future baked potatoes
Five potatoes, endless possibilities

A potato can make any meal complete. Whether your salmon and broccoli are looking lonely, or you’re looking for something to bury under chili, a humble baked potato is the way to make an average dinner into a filling feast. When it comes to actually baking a potato, you have a few options. 

Making a Baked Potato in the Microwave

There’s no doubt that microwaving a baked potato will save you time. Depending on the size of your spud, it probably only needs about 5 minutes to cook completely in the microwave.

To try this method at home, start with a clean potato. Using a fork or knife, poke several holes all over the surface of the potato. Don’t skip this step! Ventilating the potato will keep it from exploding in the microwave. 

Place the potato on a plate, and microwave it for 5 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a knife into the potato. It should be easy to insert the knife all the way to the center. If the potato still feels hard in the middle, microwave in 30 second increments until it is soft. Let the potato rest for 5 minutes before attempting to cut open and eat. The inside of the potato will be piping hot. Steam generated during cooking also creates pressure, so the potato could actually burst open if punctured suddenly.

The obvious downside here is that a microwave simply cannot make things crispy. If your favorite part of a baked potato is the crispy skin, then a microwave alone will not yield the results that you want. 

baked potato with sour cream
Can’t go wrong with sour cream and chives

Making a Baked Potato in the Oven

This method takes significantly longer. You’re looking at about 1 hour before that potato reaches your plate, but you’ll be rewarded with a soft potato covered in crispy skin. To make a baked potato in the oven, start by preheating your oven to 450°F. Use a fork to pierce the skin of the potato several times to create vents for escaping steam. Place the potato on a tray and bake for 1 hour. Remove the potato, slice open, and top as you see fit. 

Quick & Crispy Skin Baked Potato 

If you’re looking for speed and cripiness, your best bet is a combination method. To do this, preheat your oven to 450°F. While the oven is heating, poke holes all over your potato and microwave for 5 minutes. 

Remove the potato and brush the surface with olive oil. Transfer the potato to the oven, and leave until the skin reaches your desired crispness. 

Baked Potato Toppings

A baked potato is like a blank canvas. They’re delicious with just butter and salt, but if you’re feeling inspired you can top yours off with chili, sour cream, cheese, or just about anything.