20 Ways to Turn a Baked Potato into Dinner

updated Mar 5, 2021
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: Brett Regot/Kitchn

On their own, baked potatoes are one of the absolute best foods. They’re cheap, filling, and require practically zero effort to make. All you really need is salt, pepper, and a pat of butter. You could be satisfied — no, delighted — by this simplest of preparations. But let us indulge, if you will, in what a humble baked potato could become.

You don’t even need a recipe. With just a little bit of creativity, you can transform a baked potato into something extraordinary: a complete meal, to start. But we like to think of this starchy, tender, flakey tuber as a blank canvas. The potato is your oyster? Honestly, we’re not really sure what that means, but there are about a gazillion ways to turn this simple spud into something spectacular.

Here are 20 ideas to get you started, but please use them as a jumping off point.

But, First: 5 Ways to Cook Baked Potatoes

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. Cheddar + Sour Cream + Chives + Black Pepper

This combination is a classic for a reason. After sprinkling on the cheese, pop the potatoes back in the oven so the cheese can melt before adding the sour cream.

2. Chicken + Pesto + Mozzarella

Any cooked chicken will work here — and feel free to use your favorite store-bought pesto to make this flavorful cheesy potato.

3. Ground Beef + Taco Seasoning + Toppings

Cook a pound of ground beef with a packet of taco seasoning, load it on top of baked potatoes, and garnish it with your favorite taco fillings. Shredded lettuce, salsa, guacamole, and sliced jalapeños would all be delicious — just think of it as a DIY taco night. Alternatively, cook both the filling and the potatoes together in the slow cooker (see the recipe link below).

Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Taco-Stuffed Potatoes

4. Marinara Sauce + Shredded Mozzarella + Olives

Will it pizza? Yes, yes it will. Olives are just a suggestion here, so go ahead and swap them out for pepperoni, sausage, or any other topping you have on hand. Just think of the potato as the “crust” and go wild.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

5. Shredded Chicken + Hot Sauce + Ranch Dressing

Fans of buffalo chicken wings, this is for you. Toss shredded rotisserie chicken (or any other type of cooked chicken you have on hand) with your favorite store-bought hot sauce, stuff into a baked potato, and load it up with ranch dressing. You can add additional garnishes, like sliced scallions, diced celery, and bacon, or keep it simple.

Get the recipe: Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

6. Cream Cheese + Diced Jalapeños + Crispy Bacon + Shredded Cheddar

If you love jalapeño poppers, you’ll love this riff on the beloved bar snack. While the potato is still hot, add diced cream cheese and stir it into the potato so it gets nice and melty. Top with diced jalapeños, crispy bacon, and shredded cheddar cheese, and you have a spicy spud that’s perfect for dinner.

7. Ground Beef + Corn + Black Beans + Shredded Cheddar

This Southwestern-style potato gets filled with a well-seasoned mixture of corn, black beans, and ground beef, then topped with melted cheddar cheese. If you don’t have ground beef, you can use ground turkey or chicken or omit it altogether for a vegetarian-friendly version.

Get the recipe: Cheesy Southwestern Twice-Baked Potatoes with Beans & Corn

Credit: Mia Yakel/Kitchn

8. Yogurt + Pesto + Fresh Herbs

Creamy, tangy, and fresh all it once, this combination tastes great on any kind of potato. Use store-bought pesto or make your own, or opt for a simple chimichurri sauce instead.

9. Parmesan + Artichokes + Spinach

If you’re a fan of spinach-artichoke dip you can riff on those same flavors by stuffing your potato with shredded Parmesan cheese, chopped artichoke hearts (canned or frozen work perfect), and chopped spinach. If you don’t have fresh spinach on hand you can thaw frozen spinach, quickly sauté it, and use that instead.

10. Brown Butter + Goat Cheese + Walnuts

To make your baked potato a bit fancy, top it with brown butter, crumbled goat cheese, and chopped walnuts. If you don’t have walnuts on hand, you can use any other nut. Hazelnuts, almonds, and pecans would all be delicious.

