Baked potatoes are the ultimate comfort food. With their fluffy interior and crispy skin, they are simple yet utterly delicious. This easy baked potatoes recipe shows you how to bake perfect potatoes every time. Below we’ll answer common questions about baked potatoes, like how to tell if they’ve spoiled and the best reheating methods. We’ll also provide plenty of tips for getting that ideal fluffy texture with crispy skin.
To make amazing baked potatoes, you only need a few simple ingredients:
- Potatoes – Russet potatoes are ideal for baking. Choose uniform sized potatoes so they cook evenly. Yukon Gold also works well.
- Olive oil or vegetable oil – For brushing the skin.
- Kosher salt – Flaky sea salt also works.
- Optional toppings: butter, sour cream, cheddar cheese, bacon bits, green onions, broccoli, chili, etc.
Step-by-Step Baked Potato Recipe
Follow these simple steps to perfect baked potatoes for a crowd.
Step 1: Prep the Potatoes
Start by preheating your oven to 425°F. While the oven heats, wash the potatoes. Gently scrub them under running water to remove any dirt or debris. Make sure to scrub off any blemishes or imperfections on the skin.
Pat the potatoes completely dry with a tea towel or paper towels. You don’t want any excess moisture on the skin before baking.
Use a fork to poke several holes all over the surface of each potato. Poke holes fairly deep, but be careful not to go all the way through. This allows steam to escape from the interior as they bake. If steam can’t escape, it could cause potatoes to explode in the oven!
Once holes are poked, rub or brush the potato skins with olive oil. Use your hands or a pastry brush to coat the skins evenly. The oil helps make the skin extra crispy. Alternately, you can rub softened butter over the skins for more flavor.
Finally, generously sprinkle kosher salt over the oiled skins. Flaky sea salt also provides great texture and flavor. The salt gives a salty crunch to the skins when baked.
Step 2: Bake the Potatoes
Once prepped, place the potatoes right on the oven rack. You can also place them in a baking pan, though the rack promotes air circulation for maximum crispiness.
Bake for 60-90 minutes, until a knife inserts easily all the way through the middle. Cooking times vary based on potato size, so start checking at 60 minutes. Look for skins that are crispy and browned.
About halfway through baking, use tongs to flip the potatoes over. This ensures even browning and cooking on all sides. No need to wash off the fork holes!
When fully baked, the insides will be light, fluffy, and tender. Baking at a high temp for a long time dries out the interior starch for a creamy, soft texture.
Step 3: Finish and Top
Once baked, remove the potatoes from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. This helps the interior steam redistribute for maximum fluffiness. Be careful, as the potatoes will be very hot initially!
Slice the potatoes lengthwise through the center. Add your favorite toppings like butter, cheese, bacon, broccoli, salsa, Greek yogurt and more. You can also eat them plain with a sprinkle of extra salt.
Enjoy your homemade baked potatoes fresh from the oven!
Topping Ideas for Baked Potatoes
Baked potatoes are the perfect canvas for creative toppings. Mix and match flavors to make each one unique!
- Butter – Melted or cold, adds rich flavor
- Sour cream – Cool and creamy tang
- Sharp cheddar – Gooey melted cheese is a must
- Bacon – Chopped crispy bacon crumbles
- Chives – Provides color and fresh onion flavor
- Broccoli – Steamed or raw, a healthy topping
Unique Topping Combinations:
- Chili – Spicy beef or turkey chili
- Barbecue chicken – Shredded BBQ chicken, onions, cheese
- Greek – Feta, olives, onion, tomato, tzatziki
- Taco – Ground beef, lettuce, tomato, salsa, sour cream
- Caprese – Fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil, balsamic glaze
- Potato skins – Bacon, cheddar, green onions
Let your imagination run wild! Baked potatoes allow for unlimited possibilities.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about baked potatoes.
How do you know when a baked potato has gone bad?
