Baked potatoes are great for a cheap and easy meal. But despite being simple to make, with the correct preparation and toppings, you can transform the humble baking potato into something rather splendid.
Follow our simple advice to cook the best-ever baked potato.
How to choose and prepare baked potatoes
The ultimate baked potato is fluffy on the inside, with a crisp skin. Choosing the correct variety of potato is essential. For a soft middle, select a starchy potato such as King Edwards. Thin skins are good because they’ll turn crispy and not chewy. In the supermarket, the large potatoes simply labelled as baking potatoes are often the best option.
To prepare a potato for baking first wash it. If it’s particularly grubby scrub it with a potato brush. Dry off the potato. If there are any sprouts, then trim these off.
Poke a few holes in the skin with a sharp knife and rub oil and salt over the outside. The oil and salt will help the skin to crisp up. Poking a few holes in the skin is essential to allow the steam created when the potato cooks to escape. Otherwise, the potatoes might pop in the oven!
How to cook a baked potato in the oven
The general rule is the longer, the better. Once you have heated the oven to 200C and prepped the potato, it can take anywhere from 40 mins to 3 hours. The time that the baked potato will take to cook will vary depending on their size and how crispy you like the skin. You can speed up the cooking time by microwaving the potato before transferring it to the oven. Read on to discover how to part cook a baked potato in the microwave.
Should baked potatoes be wrapped in foil?
Whether or not you need to wrap your potato in foil will depend on how you intend to cook them. If you plan to cook the potatoes in the oven then foil is not necessary. Just pop the potatoes on a baking tray with a little oil to stop them from sticking. However, if you are cooking your potatoes in a fire or even on the BBQ foil is advised. If cooking potatoes on an open flame without foil the skins are likely to burn. Make sure you select a foil that’s suitable for BBQing as not all are.
How to cook ‘baked’ potato in the microwave
Often home late, hungry and impatient, I seldom have the patience to cook a baked potato entirely in the oven. So instead I use the microwave to help my potato along and then transfer it to the oven to give it a crispy skin. I prepare my potato by piercing the skin a few times before microwaving for 10 mins. This provides the oven with time to pre-heat. When the oven comes up to the temperature of 200C, I remove the potato from the microwave. Put it on a baking tray, brush over oil and sprinkle with salt before transferring the hot potato to the over until cooked. Timing will depend on the size, but I usually stick a fork in to check the doneness. It takes about 30+ mins.
It is also possible to cook a jacket potato entirely in the microwave. For the best results, we recommend investing in a gadget designed to cook potatoes in the microwave. The Morphy Richards MICO Jacket Potato Maker is designed to cook a potato quicky in the microwave, as well as giving it that sought-after crispy skin.
Baked potatoes inspiration
A lonely baked potato is boring and bland. So let us indulge you in our favourite Baked potato ideas. It doesn’t always have to be elaborate. Baked beans or tinned tuna are popular tinned toppings. On those days when we haven’t been to the shop, we also like to top ours with frozen vegetables and cheese. While our potatoes are cooking away, we heat frozen peas and spinach in water. Or for a plain and traditional option, just oodles of salty, melty butter is always a treat.
If you are keen to transform a baked potato into something a little more unique, then check out our delicious jacket potato fillings and topping ideas. There is something for all tastes from healthy Smoked mackerel to Anthony Worrall Thompson’s indulgent cottage pies in baked potatoes!
Ideas for leftover baked potatoes
A few tasty ways to use up any leftover baked potato:
If you have a whole potato left then cut it in half, top with cheese and cook until the cheese is melted and the potato is warmed through. We prefer a cheesy double-baked potato to the original! Soon you’ll be cooking extras just for the leftovers!
Gnocchi is a little Italian dumpling made with mashed potato and flour. It’s usually served with a sauce much like pasta is. To make gnocchi from scratch you can use either boiled or oven cooked potatoes. When making gnocchi we prefer using potatoes that have been cooked in the oven. They work better as they contain less moisture and have a better flavour. You will just need the inside, not the potato skins. But save the skins to make a tasty snack.
Get the recipe: Potato and parsley gnocchi recipe
This is a fab way to transform your leftover into an entirely new meal. This Gordon Ramsay’s recipe for fish cakes with anchovy dressing is a great place to start.
There’s always someone at the table that doesn’t want to eat the skins. Why not cut them into pieces and return to the oven to create Potato peel crisps – a tasty nibble?
Scoop out and mash the insides with cheese. Roll into balls. Dip in egg wash, then roll in breadcrumbs. Deep fry until golden for a very yummy side.