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Our Foolproof Method for Baked Potatoes (It's Martha's Favorite!)

Here's how to get perfectly fluffy spuds every time, plus three over-the-top toppings.

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classic baked potato on plate
Photography by: Sidney Bensimon

A humble spud transforms into a tender, fluffy cloud encased in a crisp jacket when you prepare it right. Enlist our easy technique, then raise the bar with our delicious variations.

 

Martha's Favorite Baked Potato

This classic rendition is a regular on her lunch rotation. Russets are the best spud for the job; because of their high starch content, they yield a softer, airier center than waxier varieties do. Our recipe works for any number of potatoes, but don’t plan on leftovers—they’ll dry out when reheated. Dig in while they’re piping hot. Pro tip: eat the skin! Our baking method ensures crisp, flavorful skin, so go ahead and chow down. Not only is the jacket delicious, but it's also packed with fiber, calcium, potassium, and vitamins.

 

1. Prep

Thoroughly wash and dry 4 russet potatoes. Prick each in a few spots with a fork. Brush with extra-virgin olive oil and season with kosher salt. (A prebake brush of olive oil and sprinkle of salt are the tricks to crunchy, tasty skin, which is packed with fiber, calcium, and vitamins.)

 

2. Bake

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place potatoes directly on rack and bake until soft and easily pierced with the tip of a knife, 1 hour to 1 hour, 15 minutes, depending on size. Remove from oven.

 

3. Slam, Slice & Serve

Grab a hot potato with a clean kitchen towel and bang it down firmly on the counter once to fluff up the flesh. Cut open, season generously with salt and freshly ground pepper, and top with unsalted butter, sour cream, and chopped chives.

 

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Russet Potato
Photography by: Bryan Gardner

How to Pick a Potato

Look for these three signs of greatness:

  • A smooth surface and even complexion. If a tater has lots of eyes or dark spots, skip it.
  • A tan jacket. A greenish tint means that it’s old.
  • Some heft. Choose ones that feel heavy for their size.

 

3 Loaded Variations

Pile on these hearty toppings to turn the steakhouse side into a satisfying, self-contained meal. To amp up the flavor, always season the inside with salt and pepper before adding other toppings.

roasted broccoli with cheddar-cheese sauce baked potato
Photography by: Sidney Bensimon

Broccoli-Cheddar Baked Potato

Toss 4 cups broccoli florets with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Spread onto a rimmed baking sheet; season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. When potatoes are halfway through baking, place sheet on rack in lower third. Cook until broccoli is tender and brown in places, about 20 minutes. Melt 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour. Cook until golden, about 1 minute. Whisk in 1 1/2 cups whole milk. Boil, whisking, until thickened slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt until smooth. Top potatoes with broccoli and drizzle with sauce; serve.

 

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blt baked potato
Photography by: Sidney Bensimon

BLT Baked Potato

In a bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Top baked potatoes with shredded romaine or iceberg lettuce, halved cherry tomatoes seasoned with salt, and crumbled cooked bacon. Drizzle generously with buttermilk dressing and serve.

 

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rajas with sour cream baked potato
Photography by: Sidney Bensimon

Baked Potato with Poblanos and Sour Cream

Halve and thinly slice 2 stemmed, seeded poblano peppers and 1 small white onion. Heat 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add peppers and onion, season with kosher salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden in places, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup chicken broth or water and 1/4 cup sour cream. Boil until mixture thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in 2 teaspoons each Worcestershire sauce and fresh lime juice. Top baked potatoes with mixture and serve with more sour cream and cilantro leaves.

 

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