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Learn how to make baked potatoes in the oven with all of the best tips and tricks! Customize this classic easy side dish with any of your favorite toppings — butter, sour cream, cheese, chives, or bacon — anything goes. The foolproof baked potato recipe yields a crispy outside and a fluffy inside. Serve them alongside steak, grilled chicken, meatloaf, pot roast, pulled pork, and more!

Hands holding a fork and eating a baked potato in oven

How to Make Baked Potatoes

A baked potato in oven sounds like a fairly simple task, right? If you’ve ever had a crunchy, under-baked spud or a soggy, mushy version of this dish, then you probably understand the importance of learning how to make baked potatoes that come out perfectly every time!

The goal is an evenly-cooked potato with a crispy exterior (but not too charred), and a tender, fluffy interior (but not too mushy). With a few important tricks borrowed from Cook’s Illustrated magazine, this easy baked potato recipe always gives you the foolproof results that you’re looking for.

The Best Potato for a Baked Potato in Oven

Russet potatoes (sometimes called “Idaho potatoes”) make the best baked potatoes! These potatoes have a thick skin, which gets nice and crispy in the oven. Russets also has a high starch content, which creates a dry, fluffy interior.

Making salt water

What temperature for Baked Potatoes?

You can really bake potatoes at almost any oven temperature — from 350°F to 450°F — and anywhere in between. I’ve tested many different recipes, and have landed on the Cook’s Illustrated recommendation for a hot 450°F oven. This gives the potatoes that great dry, fluffy, and soft interior and an incredibly crispy skin.

Poking holes in a russet potato with a fork

Do I need to Wrap the Potatoes in Foil?

No, you do not need to wrap the potatoes in foil. It’s important to let the skin of the potato dehydrate in the oven to create that crisp exterior. Wrapping the potatoes in foil traps steam and moisture, which yields a soft skin.

Arranging potatoes on a wire rack

Baked Potato Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for the best baked potato recipe. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Russet potatoes: with a high starch content, these potatoes have a dry, fluffy interior when baked.
  • Kosher salt and warm water: dipping the potatoes in salt water before baking seasons the skin, giving them great flavor and helping them dry out and crisp in the oven.
  • Vegetable oil: brushing the potatoes with oil once they’re baked through, and then popping them back in the oven for about 10 minutes crisps the outside of the skins, and also avoids charring over a longer period.
Brushing baked potatoes with oil

How to Bake a Potato

Here I’ll show you the step-by-step process for how to make the perfect baked potato. Again, this unique method of dipping the potatoes in salt water, and then brushing them with oil at the end, comes from the scientific chefs at Cook’s Illustrated. It’s truly the best baked potato recipe!

  1. Prepare Potatoes. Scrub the potatoes clean and pat them dry. Use a fork to prick holes in about 3 or 4 different places around each potato.
  2. Dip in Salt Water. Dissolve the salt in the warm water, and then dip each potato in the salt water. Place on a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Bake. Bake the potatoes in a 450°F oven until the potatoes reach an internal temperature of 205°F, about 45 minutes – 1 hour, depending on the size of your potatoes.
  4. Brush with Oil. Coat the outside of the potatoes with vegetable oil, and then continue baking for 10 more minutes. This gives the skin a chance to get crispy in the oven.
  5. Serve. Cut slits in the tops of the potatoes with a paring knife, squeeze the potatoes open (be careful…steam will come out), use a fork to fluff up the flesh, and add your favorite toppings.
Square side shot of baked potatoes on a dinner table

Baked Potato Toppings

Love a loaded baked potato? Pile on these toppings:

  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sour cream
  • Crispy chopped bacon
  • Grated cheddar cheese
  • Chopped fresh chives, chopped fresh parsley, or thinly sliced green onions
  • Chili and cheese
  • Taco meat, seasoned black beans, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, and salsa

What to Serve with Baked Potatoes

There are so many delicious entrees that go well with baked potatoes. Here are a few options to get you started:

Overhead shot of baked potato in oven with toppings and salad on the side

How to Bake a Potato in the Microwave

While it’s definitely the fastest way to cook a potato, the microwave is not my preferred method for “baking” potatoes. First, the microwave cooks foods unevenly. Second, rapidly heating the potato yields a dense, gummy interior. All of that said, you can certainly use this quick method for a weeknight emergency!

To do so, prepare the potatoes by scrubbing and pricking them with a fork. Place one potato on a microwave-safe plate and cook on HIGH for 5 minutes. Turn the potato over and microwave for 3-5 more minutes, or until tender inside. Repeat with remaining potatoes. Do not use foil if you’re baking potatoes in the microwave.

