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How to Make The Perfect Baked Potato

Learn how to make the perfect baked potatoes! My guide gives you perfect timings, tips, and answers FAQ’s to make perfectly baked potatoes that are crispy and salty on the outside with fluffy centers. Load up these baked potatoes with your favorite toppings!

Salty, crispy perfect baked potatoes on a sheet pan

It’s taken me seven years to gather the courage to start a “how-to” guide for things like making the perfect baked potatoes. 

Making baked potatoes doesn’t really require rocket science, and there are a handful of ways to make them. We’ve pretty much all had a microwaved baked potato at least once in our lives, right? You know, where the skin separates itself from the center mass that sort of falls in on itself. It’s not exactly a great baked potato. It might be cooked in the center, but it won’t be luxurious, creamy, or fluffy. I’m sure my fellow children of the eighties and nineties can recall tossing potatoes into the microwave oven and zapping them a few minutes before dinnertime. Scary as it sounds, I couldn’t figure out why they called it a baked potato when you zapped it in the micro. It wasn’t until I was older that it hit me that a microwaved potato was a cheaters hack for quicker “baked” potatoes. YIKES!

As an adult, I was rather curious to see whether an actual baked potato was so much better than it’s microwaved brother. My eyes have been opened. Salty and crispy skin that gently tugs away from the fluffy, light, and airy centers. It’s carb heaven, I tell you.

The good thing about making baked potatoes in an actual oven rather than a microwave is that the procedure is pretty much the same. Give the potatoes a good scrub, wipe them down, and score them. But this time, rub them with just a hint of oil or butter and give ’em a generous sprinkling of salt before you pop them in a hot oven. And in no time you’ll have sinfully delicious ultra-tender baked potatoes.

So let’s hop to it!

Salty, crispy perfect baked potatoes

What should I expect from a ‘perfect’ baked potato?

This is subjective, but for the most part, the inside of the potato should be light, airy, and fluffy, and the skin is crisp and salty without being overly dried out or worse, burnt.

What kind of potatoes are best when you want to make baked potatoes?

Russet potatoes are generally considered king when you’re making baked potatoes. The thicker skin allows the interior to steam, and the starchy content of a russet potato leaves them tender and fluffy when you bake them. That does not mean you can’t bake other types of potatoes! Sweet potatoes bake up wonderfully, too.

What makes your baked potato recipe so much better than all the others?

I think what really sets my baked potato recipe apart from so many others is the low baking temperature and the slower baking time that I use. My baked potato recipe is like the jacket potatoes that our friends make across the pond make. Jacket potatoes are often baked at a lower temperature and for longer than a traditional American baked potato. Sometimes, they’re even baked twice.

potatoes on a sheet pan ready for the oven

What do you need to make the perfect oven baked potatoes?

How to make the best baked potatoes:

  1. Heat the oven: Before starting anything else, start your oven! You want to preheat it so that the potatoes can start cooking right away.
  2. Prep the potato: Give the potatoes a good scrubbing under cold running water. I like to hold the potato with both hands and gently but firmly twist in opposite directions. This helps loosen and remove all that dirt. Once cleaned, dry them off with a paper towel. Then, place the potatoes on a clean surface.
  3. Brush them with oil/butter and salt: brush the potatoes with melted butter or oil using a basting brush [3] (affiliate link.) Sprinkle all the sides evenly with kosher salt. Then, grab a sharp paring knife [4] (affiliate link), and run the knife in a straight line through the longest part of the potato (to score them) about 1/8 of an inch deep.
  4. Bake it: Place the potatoes in the oven. You can do this directly on the oven rack, or you can place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the potatoes for 90 minutes and flip them around the halfway point.
  5. Serve them: Pull the potatoes out of the oven and run the knife deeper through the area that you scored before baking. Gently squeeze the sides to open and fluff the potato. Serve immediately topped with desired toppings.

baked potato on parchment on sheet pan with slit

Why do you suggest scoring the skin of the potatoes?

I’m not really sure if potatoes have ever exploded in the oven (I’ve never heard of anyone having this issue), but I’m certainly not trying to find out whether that’s a possibility! It’s common to use a fork to prick the potato a few times before placing them in the oven or microwave when baking.  I’ve always found the concept weird and pointless, so I use a sharp paring knife and run the knife in a straight line through the longest part of the potato to score them. This helps release excess steam. Then, just run the knife through that same line, pinch the sides, and serve.

Faq’s about baked potatoes:

fluffed baked potato with melting butter and pepper

What to top your oven-baked potatoes with:

Other potato recipes you’ll love:

baked potato with shredded cheese and chives on sheet pan

Yield: 2 servings

How to Make The Perfect Baked Potato

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes

Learn how to make the perfect baked potatoes! My guide gives you perfect timings, tips, and answers FAQ’s to make perfectly baked potatoes that are crispy and salty on the outside with fluffy centers. Load up these baked potatoes with your favorite toppings!

How to Make The Perfect Baked Potato

Ingredients

  • 2 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed clean and dried (about 8 ounces each)
  • 2 teaspoons high heat oil or melted butter
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt 
  • for serving: sour cream, butter, scallions, chives, chili,  bacon bits

Instructions

  1. PREP: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375ºF. If using a baking sheet, line with parchment paper and set aside. While the oven is preheating, scrub and dry the potatoes really well. Then, brush with oil or melted butter and sprinkle each potato with kosher salt. Then, grab a sharp paring knife, and run the knife in a straight line through the longest part of the potato (to score them) about ⅛ of an inch deep.
  2. BAKE: Place the potatoes in the oven; you can do this directly on the oven rack or you can place them on a lined baking sheet (your call!) Bake the potatoes for 90 minutes (YES 90) flipping them about halfway through.
  3. FINISH: Pull the potatoes out of the oven and run the knife deeper through the area that you scored earlier and gently squeeze the sides to open and fluff the potato. Serve topped with your desired toppings!

Have you made this recipe?

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side shot of baked potato crusted with salt on the outside