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Foolproof Baked Potatoes

  • Author: Tessa
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 mins
  • Yield: As many as you like!


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  • Russet potatoes, medium to large (9 to 12 oz. each)
  • 2 T kosher salt (optional)
  • 1 T vegetable oil or melted butter (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 425 (F) with rack in middle position. Scrub the potatoes in cold water and pat dry. Poke firmly with a fork in about 6 places per potato.
  2. Optional step for extra flavorful potato skin: In a medium bowl, mix salt with 1/2 cup hot water until salt dissolves. Toss each potato in the salt water to coat, then shake off excess liquid.
  3. Set potatoes directly on oven rack. If you used salt water (optional), place a baking sheet or a piece of foil on the rack below the potatoes to catch any drips.
  4. Bake potatoes for 45 to 60 minutes, until soft when pierced deeply with a fork. If you have an instant read thermometer, check that the largest potato is at least 205 degrees in the center.
  5. Optional step for crisp, pretty potato skins: Remove potatoes from oven to a plate or towel. Brush the top and sides of each with the oil or melted butter. Place back in the oven with a baking sheet or piece of foil on the rack below them. Bake potatoes another 10 minutes, until slightly darkened and skins are nicely crisped.
  6. Immediately after baking (even if you don’t plan to serve them right away), cut a slit in the top of each potato, pinch the ends and push them together, to open the potato and release steam. If you wait to open the potatoes, moisture will accumulate inside, causing dense, mushy potatoes instead of light, fluffy ones.
  7. Top baked potatoes with your favorite toppings, from basic to crazy, and enjoy!
  8. To reheat baked potatoes in the oven, preheat to 325. Place potatoes in a baking dish and cover with foil, or wrap each individually in foil, leaving an opening at the top for steam to escape. Heat until warmed through, about 35 minutes.
  9. To reheat baked potatoes in the microwave, place a single potato in a bowl. If you don’t plan to eat the skin, just scrape the flesh into a bowl and discard the skin. Heat the potato with butter, salt, and pepper until warm. Add cheese, if desired, and heat again in brief intervals until melted.


Baked potato methodology is my original adaptation, with influence from Joy of Cooking and Cooks Illustrated.

  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour