If there’s one thing we know at Delish, it’s that there are countless ways to make the humble potato amazing. We love them in every form they can take (from mashed to simply roasted), but oven-baked potatoes will forever hold a special place in our hearts—they’re perfect both in their simplicity and their versatility. Serve them as an easy, crowd-pleasing side to your holiday meal, or load ‘em up with toppings for a cozy, hearty main dish. While baking a potato in the oven is relatively straight forward, there are a couple of steps you don't want to miss to achieve that ideal crispy outside and tender, soft middle. Ready to become a baked potato pro? Read on for all of our top tips below to ace this basic recipe:
How to prep your potatoes:
First things first, we think Russet potatoes make the best baked potatoes because of their thick skin and starchy, fluffy interior (once baked, of course). Speaking of that skin, it’s where all the flavor is at, so you’re going to want to take a little extra care of it. After you give the potatoes a really good scrub, make sure to dry them thoroughly with a clean dish towel before coating them with a good amount of olive oil. Not only does it help the skin crisp up even more, but it makes your taters taste even better. Rub the potatoes all over before baking, then season generously with salt and pepper.
You might be wondering, Where’s the foil? No need! Wrapping your taters in foil actually keeps the moisture in, leaving you with soggy skin instead of the crispy exterior we want.
How to bake a potato in the oven:
High heat and a long bake make all the difference in the world when making a great baked potato—we’re talking 450° high and for about 1 hour. Any lower than that, and you’ll likely be tucking into leathery, crinkly skin and tough potato. To get a really good gauge when they’re done, measure the internal temperature. A fully cooked baked potato should register 200° to 205°. Once cooked, slice them open immediately to release steam (and therefore avoid gumminess).
Alternatively, you could also make your baked potatoes in the air fryer. Prep the potatoes the same way you would for the oven, then place them in the basket of an air fryer at 400° for 40 minutes. It’s one of our longer air fryer recipes, but it’s worth it if you don’t want to use your oven.
How to serve a baked potato:
If you don’t want these potatoes to distract from your main dish, then all you really need is a substantial amount of butter, salt, and pepper for a fully satisfying side dish. That being said, if you’re looking to take these taters over the top, make these baked potatoes loaded by adding bacon, sour cream, cheese, and chives. Alternatively, use these baked potatoes as a base to your meal, like we did in our French onion baked potatoes, spinach-artichoke baked potatoes, and taco-stuffed sweet potatoes (simply switch out the sweet for Russet). There are truly no limits to how you can top your baked potato.
Baked potatoes taste best straight from the oven, but if you want to make them ahead of time, slice them in half and let them cool completely before storing them in an airtight container (not in foil!) for up to 5 days. To reheat the potato, take it out of the refrigerator and let it get back to room temperature. Bake at 350° until it's warmed through, about 15 minutes.
Made these? Let us know how it went in the comments below.
Yields: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 1 hour 5 mins
russet potatoes, scrubbed
Extra-virgin olive oil, for rubbing
Freshly ground black pepper