How to Bake Potatoes

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Simple and satisfying, the best baked potato needs little more than a pat of good butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Here’s how to bake potatoes perfectly, with only the fluffiest results.

A plate with a baked potato topped with sour cream, a steak topped with butter, and a bowl of balsamic mushrooms on a plate.

Baked potatoes are the ultimate sidekick, a humble, comforting partner to all of the best main dishes like steak, lobster, chicken, and fish. They’re inexpensive, ridiculously delicious, and so easy to make.

The best baked potatoes have a crispy, seasoned exterior (ideally so good you end up eating the skin, too) and a tender, fluffy interior, ready and waiting for a pat of salted butter, a dollop of sour cream, or whatever your favorite toppings may be.

I love the hand’s off approach that comes with using the oven, but you can take a shortcut with your microwave or use your air fryer. Find all the details are below.

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for baked potatoes.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

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.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Poke a few holes in each potato with a fork.
Poking holes in a baked potato with a fork.
  1. Rub each potato all over with olive oil, then season generously with salt and pepper.
4 potatoes on a baking sheet.
  1. Transfer potatoes to preheated oven and bake directly on oven rack until tender when pierced with a small knife, about 1 hour.
4 potatoes on an oven rack in the oven.
  1. Slice open each potato and fluff with a fork.
4 baked potatoes on a baking sheet.
  1. Add your favorite toppings such as butter, sour cream, chives, salt, and pepper.
A plate with a baked potato topped with sour cream, a steak topped with butter, and a bowl of balsamic mushrooms on a plate.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes 4 baked potatoes.
  • Storage: Store leftover baked potatoes in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Slice up leftover baked potatoes and fry in bacon fat, add to scrambled eggs, or make a small batch of potato salad.
  • Microwave shortcut: 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.
  • 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.
  • Air-fryer: Lightly coat the potatoes with oil and season them with 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.
A platter of Twice baked potatoes.
Twice baked potatoes topped with cheese, fried bacon, and scallions.

Recipe FAQs

Can you wrap baked potatoes in foil?

While it’s okay to bake potatoes wrapped in foil, you should never store them or refrigerate them in foil. This creates the ideal environment for food-borne illness. And for crispy potato skin, skip the foil!

Mini Twice Baked Potatoes

Mini Twice Baked Potatoes are like appetizer-sized potato skins with the volume turned up. Although this party snack recipe tastes like it took all day, these bacon-studded beauties can be yours in just 35 minutes.…

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A plate with a baked potato topped with sour cream, a steak topped with butter, and a bowl of balsamic mushrooms on a plate.

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. Here’s how to bake potatoes perfectly, with only the fluffiest results.
Author: Meggan Hill
4.94 from 31 votes
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 4 servings (1 potato each)
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 241

Ingredients 

  • 4 large russet potatoes scrubbed and dried (2 pounds, see note 1)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Butter for topping, optional
  • Sour cream and sliced chives, for topping, optional

Instructions 

Microwave shortcut (30 minutes total):

  • 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 on HIGH power for 8 to 12 minutes, flipping potatoes halfway through the cooking time.
  • Remove the potatoes from the microwave and rub each 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 longer.

Oven-only method (60 minutes total):

  • 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.
  • Slice open each potato, fluff with a fork, and add your favorite toppings such as butter, sour cream, chives, salt, and pepper.

Recipe Video

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.
  2. Yield: This recipe makes 4 baked potatoes.
  3. Storage: Store leftover baked potatoes in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Slice up leftover baked potatoes and fry in bacon fat, add to scrambled eggs, or make a small batch of potato salad

Nutrition

Serving: 1potatoCalories: 241kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 5gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 11mgPotassium: 946mgFiber: 3gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 2IUVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 30mgIron: 2mg
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Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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Comments

  1. Why does the top of the recipe say 30 minutes cook time/30 minutes total, but then the body of the recipe say cook for 1 hour? The top should be updated as that’s quite the surprise once you’re part way through following the recipe.

    1. Hi Jessica, I’m so sorry about that! In a previous version of this recipe, I had the “microwave shortcut” built in to the recipe card and the time you saw was based on that. At some point, I liked the idea of just baking the seasoned potatoes in the oven without the microwave shortcut. So I moved the shortcut to the notes (it’s #4) and forgot to update the baking time. I’ll fix it all now. Makes me think though that maybe I should add the shortcut back because you were obviously drawn to the faster cook time. Thank you for the comment! -Meggan

    1. Hi Lynn, so sorry about that! I wonder if either your oven temperature is off, or possibly some oil dripped from the potatoes to the floor of your oven. I recommend using an oven thermometer, and placing a baking pan under the potatoes to catch any drips. Sorry again! – Meggan

  2. 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