this point is typically 45 to 60 minutes for medium potatoes.
For the best baked potato, don’t stop there. Once the potatoes are cooked through, remove them from the oven and brush them lightly all over with melted butter or oil, then sprinkle them with salt. Return the potatoes to the oven on the middle rack for medium-crisp exteriors, or raise the rack by a level or two for ultra crispy exteriors.
This step is key to achieving those crispy, flavorful exteriors. It works so well because we’re adding the butter or oil at the end of baking. Add it too early, and it can burn before the potatoes are done. I found that butter produced a nicer flavor and texture, but oil works well if you’re following a dairy-free or vegan diet. Salting the potatoes enhances the flavor of the crust, and the salt only sticks once we’ve brushed the potatoes with butter or oil.
Bake for 10 more minutes, then slice open promptly to release steam. Serve as desired. You’ll find topping suggestions below.
Watch How to Bake Potatoes
While you don’t need any fancy equipment to bake potatoes, it is easier to manage multiple potatoes at once if you place them on an oven-safe cooling rack placed within a large rimmed baking sheet (affiliate links). Use them if you have them, or if not, place the potatoes directly on the oven rack with a baking sheet on a lower rack to catch any drips.
Toppings for Baked Potatoes
You can’t go wrong with the classic combination of butter, sour cream and chives, with or without shredded cheddar cheese. Make your potatoes more hearty by adding leftover chili or other thick stews, like my black bean soup. You can even add cooked veggies or greens.
4 Fun Baked Potato Variations
Get creative with your potato toppings! Here are a few delicious suggestions:
- Southwestern Baked Potato – Add black beans, fresh or pickled jalapeño, roasted red peppers, cilantro, green onions, and sour cream or guacamole.
- Broccoli Cheddar Baked Potato – Add steamed or roasted broccoli, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and chives.
- Colcannon-Style Baked Potato – Add sautéed kale (preferably Tuscan) or collard greens, butter, cream cheese or sour cream, and green onion or chives.
- Indian-Inspired Baked Potato – Top your baked potato with hearty dal makhani or chana masala, plus a dollop of sour cream and fresh cilantro.
Baked Potato Serving Suggestions
If you are serving classic baked potatoes as a side dish, try rounding out your meal with any of the following:
- Best Lentil Soup
- Favorite Green Salad with Apples, Cranberries and Pepitas
- Greek Lentil Salad
- Homemade Vegetarian Chili
- Honey Mustard Brussels Sprout Slaw
- Perfect Roasted Green Beans
- Spicy Black Bean Soup
- Super Simple Arugula Salad
More Potato Recipes to Try
Life’s too short for subpar potatoes, and the secret is always in the method. Try these recipes next:
Please let me know how your baked potatoes turn out in the comments! I love hearing from you.
Best Baked Potato
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 55 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
- Yield: 4 baked potatoes 1x
- Category: Side dish
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegetarian
Learn how to make the PERFECT baked potato with this foolproof recipe! These baked potatoes are tender and fluffy on the inside, and wonderfully crisp on the outside. Stuff them with your favorite fillings and enjoy! Recipe yields as many baked potatoes as you’d like, though if you make more than 4 at a time you will need a bit more butter or oil and they might need a little longer in the oven.
- 1 to 4 medium Russet potatoes (7 to 9 ounces each)
- 1 tablespoon melted butter or extra-virgin olive oil
- Flaky sea salt or kosher salt, for sprinkling
- Desired toppings, such as sour cream, butter, chives, salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the middle of the oven. Place an oven-safe steel cooling rack in a large rimmed baking sheet, and set it aside on your countertop. Or, you can bake the potatoes directly on your middle oven rack, in which case, place a rimmed baking sheet on a lower rack now to catch any drips.
- To prepare your potatoes, scrub them clean with a vegetable brush under running water. Prick your potatoes with a fork, about ¼-inch deep, six to eight times per potato.
- Place your potatoes on the prepared cooling rack/baking sheet setup, or place them directly on the middle oven rack. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour (longer if necessary), until a skewer or fork slides easily into the center of the largest potato.
- Remove the potatoes from the oven and brush each one lightly with butter all over. Sprinkle each one lightly with salt all over.
- For ultra crispy skin, raise your middle rack up a level or two higher before putting the potatoes back in the oven. For nicely crisp skin, leave it where it is. Return the potatoes to the oven and bake for 10 more minutes.
- Remove the potatoes from the oven. Using a paring knife, promptly cut two slits across the top of each potato to form an “X” shape. Using a clean dish towel to protect your hands, gently push both ends of the potato toward the center until the flesh of the potato ribbons up and out.
- Add any desired toppings, and serve immediately.
Make it dairy free/vegan: Use olive oil instead of butter.