The perfect baked potato has crisp golden skin on the outside and is pure white and fluffy on the inside.
It's very easy to bake the perfect potato. If you follow the easy guidelines below, you will always have perfect baked potatoes!
Check out Linda's favorite
Potato Hints, Tips,and Information, and
The History and Legends of Potatoes.
Perfect Baked Potato Recipe:
Yields: serves many
Prep time: 10 min
Bake time: 60 min
Olive oil, vegetable oil, or butter
Coarse salt or sea salt (optional)
How To Choose Potatoes for Baking: Any potato can be baked, but for the
perfect baked potato with the desired flaky texture, it is recommended
that mature, baking-type potatoes such as the Russet potatoes be used. Russets are known as a starchy potato, a baking potato, or a mealy potato.
The starch gives the potato it's characteristic fluffiness.
Make sure that the skin has a nice even brown tone without a greenish cast. Inspect the potatoes thoroughly to make sure that there aren't any
significant bruises, discolored spots, or sprouts.
A sprout of any size can be toxic, but you'd have to eat many sprouts to
get sick. Do not buy potatoes if they have sprouted or have a green tint to the skin. The same is true for
potatoes that turn a greenish hue. A potato in this condition is "light-struck" which causes a build-up of a chemical called Solanine.
This is a natural reaction to the potato being exposed to too much light. The green part, if eaten in large quantity, can cause illness.
When baking a large amount of potatoes at one time, choose potatoes with uniform shapes and sizes;
they will cook more evenly and get done at the same time.
Adjust the rack in your oven to the middle position and preheat oven to
desired temperature (see Cooking Temperature Chart below).
Rinse and scrub (I use a stiff-bristled brush) each potato under cold
running water, as you will be eating the skins of these perfect potatoes. Don't soak the potatoes (that will make
them soggy. Do not use hot water or you'll start cooking the outside and the inside won't catch up).
A majority of the vitamins and minerals are found in the skin, so don't throw it away.
Dry each potato thoroughly with a clean towel.
Look the cleaned potatoes over and remove any bruises or discolored spots with the tip of your knife.
Pierce each potato deeply with a fork or sharp knife four (4) times on each
side at approximately 1-inch intervals. This will allow steam to escape
during the baking. If you don't pierce the potatoes, they may explode during baking in your oven.
You don't want this to happen as it makes a terrible mess in your oven!
Wrapping the potato in aluminum foil will produce a soft skin (not crispy). Technically this is
steaming rather than baking (as the moisture in the potato remains trapped) and the light, flaky texture will be missing.
The texture of a steamed potato is entirely different from that of a perfect baked potato. Save yourself the trouble and expense of wrapping potatoes
in aluminum foil and serve perfect baked potatoes.
My suggestion is to NEVER use aluminum foil when baking potatoes!
For a soft potato skin, rub the outside of the potato with
olive oil, vegetable oil, or butter over the skins.
I like to roll the potatoes in
coarse or sea salt after rolling in the oil and before baking. Place coarse salt onto a small plate. Roll
potatoes lightly in the salt. The skin is so yummy to eat!
Bake on racks of oven until tender.
Bake according to the Temperature Chart below. Do not overcook potatoes as the insides will be dry, so it's important to be vigilant.
Cooking Temperatures for Perfect Baked Potatoes Every Time:
Conventional or Regular Oven:
(about 5 ounces or 150 grams each)
45 minutes at 400 degrees F.
60 minutes at 350 degrees F.
90 minutes at 325 degrees F.
Place the potato directly on the oven rack in a preheated oven.
Place a baking sheet (I put a piece of
aluminum foil) on the lower rack (below
the potatoes) to catch any drippings.
(about 5 ounces or 150 grams each)
45 minutes at 375 degrees F.
60 minutes at 325 degrees F.
90 minutes at 300 degrees F.
Convection ovens cook up to 20% faster than
regular ovens. Also, the food in a convection oven is cooked at
a lower temperature than in a regular oven to achieve the same results.
The general rule is to decrease your oven temperature at least 25 degrees lower than a regular oven.
Potatoes are done if tender when pierced with a fork and the
internal temperature reaches 210 degrees F.
You can also use a
meat thermometer to test for doneness.
You can also test for doneness by gently squeezing the middle of the potato (using a pot holder). If it gives in easily to your touch, it is done.
is the type of cooking and meat thermometer that I prefer and use in my cooking. I get many readers
asking what cooking/meat thermometer that I prefer and use in my cooking and baking. I, personally, use the
Thermapen Thermometer shown in the photo on the
right. To learn more about this excellent
thermometer and to also purchase one (if you desire), just click on the underlined:
The higher the oven temperature, the shorter the cooking time will be and the crustier the skin. Larger potatoes will take longer to bake. Bake potatoes along
with whatever else you are baking and gauge the cooking time according to oven temperature.
Turn the potatoes over halfway through the baking time to prevent browning of the undersides where they touch the oven rack.
Potatoes are done if tender when pierced with a fork and the internal temperature reaches
210 degrees F. Use a
meat thermometer to test for doneness. You can also test for doneness by
gently squeezing the middle of the potato (using a pot holder or oven mitt). If it gives in easily to your touch, it is done.
When baked to perfection, remove potatoes from the oven. Slit across the
top with a sharp knife. Gently pinch (squeeze) in each end of the potato towards the middle
(using your thumb and index finger). The potato will then pop open and loosen the fluffy white interior from the skin.
Be careful as there will be some steam.
You now have a perfect baked potato - All you need to do is top it with your favorite topping and enjoy!
Comments from readers:
I'm a good cook. A while back I was looking for alternate baking
times for potatoes so I could synchronize with other oven
dishes. Your tutorial - it's that good - on baking potatoes nailed
the subject. I used to be a tech writer years ago. Your informative,
tight, and expert writing is about as good as it gets. Thanks.
Jack Labusch, Niles, Ohio (10/16/14)
I had never made a baked potato before. I remember
the ones my mother used to cook when I was a kid being really dry
but I wanted to make one, so I googled it and found your site. My
baked potatoes were delicious and I have you to thank for it.
They're now a regular staple in my ever-burgeoning cooking
repertoire. Thank you so much. I so appreciate a recipe that turns
out beautifully. - Diane (12/20/13)
I was just looking online at new ways to bake a potato AND I SAW
YOUR SITE. PERFECT just like you said with no aluminum foil used and salt, pepper,
and butter on the outside - perfect cook times, they were amazing! I don't
think I came up for air, it was the best baked potato I've ever had at home or anywhere else!
- from Facebook (10/30/13)
Hi Linda - Your recipe is perfect. I am a
terrible cook and have always assumed you have to wrap a baked potato in
Reynolds Wrap. I have also cooked them at too high a temperature.
I followed your instructions and they turned out perfectly. You are
right - the consistency is totally different.
Regards Cindy (4/21/13)
I'm 55 years old and tonight I cooked my very first baked potatoes. I don't cook much. I didn't cook my first chicken until I was
50, the list goes on. I don't particularly like baked potatoes but my husband does. During our 15 year marriage, I did a bake potato for him once a few years ago in
the microwave - it was edible. I think! Tonight I decided it make him real baked potatoes with his dinner and decided to look up how to do it. I found your website and
followed your directions to the letter (except my husband doesn't like a lot of salt so after baking with the olive oil and sea salt, I wiped off
the sea salt before serving). He said he could still taste the salt and they were two of the best baked potato's he has ever eaten. I didn't
have them but wanted them to be good for him and they were. From a hopeless cook and an American abroad, thank you so much for the Perfect Baked Potato.
Cheers - Karen Harland, Middleton St. George, England.