When my kids were little, I didn’t like making baked potatoes because they would only eat them if I scooped out the flesh from the potato ‘jackets’ for them. It was a fantastic day when they finally had enough dexterity to cut and eat the crispy skins, making baked spuds a lot more popular, to me at least. These days, they’re one of our favourite starches-on-the-side whenever we’ve fired up the barbeque for dinner. A chef friend recently let me in on a few secrets about making the best baked potatoes ever, and she said I could share them.
The method below is straightforward and yields perfect baked potatoes that have dry, fluffy insides plus crispy, faintly salty and totally delicious outsides. By the way, if you’re not in the habit of pricking your potatoes before baking, be forewarned. You might get away with it for a while but one day, one of those potatoes is going to explode in the oven, and will it ever make a huge mess. If that happens, never fear – here are easy tips for safely cleaning your oven.
In the meantime, pass the butter, please. I’ve got some baked potatoes to devour.
Perfect Baked Potatoes
4 medium-sized russet potatoes, unpeeled, each lightly pricked with fork in 6 places
2 tbsp salt
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp olive or canola oil
Salt, pepper and other toppings (butter, sour cream, chives, herbed cream cheese) as desired
- Preheat oven to 425F with an oven rack placed in the middle.
- Wash but do not peel the potatoes. Use the tip of a paring knife to cut out any eyes (sprouts) or bad spots if needed. Prick lightly with a fork three times on the top side and three on the bottom to let steam escape while cooking and prevent potato from exploding in the oven.
- Dissolve 2 tablespoons salt in 1/2 cup water in a large bowl. Place potatoes in the bowl one at a time and flip them a few times so exteriors of potatoes are thoroughly moistened with the salty water. Place potatoes directly on the oven rack bake for 50 minutes. Note that this time is appropriate for a medium-sized potatoes; reduce or add 5 minutes for smaller or larger potatoes. If you really want to be sure that you’ve cooked your potatoes long enough, stick an instant-read thermometer in the middle of the largest one; it’s done if it’s at 205F.
- Remove potatoes from oven and use a silicone brush to lightly coat the potatoes with oil (you can also pour the oil on a piece of paper towel and rub that over the potatoes; it may take a little extra oil if you do it that way). Put the potatoes back in the oven and bake 10 minutes more.
- Remove potatoes from oven and immediately make a long slit down the centre of the top of the potato with a sharp knife, to open it up. Squeeze it slightly from end to end to open the potato up a bit more (use a clean towel to do this as the potatoes will be very hot). Serve immediately with your favourite toppings.