Here are five ways to bake whole potatoes using an oven, microwave, slow cooker, grill, or air-fryer. No matter what your cooking set up is at home, you can enjoy baked 'taters, precious.

A baked potato can be a simple side dish topped with butter and herbs, or a hearty meal in itself, stuffed with whatever your hungry imagination has in mind. (Got leftover chili, stew, or vegetables? Tuck them into your baked potato.) But first, you need to bake a potato so it's tender and fluffy and ready to showcase those toppings. Ready. Set. Bake!

1. How to Bake a Potato in the Oven

Best for when you've got other things to do for an hour or so.

Baked Potato with bacon, scallions, and cheese
Credit: Soup Loving Nicole

Try this recipe: Baked Potato

Turn the oven on to 350° F. (Note that the oven does not have to be fully up to temperature before you put the potato in. Convenient, right?) Scrub the potato with a vegetable brush. Prick all over with a fork or cut a deep slit on the top to release steam as it cooks. At this point, you can bake it three different ways:

  1. For crispy skin, place a potato directly on the middle oven rack and bake for 60 to 90 minutes.
  2. For tender skin, pat your potato dry and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt (optional), place in a baking dish, and bake for 60 to 90 minutes. For skin that's even more tender, wrap your scrubbed, pricked, dried, oiled, seasoned potato in foil before baking on the oven rack or in a baking dish.

Tip: Pierce the potato before wrapping it in foil. If you pierce it afterwards, you might push bits of foil into the potato. (Not exactly what you want in your baked potato.)

How long to bake potatoes? Total cooking time depends on the size of the potato; it's done when its starch has become tender and fluffy. To test, put on an oven glove and lightly squeeze the potato. It should easily give way to gentle pressure.

2. How to Bake a Potato in the Microwave

Great for cooks in a hurry.

Microwave Baked Potato topped with sour cream and bacon
Credit: France C

Try this recipe: Microwave Baked Potato

Scrub the potato, prick all over with a fork, and place on a microwave-safe plate. How long does it take to bake a potato in the microwave? Again, it depends. The user's manual that comes with your microwave may have instructions. But if not, start by cooking the scrubbed and pricked potato on full power for 5 minutes. Turn over and cook again for 5 minutes, or until the potato is soft when squeezed. Note the skin will not be crisp like an oven-baked or grilled potato.

3. How to Bake a Potato in the Slow Cooker

When you need to keep your oven free, you don't want to heat up your kitchen, or you want potatoes to bake while you're away.

Slow Cooker Baked Potatoes
Credit: bd.weld

Try this recipe: Slow Cooker Baked Potato

Scrub potatoes and prick all over with a fork. Rub the skin with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and dried herbs (optional). Wrap with foil, and cook on High for 4½ to 5 hours, or on LOW for 7½ to 8 hours until soft.

4. How to Bake a Potato on the Grill

A classic choice for camping or cookouts.

potatoes wrapped in foil on a grill
Credit: lovestohose

Heat grill to medium-high. Scrub potatoes and boil for 5 minutes to jumpstart the cooking process. Or prick with a fork and microwave for 2 minutes, turn them over, and microwave for another 2 minutes. (Obviously, if you're camping you might not have a microwave handy.) Rub skin with olive oil and season as desired. Now you can grill it a couple of different ways:

  1. Place wrapped or unwrapped potato on the heated grill, close cover and cook over indirect heat for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until potato is tender. OR
  2. Double wrap potato in heavy-duty foil and bury in hot coals for 30 to 60 minutes, or until tender.

5. How to Bake a Potato in an Air Fryer

Another good use for your air fryer.

Air Fryer Baked Potatoes
Credit: Soup Loving Nicole

Try this recipe: Air Fryer Baked Potato

Poke some holes in your scrubbed potatoes with a fork. Rub them with a little vegetable oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and other seasonings if you like, and place them in the air fryer basket. Don't crowd the potatoes because you want the hot air circulating around them. Cook at 390° F. How long does it take to bake a potato in the air fryer? Depends on the size, of course. Check after about 35 minutes. The air fryer will create a nice crispy skin.

Baked Potato Serving Ideas

Ultimate Twice Baked Potatoes
Credit: Allrecipes Magazine
  • Slice the potato in half to form two boats, make slits in the flesh, and top as desired. Or use the two halves to make twice-baked potatoes.
  • Cut a slit down along the top and squeeze both ends of the potato toward the center to fluff up the starch and release the steam. Top as desired with butter, sour cream, cheese, vegetables, chili, get the picture.

Best Potatoes for Baking

When it comes to baking, a russet potato is your best choice. Also known as an Idaho or baking potato (go figure), a russet potato contains the kind of starch that cooks up drier and flakier, making it ideal for soaking up butter, sour cream, chili, and whatever else you're pouring over your potato. Its thick skin also helps the potato create its own delicious, edible serving bowl.

Buying and Storing Potatoes

Choose dry, firm, smooth-skinned russet potatoes without cuts, bruises, sprouts, or hints of green. That greenish tinge is caused by a poisonous glycoalkaloid called solanine, caused when the potato is exposed to light during the growing cycle. Always cut the green parts away before cooking. The sprouts are harmless signs of growth, but should be cut out before baking. Store potatoes in a cool, dry, dark spot with ventilation (not in a plastic bag).

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