How to Bake a Potato
How to Bake a Potato

Baked Potatoes! The best ones are made the old-fashioned way: in the oven. Here’s the scoop on making perfect baked potatoes. (Spoiler alert: no slide!)

In this recipe

  • Start with the right potato
  • Big and small potatoes
  • Poke to prevent explosions
  • To oil or not to oil
  • When and where to salt
  • Skip the slide
  • How long to bake a potato?
  • The best baking temperature
  • When is it ready?
  • Open to serve
  • baked potatoes in advance
  • Leftover Potatoes

A baked potato is essentially a baked potato.

As with all things basic, however, the simplicity of a baked potato is deceptive. We all had excellent baked potatoes and terrible baked potatoes. Luckily, an excellent one is no harder to make than a terrible one.

Video: how to bake a potato


How to bake a potato

Start with the right potato

Use red potatoes for baking. They are the large, pointed ones with dull brown skin. These are high-starch potatoes and do best in dry heat. That’s exactly the kind of heat your oven produces. It’s a match made in heaven!

Potatoes with high moisture content, like Redskins or Yukon Golds, do best for moist heat: steaming and cooking. They are less starchy and remain dense after baking, which is not desirable in a baked potato.

Big and small potatoes

If you want to split that baked potato and load it with hearty toppings (like broccoli or chili or pulled pork or salsa and guacamole and black beans…sigh), a 6- to 8-ounce potato might still be a good choice for you, and I’ll add it to prepare a full meal.

In any case, the larger the potato, the longer it will take to bake. Remember that.

Poke to prevent explosions

Want your potato to explode in the oven? no More importantly, do you want it to taste great? Yes. Then prick several times with a fork. Ten times per potato should be enough. Potato mashing is cathartic. Have fun.

Much less dramatic Poking Hole gives you excellent baked potatoes. According to the Idaho Potato Commission, potatoes are about 80 percent water. As your potatoes bake, some of that water turns into steam and exits through the tiny channels you put in it. That moisture loss is a good thing. Aside from preventing explosions, it yields lighter, fluffier baked potatoes.

To oil or not to oil

Rubbing the potato with some oil or fat before baking is a good move in my opinion. It crisps up the skin nicely, giving you a contrast to the steaming, starchy interior. The potatoes come out of the oven looking darker, shinier, and more appetizing than unoiled ones.

Some sources say that oiling the potato before baking locks in the moisture, which is the opposite of what you want — you want the potato to release moisture. But we’ve already made it full of holes, remember?

TRY THIS! At my very first job at the restaurant, we dunked our potatoes in a vat of bacon and then topped them with delicious crumbs from the bottom of the crouton pan. They were heavenly. If you’re cooking bacon, save that fat for your baked potatoes!

When and where to salt

I’m all for salting potato skins: Salt gives potato skins a good flavor.

Salt will stick to a greased potato better than a dry potato, but some will still fall off. That’s just the name of the game.

The salt on the skin won’t season the inside of the potato with a leak, so remember to salt it well once it’s on your plate and bursting open.

Skip the slide

Wrapping a potato in foil before baking traps the steam inside, resulting in a dense, gooey flesh. Potatoes already have a very fine covering: their skin. And you can eat them! So leave out the foil before baking. It’s an extra step that makes not-so-good potatoes.

How long to bake a potato?

How long does it take to bake a potato? It depends. The short answer is: it’s not fast!

Expect baked potatoes to take anywhere from 35 to 55 minutes, or over an hour if you’re using giant honking mega potatoes. The baking time depends on the size of the potato.

The best baking temperature

Not too hot, not too cool. We like 400°F best.

When is it ready?

It can be difficult to estimate the doneness of a baked potato. Because they come in so many sizes, it’s best to rely on how they look, smell and feel rather than a timer (but set a timer anyway so you remember to check them out). Here are some tips:

  • Fully baked potatoes have slightly wrinkled skins.
  • They can make tiny hissing noises if you listen carefully.
  • If you squeeze a potato lightly, it should yield to the pressure of your fingers and might even split open a little.
  • You should be able to insert a fork or skewer deep into the potato with minimal resistance.

