Want perfect baked potatoes all fluffy inside with flavorful skins? Here are 7 ways to make a baked potato: in the oven, slow cooker, microwave, and even the Instant Pot!
I need to confess: I’m officially late to the potatoes-are-awesome train.
Not only are potatoes CRAZY CHEAP in the winter, but they’re SO versatile and easy to make.
You can fry potatoes using the same method in my Fried Sweet Potato Recipe, but today I want to talk about the baked potato. Specifically, 7 ways you can make a baked potato – fast!
HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT BAKED POTATO
Before we get to how to bake potatoes, there’s a bit of prep work. I promise it won’t take long, but these few tips will help you have perfect baked potatoes every time!
ALWAYS “WASH” THE POTATO
- I use the term “wash” loosely because a wet potato makes for a bad baked potato – at least in my experience.
- Because potatoes grow in the ground, and they are NOT washed before they’re shipped, they likely contain some sort of pesticide residue and definitely dirt.
- I can’t offer you much in the way of pesticide residue, UNLESS you want to wash the potatoes with Homemade Produce Wash and then let them dry for at least a full day before baking.
- Your other option in terms of reducing pesticide residue is to buy organic potatoes. Although there are pesticides on organic produce, conventional potatoes have been on the Dirty Dozen in the past.
- As for taking care of the dirt, I’ve found that using a dishbrush like this one works like a charm. We have one that’s dedicated just for produce, and use it to scrub the excess dirt off the potatoes.
ALWAYS SEASON THE POTATO
That means plenty of salt and pepper folks – don’t be shy. The best baked potatoes are seasoned! If you’re going to stuff or serve your baked potato according to a theme (like a Greek baked potato or a Mexican baked potato), then season your potato appropriately to enhance the theme of the night.
- For a Greek baked potato I’d make a batch of Homemade Greek Salad Dressing (minus the vinegar) and rub that instead of olive oil. OR I’d use just the dry blend of seasonings in addition to salt and pepper.
- Another idea, for a Mexican baked potato, is rubbing Homemade Taco Seasoning on the potato.
ALWAYS POKE THE POTATO
Have you heard the myth that if you don’t poke a potato before you bake it, that it will explode?
It’s no myth folks, it is the TRUTH!
- If you’re using a fork, that means poking the potato at least halfway down the prongs of the fork at each end, and all around. For the people who like specifics, that’s a minimum of 8 good pokes at the potato.
- I personally like to use a small paring knife, because, for one reason or another, I can never seem to get my fork OUT of the potato once I’ve poked it. That is unless I want a broken fork or a black eye.
- If you’re using a sharp knife, poke the potato twice at each end, alternating so that if you poke the potato “north” and “south” at one end, you’re poking it “east” and “west” at the other end. A total of 4 good pokes will do the job, with a “good poke” meaning sticking the knife into the potato at least ½ inch.
IF THE POTATO IS EXPOSED, COVER WITH OLIVE OIL
- A baked potato is either wrapped (typically with aluminum foil) or not wrapped.
- When it’s wrapped, you’re essentially steaming the potato inside the foil. When it’s not wrapped, you’re drying out the skin and ruining the potato – unless you cover it with olive oil.
- Rubbing the potato skin down with olive oil helps keep the potato moist AND makes the skin crispy. And who doesn’t like crispy potato skin?
- There’s a myth out there about olive oil being watered down, and unfortunately, that myth is fact too. Here are some tips on buying quality olive oil.
BEST WAYS TO MAKE A BAKED POTATO
There are several methods to make delicious baked potatoes, and each has its own pros and cons. Which one you choose will depend on how much time you have, and how you want your baked potato to turn out. These are the best ways I’ve found to make a baked potato.
HOW TO BAKE POTATOES IN THE OVEN
There’s actually more than one way to cook a baked potato in the oven, and they’re all pretty awesome in their own right. Let’s give each method its own due credit, shall we?
