how to bake a potato in the oven

How to Bake a Potato in the Oven — Basic Cooking Skills

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It’s hard to beat a classic baked potato! A food that’s comforting and wholesome, enjoyed as a side or as its own dish, and can be dolled up with endless tasty toppings. There’s lot’s of conflicting info out there about how to bake a potato in the oven, but I’ve nailed down a foolproof method that always produces reliable results.

Let’s uncover the details!

This post is part of our Basic Cooking Skills series. Each week we will be doing a deep-dive into one basic cooking skill and a brand new recipe to accompany it to practice that newfound skill. Check back throughout the series for updates and new posts.


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bake a potato in the oven

Potatoes are the MVP

That’s right! In my book, potatoes are easily the most valuable player.

French fries, bread, and even vodka are luxuries we would have to do without if it weren’t for beloved potatoes! What a world.

Their versatility is unmatched and it’s been so much fun learning more about different cooking methods. Boiling potatoes is necessary to know when making mashed potatoes to eat with a roast, but I make them pretty infrequently when compared to baking potatoes.

Baked sweet potato fries are one of my favorite recipes for a quick snack, and you can’t go wrong with skillet breakfast potatoes either!

How to: Bake a Potato in the Oven

  1. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet. Under running water, scrub the potato with a brush to remove any dirt. Pat the potato dry and set on the rack.
  2. Pierce each potato several times with a fork.
  3. Pour a small amount of olive oil on each potato. Rub it in with your hands and cover the entire surface. 
  4. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
  5. Bake for 50-60 minutes at 425 degrees until there’s a little give when you squeeze it. Let sit for 1-2 minutes to cool slightly and then cut immediately.
bake a potato in the oven

Guide to Oven Baked Potatoes

Russet vs. Sweet Potatoes

Does this method work for any kind of potato?

The short answer is YES.

Any kind of potato, whether a classic russet, a small red, or a huge sweet potato, can be baked whole in the oven. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the potato and the thickness of the skin.

Sweet potatoes take slightly longer to cook, while softer potatoes will take much less. You’ll know when a potato is done once gives from a soft squeeze or is pierced easily with a fork.

Thick skin of russets crisp up nicely compared to others and are thought of as the classic potato for baking, but sweet potatoes have skins that also tend to get a nice crisp and bake really well.

Bake with Butter or Olive oil?

The purpose of using butter or olive oil is to have a fat on the potato skin. This prevents burning and encourages crisping, as well as adding a little flavor.

To bake a potato in the oven, I personally prefer to use olive oil over butter when I have the choice because it is a healthier fat and more nutritious.

Butter crisps better but, as mentioned, is less healthy. However it’s hard to beat the taste of anything slathered in butter!

Either can be used and is ultimately up to your preference!

Perfect Seasoning for Oven Baked

When it comes to seasoning, potatoes should be seasoned similarly to any other vegetable being prepped for roasting.

In other words, keep it simple.

Salt and pepper are all that is needed for delicious flavor, and most will fall off anyways. More seasoning can be incorporated into the filling of the potato for easy flavor.

Is Wrapping in Foil Necessary?

NO!

I thought this was a must for perfect potatoes but the idea that wrapping potatoes in foil makes them crispier is a myth.

Wrapping potatoes in foil while baking creates a steam pocket. The steam helps cook the potato but prevents the skin from getting crispy and creates more of a boiled potato than baked.

If you’re doing this as a precaution for exploding potatoes, just poke the potato repeatedly with a fork. Place a baking sheet underneath the potato to catch any bits just in case.

Using a wire rack in addition to the baking sheet increases air circulation around the entire potato and ensures the entire potato cooks evenly.

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Implement your new skill

Coming up next Thursday is one of my favorite new recipes that will allow you to try out your new knowledge. Check back soon!

Is there anything you learned about baking potatoes that’s different than how you had always done it? I could’ve sworn every potato must always be wrapped and couldn’t believe it was preventing the crispiness I love!

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56 thoughts on “How to Bake a Potato in the Oven — Basic Cooking Skills”

  1. OK…thank you for this! The first restaurant I worked in served salt-crusted baked potatoes that were amazing. This reminds me of that. Since I love to eat the skins, this method will add ALL the flavor! Yay!

  2. I sit here salivating thinking about the baked potato skins and potato soup I make every super bowl sunday – it’s the one time a year I make them with the potatoes roasted in the oven. Olive oil does a beautiful job of crisping! Poking the holes with a fork scares my husband because apparently I look violent when I do it LOL!
    Love the blog!!

  3. Baked potatoes are such a staple! I do most of these, but I don’t usually season them until after I bake. I will have to try the salt and pepper next time. I love that idea!

  4. Baked potatoes are a big family favourite for us and have perfected the crispy skin and got it spot on and it is basically the same as you have mentioned doing them. Great advice for those who want to learn how to make a proper baked potato.

  5. This is wonderful! It’s something that sounds so easy, but there are so many people in the world who don’t know how to do this! Thank you for sharing!!

  6. I always have to have potatoes in my pantry! They’re affordable, and you can make all sorts of delicious recipes with them. I love baked potatoes, and I agree with you about using aluminum foil; they do not make the potatoes crispy at all. This post is amazing; I am learning a lot about potatoes. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  7. thank yiu for sharing these helpful tips. i planted some potatoes and i know how to make perfect healthy crispy potatoes. will pin for later

  8. I love this post! And I love baked potatoes!!! I think it’s great that you’re helping people learn the basics and you’re building their confidence in the kitchen.

  9. I literally adore your tips and advice.
    Your way is always direct and immediate and easy to follow even for those who are inexperienced.
    Thanks for sharing

  10. Pingback: 21 Basic Cooking Skills for Beginners - Abundance of Flavor

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