Cooking Basics: Here's Exactly How to Bake a Potato

If you're looking for a filling, cheap weeknight meal (and let's be real, who isn't?), a baked potato is a great option. Baked potatoes can add some starch and depth to a meal as a side or, with the right toppings, can take center stage. Whether it's the traditional fixings, such as sour cream, butter, and cheese, or something a little lighter, like Greek yogurt and roasted veggies, baked potatoes are the perfect flavor vehicle.

There are tons of different potatoes (sweet potatoes are our jam) and lots of different ways to cook them (hello, microwave), but we're going to focus on the tried and true russet potatoes baked in an oven. For this, you'll need a russet potato (or russet potatoes if you're cooking for a group or are feeling extra hungry), olive oil, salt, pepper, and tin foil.

  1. Get things set up. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prep the potatoes. Wash the potatoes with warm water, scrubbing any dirt from their surface. Pat dry and lay aside.
  3. Poke the potatoes. Pierce your potato with a fork a few times. This allows steam to escape and helps the potato cook more evenly.
  4. Season them up. Rub olive oil on the outside of your potato, then season with salt and pepper. If you're feeling really crazy, throw some garlic salt on the outside as well. Feel free to be generous with both the seasoning and the olive oil. These items give the outside of the potato extra flavor and crunch.
  5. Lay them out. Place a piece of tin foil on a baking sheet, and then space your potato or potatoes evenly on the sheet.
  6. Cook them up. Place the potatoes in the oven for around 45 minutes to an hour. Check that they are done by sliding a sharp knife into them at a couple of different angles. If the knife goes through smoothly each time, the potato is done!
  7. Top them. Top your potato with your favorite toppings for a filling, tasty meal on the cheap.

Whether you're a newbie cook or consider yourself a bit of a gourmand, a perfectly cooked baked potato will keep you satisfied and full and ready to take on the world.