How to Bake a Potato the Fast and Easy Way

Use both the microwave and regular oven

Baked potato

J Shepherd / Getty Images

The humble baked potato. To some, it's a simple side dish, while to others it's a meal in itself when crowned with hearty toppings. Either way, baked potatoes are inexpensive and a wholesome way to add heft to the plate. Whether you're trying to stretch your food dollar or creating a baked potato bar for a fun meal, baked potatoes are guaranteed to please.

The only problem is they take an hour to cook, which requires planning ahead. If you're trying to get dinner on the table in a hurry, there is actually a method you can employ: Use the microwave to speed up the cooking process, cutting the baking time in half. While microwaving to completely cook the potato will result in a soft and mealy Russet, cooking in the microwave for just 5 to 6 minutes before placing in the oven keeps the potato's original texture. Drizzling with olive oil and sprinkling with salt before baking at 400 F will allow the skin to get nice and crisp.

how to bake potatoes illustration
The Spruce

Ingredients

Russet potatoes

Extra virgin olive oil

Steps to the Perfect Baked Potato Done Quickly

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Scrub the potatoes with a brush under running water, then dry them off.
  3. With a fork, stab each potato in the center once, then flip it over and stab it on the other side. This allows steam to vent as the potato cooks.
  4. Microwave the potatoes on high for 5 to 6 minutes for up to two potatoes, 10 to 12 minutes for four potatoes. For more than four potatoes, it is best to microwave them two at a time.
  5. Carefully transfer the microwaved potatoes to a sheet pan. Drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil, smearing it around so that the potatoes are evenly coated. (Be careful since the potatoes are hot.)
  6. Sprinkle the salt generously over the potatoes and smear that around so that each potato is evenly coated.
  7. Place the potatoes directly on the middle oven rack. You can put the baking sheet on the rack below to catch any drippings. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the skins are crispy and a skewer slides easily into the potato.
  8. Remove the baked potatoes from the oven. Split them open and serve with your favorite toppings.

Tips

  • Russet potatoes, also sometimes called Idaho potatoes, make the best baked potatoes. They're big and starchy, with thick dark skin that gets beautifully crispy in the oven.
  • Cooking the potatoes directly on the oven rack assures that you will get an evenly cooked potato with a crispy skin. Do not be tempted to wrap each potato in aluminum foil as that will steam the potatoes instead of roasting them.