Take your baked potatoes to the next level with these helpful tricks.
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Chickpea-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Credit: CAITLIN BENSEL

There are few dishes simpler and more satisfying than a classic baked potato. When prepared and cooked correctly, baked potatoes have the potential to be the star of a meal, especially since they're incredibly versatile, inexpensive, and filling. While they're equally delicious slathered in salted butter and served alongside a juicy steak, there are many ways to enjoy baked spuds as a meal itself.

The key to making the best baked potatoes really comes down to just a few factors: using the right type of potato, proper preparation, employing the correct cooking method, and, of course, getting creative with toppings. We tapped several professional chefs to get some tricks for making perfect baked potatoes, and it turns out there are certainly some ways to enhance your taters, as well as some pitfalls to avoid.

How to Make a Perfect Baked Potato at Home

Follow the below advice from professional chefs in order to make a stellar baked potato without ever leaving in the house.

Preparation

One of the most common mistakes when baking potatoes is tightly wrapping them up in foil and tossing them into the oven. According to Joshua Resnick, chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education, there are simple ways to enhance the flavor by achieving that sensational crispy skin. Resnick suggests giving your potatoes a thorough salt scrub, which helps to tenderize them and remove any dirt. "Add a good amount of salt and enough water to make a loose paste, and then just use your hands to rub the salt all over the potatoes," he advises.

From there, Resnick dries the potatoes with a towel, pierces them with a fork, and brushes them with oil and fine sea salt before popping them in the oven. Piercing the potatoes with a fork helps to release steam and ensures that the potato cooks evenly. Resnick also says to "avoid using olive oil when brushing your potatoes because it can cause them to burn and develop a bitter taste." Instead, use a cooking oil with a higher smoke-point, such as avocado oil or vegetable oil.

Cooking Methods

Have you ever dug into a soft, fluffy baked potato at a restaurant and wondered how to get that beautiful, buttery consistency when cooking them at home? Natural food chef and certified nutritionist Liana Werner-Gray knows the secret. She begins by boiling the potatoes for 15 minutes, and then draining them to steam-dry. This method pre-cooks the potatoes, allowing the inside to get nice and soft.

Werner-Gray then adds the spuds to a baking tray with olive oil, vegan butter (though any type of butter will do), sea salt, and garlic before placing them in a hot oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit to bake for about 35 minutes. "Once the potatoes are done, I add fresh herbs, like rosemary, thyme, or sage."

The Best Baking Potato

It's no surprise that not all potatoes are made equally. When it comes to baking potatoes, Chef Sydney Willcox at Restaurant Associates, shares: "You should always start with russet potatoes."

According to Willcox, this is because russets have high starch content, which really allows them to get a nice and fluffy interior. If you don't have russets, red potatoes or Yukon Gold will also do the trick, though they don't have quite the same baked potato texture.

RELATED: 9 Tips for Cooking Perfectly Crispy Oven-Roasted Potatoes

Baked Potato Toppings

Baked potatoes are basically a delicious vehicle for a combination of toppings. It's one of those customizable dishes that you can have fun and get creative with. You can never go wrong with a traditional baked potato topped with luscious sour cream, fresh scallions, and smokey bacon bits.

For some other irresistible savory options, Chef Resnick recommends adding broccoli florets, shredded Cheddar cheese, and buttermilk ranch, or making a homemade garlic confit compound butter and then topping the potato with Gruyere cheese and minced parsley.

The best thing about baked potatoes is that there really isn't a wrong answer when it comes to toppings—you can dress them with homemade chili and shredded cheese, Buffalo chicken and crumbled blue cheese, or you can put a Mexican-inspired spin on it with pico de gallo, black beans, and corn.

Baked Potato Recipes

Now that you know the tips and tricks involved in making a practically perfect baked potato at home, it's time to give one (or more!) of these scrumptious baked potato recipes a try.

Baked sweet potato with feta
Credit: Victor Protasio

1 Baked Sweet Potatoes With Feta Butter

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If you're looking for a main dish or side with layers of flavor, this baked sweet potato has everything you could want. The decadent feta butter adds an irresistibly smooth texture, while the smoky paprika brings a hint of heat, and the toasted pepitas deliver the perfect crunch.

Mini Twice-Baked Loaded Potatoes
Credit: Grace Elkus

2 Mini Twice Baked Loaded Potatoes

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These bite-sized loaded potatoes are so easy to make and are perfect for a party or small gathering. Their crispy potato skin, fluffy interior, and savory toppings make it nearly impossible to limit yourself to just one or two.

Baked-Potato Eggs
Credit: William Meppem

3 Baked-Potato Eggs

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Is there a better combination than cheesy eggs and potatoes? We think not! With just four ingredients, baked-potato eggs are a no-brainer when you want to cook up an easy, filling breakfast or brunch.

RELATED: This Hack for Cooking Mashed Potatoes Is as Easy as Making a Smoothie

Chickpea-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Credit: Caitlin Bensel

4 Chickpea-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

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Need some inspiration for a vegetarian meal? Look no further than these flavorful spiced chickpea-stuffed sweet potatoes. They require almost no effort but have a restaurant-quality taste.