How to bake the best baked potato in the oven: Here are the keys to crispy skins and perfectly fluffy baked potatoes!

How to Bake the Best Baked Potato

Growing up, I saw no shortage of baked potatoes. Baked potatoes are cheap, easy, kid-friendly, and versatile. A mother’s dream food!

My mom grew up in a “meat and potatoes” home where, as you may have guessed, dinner was required to have each component on the table. It was the 50s and 60s – vegetarianism was virtually unheard of.

I imagine that potatoes were mostly boiled during that time with maybe some surprise breakfast potatoes on the weekend with the leftovers from the week. Blah.

Years later, my grandma never lost sight of potatoes with her meals. In fact, the bar food trend of the 90s overjoyed her when she found out that loaded potato skins were a thing.

I guess I’m a product of my genetics (shocking, right?) because I could seriously eat a baked potato a few times a week.

I don’t need the meat to go with them but a butter-tender medium-rare grilled steak is not something I’ll turn down a couple times a year either.

How to Bake the Best Baked Potato

So enter these baked potatoes! I was actually on the hunt recently for how to bake the best baked potato and lo! Cook’s Country came to my aid, yet again.

The Key to the Perfect Baked Potato in the Oven

Turns out, the key to the perfect baked potato is to be patient!

In an effort to speed up the baking time, for years I was pre-baking the potatoes in the microwave for a few minutes and then popping them in the oven. This resulted in unevenly baked potatoes, microwave-tasting skins, and an overall sense of dissatisfaction.

More blah!

Cook’s Country went straight for the oven here with this baked potato recipe. After you wash the potatoes of dirt, they get tossed in a salt brine.

How Long to Bake Potatoes in the Oven

You’ll bake the potatoes in a super hot oven (450° F) for nearly an hour, brush them with some oil, and bake ’em again. Yes, baked potatoes definitely need a long time to bake since they are so dense. Keep in mind that smaller baked potatoes will probably need a little less time to bake.

How to Bake the Best Baked Potato

Baking them for this long is needed to ensure you get those perfectly fluffy and evenly cooked potato centers.

The potatoes emerge as piping hot pockets of potato ready to be loaded up with butter, sour cream, bacon, and any of your other favorite baked potato toppings. Drooool!

The skins are pure crispy perfection and this was the first time I have ever seen Kyle eat the potato skin.

Creative Ways to Use Baked Potatoes

If you’re bored with plain baked potatoes, let me suggest a few other ways. We loaded these potatoes up for lunch two weekends in a row for a fantastic and filling meal, and I even popped a few extra potatoes in the oven to guarantee lunch for me during the week with some BBQ compound butter.

Recipes to Use the Best Baked Potato

If you need some inspiration for how to up your baked potato game, look no further!

Chicken Taco Loaded Baked Potatoes

The Best Oven Baked Potato

Yield: 4 large potatoes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Baked in a super hot oven, brushed with oil and baked again, these potatoes emerge as piping hot pockets of buttery, fluffy, perfectly tender and evenly cooked potatoes.


  • 4 (7 to 9oz) Russet or Idaho potatoes, washed and poked a few times on each side with a fork
  • ½ cup warm tap water
  • 2 tbsp table salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 450° F. In a large bowl, stir the water and salt together until the salt is dissolved. Roll the potatoes in the water until well-coated; pat dry and place them on a wire rack set atop a large baking sheet.
  2. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the inside temperature reads 205° F (smaller potatoes will need around 45-50 minutes). Remove the potatoes from the oven, brush the tops and sides with the oil, and return them to the oven for another 10 minutes to allow the skins to become crispy.
  3. Remove the potatoes from the oven and slice them open right away with an "X" in the center to avoid them steaming and thus, softening the skins. Squeeze the potatoes open and load 'em up with plenty of salt, pepper, butter, and/or your favorite toppings.


adapted from Cook's Country

Recommended Products

As a member of the Amazon Associate affiliate program, I earn a small percentage from your qualifying Amazon purchases when you click the Amazon links on this page. I'm not informed of who purchases what, just of what products are purchased.

How much do you love this recipe?

Follow Smells Like Home on Pinterest and click that little Pin button at the top of this recipe card to save this recipe and share with your Pinterest followers!

You Might Also Like:

Leave a Comment

  • Kayle (The Cooking Actress)
    March 10, 2016 at 9:38 AM

    oooooh these sound amazing! I totally need to try this method (and attempt to be patient :P)

  • Ashley
    March 10, 2016 at 1:33 PM

    This is great! I hate unevenly cooked potatoes and have never been happy with any of the “fast” methods anyways. Will have to try this!

  • March 10, 2016 at 6:08 PM

    I am so with you! This is how I bake my potatoes because I HATED how my Mum did them when I was younger. Somehow she just manages to make them soggy and blah because she pre-cooks them in the microwave and then I don’t know what she does from there, haha!

    • March 11, 2016 at 8:40 AM

      lol! Too funny! I remember my mom fully cooking them in the microwave sometimes. It doesn’t get worse than that!

  • Sassy Lady
    May 6, 2017 at 12:56 PM

    Has anyone tried this using sweet potatoes ? I’d like to know how they turned out.

    • Tara
      May 13, 2017 at 9:51 AM

      I haven’t tried sweet potatoes but I’m sure they would work fine here. And I think the slightly salty skins would be an incredible complement to the sweet potato flesh. Yum!! Let me know if you try this!!

  • Mary Pierce
    May 16, 2017 at 9:30 PM

    My Mum just set potatoes in the oven with whatever roast she was cooking at 375 for the time it took to cook
    The meat always over an hour at least.potatoes always had crusty yummy skins. Oh large potatoes!

  • Neil
    December 1, 2017 at 9:32 PM

    With all due respect, you changed a key item in the process, and left out another.
    Do NOT pat the RUSSET (NOT Idaho) potatoes dry, as this will remove the brine from the outside of the potato…which is intended to dry on the potato in the oven, leaving a fine salty crust on the skin.
    Additionally, the absolute key, is to cook the potatoes by temperature, and NOT by time. Remove the potatoes at 205°F, to apply VEGETABLE (NOT olive) oil to the skin, and return to the oven until they register 212°F. The times are too imprecise as potatoes carry not only in weight, but in shape. Two potatoes of the same weight will cook differently if one is long and thin, and the other is short & round.

    • Neil
      December 1, 2017 at 9:36 PM

      Excuse me, I meant to say potatoes VARY too much in weight and shape. Not, “carry” too much in weight & shape. Most of us humans do that…never mind the potatoes.

  • Betty Jo Caldwell
    October 23, 2019 at 10:10 PM

    I will try this baked potato recipe. About sweet potatoes, wrap in aluminum foil so skins do not get crispy. If so they will be flaky skins and mix with sweet potato. Yuk!! I am a southern women and have never seen anyone eat the skin. I only use real butter. Some people put brown sugar on them, also. Your choice I taught my 68 year old father how to bake them as, he cooked at least a peck to half bushel at a time and freeze them. I also cook extras and freeze for a quick side for dinner.

    • Tara
      October 25, 2019 at 9:42 AM

      Thanks for your ideas here, Betty Jo. I don’t wrap my sweet potatoes up since I do like the crispy skins they get and I’ve never minded if the skins mix in with the potato. It’s just never bothered me! 🙂 I hope you love this method for baking potatoes – please come back and let me know what you think after you’ve made them.