How to Make Baked Potatoes

Whether you enjoy them as a side dish or transform them into a main dish, learn how to make baked potatoes in the microwave, air fryer, oven and more.

two baked potatoes on a plate
Photo: Casey Barber

Whether you're eating them simply with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, stuffing them with spinach and feta, or loading them up with sour cream, cheese, green onions and more, baked potatoes are a satisfying and versatile meal. Learn how to make baked potatoes, including how to cook them in the oven, air fryer and more. Plus, get helpful tips for making baked potatoes.

What potatoes are best for baked potatoes?

While any variety and color of potato, whether red, yellow or even purple, can be baked with the following methods, russet potatoes are the most common kind used when baking potatoes. Russets have a high starch content that gives the baked potato a fluffy and light texture, with a thick skin that crisps up beautifully in the oven, air fryer or campfire.

How to Prep Potatoes for Baking

Scrub potatoes well with cool tap water and a veggie brush or other clean brush. Dry with a kitchen towel, then prick each potato a few times on all sides with a fork or the tip of a paring knife.

Two hands poking holes with a fork in a potato
Casey Barber

Why bother poking holes in your potato? Steam builds up inside the potato as it cooks, and these tiny holes let it escape through the skin so the potato doesn't explode. Better safe than sorry!

If you'd like extra crispy skin on your potatoes, rub them lightly with a heart-healthy fat like olive oil or avocado oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Should I wrap my baked potato in foil?

Though you might have grown up watching your parents wrap potatoes in foil to bake them, it's not necessary for most methods. The only time you really need to wrap a potato in foil is when you're cooking it in a live fire, to protect the potato from burning.

Important safety note: NEVER place aluminum foil in the microwave. Don't use it on a potato or to cover any dish or any other item, as the foil will spark and catch fire when heated.

Once your potato is prepped, you can bake (or "bake") it in almost any piece of cooking equipment you own. Here's how to make baked potatoes several ways.

Note that, for each method, times are an approximation. Based on the size of your potatoes and your specific equipment, your potatoes may cook a few minutes faster or they may need a few minutes more than suggested here.

How to Make Baked Potatoes in the Oven

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place potatoes on a baking sheet or directly on the center oven rack and bake for about 45 minutes. Test for doneness as noted below, and cook 5 to 15 minutes more as needed.

How to Make Baked Potatoes in the Microwave

Place prepped potatoes in the microwave on a plate. Do not wrap in foil! Microwave for 5 minutes, then flip and cook 5 minutes more. Test for doneness as noted below, and microwave in 30-second bursts as needed until done.

How to Make Baked Potatoes in the Air Fryer

3 whole potatoes in an air-fryer
Casey Barber

Preheat the air fryer to 400°F. Add potatoes in a single layer and cook for 30 minutes. Use tongs to turn the potatoes over, then cook for 10 minutes more. Test for doneness as noted below, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes more as needed.

How to Make Baked Potatoes in the Slow Cooker

Place prepped potatoes in the slow cooker, stacking as needed. Cook on Low for 8 hours.

How to Make Baked Potatoes in the Instant Pot

Place the metal trivet insert into the bowl of the Instant Pot (or other multicooker) and add 1 cup water. Place prepped potatoes on the insert—with this method, you can stack the potatoes as needed, provided you don't stack them past the maximum level line on the inner bowl.

Lock the lid on the pot, set the valve to Sealing, and set the Instant Pot to high pressure for 14 minutes (for medium potatoes) or 16 minutes (for large potatoes). After the cook cycle has finished, let the Instant Pot naturally release pressure for 10 to 15 minutes.

How to Make Baked Potatoes in a Campfire or Fire Pit

Two baked potatoes wrapped in tin foil being turned in a campfire
Casey Barber

Double-wrap prepped potatoes in foil or use heavy-duty foil. When the fire has been lit, place the potatoes in the coals or ash near the base of the fire, but not directly in the flames. Give the potatoes a quarter-turn every 10 to 15 minutes to make sure each side has time to cook in the coals.

Test for doneness after 40 to 45 minutes and cook for 10 to 15 minutes more as needed. Let the potatoes rest away from the fire for a few minutes before carefully opening the foil, as steam will escape.

How to Tell If a Baked Potato Is Done

Pierce the potato with a paring knife or a metal or wooden skewer. If it slides easily through the center without meeting resistance, the potato is done.

How to Cut and Open a Baked Potato

two baked potatoes on a plate with butter
Casey Barber

Hold the potato with a kitchen towel to protect your hands and make a deep cut along the length of the potato with a knife. Be careful not to cut the potato fully in half. Gently push the ends of the potato in and up toward one another to open the potato.

Top with your favorite ingredients (if you're looking for topping ideas, check out these 10 healthy baked potato topping combinations) and dig in!

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