OVEN BAKED POTATOES – WHOLE, WRAPPED IN ALUMINUM FOIL
This is the method for oven baked potatoes that most of us probably grew up with, which is why I’m listing it first. It’s one of the best ways to make a baked potato that turns out absolutely perfect, every time. Soft skin on the outside, tender and fluffy on the inside.
Step 1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
Step 3. Wrap the potatoes in aluminum foil and place directly on a baking rack.
Step 4. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a fork is easily inserted into the middle of the potato.
BAKED POTATOES IN THE OVEN – WHOLE, UNWRAPPED
This method is the one most likely to “wow” your guests. Everyone knows a baked potato is usually soft… but a baked potato with crispy skin?! They’ll wonder how you did it!
Lucky for you, it’s no magic trick. It’s all because of the oil.
Step 1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
Step 3. Place potatoes directly on a baking rack or on a cookie sheet and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a fork is easily inserted into the middle of the potato.
BAKED POTATO CUT IN HALF IN THE OVEN – UNWRAPPED
This method isn’t exactly true to the classic baked potato one for a big reason: the potatoes aren’t whole.
I like this method because it’s like a really big French fry. It’s very similar to my potato skins recipe. The skin is crispy, the outside flesh is crispy, and yet the insides are still tender and soft. Plus, the cooking time is practically cut in half! This is a great option if you don’t have quite as much time to cook.
Step 1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
Step 2. Wash and poke the potatoes. Cut each potato in half lengthwise and cover thoroughly with olive oil.
Step 3. Season with salt and pepper.
Step 4. Place the potatoes on a cookie sheet, cut side down, and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a fork is easily inserted into the middle of the potato.
HOW TO MAKE A BAKED POTATO IN THE MICROWAVE
I’m personally not a huge fan of cooking dinner in the microwave, but I’m also a real human being who sometimes forgets to start dinner on time. When this happens, the microwave can be a real lifesaver.
There are two drawbacks if you choose to make a microwave baked potato.
- You lose all possibilities of crispy skin. There is no way you’ll get crispy skin in the microwave alone.
- Sometimes the inside of the potato can be tough and mealy. This might not be a big deal if you’re making loaded baked potatoes with gobs of shredded cheddar cheese, bacon, and sour cream anyway. Or if you’re a family of one and don’t really feel like messing with the oven for just yourself.
BUT, I’m just letting y’all know. If you make a baked potato in the microwave and you don’t like how it turns out, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Step 1. Wash and poke the potatoes.
Step 2. Place the potato directly in the microwave and cook on high for 5 minutes.
Step 3. Using an oven mitt or towel (because the potato will be HOT), turn the potato over and cook for another 4-5 minutes, depending on the size of the potato.
Note: You can cook two potatoes at a time using this method, but if you cook three or more, you will likely have to adjust the cooking time.
COMBINATION BAKED POTATO IN MICROWAVE AND OVEN
Starting a baked potato in the microwave and finishing it in the oven gives you the perks of a quicker cooking time AND the crispy skin on the outside.
Step 1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
Step 2. Wash and poke the potatoes. Place the potato directly in the microwave and cook on high for 5 minutes.
Step 3. Using an oven mitt or towel (because the potato will be HOT), remove the potato.
Step 5. Place potatoes directly on a baking rack or on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-20 minutes or until a fork inserts easily into the middle of the potato.
BAKED POTATOES IN A SLOW COOKER
Now THIS method deserves an award. You know how the potato comes out amazingly perfect in the oven? You can get the same results using the slow cooker!
- The biggest pro to using a slow cooker is that you can cook LOADS of baked potatoes at the same time without even being home. My 6-quart slow cooker holds 5 MASSIVE potatoes. I’m sure it would hold at least 8 normal size potatoes, if not more.
- There’s another pro and one major con to using a slow cooker to make a baked potato, and it’s the same thing: it takes all day to cook.
