Few things can compete with the humble baked potato if you’re looking for a classic, hearty, delicious side dish. Whether paired with a juicy steak or all the fixings as a meal, something about a perfectly baked potato hits the spot.
But achieving that perfect baked potato can be easier said than done. After all, potatoes can be demanding, and it can be challenging to cook them to get that crispy, golden-brown skin and fluffy, tender interior.
Luckily, with key tips and tricks, you can take your baked potato game to the next level and create the perfect spud every time. In this ultimate guide to oven-baked potato perfection, we’ll cover everything from selecting the right potato to cooking methods and even creative toppings to take your baked potato to the next level.
Choosing The Right Potato
Before diving into cooking methods, starting with the right potato is important. When it comes to baked potatoes, not all varieties are created equal, and choosing the right type of potato can make all the difference in the final product.
Look for a starchy variety like a russet potato for the ultimate baked potato. These potatoes are high in starch, which means they’ll cook up fluffy and tender on the inside while developing a crispy skin on the outside.
Other varieties, like red or white potatoes, can also work well but may not get as crispy outside as a russet potato. If you’re in doubt, opt for a russet; you can go right.
Preparing Your Potatoes
Once you’ve selected your potatoes, it’s time to prepare them for the oven. Start by scrubbing them well under running water to remove dirt or debris. Next, use a sharp knife to prick several holes in the skin of each potato. This allows steam to escape during cooking and helps prevent the potatoes from exploding in the oven.
From there, you can either wrap your potatoes in aluminium foil or leave them unwrapped. Wrapping your potatoes in foil can help retain moisture and make them extra tender, but it can also prevent the skin from getting as crispy as possible.
If you wrap your potatoes in foil, poke a few holes to allow steam to escape. If you leave your potatoes unwrapped, place them on the oven rack or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Cooking Your Potatoes
You can try a few different methods when cooking your potatoes, depending on your preferences and equipment. Here are some of the most popular options:
The classic method for cooking potatoes is baked potato in the oven and let them cook low and slow. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and place your prepared potatoes directly on the oven rack or on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake your potatoes for 45-60 minutes, or until the skin is crispy and the inside is tender when pierced with a fork. If you wrap your potatoes in foil, add 10-15 minutes to the cooking time.
If you’re firing up the grill for a summer barbecue, why not throw some potatoes there too? Preheat your grill to medium-high heat and wrap your prepared potatoes in aluminium foil. Place foil-wrapped potatoes directly on the grill grates and close the lid.
Cook for 30-40 minutes, flipping the potatoes occasionally until the skin is crispy and the inside is tender. If you prefer a smoky flavour, add some wood chips to your grill for a subtle smoky flavour.
Slow Cooker Method
For a hands-off approach to baked potatoes, try using your slow cooker. Wrap your prepared potatoes in foil and place them in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours or until the skin is crispy and the inside is tender.
With the tips and techniques outlined in this guide, you should be well on your way to baked potato perfection. Whether you prefer a classic oven-baked potato or want to try a new method like grilling or slow cooking, there’s no wrong way to enjoy this beloved side dish.
So the next time you crave a hearty and delicious meal, try a russet potato and experiment with different cooking methods and toppings. With patience and creativity, you can create the perfect baked potato every time.