Loaded Baked Potato Skins With Cheese and Bacon

Loaded potato skins with cheddar cheese and bacon.
The Spruce / Diana Rattray
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 80 mins
Total: 95 mins
Servings: 16 servings

These baked potato skins include a combination of shredded cheese, bacon, and green onions. The potato skins are a delicious snack, and they're always a hit. Because the potatoes skins are baked, not fried, they need very little hands-on cooking time, and you don't have to worry about cooking in batches. Another plus, they're lighter than deep-fried potato skins.

Feel free to adjust the toppings. Spicy pepper jack cheese or gruyere would be excellent alternatives. Any good melty cheese will work in these tasty potato skins. For meat-free potato skins, replace the bacon with sautéed mushrooms or a vegetarian meat replacement.

Bake them and serve them as a snack for a family movie night or scale the recipe up for a large group or party. Or add them to a breakfast or brunch menu; they're an excellent alternative to home fries or hash brown potatoes.

Ingredients

  • For the Baked Potatoes and Bacon:
  • 4 large baking potatoes (e.g., russets, Idaho; about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 strips bacon
  • For the Toppings:
  • Black pepper (freshly ground, to taste)
  • 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese (mild, shredded)
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 green onions (thinly sliced)

Steps to Make It

Prepare the Baked Potatoes and Bacon

  1. Gather the ingredients for the baked potatoes and bacon. Heat the oven to 400 F.

    Ingredients for baked potatoes and bacon.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  2. Scrub the potatoes and dry them thoroughly. Rub the potatoes with olive oil and then sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Prick them in several places with a fork, a metal skewer, or a small knife. Place the potatoes on a rack in a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake the potatoes for about 1 hour, or until they are tender.

    Coat the potatoes with olive oil and kosher salt and bake.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  3. While the potatoes bake, cook the bacon. Dice the bacon and spread it out in a skillet. Place the skillet over medium-low heat and cook, stirring frequently, for about 7 to 9 minutes, or until the pieces are browned and crisp. Drain the bacon on paper towels and reserve the drippings in a small bowl. Set aside.

    Cook the bacon pieces.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  4. When the baked potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop out the potato, leaving about 1/4-inch to make a sturdy shell. Brush the inside of the potato shells with bacon drippings and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and pepper. Arrange the skins on the baking sheet, cut-side down. Brush the outside of the skins lightly with bacon drippings (or use melted butter). Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake for about 7 minutes. Flip them over and bake for 4 to 5 minutes longer, or until the edges are browned. Lower the oven to 350 F.

    Bake the baked potato shells to crisp.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

Prepare the Toppings and Assembly

  1. Gather the ingredients for the toppings.

    Ingredients for potato skin toppings.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  2. Divide the cheese among the 8 potato shells. Return the pan to the 350 F oven and cook for about 7 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

    Fill the baked potato shells with cheddar cheese.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  3. Remove the potato skins to a rack and top the cheese with bacon and a light sprinkling of green onion. Add a small scoop of sour cream and more green onion. 

    Note: If you plan to save some for later, refrigerate the baked skins without toppings. Place them on a baking sheet and reheat in a 350 F oven for about 10 minutes; top with the bacon, green onion, and sour cream.

    Assemble the potato skins with toppings.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  4. Serve the potato skins hot. Enjoy!

What Are the Best Potatoes for Baking?

The best baking potatoes are starchy varieties, such as russets or Idaho baking potatoes. Medium starch Yukon Gold potatoes are fine for baking, but they will be a bit denser and less fluffy.

How to Use Leftover Cooked Potatoes

  • Mash with melted butter and warm milk; season with salt and pepper.
  • Mash and make potato patties.
  • Mash them and top a shepherd's pie or cottage pie.
  • Add some to a meatloaf.
  • Add some to bread stuffing or dressing.
  • Use them in a casserole.
  • Make Norwegian lefse.

Recipe Variations

  • Replace the green onions with a few tablespoons of chopped chives.
  • For appetizer-sized portions, slice the baked potatoes lengthwise into quarters. Scoop out the potato and proceed with the recipe.
  • Pizza Potato Skins: Use a blend of mozzarella cheese and shredded cheddar. Replace the cooked bacon with mini pepperoni, and add the pepperoni to the potato shells after adding the cheese. Bake until the cheese has melted and then add some sliced ripe olives, peppers, or other favorite toppings.
  • Bacon Cheeseburger Potato Skins: Top the melted cheese with hot browned ground beef and sautéed mushrooms or onions.

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