The perfect baked potato is crispy on the outside and pillowy in the middle. Cracked open and still steaming, it's ready to receive anything from a sprinkle of cheese to last night's stew. Here's how to make one.
Baking a potato in the oven does require a little more time than zapping it in the microwave, but it's mostly hands-off time. You can walk in the door, throw a few potatoes in oven while it's still warming up, and carry on with your after-work routine until they're ready to eat. Just don't forget to set a timer!
Russets are the best for baking like this. The skins are thicker and the starchy interior has a sweet flavor and fluffy texture when baked. Russets are also typically fairly large. One of them per person makes a good side dish or meal on its own.
How To Bake a Potato
What You Need
A baking sheet covered in foil
Heat the oven to 425°F: Turn on the oven while you're preparing the potatoes.
Scrub the potatoes clean: Scrub the potatoes thoroughly under running water and pat them dry. You don't have to remove the eyes, but trim away any blemishes with a paring knife.
Rub the potatoes with olive oil: Rub the potatoes all over with a little olive oil. It's easiest to use your hands, but a pastry brush also works fine.
Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and pepper: Generously sprinkle the potatoes on all sides with salt and pepper.
Prick all over with a fork: Prick the potatoes in a few places with the tines of a fork. This allows steam to escape from the baking potato.
Bake the potatoes: You can bake the potatoes directly on the oven rack, or you can place them a few inches apart on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake the potatoes for 50 to 60 minutes. Flip them over every 20 minutes or so and check them for doneness by piercing them with a fork. Potatoes are done when the skins are dry and the insides feel completely soft when pierced.
- To cut down the baking time, microwave the potatoes for 3 to 4 minutes in the microwave before baking.
- For softer skins, wrap the potatoes in foil before baking.