Best Baked Potatoes


I never thought anyone needed a recipe for Baked Potatoes until I tried this method. Now I’m hooked and it’s the only way I’ll ever want to make baked potatoes again! I just don’t think they get any better than this.

Baked Potato

Baked Potatoes

So what makes these baked potatoes so special? This cooking method produces an incredibly fluffy, melt-in-your mouth interior and a crispy, nicely seasoned, slightly browned exterior.

They are the best baked potatoes I’ve ever had! Thanks to Cook’s Illustrated for creating such a simple yet genius recipe.

best baked potato method

What Sets These Baked Potatoes Apart from Others?

A few simple steps are what turn a good baked potato into a great baked potato.

  • The quick salt brine. It adds great flavor to the skin and even seeps into the potato a bit in the areas where pierced.
  • Using high heat. That 450 degree temperature prevents leathery skin.
  • Taking the temperature with an instant read thermometor. Taking the temperature of a potato? Yes, 205 degrees is the ideal temperature for a fluffy interior (then you’ll baste and add just 10 more minutes to that).
  • A light basting of vegetable oil crispens up the skin. But only add at the last 10 minutes or you’ll end with soggy skin. (The brine and basting is why you need to use that baking sheet and and wire rack).
  • Cutting the potatoes open immediately after baking. Otherwise they’ll sit and steam inside and become heavy. The fluffy interior is everything I’m telling you.

One more thing I ought to mention is that you want to use potatoes that are very similar in size so they’ll finish up at the same time.

Baked Potatoes ingredients shown here potatoes water salt vegetable oil

What You’ll Need for this Recipe

  • 4 (7 – 9 oz) russet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil (don’t use olive oil or it will smoke at this high heat)
  • Desired toppings, such as butter, pepper, cheddar, chives, bacon, sour cream

how to bake potatoes

The Best Way to Bake a Potato

First you’ll start out by preheating oven to 450 degrees.

Then scrub and rinse each potato to remove any dirt. Then using a fork, pierce the potato 3 times on two sides (6 times total).

Baked Potatoes shown here rolling in salt water brine before baking

Next in a large mixing bowl whisk together water and salt until salt has dissolved. Then roll potatoes in water to evenly cover with water mixture.

Baked Potatoes shown here set on a wire rack over a baking sheet before baking

Transfer potatoes to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until potatoes register 205 degrees on an instant read thermometer (they should be nearly soft), about 45 – 60 minutes.

Baked Potatoes shown here brushing with vegetable oil

Remove from oven and brush with oil then return to oven and bake 10 minutes longer. Cut potatoes open just after removing then using a clean kitchen towel squeeze potato open while being careful of steam.

Serve immediately with desired toppings.

how to cook baked potatoes oven

This Oven Method Makes the Best Baked Potato. Period.

Do you believe me yet? That you need to try this method? I’ve made hundreds, probably even thousands of baked potatoes in my life but never any this good. They’re perfectly seasoned, perfectly soft and tender, and have a delicious crisp skin.

Baked potatoes are one of my go-to side dishes and now I can say I’ve found the best. So good in fact you honestly don’t even need all the toppings, but hey who can resist bacon?

Baked Potatoes

What Should I Serve with These Baked Potatoes?

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Baked Potatoes

5 from 12 votes

This simple method yields the best baked potatoes on the planet! Fluffy, moist interior and salty, crispy exterior. Load them up with all your favorite toppings or just serve with butter and a little salt and pepper.

Servings: 4
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 4 (7 - 9 oz. each) russet potatoes, scrubbed clean and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 Tbsp (32g) salt
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a wire rack over a rimmed 18 by 13-inch baking sheet.

  2. Pierce each potato 6 times (3 times on two sides) with a fork.

  3. In a large bowl whisk together water and salt until salt has dissolved. 

  4. Roll each potato in salt water to coat entirely, transfer to a wire rack while spacing evenly apart.

  5. Bake in preheated oven until center registers 205 degrees on an instant read thermometer (potatoes should almost be soft inside when pressed).

  6. Brush potatoes with vegetable oil, return to oven and bake 10 minutes longer.

  7. Remove from oven and immediately cut a slit or "X" across to release steam. Using a kitchen towel squeeze ends to open then top as desired.

  8. Recipe source: from Cook's Illustrated

Nutrition Facts
Baked Potatoes
Amount Per Serving
Calories 208 Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g 5%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Sodium 594mg 25%
Potassium 945mg 27%
Total Carbohydrates 40g 13%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 1g
Protein 4g 8%
Vitamin C 15.7%
Calcium 2.9%
Iron 10.8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: baked potato
Calories: 208 kcal
Author: Jaclyn


  • Judith L. Crowell: This is my go to method for baking potatoes. Guests ask me to serve baked potatoes.
    I add one step at the end. I do a quick roll in kosher salt when I baste the potatoes with oil at the end. Only a small amount of salt adheres, just enough to make that skin extra delicious. May 23, 2019 at 8:05am Reply

  • Linda: Love this recipe. Thanks for sharing. May 12, 2019 at 1:39pm Reply

  • Jim: This is the only way I bake potatoes now. Everyone who eats them raves about how good they are. And for us peeling eaters…well, the way they crisp up makes the peeling especially tasty. May 11, 2019 at 10:18pm Reply

  • Michele Fraser: These really were easy & excellent. Followed recipe exactly. April 11, 2019 at 4:36pm Reply

    • Michael Moran: Simply the best baked potato ever. May 21, 2019 at 3:14pm Reply

  • Denise: These are perfect baked potatoes! I’ll never make them any other way! March 28, 2019 at 5:36pm Reply

  • Sandy Reeves: Jaclyn…thanks for this cooking method, I can’t wait to try it. We also like baked sweet potatoes. Have you ever tried them using this same method? January 3, 2019 at 3:09pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I haven’t tried this same method for sweet potatoes but the sweet and salty combo does sound tasty. January 3, 2019 at 4:42pm Reply

    • JimZielinski: Check Cook’s Illustrated who did the recipe for the russet potatoes and tried the same process for the sweets: disaster or close to it. Dense and mushy
      They are from two separate families but Cook’s Illustrated did develop a recipe April 4, 2019 at 11:29pm Reply

  • J. Jackson: Yes! Finally a recipe that makes fluffy potatoes.
    I didn’t have a baking rack so I rolled foil and formed little rings. I placed the rings on a baking sheet and balanced a potato on each ring. The potatoes were fluffy like at a classy steak restaurant. Delicious! November 27, 2018 at 9:40pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Great idea, thanks for the tip! November 27, 2018 at 9:46pm Reply

  • Debbie: Hi Jaclyn,
    Can I cook them ahead for large party, then baste and salt for last 10 min when needed – so they dont become to dense? Thanks October 30, 2018 at 4:44pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: This recipe is best served right away, I don’t think there’s an make ahead option here unfortunately. November 9, 2018 at 2:53pm Reply

    • JimZielinski: During the month of April each year I personally cook generally about 7000 potatoes for the Kiwanis Salmon BBQ and I followed this formula to a T and no, they don’t hold well too long April 4, 2019 at 4:17pm Reply

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