How To Make the Best Loaded Potato Skins

published Sep 16, 2020
Loaded Potato Skins

This cheesy nostalgic spud dish is on your table in less than an hour.


Prep15 minutes

Cook50 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Close up of loaded potato skins.
Credit: Photo: Justin Bridges | Food Styling: Tyna Hoang

If the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “loaded potato skins” is TGI Friday’s, you’re not alone. While they might not have invented the dish (the question of who did is up for debate), they are credited with bringing the nostalgic appetizer to the mainstream. In fact, potato skins became so popular in the early ’80s that potato farmers had to increase their supply just to keep up with the demand. They’ve been a popular game-day staple ever since — beloved by kids and adults alike.

While you may have previously left the potato skin making to the restaurant pros, they’re surprisingly easy and fun to whip together at home (and we’re not exactly going to sports bars right now anyway). And while I’m not going to pretend they’re the most nutritious snack, it’s worth mentioning that the skins hold most of the potato’s nutritional value, including fiber and antioxidants. Here’s how to make the very best version, complete with a gooey cheese filling, an impressive amount of bacon flavor, and a crispy frico crust.

Credit: Photo: Justin Bridges | Food Styling: Tyna Hoang

The Best Potatoes for Potato Skins

Russet potatoes are best for potato skins; they have the firmest skins and don’t fall apart when baked and scooped. You’ll start by rubbing them with olive oil and seasoning them with salt before baking them, which keeps the skins as dry and crisp as possible. As they bake, you can shred cheddar cheese, slice scallions, and cook bacon bits to a crisp (reserve the bacon fat).

Credit: Photo: Justin Bridges | Food Styling: Tyna Hoang

3 Tips for the Best-Ever Potato Skins

  1. Slice with a serrated knife. Once cooled, slice the baked potatoes in half lengthwise with a serrated knife, which is less likely to rip the skins than a chef’s knife.
  2. Make a border before scooping out the flesh. If you try to immediately scoop out the interior flesh with a spoon, you run the risk of pieces along the edge breaking off. Instead, use the tip of a paring knife to slice a 1/4-inch border around the edges of the potato, then scoop out the flesh. Reserve the flesh to make gnocchi, aloo tiki potato croquettes, or cheesy mashed potatoes.
  3. Brush the skins with bacon fat. For bacon flavor through and through, brush the reserved bacon fat all over the interior and exterior surfaces of the potato before broiling.
Credit: Photo: Justin Bridges | Food Styling: Tyna Hoang

Finishing and Serving Potato Skins

You can finish melting the cheese on the potato skins on a baking sheet with or without parchment paper. The cheddar cheese that hangs off the potatoes melts, oozes, and lightly crisps, creating a frico or cheese crisp. If you’re the kind of person who likes to pick the crispy cheese off the baking sheet (I know I am!), this is a delicious bonus.

I top the finished potato skins in the classic style of sour cream, scallions, and crispy bacon bits, but the toppings don’t have to stop there. Try adding some hot sauce or chili powder, spoon on leftover chili for chili cheese potato skins, opt for broccoli and cheddar, or try a pizza topping.

Credit: Photo: Justin Bridges | Food Styling: Tyna Hoang
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Here's how to make the best-ever loaded potato skins.

Loaded Potato Skins

This cheesy nostalgic spud dish is on your table in less than an hour.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 50 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 4

    small russet potatoes (1 3/4 to 2 pounds total)

  • 2 teaspoons

    olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 3 ounces

    sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 3/4 cup)

  • 2

    medium scallions

  • 4 ounces

    thick-cut or regular bacon (3 to 4 slices)

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

  • 1/3 cup

    sour cream


  • Baking sheet

  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Cutting board

  • Tongs

  • Wire rack

  • Box grater

  • Medium skillet

  • Slotted spoon

  • Pastry brush

  • Paper towels

  • Parchment paper (optional)


  1. Heat the oven. Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drippings and heat the oven to 425ºF.

  2. Prep the potatoes. Scrub and dry 4 small russet potatoes. Rub 2 teaspoons olive oil on the potatoes and sprinkle all over with 1 teaspoon kosher salt.

  3. Bake the potatoes. Place the potatoes directly on the upper rack. Bake until tender, about 50 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the toppings.

  4. Prepare the toppings. Grate 3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 3/4 packed cup). Thinly slice the greens from 2 medium scallions. Cut 4 ounces bacon into 1/2-inch pieces.

  5. Cook the bacon and reserve the fat. Place the bacon in a medium skillet and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Keep the bacon fat in the skillet.

  6. Scoop out the potatoes. When the potatoes are ready, remove the baking sheet from the oven and set aside to cool. Transfer the potatoes to a wire rack and let sit until cool enough to handle but still warm, about 15 minutes. Cut each potato in half lengthwise. Scoop out the insides, leaving about 1/4-inch of potato as the shell, and transfer the insides to a bowl. Reserve the scooped-out flesh for another use.

  7. Heat the oven to broil. Wash and dry the baking sheet, then line it with parchment paper if desired. Place the potato shells on the baking sheet and brush the reserved bacon fat all over the flesh and skin sides. Arrange in a single layer skin-side down. Season with 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Divide the cheese between the skins.

  8. Bake and assemble the potato skins. Bake on the upper rack until the cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the oven. Divide 1/3 cup sour cream, the bacon, and scallions between the potato skins and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Nutritional calculator: Unfortunately, our nutritional calculator is unable to calculate the value for just the potato shells, so they are excluded from the total nutrition information for this recipe.

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