- For those who are capable of planning ahead, this is great news! You can wash and wrap the spuds the night before and just hit “go” before you walk out the door. Eight hours later you’ll come home to perfectly baked potatoes, just waiting to be topped.
- For those who live in the land of forgetfulness, this is bad news. That moment when you remember that you forgot to pull something out for dinner and you have to leave in 30 minutes? Slow cooker baked potatoes won’t work.
Step 1. Wash and poke the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper (olive oil is optional).
Step 2. Wrap the potatoes in aluminum foil and place directly in the slow cooker.
Step 3. Cover with the lid and cook on high for 4 ½ to 5 hours, or on low for 7 ½ to 8 hours, until a fork inserts easily into the middle of the potato.
INSTANT POT BAKED POTATOES
I love using my Instant Pot so much that I have a post dedicated to cooking baked potatoes in the Instant Pot. Here is the link to my recipe for Instant Pot Baked Potatoes, but for now, here’s how you do it:
Step 1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Wash and poke the potato and place it in a ceramic or steel bowl.
Step 2. Measure two cups of water into the inner pot of the Instant Pot and place the bowl (with the potatoes) on top of the steam rack.
Step 3. Choose the “steam” program with 12 minutes time (or 15 minutes if you have massive potatoes weighing 1lb+ each).
Step 4. When the program is done, release the steam and take the potatoes out. Cover the potato with olive oil and place in the oven for 5 minutes to crisp the skin.
BAKED POTATO TOPPINGS
We love a variety of baked potato toppings. These ingredients work on freshly baked potatoes or leftover baked potatoes! Here are some ideas:
- Loaded: shredded cheddar cheese, bacon, sour cream, chives or green onions
- Mexican: diced tomatoes and onions, sour cream, shredded cheese, taco meat, olives, guacamole, salsa, Mexican corn, black beans
- Greek: kalamata olives, shredded chicken, feta cheese, red onion
- Chili: leftover chili, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream
- Broccoli and Cheese: simply steamed broccoli and shredded cheese!
A baked potato bar is a PERFECT way to feed a family with food allergies. Each person can choose the toppings that work with their dietary needs, and no one will feel left out or ‘different’. Baked potatoes are naturally gluten free, and easily dairy free and vegan!
Feeding your family on a budget when you have food allergies can be a challenge. Thankfully my system in Grocery Budget Bootcamp works with all types of dietary needs, no matter where you live, or your budget size!
You can get on the wait list here to find out when the next class opens up!
BAKED POTATO RECIPE FAQS
What temperature do I bake potatoes?
I bake potatoes in the oven at 425 degrees. Whole potatoes take 45-60 minutes, and halved potatoes bake for 35-40 minutes.
Is it better to bake a potato at 350 or 400?
My baked potato recipe sets the oven at 425 degrees. You can bake them at a lower temperature, but it will take them longer to bake and the skins won’t get as crispy.
How long does it take to bake a potato at 450 degrees?
I usually bake my potatoes at 425, and it takes 45 minutes to an hour. So, baking at 450 will have your potatoes finished closer to the 45-minute mark rather than the hour.
What are the best potatoes for baking?
Most commonly, russet potatoes are used for baking. Russets can come in large and small sizes which will affect your bake time. Personally, I’m not particular about potatoes. I get whichever one is the best deal! Golden potatoes, red potatoes, Idaho potatoes, and sweet potatoes…all kinds of potatoes will bake!
Should baked potatoes be wrapped in foil?
It really depends on your preference. Wrapping them in foil before baking is a perfect way to get soft skins and fluffy centers. If you’d prefer crispy skins, rub your potatoes with olive oil and bake them unwrapped.
MORE YUMMY POTATO RECIPES
- Ridiculously Easy Potato Skins
- Crispy Baked Potato Wedges
- Leftover Pork and Potato Soup
- Potato Buttermilk Bread
- Crispy Hasselback Potatoes
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes