As far as comfort foods go, twice-baked potatoes are right up there with the best. They have a lot of things we love: creamy mashed potatoes, melty cheese, the possibility of bacon — all served up in a crispy little boat. What could be better?
While twice-baked potatoes can certainly be a comforting, cheese-topped indulgence, they can also be something you feel happy serving to your family on any given weeknight. This is what I love about twice-baked potatoes: they're really just the vehicle — you get to choose everything that goes inside. Here's how!
What Is a Twice-Baked Potato?
These potatoes get two rounds in the oven, thus earning their "twice-baked" status. The first round is to cook the potatoes until their insides become soft and pillowy, perfect for scooping out and mixing with cheese and other delicious fillings. The second round is to warm the stuffed potato halves, crisping up the potato skins and melting the cheese on top.
What Goes Inside?
The potato scooped from the insides is the base for your filling. Mash it with a little sour cream or Greek yogurt (or a lot, depending on the level of your need for comfort food) until it becomes soft, and then fold in whatever extra ingredients you're in the mood for.
These extra filling ingredients are where you get to be creative. Cook up an onion and some hamburger, add a handful of cheddar and some chili spice, and you've got yourself a fabulous filling for twice-baked potatoes. If you have some leftovers hanging around your fridge — shredded chicken, a cup of roasted vegetables, the last scoop of chickpeas — these are perfect candidates for your filling. I've left a lot of wiggle room in the recipe below; play around with the amounts of everything and see what you like best.
Aim for 2 to 2 1/2 cups of filling; once mixed with the mashed potatoes and cheese, this will make the perfect amount for stuffing back into the potato skins.
The Perfect Make-Ahead Meal
Twice-baked potatoes are on my regular weeknight rotation for good reasons: I never get tired of them and they're a great make-ahead meal. The stuffed potatoes keep in the fridge for about five days, or you can wrap them in aluminum foil and freeze them for three months. Add on a few extra minutes in the oven to reheat, and dinner is ready.
Do you love twice-baked potatoes, too? What are your favorite variations?
For twice baked potatoes, you need: 4 russet potatoes (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), 2 to 2 1/2 cups filling (cooked vegetables, cooked meat, tofu or seitan, beans, wilted greens, etc.), 2 to 3 teaspoon spice or minced herbs, 1/4 to 1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt, 1 to 2 cups shredded cheese
How To Make Twice-Baked Potatoes
Makes 8 servings
What You Need
4 russet potatoes (3 1/2 to 4 pounds)
2 to 2 1/2 cups filling — cooked vegetables, cooked meat, tofu or seitan, beans, wilted greens, etc.
2 to 3 teaspoons spices or minced herbs
1/4 to 1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
1 to 2 cups shredded cheese
Bake the potatoes: Heat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Scrub the potatoes clean and prick all over with a fork. Rub them all over with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange the potatoes on the baking sheet and bake until easily pierced with a fork, 50 to 60 minutes, turning the potatoes once or twice during cooking. Allow to cool enough to handle.
Prepare the filling ingredients: While the potatoes are cooking, prepare any filling ingredients. Cook any meat, and steam or sauté the vegetables (leftover meat and vegetables are also great). Mix in wilted greens, legumes, diced tofu, or any other add-ins. Stir in any herbs or spices you'd like to use. Aim for 2 to 2 1/2 cups total filling ingredients.
Scoop out the potato insides: When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, but still warm, slice them in half, scoop out the insides, and transfer the insides to a bowl. Leave about 1/4-inch of potato as the shell. Arrange the shells back on the baking sheet.
Mash the potatoes, sour cream, and half the cheese: Using a fork or a potato masher, mash 1/4 cup of sour cream or Greek yogurt into the potatoes. Add more for a richer, creamier filling. Once you have your ideal consistency, mash in half of the cheese.
Add the filling ingredients: Fold the cooked filling ingredients into the mashed potatoes.
Fill the potato shells: Divide the mashed potato filling evenly between the potato shells. Use the back of a soup spoon to really press the filling into the shells, then pile more on top.
Sprinkle with cheese: Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of the potatoes.
Bake until warm: Return the potatoes to the oven and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese is entirely melted and bubbly.
Cool slightly, and serve while still hot.
Make-Ahead Twice-Baked Potatoes: Once you've filled the potatoes (but not topped with cheese), refrigerate any potatoes you will not eat right away. They will keep for up to 5 days. To serve, bake for 10 minutes, top with cheese, and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the cheese has melted.
Freezer Twice-Baked Potatoes: Once you've filled the potatoes (but not topped with cheese), you can also wrap the potatoes in plastic wrap or foil, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge for 24 hours before baking; or wrap the frozen potato loosely in foil and bake until warm, then uncover, top with cheese, and finish baking.
This recipe and post were originally published October 2009.