This Simple Recipe Makes the Best Baked Potatoes You’ve Ever Eaten

April 1, 2021 Updated: April 1, 2021

To produce baked potatoes with an evenly fluffy interior, we figured out their ideal doneness temperature is 205 degrees F. And while a microwave might seem like a fast way to “bake” a potato, we found several reasons why it’s actually the worst approach.

First, microwaves heat foods very unevenly, so some parts of the potato might rapidly reach 205 degrees while others get to only 180 degrees. Second, rapidly heating a potato causes pressure to build and cell walls to burst, releasing starch molecules that glue together the broken cell walls. And lastly, baking them in a hot (450-degree) oven prevents a leathery “pellicle” from forming underneath the peel.

Before tossing the potatoes in the oven, we coated them in salty water. We then crisped the skin by painting it with vegetable oil once the potatoes were cooked through and baked the potatoes for an additional 10 minutes.

People might not think they need a recipe for something so simple as a baked potato, but this recipe truly makes the best baked potatoes you’ve ever eaten.

Best Baked Potatoes

Serves 4

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 (7- to 9-ounce) russet potatoes, unpeeled, each lightly pricked with fork in 6 places
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Dissolve 2 tablespoons salt in 1/2 cup water in a large bowl. Place potatoes in the bowl and toss so the exteriors of the potatoes are evenly moistened. Transfer potatoes to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the center of the largest potato registers 205 degrees, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Remove potatoes from the oven and brush the tops and sides with oil. Return potatoes to the oven and continue to bake for 10 minutes.

Remove potatoes from the oven and, using paring knife, make 2 slits, forming an X, in each potato. Using a clean dish towel, hold the ends and squeeze slightly to push flesh up and out. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with the toppings of your choice.

Recipe Note: Open up the potatoes immediately after removal from the oven in Step 3 so steam can escape.

For 25 years, confident cooks in the know have relied on America’s Test Kitchen for rigorously tested recipes developed by professional test cooks and vetted by 60,000 at-home recipe testers. See more online at AmericasTestKitchen.com/TCA. Copyright 2021 America’s Test Kitchen. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.