How to Bake a Potato

Follow these simple tips to learn how to bake a potato, whether you are short on time or have plenty of time. There are two fool-proof methods that answer the question of how to bake a potato: a traditional baked potato in oven or a time saving method where you microwave potatoes before baking, then follow up with the oven.

Recently I discovered that none of the kids like twice baked potatoes or potatoes with toppings, but a couple of them like a plain baked potato with butter – especially Kayden.

He will often request them for dinner and once I even ended up buying a 20 lb bag of russets at the grocery store because we were going through so many potatoes. I think he may have even packed one in his lunch once!

You’d think learning how to bake a potato wouldn’t be that hard, but I can’t tell you the number of times that dinner has played out like this: me, baking a potato, thinking that the potato is done and then finding that I’ve cut into it the middle that is actually still kind of hard and not quite done yet…it is pretty annoying.

That’s too bad, because I actually really like a loaded baked potato when they’re done right. And stuffed, twice-baked potatoes are kind of favorites of mine too and you have to bake those first (hence the twice baked part).

That’s what happens when I toss the potatoes into the oven and don’t really pay attention to what I am doing or how long they’re cooking. Paying attention is actually kind of important considering the fact that how long to bake a potato can vary depending on how large the potato is.

If I don’t bother looking at the clock, how am I ever going to know how long I’ve had the baked potato in oven?

No, I don’t just want a baked potato. I want to bake a potato that is PERFECTLY done – soft inside and crispy on the outside.

perfect baked potatoes

In the past, my method has been to  feel the baked potato (and try to decipher if I think that it is soft enough). I usually think that they’re done, but they really aren’t.

So, I put a little effort into learning some method and coming up with a strategy to accomplish this task that should actually be pretty simple.

My method insures I don’t deal with an imperfect baked potato, so I thought that I’d share those methods for today’s kitchen tip. Here’s a (in my book) fool-proof way for a perfect, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside baked potato.

The first method for baking potatoes assumes that you have plenty of time, you’re not in a rush and you’ve planned ahead. The second way, a variation of the first, produces equally delicious results in a fraction of the time. For those days when you’re a little less than organized. Which probably happens here more often than I’d care to admit.

How To Bake a Potato

Baked Potato in Oven:

If you have plenty of time and you’re wondering how to bake a potato, use this method.

When I’m thinking about how to bake a potato, I prefer the baked potato in oven method. Even though the second method gives similar results, I think the results in this method are superior. Plus, just old habits, you know?

In the winter I especially love it because the oven being on for a while makes the kitchen and connected family room so nice and toasty warm. I also think a potato baking in the oven smells yummy.

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Start with organic russet potatoes of the large baking variety. Wash, scrub, and dry the potatoes.
  3. Optional: brush each side of the potato with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
  4. Poke holes on all sides with the point of a sharp knife or fork.
  5. Preheat oven for baked potato to 375 degrees F.
  6. Wondering how long to bake a potato?
    • The baking time can really very depending on the size of your potato as well as the altitude at which you live. You’ll likely still need to test for doneness and find what cook time works best for you. The average cook time for a baked potato in oven 75-90 minutes.

Microwave Potatoes Before Baking Method:

When I’m super busy, or I haven’t gotten started with my cooking early enough, I microwave potatoes before baking.

I’m not a big fan of only microwaving, because you don’t get a nice crisp skin (instead they’re a bit soggy). So, I microwave before I bake and then finish up my baked potato in oven. Though this method is also great when you need to free up the oven for something else.

In this method, you’ll preheat the oven to a higher temp to give you that nice, crispy outer skin in a fraction of the time. You can do this without the risk of burning the outside since the potato has already been partially cooked thanks to the trusty microwave.

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Start with an organic russet potato of the large baking variety. Wash, scrub, and dry the potato.
  3. Poke holes on all sides with the point of a sharp knife or fork. Microwave the potatoes, up to 4 at a time, on full power for 4 minutes.
  4. Turn potato over and microwave for 4 more minutes.
  5. Optional: brush each side of the potato with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
  6. Then, bake the microwaved potato in the 450 degree F preheated oven for 20 minutes.

baked potatoes with balsamic mushrooms and blue cheese

Delicious perfect baked potato recipes for your inspiration:

Now that I’ve told you my methods for how to bake a potato, here are a few recipes that you might like to try with your baked potato.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup is a delicious use for baked potatoes, as well as a great way to use up and leftovers that you might have after a meal.

If you’re looking for a little bit lighter of an option to a traditional baked potato with all the yummy toppings, try this Baked Potato with Balsamic Caramelized Onion and Mushroom.

Sometimes I just really crave a rich, loaded baked potato; this recipe for Broccoli Cheese Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes.

These Roasted Cauliflower, Bacon, Leek, Mushroom Twice Baked Potatoes are a riff on the traditional, instead they’re loaded with pureed roasted cauliflower, sautéed leeks and crimini mushrooms, bacon crumbles, and sharp cheddar cheese.

Do you have any special tricks for how to bake a potato or a favorite way to serve them?