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How to Bake Potatoes in the Oven

How to Bake Potatoes in the Oven

Last Updated on 20th January 2022 by

Have you ever tried to bake potatoes and had them come out overly burnt or dry? Baked potatoes are a staple of many great meals, and for experienced cooks, they are simple dish. If you’ve never made them before, then, like any new dish, they can be intimidating.

I want to share with you how to bake potatoes in the oven perfectly every single time. If you’re worried that your potatoes won’t turn out quite right and that you’ll waste all that time cooking them just for them to be ruined, then let’s put those fears to rest.

How to Make Baked Potatoes in the Oven

You want to start by selecting really nice looking potatoes. You may want to cut off parts of the potato that aren’t very appealing, like the little nubs called eyes or any parts that look rotten. Trying to start with potatoes that look good in the first place. Choosing them carefully from the grocery or market.

If you do have to slice off unsavory-looking parts of your potatoes, that’ll leave you with less potato to eat and make your potatoes not look as appealing.

It’s best to use your potatoes within a few days of purchasing them so that they are still in great shape by the time you’re ready to cook them.

You should scrub your potatoes before baking them. Rinsing them probably isn’t enough, because depending on where you source your potatoes from, there may be dirt that is stuck onto the potatoes that will need a good scouring to get off.

Baking Directions

  1. Once your potatoes are prepared for baking, you can start by preheating your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. With a fork, poke several holes over the surface of the potatoes. These don’t have to be very deep.
  3. Put the potatoes onto the baking sheet and rub oil on the outside. Sprinkle table salt or iodized salt all over the potatoes and then bake for about 50 minutes. The potatoes should be tender when poked with a fork, and the skin should be crispy, if the potatoes are fully baked.
  4. Once cooked, you can slice the potatoes open on top and add your favorite toppings.

You can top your baked potatoes with butter, sour cream, bacon bits, chives, or whatever else you like.

How Long to Bake Potatoes in the Oven?

Keep in mind when baking potatoes in the oven that you’ll need to change your baking time based on how many potatoes are in the oven and how many shelves you have them baking on.

45 to 60 minutes is adequate for a single row of potatoes to bake, but if you have potatoes on multiple racks in your oven, you may need to bake them for longer.

Be sure to check the tenderness of all your potatoes before serving them. The potatoes closest to the heating elements in the oven will cook faster.

Also, smaller potatoes will cook faster than larger ones, so keep that in mind. If you have an assortment of different sizes of potatoes and you’re going to cook on multiple racks, you can place the larger potatoes closer to the heat so that they cook at about the same rate as the smaller potatoes.

How to Bake Sweet Potatoes in the Oven

You may be wondering if there are different cooking directions you’ll need to follow or different cooking times when you’re baking sweet potatoes. I covered how to bake potatoes in the oven, but can you use the same instructions to cook sweet potatoes?

If you’re switching between the two kinds of potatoes, the good news is that you can use the exact same cooking directions. You can even cook regular potatoes (Russet, Idaho, etc.) right alongside your sweet potatoes and not do anything different than the instructions I’ve given you above. That keeps things really simple, right?

So, how long to bake sweet potatoes in the oven for? You can bake them for the same 45 to 60 minutes as you would regular potatoes.

Remember that not all potatoes cook at the same rate, as larger ones will be quite dense and will need time to get cooked all the way through. The placement of the potatoes is important as well, as those lower down in the oven will tend to cook faster.

You know your sweet potatoes are done cooking when the outside skin is crispy and the interior pith is soft when you poke it with a fork.

It’s perfectly fine to test whether potatoes are done by stabbing them with a fork. Just try to keep your pokes clean and straight so that they don’t make large holes.

If you’re concerned about how the potatoes will look because of how you poke them, you can give them a poke on the underside and then slice them open on the top when you’re ready to serve them.

That way, the fork punctures won’t be so visible. You can also use toothpicks instead of a fork to check the potatoes to see whether they are done. That way, you will only make one puncture hole instead of several.

When cooking potatoes, it’s better to undercook them than overcook them. If you burn them, there’s not much you can do to salvage your potatoes.

If you poke them and they’re still tough and difficult to pierce with the fork or toothpick, then they can simply go back in the oven.

This is one of those foods that even if you take it in and out of the oven a few times to cook for longer, it’s not going to damage the end result.

Try to cook your potatoes for 45 minutes to start with, and then you can test them when they come out of the oven and see if they need additional time.

Once you’ve been baking potatoes for a while in the oven, you’ll have a better idea of how long it takes them to become soft.

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I'm Pauline, a retired patisserie chef, mother of four and now a full time food blogger! When i'm not cooking i love long walks, reading thriller novels and spending time with my grandkids. Head to my about me page to learn more about the woman behind the food!  You can find my Facebook here