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The Perfect Baked Potato

Photograph by Christina Chavez

Baked potato—pretty easy, right? Well, I was doing it wrong for years and I didn’t even know it! Friends, it’s all about the fluff.

For decades, I’ve been steaming the potatoes, not baking them. Yep, that’s what happens when you wrap them in foil before throwing them in the oven. Rule No. 1: Mummifying the potatoes in an aluminum shroud doesn’t cut the baking time; it only makes the skin wet and the flesh soggy, not fluffy.

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Here are a few other tips to move you towards Baked Potato Perfection:

  • Choose Russet potatoes. They have a smooth skin and few “eyes,” and their flesh is white and dry—perfect for baking.
  • Scrub the potatoes under running water and dry them thoroughly.
  • Rub the skin lightly with olive oil or butter and roll them around in a little salt. The crispy, slightly salty skin is absolutely delicious.
  • Pierce the skin with a fork in a couple of places.
  • Bake in the oven at 450°F for about 45 minutes, depending on the potato’s size.
  • Test for doneness by squeezing the sides gently (use a clean dish towel to do this). If it gives easily, it’s done.
  • Use a fork to pierce the top of the potato in the form of a cross. Press the ends toward the center to lift the potato’s flesh to make it fluffy.

Bet you didn’t know that baking a potato is actually a lot harder than it looks! Seriously, these simple tips helped me make perfect baked potatoes, which is really important if you’re going to make a meal out of spuds!

Kids love a good Baked Potato Bar, so here here are some terrific combinations that they’ll love. (Remember, they’ll be more inclined to eat (and enjoy) something that they create.)

  • Chopped crispy bacon, feta cheese, steamed broccoli
  • Shredded rotisserie chicken, salsa, cilantro, sliced jalapenos
  • Taco-seasoned ground beef, Monterrey Jack cheese, chopped tomatoes
  • Canned chili (or homemade, if you’ve got it!), shredded Cheddar cheese, diced onions
  • Pepperoni slices, pasta sauce, Mozzarella cheese, shredded basil leaves

So, now you’re ready to achieve Baked Potato Perfection and set up the Best Baked Potato Bar ever. And remember, it’s all about the fluff!

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