- Russet potatoes are best for baking, due to their starch content, thick skin, and fluffy interior.
- A baked potato will typically take about one hour in the oven at 420 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The best way to tell if your potatoes are done is if you can slide a fork in and out of them easily.
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There’s hardly a more classic American dish than the baked potato — and it’s versatile enough to serve alongside everything from steak and seafood to salads.
While baking a potato is relatively simple, achieving that sought-after crispy skin and fluffy interior requires a few key considerations. Not only do you need to use the right type of potatoes, but you also need to be mindful of how long they cook for and at what temperature.
Below, two professional chefs share how to make a perfect baked potato.
The best potatoes for baked potatoes
Russet potatoes are generally considered to be the gold standard for baking, according to celebrity chef Jamie Hunt. Russets have a high starch content and a thick skin that crisps up easily. They develop a light, flaky interior upon cooking.
Another excellent option for baking is King Edward potatoes, according to Yannick Tirbois, executive chef instructor at Le Cordon Bleu and co-founder of Culinary Ambition. This variety is celebrated for its fluffy interior.
Choose potatoes that are oblong in shape. They hold heat better, says Hunt, meaning you have more time to add butter and have it melt. Hunt also notes that sweet potatoes bake nicely and take on a pleasantly earthy flavor in the oven.
How long to bake potatoes
The amount of time your potatoes take to cook will depend on their size. Tirbois says a potato the size of your palm will take about an hour at 420 degrees Fahrenheit.
He recommends checking on the potato after 45 minutes and inserting a fork into the middle — if it slides in and out easily without resistance, it’s done. If not, continue baking and keep trying the fork test every 15 minutes.
Quick tip: You can speed up the baking process by microwaving up to four potatoes at a time on high for four to five minutes before you bake them.
How to make baked potatoes in the oven
Bake potatoes directly on the rack for increased air circulation.
Here are Tirbois’ step-by-step instructions for baking potatoes.
- Preheat your oven to 420 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Rinse the potatoes under water. Gently scrub off any dirt (a vegetable brush works well for this) and pat them dry.
- Poke some holes into the potatoes using a fork. This will allow steam to escape so they don’t burst open while baking.
- Brush the skin of the potatoes with a light coating of olive oil, canola oil, or melted butter. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper to taste. For extra crispy skin, wait until the last 10 minutes of baking to do this step.
- Place the potatoes on a baking sheet in the oven. You can also place them directly onto the rack for crispier skin.
- Bake for 45 minutes to an hour. You’ll know when you can insert a fork into the potato with no resistance.
- In the microwave: Follow steps one through three before placing them on a plate and cooking on high for 10 minutes (turning them over halfway through).
- In the air fryer: Follow steps one through four, place the potatoes directly onto the basket, and cook for 35 to 45 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tips for the best baked potatoes
Wrap potatoes in foil if you don’t like crispy skin.
Heed the following expert-approved cooking tips for baked potatoes for consistent results every time.
- If you don’t like crispy skin, Tirbois suggests wrapping the potatoes in aluminum foil before baking — this will preserve the flavor while also keeping the interior moist and the exterior soft.
- If you do want crispy skin, make sure to dry the potatoes well after rinsing them, as too much moisture on the skins will make them soggy.
- To ensure the potatoes cook evenly on all sides, consider placing a thin wire rack inside your baking sheet, or baking them directly on the oven rack.
- For extra crispy skin, wait to coat your potatoes with oil and seasoning until about 10 minutes before they’re finished cooking.
- To keep the interior as fluffy as possible, experts advise cutting the potatoes open as soon as they’re done — that way, they don’t retain too much water and become dense.
Russet and King Edward potatoes are both excellent options for baking. No matter which type of potato you choose, however, remember to wash and thoroughly dry them and prick holes into them before baking.
You can expect to bake them for about an hour, but microwaving your potatoes for five minutes first can cut down the baking time.
The fork test is the best way to tell if your potatoes are done. If there’s resistance when you insert a fork, continue baking your potatoes for another 10 to 15 minutes.
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