Baked potatoes are an American classic and they are the perfect side to a grilled steak, chicken or fish. Potatoes are extremely versatile and can be prepared in any way imaginable. A lot of people do not attempt to bake their own potatoes in the oven; they usually cook them in the microwave because this is the fastest way to get a baked potato. If you have the time to bake them in the oven, it makes the potato much more enjoyable and the flavor of the potato is much better. Follow these simple steps to making the best tasting baked potato that you won’t want to make them in the microwave again.

1. Make sure you get “baking” potatoes from the grocery store. The most widely used baking potato is a Russet potato. Make sure to pick ones that are a nice even brown and a good size for baking.

2. When you are ready to bake the potatoes, start by thoroughly washing the potatoes and gently scrubbing the skins. Make sure to get all the dirt off of the skin. Pat the potatoes dry with a clean towel.

3. Depending on your time frame, preheat the oven to 325 for a slower cook time or up to 400 for a faster cook time.

4. While the oven is preheating, begin to pierce the potato with a fork or knife. Pierce the potato about five times on each side. This will help to vent the steam from the potato. If you would like some flavor on your potato you can rub the potato with butter, olive oil or any other type of oil that you prefer. After coating with butter or oil, use a nice coarse salt and top the potato with salt. If there are other seasonings that you like to use on your potatoes, you can also sprinkle with pepper or even garlic salt. The seasoning options are endless for a baked potato.

5. Place the potatoes on a cookie sheet and bake for 90 minutes on 325 degrees, 60 minutes on 350 degrees, or 45 minutes on 400 degrees. Make sure that you turn the potatoes half way through the cooking time to make sure the potatoes are cooked evenly.

6. The potatoes are fully cooked when you insert a fork with little or no force into the potatoes. Make sure that you check the largest potato to ensure that all of the potatoes are ready.

7. Take the potatoes out of the oven and enjoy!

If you follow these simple steps, you are sure to get the most perfect potato every time. Potatoes are a food that everyone enjoys and everyone can fix their own way. Baking a potato has endless possibilities and you can even let the children help with preparing them and let them season their own potatoes with the seasonings that they like. Great memories are made in the kitchen so get everyone involved and as always, happy cooking!

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