The baked potato is a wonderful yet simple basis for a whole variety of meals. It’s simple, easy to make, it doesn’t consume a lot of your time. And it’s incredibly versatile. But before adding more texture, flavor, and ingredients to it, here’s the 101 on how to bake potatoes.
As long as you have a couple of potatoes in your pantry, you have a sure-thing dinner almost ready. You can mash them or you can fry them. There are plenty of potato varieties out there for a diversity of flavor. So the next step is learning how to bake potatoes, a simple process indeed.
Potatoes provide carbs as energy, but they’re rich in other nutrients, like vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium (it has more of this than a banana!). At the same time, potatoes are fat-free, cholesterol free, and sodium free. One serving means one medium baked or boiled white potato, which only has about 110 calories. Of course, if that’s all you plan on putting on a plate, then you should have at least two!
After baking, you can add a teaspoon of butter and let it melt on your potato. Or you can spice it up with some paprika, chili flakes, or sour cream and some chives or chopped spring onions. That is where your creativity comes in, anyway!
So let’s learn how to bake a potato and enjoy all the benefits it entails!
How to bake potatoes – three different ways
In the oven
This, of course, is the classic technique. And, if you ask me, gets the tastiest results, thanks to the crispy skin the potato has in the end, while the core of it stays creamy and melts in your mouth.
1. Wash the potato thoroughly
Because the skin ends up being an integral part of the result, you don’t want any dirt or residue on the skin, while cooking. So wash it and rub it with your hands. And in the end, dry it and scrub it with a paper towel.
2. Preheat the oven
Turn the oven on and preheat it to 300 degrees F/ 150 degrees C.
3. Prick the potato
This is a crucial step in the process. Because if you skip this one, you might end up with potatoes which have exploded all over your oven, and nobody has time to clean that when they just want a simple meal.
So take a fork and prick the potatoes all over. Because steam builds inside the potato while it cooks, and that steam needs an escape path.
4. Rub the potato with olive oil
If you use a bit of olive oil to rub the potato, that’s how you get that crispy skin we mentioned earlier. For me, the contrast between a crisp exterior and soft interior is what makes the dish special.
After a light coat of olive oil, sprinkle the potato with salt, pepper, and your favorite herbs. For me fresh rosemary or dried oregano are superstars! You can use other things, like paprika or chives.
6. Optional toppings!
If baked potatoes are too bland for your tastes, then add some toppings in there. How about some shredded mozzarella to melt on your potato? Even some chopped bacon does the trick for me. It enriches the texture. But you can also give it ago with some diced mushrooms, spice it up with jalapeno or chili flakes. This is where your creativity and personal preferences have room to shine.
7. Cook the potatoes
Put the potatoes on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven. Cook them for at least 45 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when you stick one with a fork and see that it slides right in.
How to bake potatoes in tin foil
This method is not very different from the previous one. It only really differs at step 7, when you cook the potatoes. Wrap them individually in foil before placing them in the oven. And then cook them.
What’s the difference? Well, the potatoes will not turn out to have crispy skins, for one. But cooking them in foil helps keep them warm a bit longer after you remove them from the oven. Just in case a dinner guest is late. Or you still have to finish up some chores before eating.
How to bake potatoes in the microwave
I get it. I lived for a few years in a small apartment without an actual kitchen, and all my cooking was done on an electric cooktop or a microwave. I missed having an oven so much! But I made do, and so can you. This method is also brilliant if you really need to speed up your cooking. Keep in mind that the potatoes turn out pretty tasty, but with soft skins!
So let’s learn how to bake potatoes in the microwave.
1. Wash the potatoes and prick them with a fork
This step is not very different than the oven one. So remember to prep your potatoes correctly. Or they’ll explode in your microwave, and that’s not a pretty (or clean) sight.
2. Season the potatoes
Rub them with olive oil or some butter and sprinkle salt and pepper over them. Of course, you can add some other flavors by using herbs and spices. Be creative!
3. Put them in the microwave
Add the potatoes to a microwave-safe dish. Program for full power and keep the potatoes in there for five minutes.
4. Turn the potatoes over
After this time, you need to make sure that the potatoes cook on all sides, so flip them. Cook them for at least three more minutes. Prick them with a fork, check them, see if the fork is opposed when pricking. If they need more time, then cook for two more minutes. If you need to, try one-minute extra sessions, until you get the desired result!