Perfect baked potatoes? Yes, we think they are. A crisp, lightly salted, burnished exterior that gives way to fluffy, slightly sweet, and tender insides? Heck yes. And then you can slather them with anything you want, including cheese, sour cream, or bacon. Double heck yes!
Shhhhhh, do not tell anyone my weird secret. I ate my baked potatoes with ketchup growing up. Okay, I lied—I still do it. You guys! If you think about it, it’s like a french fry, so it’s not that weird, okay? (Not as weird as my dad’s peanut-butter-and-pickle sandwiches, anyway.)
Now that I’m older, while it might not sound like I’m any wiser, I actually have learned a few things, one of which is how to make perfect baked potatoes. My secret? Ditch the foil; it’s your number one mistake! (Did all my Idaho friends just stand and cheer?) — Carrien Cheney
Perfect Baked Potatoes
For the baked potatoes
- 5 large (2 1/2 to 3 lbs) russet potatoes*
- 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 to 4 tablespoons flaked sea salt such as Maldon
For serving (optional)
- Sour cream
- Shredded Cheddar cheese
- Cooked and crumbled bacon
Make the baked potatoes
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil for easier clean up, if desired. Place an oven-safe cooling rack atop the baking sheet. (The rack allows air to circulate around the potatoes and ensures a crisp skin; the baking sheet prevents any excess oil from dripping onto the oven.)
- Wash and thoroughly dry each potato. Pour oil in a shallow bowl. Spread salt over a small plate.
- With a sharp knife, carefully cut a shallow zigzag pattern in the skin on top of each potato. Alternatively, use the tines of a fork to pierce the skin in a zigzag pattern.
- Roll each potato in oil to completely coat, then roll in salt to make an even but not thick coat. You can use more or less here according to taste, keeping in mind the saltiness of any toppings you plan to serve with the potatoes.
- Arrange potatoes on the cooling rack and bake until the tines of a fork slide easily into the center of the potatoes, 70 to 80 minutes.
- Gently squeeze the potatoes to open. Top with butter, sour cream, cheese, and/or bacon crumbles, if desired.
*What type of potatoes are best for baked potatoes?You can, technically, bake any kind of potato and hope for the best. Russet potatoes, however, are the family of potatoes that were made for baking. The skins of russets are nice and thick, which allows them to get crisp in the oven while retaining the moisture of the potato's insides. Their insides are also starchier than other potatoes, which helps them to bake up extra fluffy and slightly sweet.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
I normally make my baked potatoes in a similar manner as this recipe, with the exception of the zig zag pattern, which I'll add when I make them in the future. These perfect baked potatoes come out with a wonderfully crisp skin, and the salty crust comes through in every bite. I just dumped a bit of butter into the potato and it was perfection.
These perfect baked potatoes are definitely worth the wait. I say that because my usual method is to microwave them, wrap them in foil, and then throw them in the oven or on the grill while I finish up the other dishes. We haven’t eaten potato skin in years but that will change now.
I put a small piece of foil on the baking sheet under a roasting rack for a super-fast clean-up. Prepping the potatoes took mere minutes. I did bake the potatoes for the full 75 minutes.
The lower heat cooked the potatoes perfectly right to the center so they were nice and fluffy. But it’s all about the skin. I used Maldon flaky sea salt and the skin came out crispy, salty, and amazingly delicious. Small changes to a cooking method can have such a huge impact.
For dinner we had them with butter and sour cream. I fried the leftovers for breakfast the next day and had them with ketchup. They do taste like french fries!
Originally published April 27, 2021