Side shot of two plates with baked potatoes on a dinner table with salad and wine

Storage for the Perfect Baked Potato Recipe

Leftover baked potatoes will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. To reheat the potatoes, place on a baking sheet and warm in a 350°F oven for about 20 minutes.

How to Freeze

Allow the potatoes to cool completely, wrap individually with plastic wrap and foil, and freeze for up to 1 month. To reheat the potatoes directly from the freezer, unwrap the potatoes, place on a baking sheet, and tent loosely with foil. Warm the frozen potatoes in a 425°F oven for 35 to 45 minutes. If the skin isn’t crisping back up, remove the foil during the final few minutes.

How to Enjoy Leftovers

There are so many great ways to take advantage of leftover baked potatoes. Use the potatoes in Baked Potato Soup, prepare Taco Stuffed Potatoes or Chicken, Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Potatoes, or use the leftovers for Twice Baked Potatoes.

Overhead shot of a white plate of the best baked potato recipe

Tips for the Best Baked Potato Recipe

  • Prick each potato with a fork before baking. This allows steam to escape so that your potato doesn’t explode in the oven.
  • Select potatoes that are all roughly the same size and shape so that they will bake in the same amount of time.
  • Turn the potatoes over once or twice during the baking process to ensure even cooking.
  • According to the folks at Cook’s Illustrated, it’s important to temp the inside of your potato to know when it’s perfectly cooked. When baking a russet potato, the goal is for its starch to soak up so much interstitial water that its cells sweet and separate, rendering the interior uniformly dry and fluffy. This happens when the inside of the potato exceeds 205°F.
  • Cut a slit in the top of your potatoes as soon as they come out of the oven. If you allow a baked potato to sit for too long before cutting into it, the insides will develop a gummy texture.
Close up shot of baked potato in oven on a plate with butter and herbs

More Potato Recipes to Try

Square featured image of a baked potato on a plate with butter and herbs

Baked Potato in Oven

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 10 minutes
0 minutes
Total: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 239 kcal
Showing you how to make baked potatoes in the oven with all of the best tips and tricks!

Ingredients
  

  • 4 russet potatoes (about 7-9 ounces each)
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Optional toppings: sour cream, cheese, chives, parsley, butter, crispy bacon, kosher salt, black pepper

Instructions

  • Arrange rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  • Place a wire rack on a large rimmed baking sheet; set aside.
  • Scrub the potatoes clean. Use a fork to poke holes all over each potato.
  • In a medium bowl, dissolve 2 tablespoons of salt in the warm water.
  • Toss each potato in the warm salt water until the skin is moistened all over. Place the potatoes on the wire rack on the baking sheet.
  • Bake the potatoes until the center of the largest potato registers 205°F on an instant read thermometer, about 45 minutes – 1 hour.
  • Remove the potatoes from the oven. Brush the potatoes on all sides with the oil.
  • Return the potatoes to the oven for 10 more minutes to allow the skin to get nice and crispy.
  • Use a paring knife to slice the potatoes open lengthwise. Squeeze each potato to open, fluff the insides with a fork, and add your desired toppings.

Notes

  • Prick each potato with a fork before baking. This allows steam to escape so that your potato doesn’t explode in the oven.
  • Select potatoes that are all roughly the same size and shape so that they will bake in the same amount of time.
  • Turn the potatoes over once or twice during the baking process to ensure even cooking.
  • According to the folks at Cook’s Illustrated, it’s important to temp the inside of your potato to know when it’s perfectly cooked. When baking a russet potato, the goal is for its starch to soak up so much interstitial water that its cells sweet and separate, rendering the interior uniformly dry and fluffy. This happens when the inside of the potato exceeds 205°F.
  • Cut a slit in the top of your potatoes as soon as they come out of the oven. If you allow a baked potato to sit for too long before cutting into it, the insides will develop a gummy texture.
  • Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.

Nutrition

Serving: 1baked potato (about 8 ounces each)Calories: 239kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 5gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gSodium: 11mgPotassium: 946mgFiber: 3gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 2IUVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 29mgIron: 2mg
Keyword: baked potato, baked potato in oven, baked potato recipe, baked potatoes, how to bake a potato
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in September, 2020. It was updated in June, 2022.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. At this point, in Southern New Mexico, I’m not about to bake potatoes for several months. Not in the oven anyway, not with highs in the 100s already. However, I will definitely want to do so later in the year and I appreciate the tips, especially about using the instant thermometer to determine doneness. I was raised on the “squeeze test” but sometimes it just isn’t reliable and I hate to keep fanning the oven door checking and double checking and winding up with only a so-so potato in the end anyway. Now I hope to look forward to some really good potatoes in about September or October, I hope. Thanks!