Who doesn’t love a good baked potato? Deliciously simple, wicked easy to make, and super versatile topped with whatever fixings you want, they can be a really great, very inexpensive dinner on their own, or as a side dish with a delicious steak.
Unless you are my husband, in which case, you don’t ever want baked potatoes. For some reason, Zach isn’t really a fan. I, however, LOVE them. And since he is off galavanting in the woods right now chaperoning a camping retreat for the seniors we teach, I’m jumping at the opportunity to make a baked potato for dinner. Yum yum yum.
I like my baked potatoes with crispy, yummy, seasoned skin. So many people don’t eat the skin on their potatoes, but they should! That’s where many of the nutrients, including tons of fiber, are. I leave the skin on for mashed potatoes, soup, when I make oven fries… not to mention, it means you don’t have to peel potatoes! (which I am hereby declaring as the WORST cooking chore ever.)
Here’s how to make perfect baked potatoes with yummy crispy skin, step by step.
First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Next, you’ll want to use a vegetable brush to scrub the potatoes clean, since they can be pretty dirty. They do grow in dirt, after all. If you don’t have a vegetable brush, a clean towel will do. Then, pierce the potatoes with a fork a few times around the entire vegetable. This will allow steam to escape through the skin and proactively avoid a potato explosion in your oven.
Now, rub the potatoes all over with olive oil. Coincidentally, olive oil is an awesome natural skin moisturizer. If you aren’t weirded out by this, rub the residual olive oil on your hands into your hands and arms before rinsing it off and you’ll have silky smooth skin!
Season all sides of the potato liberally with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper (if you like things spicy). I will usually lay the potatoes on a cutting board, season the side facing up, and turn the potato 90 degrees to season again, repeating until I am finished.
Place the potatoes directly on the rack in the oven and place a cookie sheet or roasting pan underneath (to catch any drippings). Cook for 45 minutes to an hour, or until you can easily pierce the potato with a fork or knife. (This is one of those meals that takes a while to cook, but the hands-on time is really short.)
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least five minutes. Slice the skin on top across lengthwise with a sharp knife, cutting about a half an inch through. Then, squeeze on either end of the potato pushing in toward the center. This will make the cut open up and allow access to the inside of the potato without compromising the skin’s structural integrity. Fluff the insides with a fork and, viola! You have the perfect baked potato!
NOW FOR THE FIXINGS!!!! Sorry to yell, I just get really excited about this part. I usually go traditional: sour cream, butter, salt, pepper, and green onions. Sometimes I add crumbled bacon and/or cheddar cheese, if I’m feeling crazy.
OR, you can try something from this awesome list of 23 Amazing Ways to Eat a Baked Potato from buzzfeed. I will definitely be trying #21 with my smoky vegetarian chili sometime in the very near future.