Read more: How To Brown Butter

Credit: Kelli Foster

11. Curry Powder + Chickpeas + Spinach

This intensely flavorful combination will fill your house with an incredible aroma as it cooks. Simply sauté chickpeas in curry powder, add the spinach and let it wilt, then pile into your potato. Try it with any leafy greens you have on hand.

Get the recipe: Curried Chickpea & Spinach Baked Potato

12. Cheddar Cheese + Broccoli + Diced Chicken

Load up your potato with cooked broccoli florets and a generous amount of shredded cheddar cheese. The broccoli can be roasted, steamed, sautéed, or boiled; whatever type of broccoli you have on hand will work great. Add diced cooked chicken or shredded rotisserie for added protein and dinner is done.

Read more: Oven-Roasted Frozen Broccoli

13. Crispy Chickpeas + Kale + Mushrooms

This recipe loads a baked potato up with crispy, oven-roasted chickpeas, savory mushrooms, and wilted kale. It’s a protein-packed potato that is completely vegetarian — and it feels a bit fancy, too. You can top it with just the chickpeas, or just the mushrooms, so don’t fret if you don’t have all of the ingredients on hand.

Get the recipe: Baked Sweet Potato with Kale and Crispy Chickpeas

14. Ham + Gruyère

Load your potato up with chopped ham and shredded Gruyère cheese, then pop it in the oven for a few minutes to melt. Serve with Dijon mustard, spinach, or diced tomatoes — or keep it simple and stick to the two main ingredients. You really don’t need anything else.

Get the recipe: Baked Potato Stuffed with Ham and Melted Gruyère

15. Chopped Bacon + Diced Tomatoes + Fresh Greens

For a BLT-inspired spud, top your baked potato with chopped crispy bacon, diced tomatoes, and whatever fresh greens you have. Arugula, chopped romaine, and any other salad green would work well. Think of this combo as half salad half baked potato.

16. Cream Cheese + Green Beans + Crispy Onions

While your potatoes are still hot, stir a few cubes of cream cheese into the spuds so they melt, then top with cooked green beans and crispy fried onions. It’s just like your favorite Thanksgiving side, only loaded into a baked potato.

Get the recipe: Baked Potato Stuffed with Creamy Green Beans and Crispy Onions

Credit: Kelli Foster

17. Sriracha + Marshmallows + Pepitas

For a savory take on the classic marshmallow-stuffed Thanksgiving spud, add a dash of Sriracha, a generous amount of marshmallows, and top it with crunchy pepitas. If you don’t have pepitas on hand, chopped walnuts or almonds work too.

Get the recipe: The Sweet & Spicy Baked Sweet Potato

Credit: Kelli Foster

18. Cooked Chard + Coconut Chips + Pomegranate Seeds

This potato is loaded with wilted fresh chard, crispy toasted coconut chips, and tart pomegranate seeds. If you don’t have swiss chard handy, you can use spinach, kale, or even mustard greens.

Get the recipe: Coconut & Rainbow Chard Baked Sweet Potato

19. Apple Sauce + Sour Cream + Chives

This classic combination is everything you love about latkes in a simple loaded baked potato version. If you don’t have chives handy, use finely chopped onion or sliced scallions.

Get the recipe: Baked Potato Stuffed with Applesauce, Sour Cream, and Chives

Credit: Joe Lingeman

20. Black Beans + Chipotles in Adobo + Avocado

Here, a humble can of chipotles in adobo transforms either a sweet potato or a baked potato into something special. You’ll use both a chopped chile and its sauce to flavor black beans, which get piled onto the potatoes with chopped avocado and a squeeze of lime. If you’ve got Greek yogurt on hand, stir some of the chipotle sauce into the yogurt, too, then drizzle overtop.

Get the recipe: Vegetarian-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

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