Pictured: Ultimate Twice Baked Potatoes
A baked potato can be a simple side dish topped with butter and herbs, or a hearty meal in itself, stuffed with whatever your hungry imagination has in mind. (Got leftover chili, stew, or vegetables? Tuck them into your baked potato.) But first, you need to bake a potato so it's tender and fluffy. Here are four ways to bake whole potatoes, using an oven, microwave, slow cooker, or grill.
1) Oven Baked Potatoes
Great when you've got other things to do for an hour or so.
Turn the oven on to 350° F. (Note that the oven does not have to be fully up to temperature before you put the potato in. Convenient, right?) Scrub the potato with a vegetable brush. Prick all over with a fork or cut a deep slit on the top to release steam as it cooks. At this point, you can bake it three different ways:
- Place potato directly on the middle oven rack and bake for 60 to 90 minutes. The skin will be crispy.
- Pat it dry and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt (optional), place in a baking dish (with or without rack), and bake for 60 to 90 minutes. The skin will be tender.
- Oil and season the skin, wrap in foil, place on oven rack or in a baking dish, and bake for 60 to 90 minutes. The skin will be tender. Pro tip: Pierce the potato before wrapping it in foil. If you pierce it afterwards, you might push bits of foil into the potato. (Not exactly what you want in your baked potato.)
Total cooking time depends on the size of the potato; it's done when its starch has become tender and fluffy. To test, put on an oven glove and lightly squeeze the potato. It should easily give way to gentle pressure.
2) Microwave Baked Potatoes
Great for cooks in a hurry.
Pictured: Microwave Baked Potato
Scrub the potato, prick all over with a fork, and place on a microwave-safe plate. Cook on full power for 5 minutes. Turn over and cook again for 5 minutes, or until the potato is soft when squeezed. Note the skin will not be crisp like an oven-baked or grilled potato.
3) Slow Cooker Baked Potatoes
Great for when you need to keep your oven free, or you want potatoes to bake while you're away.
Scrub potatoes and prick all over with a fork. Rub the skin with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and dried herbs (optional). Wrap with foil, and cook on High for 4½ to 5 hours, or on LOW for 7½ to 8 hours until soft.
Recipe to try:
Slow Cooker Baked Potatoes
4) Grilled Baked Potatoes
Great for camping or cookouts.
Pictured: Leslie's Salty Grilled Potatoes
Heat grill to medium-high. Scrub potatoes and boil for 5 minutes to jumpstart the cooking process. Or prick with a fork and microwave for 2 minutes, turn them over, and microwave for another 2 minutes. Rub skin with olive oil and season as desired. Now you can grill it a couple of different ways:
- Place potato directly on grill, close cover and cook over indirect heat for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until skin is crisp and potato is tender.
- Double wrap potato in heavy-duty foil and bury in hot coals for 30 to 60 minutes, or until tender.
Baked Potato Serving Ideas
- Slice the potato in half to form two boats, make slits in the flesh, and top as desired. Or use the two halves to make twice-baked potatoes.
- Cut a slit down along the top and squeeze both ends of the potato toward the center to fluff up the starch and release the steam. Top as desired with butter, sour cream, cheese, vegetables, chili, stew...you get the picture.
Best Potatoes for Baking
When it comes to baking, a russet potato is your best choice. Also known as an Idaho or baking potato (go figure), a russet potato contains the kind of starch that cooks up drier and flakier, making it ideal for soaking up butter, sour cream, chili, and whatever else you're pouring over your potato. Its thick skin also helps the potato create its own delicious, edible serving bowl.
Buying and Storing Potatoes
Choose dry, firm, smooth-skinned russet potatoes without cuts, bruises, sprouts, or hints of green. That greenish tinge is caused by a poisonous glycoalkaloid called solanine, that is caused when the potato is exposed to light during the growing cycle. Always cut the green parts away before cooking. The sprouts are harmless signs of growth, but should be cut out before baking. Store potatoes in a cool, dry, dark spot with ventilation (not in a plastic bag).
Other 'Tater Topics
- Find more baked potato recipes, and get tips for different ways to cook potatoes, including mashed, fried, stewed, shredded, sliced, diced, and wedged.
- To really switch things up, make these show-stopping Swedish-style Hasselback potatoes.
- And just in case you think potatoes aren't paleo-friendly, think again. Turns out paleo people CAN have potatoes with their steak.