Baked Potato 101

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Baked potatoes are the ultimate blank canvas. The options for fancying them up? Endless. Whether you're building a twice-baked masterpiece or sprinkling your favorite fixings on top, don't even think about dressing your taters without reading these crucial tips first.

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Best spuds for baking

For the fluffiest baked potatoes, choose russets: Their high starch and low moisture content account for their airy flesh, which will absorb generous amounts of butter and cream. Sometimes labeled "Idahos" (though they're grown in other states as well), russets are easily identified by their oblong shape and thick, tweedy-looking skin that crisps in the oven to form a crunchy shell--perfect for holding in all those toppings!

Baked potato basics

Pierce the skin of a large russet potato all over with a fork. Rub with EVOO and salt. Bake at 375 degrees directly on the oven rack until flesh is tender, about 1 hour. (For softer skin, wrap in foil first.)

For twice-baked potatoes

Mix the flesh from a hollowed out potato with toppings, fill the skin and bake until heated through, 15 to 20 minutes.

A dozen delicious combos!

Who says you have to stop at butter and sour cream? These dozen delicious takes on baked potatoes will take your spuds from classic to out of this world.

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