Baked Potatoes

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Crispy and salty on the outside and fluffy in the middle, these are perfect baked potatoes.

Two baked potatoes with butter on parchment paper.

Crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside — that’s the hallmark of the perfect baked potato. When slit open, its steaming interior becomes the ultimate base for decadent toppings, from classic butter and sour cream to ranch dressing to crumbled bacon. (For perfectly crispy bacon, learn how to cook bacon in the oven.) While baking potatoes is largely hands-off, there are endless opinions on the best way to go about it. My approach is simple. I don’t wrap them in foil, or lay them on a bed of salt. And I certainly don’t pre-cook them in the microwave. A generous rub of oil, a sprinkle of salt, and an hour in a 400°F-oven does the trick. No fuss, no muss, and you get baked potatoes that are flawlessly tender on the inside with a beautifully crispy, seasoned skin.

What You’ll Need To Make Baked Potatoes

ingredients for baked potatoes

Russet potatoes, also known as Idaho potatoes, are ideal for making baked potatoes. They are large with a long oval shape and brown skin. Their flesh is starchy, so they become fluffy and flaky when cooked. In addition to baked potatoes, they are ideal for making mashed potatoes, french fries, and potato latkes. Prior to cooking, the potatoes should be scrubbed clean of any dirt, rinsed, and dried.

I use vegetable oil to rub the potatoes, which helps the skin crisp up nicely. You can use olive oil if you prefer.

Should You Wrap Potatoes in Foil?

potato wrapped in foil

Nope. Wrapping the potatoes in foil helps retain moisture, which results in steamed rather than baked potatoes. The interior of a foil-wrapped baked potato is wetter and less fluffy, and the skin isn’t crispy. Wrapping adds an extra step and results in inferior baked potatoes, especially if you enjoy eating the crispy skin, so don’t do it!

To Prick or Not To Prick?

pricking potato with a fork

It’s up to you. Pricking potatoes with a fork prior to cooking supposedly prevents steam from building up inside them as they bake, which can make them explode in the oven. However, this theory is highly debatable. I don’t prick my potatoes, and in all my years of cooking, I have never had one explode in the oven. Most people prick their potatoes because that’s what their mothers did. If you want to prick, there’s no harm in it; it just adds an extra step.

How To Bake A Potato

Preheat the oven to 400°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Directly on the baking sheet, rub the potatoes with the oil and sprinkle all over with the salt.

potatoes rubbed with oil and seasoned with salt

Bake until tender when pierced in the center with a sharp knife (or until the center of the largest potato registers 205°F to 210°F), 60 to 70 minutes. You can also squeeze the potatoes to see if they are soft (be careful; they’re hot!).

potatoes rubbed with oil and seasoned with salt

Let the potatoes sit for a few minutes until cool enough to handle. Cut a slit down the center of each potato and serve with toppings of choice.

Baked Potato Toppings

Now that you know how to make the perfect baked potato, try topping it with:

Two baked potatoes with butter on parchment paper.

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Baked Potatoes

Crispy and salty on the outside and fluffy in the middle, these are perfect baked potatoes.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour
Total Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes


  • 4 large russet potatoes, scrubbed clean of dirt, rinsed and dried
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable or olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Prick each potato a few times all over with a fork, if you like (see note). Directly on the baking sheet, rub the potatoes with the oil and sprinkle all over with the salt. Bake until tender when pierced in the center with a sharp knife (or until the center of the largest potato registers 205°F to 210°F), 60 to 70 minutes. You can also squeeze the potatoes to see if they are soft (be careful; they're hot!). Let sit for a few minutes until cool enough to handle, then cut a slit down the center of each potato and serve with toppings of choice.
  3. Note: Conventional wisdom says that prior to baking, you have to prick potatoes with a fork a few times to allow steam to escape during baking. The theory is that if you don’t prick the potato, the steam can build up under the skin and cause the potato to explode in the oven. I don't prick my potatoes and have never had a potato explosion, but pricking won't harm the potatoes, so go ahead and prick them as insurance, if you like.

Nutrition Information

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  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Serving size: 1 potato
  • Calories: 313
  • Fat: 3 g
  • Saturated fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 67 g
  • Sugar: 2 g
  • Fiber: 5 g
  • Protein: 8 g
  • Sodium: 309 mg
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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  • There is nothing like a perfectly cooked baked potato-butter, sour cream, salt and pepper. I’ve recently become a convert to using my air fryer…it’s a revelation! Perfectly cooked crispy skin in 40 minutes with this same recipe.

    • — Steve M on June 6, 2024
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  • My favorite baked potato toppings, in order of application: salt & pepper, butter, grated cheese, sautéed onions & mushrooms, , crumbled bacon, lightly steamed broccoli, with homemade ranch dressing drizzled over all. One of my favorite meals ever.

    • — Annnie on May 9, 2024
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    • Stop!!!! That sounds amazing and I agree with your order.