Here are the signs that indicate a baked potato has spoiled and should be discarded:
- Mold growth – fuzzy spots or cobweb-like mold on skin
- Extreme shriveling – potato looks dried out and shrunken
- Foul odor – unmistakable rotten smell
- Unusual textures -slimy wetness or stickiness
- Liquid seeping out – watery ooze from interior
Trust your senses! If anything seems off from the potato’s normal appearance, smell, or texture, play it safe and throw it out.
In general, whole raw potatoes last 2-3 weeks refrigerated while baked potatoes only stay good for 3-5 days. Cooked potatoes deteriorate faster due to moisture loss. Store promptly in the fridge in a sealed container or bag.
What is the best way to reheat baked potatoes?
To reheat baked potatoes and keep them from drying out, follow these methods:
- Wrap in foil and seal tightly, then reheat in 300°F oven for 15 minutes until hot in the center.
- Microwave for 1-2 minutes per half potato, checking frequently.
- Add a splash of milk or water before reheating to add back moisture.
- Top with extra butter, cheese, or sour cream after reheating for flavor.
- Bake smaller pieces like quartered potatoes directly on a sheet pan at 375°F for 10-15 minutes to crisp the skins.
Proper storage and reheating lets you enjoy leftover baked potatoes to their fullest potential.
Should you wash potatoes before baking them?
It’s recommended to gently wash potatoes before baking to remove any surface dirt and debris. However, take care not to soak or submerge them in water before baking. Here are some tips:
- Scrub potatoes under cool running water using your hands or a vegetable brush.
- Avoid soaking them; just a quick rinse and scrub.
- Dry potatoes very thoroughly with a kitchen towel afterward.
- Rub the skins with oil or butter to create a moisture barrier before seasoning.
Giving potatoes a quick wash removes dirt without adding too much water that could affect the crispiness of the skin during baking. Thorough drying prevents excess moisture from steaming the interior rather than baking into a light fluff.
Is it okay to bake potatoes directly on the oven rack?
Yes, it is perfectly fine to bake potatoes directly on the oven rack! Here are some of the benefits to rack-baking:
- Promotes air circulation all around for even crispier skins
- Faster baking time since the potato surface has direct exposure to the oven heat
- Allows more potatoes to fit by eliminating the need for a pan
- Easy to flip halfway through for uniform cooking on all sides
- Can easily adjust placement for perfect doneness
To bake on a rack, first line it with foil for easy cleanup. Place potatoes at least 1 inch apart so steam can escape between them. Check doneness early and move potatoes higher or lower as needed.
How long do baked potatoes with toppings last in the fridge?
Storing properly helps extend the shelf life of any leftovers. Here’s how long baked potatoes last refrigerated:
- Plain baked potatoes – 3 to 5 days
- Baked potatoes with cream, cheese or sour cream – 3 to 4 days
- Chopped baked potato halves or quarters – 4 to 5 days
Properly stored, baked potato leftovers can last almost a week in the fridge. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil, squeezing out excess air. Place in a sealed container to contain moisture and prevent drying out.
If any mold, sliminess, or odor develops, discard the potatoes. With proper storage and reheating, baked potato leftovers can taste great.
Is it possible to freeze baked potatoes?
Yes, you can absolutely freeze baked potatoes for enjoying later! Follow these tips for freezing:
- Allow potatoes to cool completely after baking, at least 1 hour.
- Wrap each potato tightly in plastic wrap, then in foil to prevent freezer burn.
- Place wrapped potatoes in freezer bags or airtight containers.
- Freeze for up to 3 months.
To reheat, unwrap the foil and plastic. Bake frozen potatoes directly on an oven sheet at 400°F for 45-60 minutes until hot, crispy, and delicious. Add 5-10 minutes if cooking from completely frozen.
Freezing is a great way to save time by pre-baking potatoes in advance or preserve leftovers.
With this complete guide to baking, storing, and topping potatoes, you can enjoy fresh-baked potato goodness anytime! Let us know your favorite baked potato recipes and serving suggestions in the comments.