» Baked Potatoes

How To Bake Potatoes in 8 Easy Steps

If you want to learn how to bake potatoes the easy way, you have come to the right place. Baked potatoes are simply delicious and knowing how to make them whenever you want can make your life easier. Baking a potato basically means putting a potato in an oven with the result being a potato with crispy skin and a scrumptious fluffy interior. There are a couple of things you should know that can make a difference in the taste of baked potatoes when preparing them for dinner or at any time.

They are a light meal so they are often used as a side dish or as the main food when they have other ingredients on top. Baking potatoes doesn’t require some secret hidden knowledge; anyone with basic cooking capabilities can do it. That said, it doesn’t mean that you just throw them in the oven and hope for the best. 

There are a few steps you have to do right (like piercing them) if you truly want to experience their appetizing flavor.

Topping on a baked potato

How to Cook Baked Potatoes

1- The first step for creating this delectable dish is to preheat your oven at 350°F. You can also choose 400°F or 325°F depending on how much time you have. The higher temperature will make it faster and the lower end will give you plenty of time to do other stuff. The table below shows the amount of time needed depending on the set temperature.

Typical Baking Temperatures

Temperature for a medium size potato

Conventional or Regular Oven:

45 minutes - 400 degrees F or 204  degrees C
60 minutes - 350 degrees F or 177  degrees C
90 minutes - 325 degrees F or 163  degrees C


A baked potato with sour cream

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2- Next, you have to choose which potato you will be cooking. In order to get really good oven baked potatoes you have to pick a medium size baking potato (you can get a larger one if you want to but cooking times will vary). They are labeled as such at the grocery store.

The favorite ones for the task are the always popular Russet variety. They are ideal due to their tough skin and starchy interior. Other types like the red potato won’t do as well for baking due to their more waxy texture. Always pick potatoes with a healthy color and stay away at all cost from the ones showing some green tones.

Tip: If you can't find any starchy variety then you could use medium starch potatoes (all purpose); for example white (long type) and Yukon Gold.

Potato (unpeeled)

3- Rinse the potato with plenty of water (dirt doesn’t taste very good).

Brush for vegetables or for cleaning around the kitchen

Gently scrub it with a Vegetable Brush while being cautious with the skin. Do not use hot water as it can make it soggy. Rinse again thoroughly.

4- Dry the potatoes with paper towel and take out any sprouts.

5- Now is piercing time! This is a must to remember. The baked potato recipe can’t be done without it. This is a very important step, as I previously mentioned, if you overlook it you are not going to eat your potatoes as they will “kind off” blow up. The steam inside the potatoes has to get out somehow; this is when the fork comes in.

Use a fork to pierce each side of the potato six to eight times. Begin at the top of the potato and slowly pierce until you get to the bottom part. Do the same procedure for the other side.

Potato with a fork

6- Now, you can use a basting brush or your hands to spread some oil (it can be olive oil or just the oil you have at hand) over it; then rub in some salt. Make sure both sides of the potato are covered evenly. You will not want one side of the potato to taste different than the other.

7- Put the potato over a cookie sheet or baking pan and place it in the oven. You can put the potato directly on the rack but I would advise against it as it can get messy. Once inside the oven wait around 30 to 40 minutes to turn it over to ensure all parts of the potato are cooked properly.

8- At this point you should have a good idea on how to bake potatoes. When the time is up, use a fork to pierce different areas of the potato. If is soft and tender you are done, if you cannot pierce it easily, then you have to wait a few more minutes. Once ready, take it out of the oven (don’t forget the oven mitts) and serve with your favorite topping.

One of my favorite topping combinations: Sour cream, ground beef and green onions, as you can see it is super yummy!

Potato with beef, sour cream

You can have different topping options for a baked potato bar, which is a good idea for a family reunion, wedding reception, birthday party, etc.

List of topping ideas for baked potatoes:

Baked potato bar idea - green onions, carrots, sour cream, ground beef, red onions

    • cream cheese
    • cheddar cheese
    • sour cream
    • butter
    • mayonnaise (regular or vegan)
    • mustard
    • ketchup
    • gravy
    • chili
    • olive oil
    • crumbled turkey bacon
    • shredded meat (chicken, turkey, ground beef) or fish
    • ham (slices or cubed)
    • shredded meatball or sausage
    • dry herbs (oregano, basil, thyme, parsley, etc.)
    • green beans
    • beans (white, red, pink, black)
    • hummus
    • broccoli
    • tomatoes (chopped)
    • sun dried tomatoes
    • lettuce (chopped)
    • cabbage (chopped)
    • sauerkraut
    • carrots (grated)
    • beets (shredded)
    • okra (sliced)
    • chopped avocado (drizzle just a bit of the oil you have in the kitchen and a tiny amount of lemon or lime juice to slow down the process of turning dark, you could use a basting brush)
    • guacamole
    • red onions (sautéed or chopped raw)
    • green onions (chopped)
    • chives (chopped)
    • minced garlic 
    • garlic powder
    • onion powder
    • lemon zest (grated)

Tip: When baking peeled potatoes (home fries, wedges, etc.) remember to slightly grease the baking sheet and brush the potatoes with some oil just prior getting them inside the oven.

If you didn't know how to bake potatoes, this is a very simple and effective approach for learning it the easy way.

Try these recipes to prepare other baked dishes:

Baked Mashed
Mushroom Potatoes Classic Potato Stuffing
Twice Baked Potatoes Recipe Gourmet Mashed Potatoes
Stuffed Potato Basic Baked Mashed Potatoes
Chili Potatoes
Western Potatoes
Potato Wedges Recipe Potato Bread Recipe
Potato Knish Indian Bread - Paratha (flat-bread)

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