      • — Amanda on May 23, 2024
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  • Hi Jen. I love every recipe I’ve tried.
    Last week my husband put the potatoes in and didn’t prick them. 50 minutes later we hear the pop! I knew immediately because it’s happen to me, before I was married (44 years ago). My daughter and her fiancé were here too, and they all claimed to never prick it. I always have, but didn’t realize they weren’t. Needless to say, it was a mess, and I now have a spanking clean oven, my husband cleaned it, his mess after all!

    • — Selkielass on May 8, 2024
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    • Ugh — sounds like a mess!! I know how you’ll be handling them next time…😄

      • — Jenn on May 8, 2024
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  • I’ve had a potatoe explode in the oven. I can confirm it’s not a silly old wives tale.

    • — Kim on April 24, 2024
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  • Perfect every time.

    I’m in the poke ’em group. If you ever have to try to clean burnt-on mashed potato off the walls ceiling and door of your oven, you’ll poke ’em from that day forward. 🙂

    • — Greg on February 6, 2024
    • Reply
    • I can attest that Greg is right. For the first half 30+ years of my life I never had a potato explode in the oven, and for the next 40+ years after that, I’ve ALWAYS forked them. It isn’t worth the risk of such a cleanup chore!

      I love all of Jenn’s recipes! I printed the recipe and separately, the section on toppings. My husband asked me to make this asap. I did, with roasted sprouts (I’m on Keto) AND bacon . It was delicious!

      • — Rosalie DeGregory on March 15, 2024
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  • I will never make baked potatoes another way. Jenn, I so enjoy your recipes. They turn out perfect every time!


    • — Jane on February 3, 2024
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  • Love your recipe! Great tasting potatoes! I always pricked my potatoes until one time i didn’t and that was the time they exploded. It was such a mess. Now I always prick them.

    • — Elaine on December 31, 2023
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  • I love this recipe. The family loved this t! Delicious
    Thank you

    • — Starr on November 12, 2023
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  • Omg, I fixed 3 for supper, they were absolutely the best way to fix baked potatoes in the oven. They were so good, absolutely the best way to bake potatoes 😀

    • — Debbie Bareis on October 18, 2023
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  • I cant believe how good this recipe of potatoes tasted when I ate them. People should use this recipe every time they bake some potatoes. I usually just get a cook book from a local market and use it off of that, then I tried this recipe online, it was just the best potatoes I ever had!

    • — Ryan D on October 9, 2023
    • Reply
  • These sound wonderful and I will definitely make them but I do need to say that I have had potatoes explode in the oven if I did not prick them. When the potatoes exploded and I had a mess to clean up my mom and dad got to say “I told you so“. They relished the moment believe me. I suppose it has to do with the water content in the potato. I’m sure that some have a higher percentage than others.

    • — Sherry on September 22, 2023
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  • Coincidentally, we’ve been baking potatoes this way for years and it really is the best method ever. They’re always perfect.

    • — Erica in Michigan on September 21, 2023
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  • I grew up using a baked potato rack which skewers the potatoes down the center and holds them upright. It brings the heat to the center of the spud. Then I use coconut oil which is solid to rub the outside. Much easier than a liquid oil. Grew up using Crisxo. Then I roll them in kosher salt and bake. Love the crispy skins and would do it no other way. Hate microwaving them

    • — Nanci on September 21, 2023
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    • Mom and Dad always had the baked potato rack that you pushed your potatoes down on and it cooked from the inside out. I don’t even know where you can get them anymore but they were always good

      • — Heather Frazier on January 20, 2024
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    • Bacon grease is the way to go, just rub a tablespoon all over. Don’t waste that bacon gold.

      • — Candi H on February 5, 2024
      • Reply
  • This is a whole new world of baked potato. I can’t believe I’ve ever made it any other way.

    • — Bette S Levin on September 19, 2023
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  • Who reviews a baked potato?! I do. I just followed your recipe for the second time. I made 8 for a dinner party to go along with smoked tri-tip. I made them in the oven way before my guests arrived to free up my oven. I kept them warm in my air fryer on air fryer mode at the lowest temp. They were so creamy. Topped with bacon, sour cream, butter, chopped green onions and sharp cheddar cheese.

    • — Christina M Gibson on August 13, 2023
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    • Thanks for sharing your idea, I will do that next time– my little Breville oven has an air fryer mode!

      • — Kimberly Cohen on June 2, 2024
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  • These were so creamy and delicious. Next time I will do the same recipe but cook in an air fryer.

    • — Christina Gibson on June 20, 2023
    • Reply
  • I’ve had a potato explode in my oven and I agree, that is an experience you never forget. Now I NEVER SKIP the HOLE POKING!

    • — Rosalie on November 11, 2022
    • Reply
  • You only need to have a baking potato explode in your oven once and you’ll never forget to give them a stab again. The mess it makes throughout the oven and racks is impossible to clean off, it bakes on the second it hits the hot surfaces. I don’t know how on earth you’ve managed to escape the nasty experience! You’re a very lucky gal 😉

    • — Florida Gal on November 2, 2022
    • Reply

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