Recipe Review

I Tried 4 Popular Twice-Baked Potatoes and the Winner Is the Best I’ve Ever Had

published Oct 23, 2022
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Graphic showing 4 twice baked potatoes on surface, each a different recipe
Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

Twice-baked potatoes are one of those rare treats that can make any meal feel like a celebration. I grew up eating them during the holidays and would look forward to them all year long. Serve twice-baked potatoes as a side dish to just about anything and suddenly dinner is cloth-napkin-worthy.

But not all twice-baked potato recipes are the same. The process (baking the potatoes, making the filling, stuffing the filling back into the potato shells) takes a while, so the results better be worth it. Some recipes lean in on the dairy and add heavy cream to the filling, while others rely solely on sour cream. Other recipes include add-ins like bacon, chives, and veggies to bulk up the filling. And then there are the versions that sneak eggs into the filling.

To sort out once and for all what twice-baked potato is best, I decided to test four popular recipes in a head-to-head showdown. After all the baking and mashing and mixing and stuffing I found a new go-to recipe. It’s fluffy, flavorful, and has just the right amount of cheese to make it decadent. How did I come to this carby conclusion? Read on to find out.

Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

Meet Our 4 Twice-Baked Potato Contenders

For the purpose of this showdown, I stuck to recipes that use baking, or russet, potatoes only. I avoided any recipes that called for smaller potatoes because I consider those more of a snacky, appetizer-like treat versus a classic twice-baked potato. From there I narrowed down my search and landed on four recipes, each of which took a slightly different approach.

Pioneer Woman’s Twice-Baked Potatoes recipe stuffs the spuds with all the flavors of a loaded baked potato. Her recipe uses bacon, green onions, cheese, and sour cream, along with two whole sticks of butter. It seemed like a recipe that could either be delicious or way too decadent.

Smitten Kitchen’s Twice-Baked Potatoes with Kale were the most unique-looking of the bunch, calling for both kale and leeks. I had never seen a twice-baked potato recipe call for a vegetable other than chives or scallions, so I was curious to see how the veggies would affect the filling.

Leite’s Culinaria Twice-Baked Potatoes with Irish Cheddar seemed rather simple, but they had a few clever upgrades I was eager to try. The recipe called for Irish cheddar and Parmesan in the filling — and the mixture was piped into the potato shells, giving them a pretty scalloped texture. It felt like a fancier version of the classic, yet not too fussy.

Grandbaby Cakes’ Twice-Baked Potatoes call for two types of cheese, three eggs, and an entire tablespoon of salt. I was curious to see how the eggs would affect the texture — and was a bit nervous about the level of salt.

How I Tested the Twice-Baked Potato Recipes

All of the recipes were made on the same day and compared in a side-by-side taste test. I followed each recipe exactly as written and took no creative liberties. If it told me to bake the potatoes for 20 minutes, I did just that. I also had some friends taste the potatoes to see what they thought. At the end of the day, we all picked the same recipe as our favorite.

Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

The One with Too Much Butter: The Pioneer Woman’s Twice-Baked Potatoes

This recipe tasted good, but the texture of the filling wasn’t my favorite. It called for two sticks of butter and a cup of milk. This added way too much fat and moisture and made the filling gloopy. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t enjoyable either. Half the amount of butter would have done the job — two sticks was excessive.

Flavor-wise, the potatoes were good. The bacon, sour cream, cheese, and green onion combination was delicious and reminded me of potato skins. I didn’t dislike this recipe — it just wasn’t the right texture.

Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

The Most Unique: Smitten Kitchen’s Twice-Baked Potatoes with Kale

This recipe was unlike any of the others. It was lighter, more veg-forward, and had way more flavor. Sautéed leeks gave the filling a subtle onion flavor that made it super savory, while chopped kale gave it a pop of texture with flecks of green throughout. The flavor was delicious and I could happily eat several of them. However, it was so different from the other recipes I tried, making it a bit hard to compare. Was it delicious? Yes. Was it a traditional twice-baked potato? No, but it was completely delicious in its own way.

If you’re looking for a traditional twice-baked potato recipe that relies mostly on cheese and dairy, I wouldn’t recommend this. But if you’re open to a fresher take, this might be the recipe for you.

Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

The Simple-yet-Elevated One: Leite’s Culinaria’s Twice-Baked Potatoes with Irish Cheddar

These potatoes were absolutely delicious and proof that a simple recipe can be elevated with quality ingredients. It felt like a fancier version of the classic — yet it was still surprisingly simple to make.

A combination of Irish cheddar and Parmesan gave these potatoes a bold savoriness that elevated them from a simple side dish to something special — and onions added a pop of freshness to the filling that prevented it from tasting too rich. I also loved that the potatoes get piped into the shells. This step was optional, but I found that it helped brown the tops nicely and make them picture-perfect. If a slightly elevated version of the classic is what you’re after, give this one a try.

Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

The Clear Winner: Grandbaby Cakes’ Twice-Baked Potatoes

This recipe was absolutely delicious. It has two different cheeses (cheddar and Parmesan), fresh chives, and an aggressive (but much-needed) amount of salt. It was decadent and comforting without being heavy or too rich. I could easily eat three of these. It was exactly what I was looking for in a twice-baked potato recipe.

The thing I really loved about this recipe was the texture. This was the only recipe that called for adding eggs to the filling and it made a big difference. The potatoes were soft and custardy and had a lusciousness that was undeniable. I wouldn’t change a thing about this recipe.

Do you have a favorite twice-baked potato recipe? Let us know in the comments!