How to Bake Potatoes: As long as there are a few potatoes in the pantry you have at least one option for dinner. Whether topped with a simple pat of butter or a scoop of hearty chili, baked potatoes are a favorite no-brainer meal when you just want something easy and warm.
Before you start any step at all, be sure to wash the potato and prick it all over with a fork. Forgetting that crucial pricking step will result in a spud grenade in your oven — pricking the skin lets the steam inside the cooking potato escape without this risk of bursting.
The perfect baked potato is crispy on the outside and pillowy in the middle. Cracked open and still steaming, it’s ready to receive anything from a sprinkle of cheese to last night’s stew. Here’s how to make one.
- 1 russet potato per person
- Olive oil
- A fork
- A baking sheetcovered in foil
- Heat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- Using a dinner fork or a small paring knife, poke the potato multiple times on all sides.
- Place the potato on the baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove from oven.
- Using a pastry brush, brush the outside of the potato with olive oil or melted butter until it is completely coated on all sides. Sprinkle the potato with a generous pinch of Kosher salt, and place the potato back on the baking sheet upside down so that it can cook evenly on both sides.
- Return to oven and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Check for doneness by squeezing the potato (using an oven mitt since it’s a hot potato!). If the insides are nice and soft and give under pressure, remove the potato from the oven. Otherwise, continue cooking in 5-minute increments until the potato is done.
- Use a small paring knife to cut down the middle of the potato, and then give it a squeeze to open. Serve immediately, with your desired toppings.
The filling station
Members of our cookery team are traditionalists when it comes to their filling choices:
The two components are a dreamy duo in their own right, but a dot of salad cream, chopped spring onions, grated cheddar, lemon zest and capers are all perfectly delicious additions.
If you’re all about the fromage, you’ll know melty cheeses like cheddar, red Leicester and double Gloucester both grate well and render to an irresistible, glistening mound. If you like your cheese super-melty, add it to your potato then finish it off under the grill.
Delicious on their own (especially when you make your own), or teamed with cheese, but therein lies a murky realm of controversy – do you go beans first or cheese first? It’s such a contentious topic had our kitchen team locked in debate – and they weren’t exactly unanimous in their verdict:
- Barney Desmazery (senior food editor) and Chelsie Collins (cookery assistant): Butter>cheese>beans
- Miriam Nice (home economist): Butter>beans>cheese
- Cassie Best (food editor): Cheese>beans>cheese (“although preferably just double cheese as I don’t like beans!”)
Saucy casseroles and stews were made to be mopped up with fluffy, absorbent potato flesh. And, if you’re looking for one-pot inspiration, you’ve come to the right place.
You now have a perfect baked potato. All you need to do is fill it with your favorite filling and enjoy!