This Simple Trick Will Help You Achieve Baked Potato Perfection

published Nov 10, 2021
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baked potato on a plate with butter and chives
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Baked potatoes seem super easy (you grab a potato and you bake it … right?), but if you’ve ever had a lackluster spud, then you know it’s not that simple. All of the butter and sour cream in the world can’t fix a dry, flat tater. There are, however, a few tricks to achieve a perfectly tender and fluffy potato with crisp, salty skin worthy of serving at a steakhouse; and luckily, Kate of the popular blog Cookie and Kate is spilling her secrets.

While the recipe echos some familiar tips and tricks (no aluminum foil, a super hot oven), the end of the recipe is what caught my eye. Instead of coating the potatoes in oil and seasoning with salt at the beginning, Kate has you bake the naked potatoes first. Once tender, remove them from the oven and brush with oil or butter and season with salt. The newly dressed potatoes are then returned to the oven to crisp for 10 minutes before serving.

Waiting to oil up the potatoes “is key to achieving those crispy, flavorful exteriors,” says Kate. She explains that if you add the butter or oil too early, it can burn, especially with the oven turned up to 450°F. Coating the potatoes with oil in the last 10 minutes achieves a crispy skin with great flavor.

While you may be familiar with Cookie and Kate’s other tips for the ultimate baked potato, they bear repeating. Follow these steps for transcendent spuds:

  1. Use russet potatoes. All other potatoes step aside, they’re simply the best for baking. Choose russet potatoes that are medium in size (about 1/2 pound).
  2. Give them a poke. Use a fork to poke each potato six or seven times so they don’t burst in the oven.
  3. Ditch the foil. Resist the temptation to wrap your potatoes in foil. Sealing them up produces a soggy, rather than fluffy, interior.
  4. Crank up the oven. High heat produces the best texture. Kate bakes her potatoes at 450°F for 45 minutes to an hour.

Kate is a big fan of coating her potatoes with butter, and since it’s added at the end, it won’t have a chance to burn. Instead, the butter will have just enough time to crisp the skin and add delicious flavor. For extra-crispy skin, move your oven rack up before the final step.

These baked potatoes are so good, you may want to move them from side dish to main dish. Head for the Southwest with black beans, corn, and cheese, or take a turn to France with ham and Gruyére. Regardless of how you serve them, these baked potatoes are sure to steal the show.