Loaded Baked Potato

published Jul 14, 2021
Loaded Baked Potato

With its creamy, buttery center and crispy bacon topping, a loaded baked potato is comfort food at its best.

Serves4

Prep15 minutes

Cook1 hour 10 minutes

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Baked potato, on a plate, cut in half with melted cheese, bacon, sour cream and chives on top
Credit: Tara Holland
Loaded Baked Potato

With its creamy, buttery center and crispy bacon topping, a loaded baked potato is comfort food at its best. Every cheesy, decadent bite is better than the last, and when you’ve polished off the center, you’re treated to the salty, crackly skin.

This carby classic is a meal in itself, but for a little balance, try serving it alongside a green salad with a zesty vinaigrette, which perfectly cuts through the richness.

What Are the Best Potatoes to Bake?

Just like when making mashed potatoes, you’ll want to choose floury potatoes such as russets to bake. Russets bake up with the fluffiest, lightest interiors, as opposed to waxy types, like Yukon Gold. Choose the biggest russets you can find, or look for “baking” potatoes in the grocery store.

What Does Pricking Holes in the Potatoes Actually Do?

Pricking holes with a fork or cutting small slits with a paring knife in the potatoes before baking allows the steam to escape, which prevents them from exploding in the oven. It also allows the heat to penetrate the potatoes so they cook efficiently.

How to Make Vegetarian Loaded Baked Potatoes

For a vegetarian option, swap out the bacon for a plant-based bacon, or pan-fry soy chorizo and use that instead for an equally tasty loaded potato experience.

Credit: Tara Holland
Loaded Baked Potato

Other Topping Ideas

Beyond the classic toppings, here are a few variations to try. Feel free to mix and match to make your loaded potatoes all your own!

  • Shredded pepper Jack cheese with crumbled Italian sausage
  • Goat cheese and onion jam
  • Gruyère cheese, sautéed mushrooms, and thyme
  • Pepperoni, mozzarella, and fresh basil
  • Crumbled Mexican chorizo and pickled jalapeños

Loaded Baked Potato

With its creamy, buttery center and crispy bacon topping, a loaded baked potato is comfort food at its best.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 10 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 6 slices

    regular or thick-cut bacon (about 7 ounces)

  • 4

    large russet potatoes (8 to 10 ounces each)

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 8 ounces

    sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)

  • 5 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 3

    medium scallions

  • 1 bunch

    fresh chives

  • 3/4 cup

    sour cream, divided

  • 1/4 cup

    whole or 2% milk

  • 1 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground white pepper or black pepper

Instructions

  1. Arrange 2 shelves to divide the oven into thirds, then heat the oven to 400ºF. Meanwhile, wash and scrub 4 large russet potatoes. Prick each potato all over with a fork. Rub the potatoes all over with 1 tablespoon olive oil, then sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, then place 6 slices bacon in a single layer on the foil.

  2. Place the bacon on the upper rack and the potatoes directly on the lower rack. Bake until the bacon is crisp and golden-brown, 15 to 20 minutes, and the potatoes have crisp skin and are fork-tender, about 1 hour.

  3. When the bacon is ready, immediately transfer to a clean cutting board. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide pieces.

  4. Meanwhile, shred 8 ounces cheddar cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 2 cups). Cut 5 tablespoons unsalted butter into a few pieces and place in a large bowl. Thinly slice 3 medium scallions, keeping the whites and dark green parts separate. Finely chop 1 bunch fresh chives until you have 4 tablespoons. Transfer the scallion whites and 3 tablespoons of the chives to the bowl of butter. Reserve the scallion greens and remaining 1 tablespoon chives for garnish.

  5. When potatoes are ready, set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Discard the foil from the baking sheet, then line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut a slit lengthwise most of the way down each potato, making sure the halves are still connected. Carefully scoop out the potato flesh and place in the bowl of butter, leaving about 1/4-inch potato flesh as the shell. Place the potato shells skin-side down on the baking sheet.

  6. Coarsely mash the potato-butter mixture directly in the bowl with a potato masher or fork until the butter is melted. Add half of the bacon, 1 cup of the cheese, 6 tablespoons of the sour cream, 1/4 cup milk, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon white or black pepper. Mix thoroughly with rubber spatula until combined.

  7. Divide the mixture between the potato shells, mounding the mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup cheese. Bake on the upper rack until the cheese is melted, about 8 minutes.

  8. Sprinkle with the remaining bacon and reserved scallion greens. Dollop with the remaining 6 tablespoons sour cream and sprinkle with the reserved chives.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.