The term "meat and potatoes" typically describes a meal that, while balanced and nutritious, isn’t very exciting. Potatoes, however, are delicious, and can be prepared in so many ways to enhance any meal or even eaten on their own. Few potato dishes have so much potential for combining simplicity with deliciousness as the baked potato.
A baked potato by itself can be bland, but if you incorporate the right ingredients, it can be incredibly flavorful. Recipe developer Miriam Hahn has put together this filling and easy-to-make baked potato recipe. They simply melt in your mouth, providing a hearty and savory treat with some real flavor, despite needing only a few ingredients. That said, you can really dress it up with everything from roasted vegetables to chili.
"They make a great side or with some [toppings] they can be a meal," she says. "It is fun to set up a baked potato bar and have everyone in the family stuff their potato how they like it. This along with a huge green salad is a great weeknight dinner idea." Who doesn’t love a good baked potato bar? Of course, for the sake of this recipe, we’ll walk you through how to make the perfect simple baked potato. From there, the topping options are up to you!
Gather the ingredients for simple baked potatoes
For this simple recipe, all you’ll need is two large russet potatoes, avocado oil, salt, and pepper. Once you’ve made the perfect potato, however, you may want to pile on some optional toppings. As for topping ideas, Hahn suggests "everything from the basic butter and salt to themed options like black beans, salsa and guacamole to make a Mexican style potato." You could also add some chili, broccoli and cheese, roasted vegetables — the possibilities are truly endless.
Scrub the potatoes
Preheat the oven to 450 F. While it heats up, you can prep this whole meal since it only takes 5 minutes. Start by scrubbing the potatoes well with a vegetable brush over a colander. Once they’re properly clean, dry them with a clean dish towel or a paper towel. "Potatoes are very dirty and always have a thick layer of dirt on them," explains Hahn. "I always buy organic potatoes and scrub them well to clean them up."
Pierce the potatoes and start baking them
Pierce each of the potatoes about five to eight times with a fork. "You pierce the potatoes so they have a way to release steam while cooking and cook more evenly," explains Hahn. Once properly pierced, place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Put the tray in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. After that 30-minute run, you’re more than halfway done.
Brush oil on the potatoes
After this first half hour, take the tray out of the oven and place it on a heat-safe surface. Brush both sides with the oil, then sprinkle on the salt and pepper. Flip these potatoes over and bake them for 30 more minutes. After the 30 minutes, take them out to see if they are done by inserting a knife. If it glides out easily they’re ready. If they need more time, put them back in the oven for 5 to 10 more minutes. According to Hahn, "I use avocado oil because it has a high smoke point. Since we are baking at 450 F it is best to use an oil that won’t break down and become carcinogenic." She adds, "Avocado oil is what I use for anything I cook at high heat."
Finish, top, and serve your potatoes
When they’re finally done, slice open the potatoes and, using both hands, pinch the edges to open them wider. "They are super hot when they come out of the oven," Hahn warns. "You have to let them cool before cutting into and pinching." She suggests using a clean dish towel to protect your fingers as you open the potatoes. Finally, after all of that patient waiting, you’re ready to serve and enjoy these perfectly baked potatoes! To keep them simple, just top them off with a little butter, cheese, or sour cream. If you want to get more creative, however, feel free to pile on any toppings.
- 2 large russet potatoes
- 2 teaspoons avocado oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- cheese, for topping
- butter, for topping
- sour cream, for topping
- Preheat the oven to 450 F.
- Scrub the potatoes well with a vegetable brush. Dry them with a clean dish towel or paper towel.
- Pierce each potato about 5 to 8 times with a fork
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place potatoes on the tray. Bake for 30 minutes.
- When done, take the tray out of the oven and brush both sides with the oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Flip them over and bake 30 more minutes. Test to see if they are done by inserting a knife and seeing if it glides out easily. If they need more time, put them back in the oven for 5 to 10 more minutes
- When the potatoes are done, slice them open and using both hands pinch the edges to open them wider.
- Top the potatoes with butter, salt, pepper, sour cream, cheese, or your favorite toppings.