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How to bake the perfect potato

Written by the YesChef staff

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YesChef Francis Mallmann Desktop
YesChef Francis Mallmann Desktop
Francis Mallmann
Teaches his Argentine Cuisine
Are you looking for an easy side dish or the perfect snack that is delicious, nutritious, and filling? Then bake a potato! Potatoes are a key element of many dishes worldwide. From roasted potatoes to mashed potatoes, there’s a potato dish to please everyone. But for many of us, the best type of potato dish is the baked potato. This is because of their fluffy taste and texture, their versatility, and the fact that they can be served as a side dish or as part of a main course. There is so much you can do with baked potatoes. You can flavor them with butter or sour cream or cheddar cheese, and serve them with a variety of sauces and toppings such as cooked vegetables, green onions, shredded cheese, and diced bacon. Leftover baked potatoes can also make an excellent meal. Whether you are looking for a simple side dish or a tasty accompaniment to your favorite main course​​ – and whether you’re a seasoned home chef or a cooking novice – learning how to bake the perfect baked potato is a skill that everyone should have in their repertoire.
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Francis Mallmann
Teaches his Argentine Cuisine

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Baked Potato History

Archaeological evidence shows that potatoes were being grown by the Incas in the Andean highlands of Peru and Bolivia as far back as 13,000 years ago. The Incas also used potatoes’ cooking speed to measure time. In the 16th century, Spanish conquistadors brought the potato back to Europe. Potatoes became an important food for European peasants in wartime, and an Irish staple food in the 18th century. Eventually potatoes became popular across the world, and baking them became a favorite method of cooking them.

Baked Potato Ingredients

Baking the perfect potato is surprisingly simple and requires only a few ingredients. Here are the main types of ingredients that you will need to make the best baked potato recipe.

Potato: The most important ingredient in a baked potato is…drumroll please….the potato. (Good guess!) Large, round potatoes like a Russet potato, which has a high starch content, will work well because they get nice and fluffy when baked.

Fat: The second main ingredient that you’ll need for your baked potato is some sort of fat, to help the potato’s skin crisp up. Any kind of oil with a neutral flavor and high-smoke point, like vegetable oil, canola oil, or avocado oil, will work. Butter or ghee will work, too.

Seasonings: Finally, you will need seasonings for your baked potato. A kosher salt or coarse sea salt along with pepper will add flavor, as will fresh or dried herbs. Some great herbs chefs use to flavor their baked potatoes are rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sage, garlic powder, and paprika.

Picking the Right Potato

When selecting your potatoes, look for ones that are firm and free of blemishes. The potatoes you choose should also be similar in size, so that they all cook at the same rate. Here are several types of potatoes you can buy for your next baked potato recipe. 

Russet potatoes: These are the most popular potato variety for baking potatoes. Russet potatoes are great for making baked potatoes because they have a dry, mealy texture which makes them ideal for baking. The dry texture of the potato holds up well to baking, making it light and fluffy inside with a crunchy texture on the outside. Russet potatoes also absorb flavorings and seasonings well, so you can get creative with your recipes.

Yukon Gold: Yukon Gold potatoes are ideal for baking because they have a creamy texture and a buttery flavor. Their thin skin and high starch content make them extra fluffy and creamy when cooked. Plus, they are naturally sweeter than other potatoes, so they don’t need as much butter or sour cream to make a delicious baked potato.

Red potatoes: Red potatoes are good for baking because they are a waxy potato, meaning they contain more moisture than other potatoes. This makes them ideal for baking because they hold their shape when cooked, while still becoming soft and fluffy. The red potato’s skin also gets nice and crispy when baked, making it the perfect choice for a delicious baked potato.

Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes are great for making baked potatoes because they are naturally sweeter than white potatoes, so you can get a delicious sweet flavor without having to add any extra sugar or sweeteners. They are also very nutrient-dense, containing high levels of vitamins A and C, as well as dietary fiber. Sweet potatoes are also easier to digest than white potatoes, making them a healthier choice for baked potatoes.

Fingerling potatoes: Fingerling potatoes are good for making baked potatoes because they are small in size, which allows them to cook more quickly and evenly than larger potatoes. Fingerling potatoes also have a naturally buttery flavor and firm texture that makes them ideal for baking. They are also naturally low in starch, so they won’t become too mushy when baking.

How to Bake a Potato

You’ve found the potatoes you want to use for baking. Now it’s time to actually bake them. Baking a potato is a simple, straightforward process but it requires a number of steps, so follow closely:

  1. Wash Potato: Once you’ve selected your potatoes, it’s time to prepare them for baking. Start by scrubbing your potatoes with a brush under running water. This will help remove dirt or debris that may be attached. If the potatoes have any eyes or sprouts, use a small paring knife to cut them out.  When finished washing, pat the potatoes dry.
  2. Poke Potato: Before baking, Poke holes into each potato with a knife or fork. This will allow steam to escape during baking, which will help the potatoes cook evenly, become fluffy, and not explode.
  3. Prepare Oven, Baking Sheet: Preheat your oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place the potatoes on the baking sheet. Bake the potatoes on the baking sheet (or in a shallow pan.) This will also help them cook evenly.
  4. Add Fat: Before baking your potatoes, you should brush them with some type of fat, like butter or oil. This will help keep the potatoes moist, and give them a nice golden color and crispy skin.
  5. Season Your Potatoes: Be sure to season your potatoes before baking. This will help draw out their natural sweetness and enhance their flavor. Sprinkle or rub salt and pepper onto the potatoes, along with the herbs of your liking.
  6. Add Toppings and Fillings: Baked potatoes are a great canvas for all sorts of creative toppings. Try adding some cheese, bacon, sour cream, chives, or your favorite herbs and spices.
  7. Bake Your Potatoes: Bake the potatoes for 45-60 minutes, or until they’re tender when pierced with a fork. The baking time will depend on the size of your potatoes, so check them every 15 minutes or so to make sure they’re not over-baking. When the potatoes are done, let them cool for a few minutes before serving. To bake the best potatoes, they should be crispy on the outside and have a fluffy interior.


