How to Make Baked Potatoes in the Oven

Kelly Roper
Baked potato and butter; © Msheldrake | Dreamstime.com

It's not difficult to make a perfectly-baked potato. Just follow a few simple steps, and you can enjoy a potato that makes the perfect side dish to your favorite steak.

Traditional Baked Potatoes Recipe

The following recipe can be used to bake up to four potatoes in the oven. Russet and Yukon Gold potatoes are ideal choices because of their firmness, starch content, and the texture of their skins, but you can bake any kind of potato you like.

Ingredients

  • 1 to 4 (approximately 10-ounce) potatoes
  • Butter, shortening, or olive oil
  • Salt, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat to 425° F for a conventional oven or 375° F for a convection oven, which are temperatures recommended by the Washington State Potato Commission.
  2. Scrub the potatoes clean with cold water.
  3. Poke them with the tip of a knife four to five times on the top and bottom.
  4. Rub the skins with your choice of butter, shortening, or olive oil.
  5. Sprinkle them with a little salt, if you like.
  6. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet or in a shallow baking dish.
  7. Bake for approximately 65 minutes, or until the potatoes reach an internal temperature of 210° F and can be pierced easily with a fork. Serve immediately.
  8. If you prepare more than four potatoes, add approximately five to seven minutes to the total cooking time for each additional potato.

Opening the Potatoes

Don't spoil the perfect texture of your potatoes by slicing them open with a knife, since this will seal in the steam on each half and prevent the inside from being fluffy. Instead, use the tines of a fork to prick a large X on top of each potato. Using hot pads or oven gloves to protect your fingers, push in the ends of the potatoes to make them burst open. Once they're open, you can add butter, sour cream, or any other toppings you desire.

Baking Times for Various Sizes

Ovens vary, as do the potatoes themselves, so you can't reliably depend on an exact baking time to determine if your potatoes are done. The best measure of being done is an internal temperature of 210° F.

At 425° F conventional or 375° F convection:

  • Bake 6 to 8-ounce potatoes for about 45 to 55 minutes.
  • Bake 10 to 12-ounce potatoes for about 60 to 75 minutes.
  • Bake 14 to 16-ounce potatoes for about 80 to 90 minutes.

Baking Tips

Help your potatoes turn out perfectly and taste great by following these tips.

  • Choose potatoes that are the same size to ensure even baking results.
  • Don't wrap the potatoes in foil or cover them in any way, or else they will steam down instead of turning out fluffy when you pierce the skin and open them.
  • You don't have to oil the skins prior to baking, but they will be crisper and tastier if you do, and this makes a nice contrast to the fluffier insides.
  • For a different flavor experience, try brushing the skins with a flavor-infused olive oil like chipotle or garlic olive oil.
  • When baking full trays of potatoes, a convection oven is the better choice since it circulates the heat evenly.

Choosing Ideal Potatoes for Baking

Nice-looking russet potato

Telling a good potato from a bad potato is kind of like choosing the winner of a beauty contest.

The ideal potato:

  • Is firm
  • Has smooth skin
  • Is free of any blemishes or eyes

A bad potato:

  • Is spongy
  • Has wrinkles
  • Has numerous eyes sprouting
  • Has dark spots
  • Looks kind of green due to solanine production, which is toxic

Alternative Ways to Bake Potatoes

Baking your potatoes in an oven will typically yield the best results, but you can use other methods to cook them. Wash and dry the potatoes, poke holes in them, and oil them as directed above, and then follow the additional directions below.

Microwave Oven Method

  1. Microwave two 10-ounce potatoes in a microwave-safe dish for six minutes on high.
  2. Carefully turn the potatoes over, and microwave on high for another six minutes.
  3. Use a food thermometer to check if the potatoes have reached an internal temperature of 210° F. If they haven't, continue to microwave in 60 second increments until the potatoes reach the target temperature, and then serve right away with your favorite toppings.

Toaster Oven Method

  1. Preheat the toaster oven to 400° F on the bake setting.
  2. Place two 10-ounce potatoes on the rack.
  3. Bake for about 60 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 210° F, and serve immediately with your favorite toppings.

Choose Your Favorite Way to Bake

Each of these methods for baking potatoes has its merits. The conventional/convection oven method delivers full-bodied flavor, but the microwave oven method turns out a delicious potato in a fraction of the time. The toaster oven makes a crispy-skinned potato, and it's perfect if you don't feel like heating up your conventional oven for just a potato or two. Try them all a decide which method is your favorite.

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How to Make Baked Potatoes in the Oven