How to Bake Potatoes

Simple and satisfying, the best baked potato needs little more than a pat of good butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. But don’t let that stop you from piling on all your favorite toppings, either. Here’s how to bake potatoes perfectly, with only the fluffiest results.

Three whole potatoes being poked with a fork.

Sure, anyone can throw a potato in the oven and cross their fingers, hoping for the best. But when you want a perfect, fluffy-on-the-inside and crispy-salty-on-the-outside potato, it pays to know the specifics hows and whys.

Whether you’re making baked potatoes for Twice Baked Potatoes, a baked potato party, (it could happen!) or just a quiet dinner for two, this is the how-to you should bookmark. It covers the old-school method using an oven (plus a way to speed it up using the microwave) and the new-school method: Using an air-fryer.

All you need is olive oil, salt, and pepper. And of course, the mighty potato.

Ingredient notes:

Potatoes: Technically, you can bake any potato. But for the ultimate baked potato, choose a russet which has a higher starch content and makes a fluffier potato. Sweet potatoes work, too! If that’s what you have, by all means use this technique to bake up that sweet potato tonight.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. With a fork or skewer, poke some holes in each potato to let moisture escape while it cooks.
    Four whole potatoes.
  2. Rub the potatoes all over with a light coating of olive oil, and season them with some salt and pepper. This is a crucial step for salty, perfectly seasoned potato skin.
    Four whole baked potatoes on a silver baking sheet.
  3. When the oven is hot, place the seasoned, oiled potatoes directly on the oven rack. Place a baking sheet underneath the rack to catch any oil, if you’re worried about drips.
    Four potatoes baking in an oven.
  4. Bake the potatoes for 50 to 60 minutes, until they’re tender and can be pierced easily with the tip of a sharp knife. The skin should feel crisp, but the flesh underneath should be soft.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Baking potatoes at any temp: All things being equal, 400 degrees is a great temperature for potatoes and roasting vegetables because it results in a crispy skin you won’t leave on the plate. But if you’re juggling other dishes, you can tweak the temp. Depending on the size of the potato and the oven’s temp, you may have to cook it longer or pull them out early.
  • Skip the foil: Wrapping a potato in foil before cooking traps steam inside and makes the potato skin soft. More importantly: Baked potatoes are loaded with starch and simple sugars. Wrapping them in foil creates the perfect environment for food-borne illness.  Never wrap potatoes in foil, even to store in the refrigerator.
  • Microwave: For a quicker baked potato, start it in the microwave. Poke holes in your potatoes so they don’t explode, then microwave on HIGH power for 8 to 12 minutes. Flip them halfway through the cooking time so they cook evenly. Remove the potatoes from the microwave and coat with olive oil and give them a good sprinkling with salt and pepper. Finish in a 450-degree oven until the skin is crispy, about 20 minutes longer.
  • Air-fryer: Lightly coat the potatoes with oil (corn oil or peanut oils have a high smoke point) and season them with some salt and pepper. Place the potatoes in the air fryer basket. Cook the potatoes in the air fryer for about 40 minutes at 400 degrees. You should flip the potatoes over with some tongs after about 20 minutes to ensure even cooking.

Cooked potatoes that are halved with some scooped out in a glass bowl.

More delicious potato recipes:

Three whole potatoes being poked with a fork.

How to Bake Potatoes

Simple and satisfying, the best baked potato needs little more than a pat of good butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. But don’t let that stop you from piling on all your favorite toppings, either. Here’s how to bake potatoes perfectly, with only the fluffiest results.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 239kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

  • 4 large russet potatoes scrubbed and dried (2 pounds, see note 1)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

To cook potatoes quickly (about 30 minutes):

  • Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Poke a few holes in each potato with a fork.
  • Microwave potatoes on HIGH until slightly softened to the touch, about 8 to 12 minutes, turning them over halfway through.
  • Rub each potato all over with olive oil, then season generously with salt and pepper.
  • Transfer potatoes to preheated oven and bake directly on oven rack until tender when pierced with a small knife, about 20 minutes.

To bake potatoes traditionally (about 60 minutes):

  • Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Poke a few holes in each potato with a fork.
  • Rub each potato all over with olive oil, then season generously with salt and pepper.
  • Transfer potatoes to preheated oven and bake directly on oven rack until tender when pierced with a small knife, about 1 hour.

Notes

  1. Potatoes: Technically, you can bake any potato. But for the ultimate baked potato, choose a russet which has a higher starch content and makes a fluffier potato. Sweet potatoes work, too! If that’s what you have, by all means use this technique to bake up that sweet potato tonight.
  2. Baking potatoes at any temp: All things being equal, 400 degrees is a great temperature for potatoes and roasting vegetables because it results in a crispy skin you won’t leave on the plate. But if you're juggling other dishes, you can tweak the temp. Depending on the size of the potato and the oven’s temp, you may have to cook it longer or pull them out early. 
  3. Skip the foil: Wrapping a potato in foil before cooking traps steam inside and makes the potato skin soft. More importantly: Baked potatoes are loaded with starch and simple sugars. Wrapping them in foil creates the perfect environment for food-borne illness.  Never wrap potatoes in foil, even to store in the refrigerator.
  4. Microwave: For a quicker baked potato, start it in the microwave. Poke holes in your potatoes so they don't explode, then microwave on HIGH power for 8 to 12 minutes. Flip them halfway through the cooking time so they cook evenly. Remove the potatoes from the microwave and coat with olive oil and give them a good sprinkling with salt and pepper. Finish in a 450-degree oven until the skin is crispy, about 20 minutes longer.
  5. Air-fryer: Lightly coat the potatoes with oil (corn oil or peanut oils have a high smoke point) and season them with some salt and pepper. Place the potatoes in the air fryer basket. Cook the potatoes in the air fryer for about 40 minutes at 400 degrees. You should flip the potatoes over with some tongs after about 20 minutes to ensure even cooking.

Nutrition

Serving: 1potato | Calories: 239kcal
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @CulinaryHill or tag #CulinaryHill!

Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This form collects your name, email, and content so that we can keep track of the comments placed on the website. For more info check our privacy policy where you will get more info on where, how and why we store your data.
This form collects your name, email and content so that we can keep track of the comments placed on the website. For more info check our privacy policy where you will get more info on where, how and why we store your data.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. David

    I never knew about the trick with oil. Thanks, I’m a total rookie in the kitchen.5 stars

  2. Ernest Contreras

    excellent instructions as a retired professional chef and instructor, I appreciate good instructions something I always encouraged on my students, great recipes here.
    Chef Ernest5 stars

Scroll to top