Chris Cooks

How to Bake a Potato Perfectly, Every Time

March 10, 2024

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I’m an Idaho boy. I lived there for almost my entire life (until moving to NC a couple years ago). And while there are many areas in Idaho, I grew up deep in the heart of potato farming country and I loved it. Every October our schools would close for two weeks so all the kids could go work in “spud harvest” and be paid less than minimum wage (the life lessons are paying off in dividends, I like to tell myself). At any rate, I’ve eaten many a potato, cooked every way you can imagine. But it wasn’t until my culinary classes that I learned how bake a potato perfectly.

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If you don’t think a baked potato is worth an entire post, I would gently disagree. Especially for anyone who is accustomed to wrapping their potatoes in aluminum foil before going in the oven. That, my friend, is a steamed potato – not baked. And while there’s nothing “wrong” with cooking a potato that way, it’s just not a baked potato.

Of course I had a leg up in this realm. Not just because I grew up in Idaho, but because I can’t remember a single time where my mom wrapped her potatoes in foil. Her process did, however, skip a couple steps that I think make a world of difference. I can confidently say I bake the best potato I’ve personally ever eaten, and if you follow my steps I think you’ll feel pretty good about how they end up.

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So while this may not seem like a big deal, it’s a small change that does make a big difference. When’s the last time someone complimented your baked potato? Not the chili on it, or the sour cream and bacon – the actual potato itself. For me, it’s every time I make it. So give this one a try. I’d love to know how it turns out and what you think. Is my Idaho showing a bit too much on this one?

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How to Make the Perfect Baked Potato
Print Recipe
4.34 from 6 votes

The Pefect Baked Potato

A simple process to bake your potatoes perfectly, every time. Crispy skin with a fluffy, airy inside. And the skin doesn't get ignored in cooking so it doesn't get left behind in eating.
Course: Side Dish
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 Russet potatoes medium sized
  • avocado oil I use the spray
  • salt & pepper or your favorite seasoning

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Wash the potatoes and pat dry with paper towel. Poke the outside with a fork a few times all around it, then spray with the avocado oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper (or whatever seasoning you choose). Rub the potatoes to cover evenly and set on a baking dish.
  • Bake in the oven for 1 hour for a medium-sized potato. It's done when a paring knife slides into the center easily without resistance.
  • For smaller potatoes, bake at 425 for 30-40 minutes until done. For larger potatoes follow the instructions above – it just may take longer than 60 minutes.

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What do you think?

  1. Deborah Bishop says:

    Well I learned that I had been steaming and not baking.Doing my potatoes with your information gave
    Me agreat potato. Wish I known earlier. Thanks

  2. Shirel Woodcox says:

    There’s nothing new here. I thought there was going to be something “top secret” but nope.

  3. Patricia Kleinschmidt says:

    Where are the instructions?

  4. Lorna Cox says:

    5 stars
    It was Awesome I use bacon grease no more microwave for me. Thanks

  5. Carol Hill says:

    5 stars
    Thats how I have mafe thrm all my life snd In 59. My Mother wrapped them in foil. I never did that. I taught my Grandaughter how to make them when she was 14. Shes 19 now and still makes and eat 2 potatoes a day 4 to 5 day per week. I also cook them perfectly in the microwave and thats how my Grandaughter prefers them. I like them better from the oven tho

  6. Kevin says:

    Use a convection oven or air fryer, and bake to an internal temperature of 210 degrees F.

  7. Mary kay says:

    Olive oil is just as good
    Avocado oil quite often burns more at the high temperature!

  8. Julianne says:

    Yum! Now I am hungry for a baked potato…tonight for sure. And yes, I am in N. Idaho. 🙂

  9. Bridget says:

    5 stars
    When I was much younger we always did them this way could never understand why restaurants used foil

  10. Kathy Clark says:

    5 stars
    Try bacon grease rubbed on potato. Love them baked this way. Line baking dish with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Cast-iron skillet works well for 4-5 potatoes.

  11. Pamela Atwell says:

    I haven’t tried it yet (need to get the ingredients) but I was taken by you childhood experience. In N.E. Scotland, we used to get the same 2 weeks off — the “tattie holidays” — to work at the potato harvesting. We called it “tattie howkin'”. although we didn’t do the digging, just the gathering. It paid for new school clothes. Oddly, I don’t recall my Mum making baked potatoes.

  12. Phillip c. Harris says:

    Sis-n-law of England, we visited in Clovis, NM. Stabbed her taters as you did, lathered with butter, and my L’l Brother grilled them. 30 years later, my wife still talks about how good they were. Yes! And they were wrapped in foil.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    I made baked potatoes like this tonight. I used Canola Oil spray because it’s all I had. It didn’t matter. They were the fluffiest potatoes I’ve ever had. I’ll definitely make these again.

  14. Lizbeth Raines says:

    I’m definitely going to try this ……
    ………TOMORROW !! I’ll let you know how it turns out!

    • I’ve made baked ‘taters this way for 62 years & they’ve been consistently perfect. 3 rules: must be russets that have beenwashed clean & wiped dry; skins must be pricked, rubbed with grease & well-salted; baked at 400 degrees for hour until sharp knife slides out easily.

  15. I was born and raised in NC. And I’ve done my baked potatoes just like that my whole life

  16. Susan arnove says:

    I love baked potatoes
    Thanks for your recipe

  17. 5 stars
    I’ve never used avocado spray for anything before but I’m going to definitely try it! My best friend raises potatoes so I always have plenty and they’re very fresh! I’ve always washed & wrapped mine in tin foil but I need to do something different. Thank you for sharing.

  18. Ida Ho says:

    Isn’t this how most people bake potatoes? Am I missing something?

  19. Terri says:

    Do you have to specifically use advacado oil?

  20. Mary says:

    1 star
    I thought you were going to tell me something I didn’t know. Guess not.

  21. Yum!! I can’t wait to run buy some potatoes, and avocado spray!!
    Thank you for sharing this great recipe!

  22. Wendy says:

    Sounds delicious. Can I use olive oil with the same results? BTW, I love the Idaho background. My grandparents lived in Nampa and aunt, uncle and cousins lived on a farm in Kuna. I loved our vacations there.

  23. Christopher MacMurray says:

    Good recipe thanks for this simple recipe I will definitely add it to my recipe list.

  24. Kathryn Smith says:

    The recipe is cut off on the page, I can’t see it all!!! WAH!!!!!!!

  25. Jerrlyn Hamilton says:

    Hi ,
    It is Oscar Night. My tradional is a baked russet ala Chris with sour cream, caviar and lemon zest. It is a Jackie O favorite dish
    Wash it down with a vodka martini or champagne
    MARVELOUS!!!

    • Nia Weisbecker says:

      Seriously who needs a baked potato as soon as you said martini it was game over lol! Seriously it’s always great to hear recipes for something simple as a baked potato!

  26. Melanie Reilly says:

    I love these posts!!

  27. Cathy says:

    Yes, Chris, you have the Idaho cred and my parents were from Ireland, and that’s how to bake a perfect potato! In fact, that’s also how to make the best mashed potatoes. Baking the potatoes instead of boiling saves a lot of heavy lifting, messy draining, and requires only scooping the pulp and light mashing with butter and milk.

    • Cami says:

      Yes!! Just heat the cream and butter on the stovetop before combining with the hot potatoes (keep everything warm/hot to prevent
      lumpy mashed potatoes).

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