Cooking Methods

While baking potatoes in the oven is the most common way to cook a baked potato, it’s not the only one. Here are some main ways you can bake potatoes.

In Oven: This is the most popular way of baking potatoes. To bake your potatoes in the oven, preheat the oven to 375°F, then place the potatoes on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Place potatoes directly into the oven and. Cooking time is anywhere from 45-60 minutes, until the skin is crisp and a knife inserted into the potato meets no resistance.

Air Fryer: If you’re short on time, you can also bake potatoes in an air fryer. Preheat the air fryer to 375°F – 390°F, rub your potatoes with oil, and place the potatoes in the basket. Cook for 15-30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Microwave: You may have wondered at some point: “Can I make baked potatoes in the microwave?” And the answer is: Yes. Just be sure to wash and dry the potatoes beforehand and rub them with oil and salt. Poke the potatoes with a fork, as you would before putting them in the oven, and place them on a microwave-safe plate. Cook for between 3 and 5 minutes on each side, or until the potatoes are tender. Add the toppings of your choice.

Note about microwaving your potatoes: Microwaving  potatoes won’t have the same texture or flavor as oven-baked potatoes, and the skin probably won’t be as crispy. Still, they can taste great and are a convenient option if you are in a hurry or are just feeling lazy. Just make sure to let the potatoes cool for a few minutes before serving.

Our Favorite Potato Recipes

Congratulations: You have mastered the basics of baking the perfect potato. Now you can start exploring some other great potato recipes and possibilities. Here are some of our other favorite ways to prepare a potato:

Twice-baked potatoes: These are baked potatoes that have been split open, stuffed with butter, cream cheese, and cheese, then baked again. Twice-baked potatoes, which are richer and more decadent than regular baked tomatoes, are easy to make. Simply bake the potatoes, scoop out the flesh, and combine it with cheese, butter, and herbs. Then, stuff the potatoes back into their skins and bake until golden brown and crispy.

Mashed potatoes: This comfort food classic is generally made with boiled potatoes, butter, milk, and herbs. To make mashed potatoes, boil the potatoes until tender, then mash them with butter and milk and season with salt and pepper. For additional flavor, use roasted garlic or fresh herbs.

Roasted potatoes: These are potatoes that have been tossed in olive oil, herbs, and spices, and then roasted in the oven until they’re golden and have crisp skin. Roasted potatoes are a great way to use up small potatoes, and a favorite dish for premier chefs all over the world. Chef Nancy Silverton provides a wonderful recipe for bagna cauda roasted potatoes. She pairs the potatoes with bagna cauda, which is a buttery Italian sauce consisting of garlic and anchovies. 

Sweet potato fries: These are sweet potatoes that are cut into thin strips and then fried or baked until crispy. They go great with all sorts of main courses, from burgers and sandwiches to macaroni and cheese.

Scalloped Potatoes: Scalloped potatoes are perfect for special occasions. To make them, layer thinly sliced potatoes with cheese and herbs, then bake until golden brown and bubbly.

Smashed potatoes: Chef Francis Mallmann makes an unbelievably tasty Smashed Potatoes recipe. He boils potatoes until they’re soft and tender, lets them cool on a work surface, and then – using the palm of his hand – slowly and gently smashes the potatoes. He then grills the smashed potatoes on a chapa in clarified butter, very slowly, until they’re golden brown on both sides. The end result is a hot potato that’s crunchy on the outside and mashed on the inside.

GBD Potatoes: A specialty from chef Kwame Onwuachi are GBD potatoes (GBD stands for Golden Brown Delicious.) In this great recipe, Kwame boils diced potatoes until they’re tender, quickly cools them, gently flattens the potatoes, and fries them in oil until they’re crispy and golden brown. He coats the GBD potatoes in a green-season aioli and serves them alongside curried goat.


You now have everything you need to know to make an excellent baked potato: its ingredients; how to choose, prepare, and bake your potato so that it is perfectly crispy on the outside; some tips and alternative cooking methods for baking potatoes; and, once you have mastered the dish, moving on to other ways of cooking with potatoes. But just know that however you prepare your potatoes, you’ll be sure to end up with a delicious side dish. Now, get cooking!

Potatoes, A Love Affair




YesChef Francis Mallmann Desktop
YesChef Francis Mallmann Desktop

Francis Mallmann

Francis Mallmann, the pioneer of open-fire cooking, is South America’s most famous chef and is known for his rustic open-fire cooking style in wild and remote locations. Join the James Beard award-winning author and Chef’s Table star as he brings you on a journey into his kitchen in the Patagonian wild where he teaches you how to master the grill and his Argentine-style barbecue.

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