The perfect potato has two essential parts—the skin and the inside flesh of the potato.
Skin…As far as the skin, you expect your potato skin to be crunchy, tasty, crispy, and salty.
Interior…As far as the actual flesh of the potato, you expect your potato flesh to be soft, fluffy, .creamy, tender, and tasty.
And yes, I know that baked potatoes are as easy as sticking them in the oven, slow cooker, or microwave…but there are a few tips on how we all could be making the best potatoes possible.
So how DO you make the perfect baked potato?
Preheat the oven
At first I was confused because I saw recipes that said to bake your potatoes at anywhere from 350° to 450°F. I wondered what was the right temperature.
But actually all of these temps are right because the exact baking time depends on the size of the potato and if you have other things in the oven that you need to cook at the same time.
Suggestions as far as cooking times are…
350°F… 60 to 75 minutes
375°F…. 50 to 60 minutes
400°F… 40 to 50 minutes
Some people claim that you want your oven nice and hot so that the skins get nice and crispy….other people claim that if your oven is too hot, the skin will cook too quickly while the middle stays hard.
I say not sure how long to bake your baked potato…about an hour…just make sure it’s done before you eat it…more on that later…
Pick Your Potatoes
As far as which variety of potato to use for making baked potatoes, your best bet is the russet potato for several reasons, including having…
the fluffy starchy texture we all love
the sweet flavor that we all love
typically a fairly large size
Wash Your Potatoes
Scrub your potatooes thoroughly with a stiff brush and cold running water. They are probably still covered in a considerable amount of dirt
Dry your potatoes off with a paper towel or a clean dish towel once you have washed them. Drying off your skin will supposedly make the skin crispier, but you’re fixing to drench the potato in olive oil…so not sure. Common sense says to dry it regardless though, right?
Prep Your Potato
Now poke each potato all over with the tines of a fork so that steam can escape from the baking potato…and the potato will not explode in your oven.
Many people use potato spikes or metal skewers. These transmit heat to the center of the potato, help reduce cooking time, and supposedly help make the center fluffier… personally haven’t tried it yet.
Rub the skins with olive oil. Do this with either your hands or a pastry brush. This will help the potato skins to turn out crispier up and to make it taste better.
For the best possible potatoes possible, don’t forget to oil them with olive oil and season them with salt, pepper, and paprika.
As far as wrapping potatoes in foil, that decision depends on whether you want your skins to be soft or crispy. Wrapping the potatoes in foil will give you a softer skin because the potato will actually steam instead of baking…whereas not wrapping them in foil will make them crispy.
Bake the Potato
Now either place the potatoes directly on the oven rack…or a few inches apart on a foil-lined baking sheet.
Bake the potatoes depending on which temperature you are cooking them at…see above…depending on the size of the potatoes and the temperature of the oven.
Flip them over every twenty minutes.
To make sure that your potatoes are completely cooked and ready to eat, see if they can easily be pierced with a fork.or aqueezed with your hand.
If not, keep cooking in five-minute increments until the potato is done.
Top the Potato
Top baked potatoes with your favorite toppings. Possibilities include…
bacon or bacon bits
onions or green onions or chives
ranch or blue cheese salad dressing
Other options include…
crumbled tortilla chips
broccoli cheese sauce
taco meat and toppings
Sloppy Joe meat
the lowest price of all the potato varieties in the grocery store