How To Bake a Potato: Three Easy Methods

Tips from The Kitchn

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As long as there are a few potatoes in the pantry, I know that I have at least one option for dinner. Whether topped with a simple pat of butter or a scoop of hearty chili, baked potatoes are a favorite no-brainer meal when I just want something easy and warm. Here are three different ways to make them.

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No matter which method you choose to use, be sure to wash the potato and prick it all over with a fork. Forgetting that crucial pricking step will result in a spud grenade in your oven — pricking the skin lets the steam inside the cooking potato escape without this risk of bursting.

1. Oven-Baked Potatoes

Pre-heat the oven to 425°F. Rub the potatoes with olive oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and prick them with the tines of a fork. You can lay them directly on the oven rack or place them on a baking sheet. Cook the potatoes for 45 to 60 minutes, until their skin is crispy and sticking one with a fork meets no resistance. Read more about this method: How to Bake a Potato in the Oven.
→ Bottom line: Crispy potato skins!

Alternatively, make foil-wrapped potatoes: Follow the same directions as for oven-roasted potatoes, but wrap the potatoes in foil before cooking.
Bottom line: Softer skin, plus the potatoes stay warm in their foil jackets if you're still working on the topping or need to save a potato for a late family member.

2. Microwaved Potatoes

Rub the potatoes with olive oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and prick them with the tines of a fork. Place all the potatoes on a microwave-safe dish and microwave at full power for five minutes. Turn them over and microwave for another 3 to 5 minutes. If still hard in the middle, microwave in additional 1-minute bursts until cooked through.
→ Bottom line: Super-fast cooking time with soft skins.

3. Slow-Cooker Potatoes

Rub the potatoes with olive oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and prick them with the tines of a fork. Wrap each potato in foil and lay it in the bottom of your slow cooker. Place the lid over top and set your slow cooker to LOW for 8 to 10 hours. Read more about this method: How To Bake a Potato in the Slow Cooker.
Bottom line: Potatoes that bake while you're at work.

What's your favorite way to bake a potato?

This post has been updated. Originally published 9/27/11.

(Images: Emma Christensen)