Loaded baked potatoes are a classic comfort food that the entire family will enjoy. Fluffy, perfectly baked potatoes are filled with toppings like butter, bacon, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and chives.
Who doesn't love a loaded baked potato? They're easy to pop into the oven and bake until fluffy and tender. Then they can easily be customized with your favorite toppings.
Make a batch of loaded baked potatoes for the next weeknight family meal. Once the potatoes are done baking, set out a toppings bar and let everyone assemble their own. It's a great dinner for picky eaters - let them pick their own favorite add-ons!
We've topped our loaded potatoes with butter, sour cream, shredded cheese, bacon, and chives. Feel free to get creative and add your favorites to the mix.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Potatoes - I highly recommend using russet potatoes. They are low in moisture and high in starch, meaning they'll bake up light and fluffy in the oven. Russet potatoes may also be labeled as Idaho potatoes in the US. Sweet potatoes would also work as an alternative in this recipe.
- Salt - You'll need two tablespoons of salt to make a brine. Not all of this salt will make its way onto your potatoes, so don't worry about them turning out "salty".
- Water - Used to make a brine - simple tap water is fine.
- Toppings - Butter, salt, pepper, sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream, bacon, and chives - feel free to use your favorites!
Tips and tricks
- Potato size - Choose medium potatoes that are all about the same size - around 8 to 10 ounces is ideal for this recipe. This way, your potatoes all finish cooking at the same time. Larger potatoes take much longer to cook through.
- Scrub your potatoes - Give your potatoes a quick scrub under running water before beginning. Potatoes are often coated in dirt and debris that washes off easily.
- Prick with a fork - Prick each potato about 6 times with a fork - about ¼ to ½ inch deep. This helps prevent your potatoes from exploding in the oven.
- Do not wrap in foil - Wrapping potatoes in foil traps moisture inside, causing the potatoes to turn out soggy. We want that moisture to escape to create a crisp skin and fluffy interior.
- Testing for doneness - I highly recommend using an instant-read thermometer if you have one on hand. Baked potatoes are fluffy and perfectly cooked when they reach 205 degrees Fahrenheit in the center. Other ways to check for doneness? Pierce through a potato with a fork or metal skewer. If it slides through easily with no resistance, your potatoes are done.
- Optionally, brush with oil - Once your potatoes are done, brush them with oil and return them to the oven for another 10 minutes. This helps crisp up that skin even more and adds extra flavor. We add oil at the end because otherwise, it seals in the moisture and cause the potatoes to turn out soggy.
- Slice potatoes open quickly - For best results, slice your baked potatoes open quickly after baking. Otherwise, steam builds up inside and makes the exterior heavy.
A brine adds flavor to the skin of the potatoes and helps the skin turn out crispy when baked. It also seeps into the potato where the skin has been pierced, which helps season the flesh of the potato.
Have you ever tried to salt a potato? Large salt granules like to roll right off. Using a brine ensures the salt adheres to the skin and seasons the potato evenly.
Want to add new flavor to your loaded baked potato? Here are more topping ideas:
- Pepper jack cheese
- Feta cheese
- Ranch dressing
- Green onion
- Pulled pork
- Steamed broccoli
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Grilled corn cut off the cob
- Roasted red peppers
- Barbecue sauce
- Hot sauce
Loaded Baked Potatoes
- 2 tablespoons salt
- ½ cup water
- 4 medium russet potatoes, about 8 to 10 ounces each
Toppings (use your favorites)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed sheet pan with foil and if you have one, place an oven-safe cooling rack on top (this helps air circulate all around your potatoes).
- In a bowl, add salt and water. Stir until salt is dissolved, creating a brine.
- Using a fork, prick each potato about six times all over. Roll each potato in the prepared brine to coat all sides. Place potatoes on prepared sheet pan.
- Bake for about 45 to 60 minutes, or until potatoes reach 205 degrees Fahrenheit in the center. A metal skewer or fork should pierce through the center of the potatoes with little to no resistance.
- Remove from oven and slice open quickly to release steam from the potatoes. Serve immediately with your favorite toppings.
- Don't worry so much about the time it takes to bake the potato. Ovens can run hotter or cooler than the next oven, so the time that worked for me may not work for you. Larger potatoes will take longer to bake. The most important part about this recipe is reaching that 205 degrees Fahrenheit in the center for a fluffy, perfectly baked potato.
- Optionally, brush your finished potatoes with oil and return the oven for 10 minutes for an even crispier skin.
- Leftover baked potatoes will keep for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.