If you’re still unsure, use an instant-read thermometer: the internal temperature should be between 208°F and 211°F. (In this magical temperature zone, starch granules in the potato have absorbed water and broken up, making the inner flesh fluffy and light.)

Open to serve

Take the hot potato on a plate and open it up. For a fluffy, crisp interior that’ll soak up toppings like butter, sour cream, or chili, don’t cut open the potato with a knife. Split with a fork. This will give you a crumbly, mealy flesh and more surface.

baked potatoes in advance

Thousands of steakhouses across America bake potatoes long before serving. These potatoes aren’t as great as the ones straight out of the oven, but they’re pretty good.

However, if baked potatoes are kept hot for more than an hour, their skins will become very wrinkled, their interior will collapse and become dense, and the flesh underneath the skin will turn brown. If you want great baked potatoes, make them no more than an hour in advance.

To keep fully baked potatoes hot, wrap them in foil (I know we used to pee on foil, but that’s foil after the potato is ready baked). It is best to wear an oven mitt. Then place the wrapped potato in one of the options below.

  • An Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker on the keep warm setting.
  • A slow cooker on the lowest setting.
  • A small cooler that was heated with hot water and then emptied.
  • A normal oven at the lowest level (ideally “warm”).

Leftover Potatoes

I often bake a few more potatoes than I need. They become building blocks for future meals: hash, gnocchi, stuffed potato skins, twice baked potatoes, improvised baked potato soup.

Allow leftover potatoes to cool, then wrap in foil and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Baked potatoes do not freeze well.

Do you have leftover potatoes? Use them above!

  • gnocchi
  • Baked Potato Soup
  • Potatoes baked twice
  • Baked potatoes stuffed with curry chickpeas

How to bake a potato

preparation time
5 minutes

cooking time
45 minutes

total time
50 minutes

1 potato

to 6 potatoes

Use any size potatoes for this recipe, but make sure they’re red cabbage, which bakes nice and fluffy and starchy. Potatoes weighing 6 to 8 ounces will take 35 to 45 minutes, while potatoes weighing 14 to 16 ounces may take an hour or more.


  • 1 or more reddish brown potatoes (1 per person)

  • vegetable oil, Olive oil or bacon fat as needed

  • Salt


  1. Preheat the oven:

    Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400°F.

  2. Wash and dry potatoes:

    Wash the potatoes and dry them with a kitchen towel. If they have big eyes or tiny sprouts, dig them up (the tip of a potato peeler is the best tool for the job).

  3. Poke steam holes:

    Prick each potato 10-12 times with a fork. Don’t be afraid to really get in; Drive the tines about an inch into the potato.

  4. Grease and season potatoes:

    Rub the potatoes with the oil or bacon fat. You can gauge this amount, but 1/4 teaspoon per potato should be enough. They should be slightly smooth but not dripping with fat.

    Rub as much salt as you like onto the skin. A lot of it falls off, but it makes the potatoes sparkle!

  5. Bake Potatoes:

    Place the potatoes on a rack above a baking sheet (or directly on the rack if your oven racks are clean). The grid supports air circulation for even baking. If you’re baking a lot of potatoes, don’t crowd them onto the baking sheet; They will vape when crowded.

    Bake until you can easily insert a fork or skewer into the center of the potato, 30 to 60 minutes. The baking time depends on the size of your potatoes. They’re done when the skins are limp and wrinkled. You may even hear a slight hiss or see tiny bubbles coming out of one of the stitch holes. When you squeeze one, it should give slightly to the pressure of your fingers and most likely break open a bit. If the potato is still hard, continue to bake until done.

  6. Surcharge:

    To serve, poke the center of a potato with a fork and pry open to reveal crumbly and fluffy flesh. Season and top as you like and dig in!

nutritional information (per serving)
368 calories
5g Fat
74g carbohydrates
9g protein
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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!