18 Popular Baked Potato Toppings, Ranked

There are few things in this world as wholesome and enjoyable as a baked potato. It's an essentially unfussy food — it's relatively inexpensive and easy to make — but its versatility means it can range from an exceedingly basic side dish to a full-scale entrée depending on what toppings you decide to add. Some of these toppings are absolutely essential. And others? Well, you should forget about them entirely.

If you're not already an expert on baked potato-making, though, you may not quite know where to start. After all, there's a whole world of diverse add-ons you can use to fill and top your spud. If you truly want to take your baked potato to the next level, you'll want to mix and match some of the best toppings (and perhaps leave others out of the mix entirely). We've done the hard work of ranking some of the most popular baked potato toppings so you know what's worth the prep work and what should never, ever go on a baked potato.

Of course, these are just our opinions — don't let us deter you from sticking with your favorite toppings. However, following this guide may just lead you to a whole new, transcendent baked potato experience. 

18. Ranch dressing

We respect your choices and all, but ranch doesn't belong within a 100-mile radius of a baked potato. The sickeningly creamy condiment is nothing but a tool for completely obliterating the flavor of anything it touches. Pour a little of the dressing on top of your baked potato, and it will cease to taste like a potato at all after being overwhelmed by ranch's aggressive tang. 

Sure, maybe if it were the last condiment in the world and you had nothing else to dress your baked potato up with, we could forgive you for this sinful addition (as long as you use it sparingly). But in this version of reality, a ranch-smothered baked potato is truly a crime.

17. Sliced olives

Sliced olives? On a baked potato? Get out of here. First of all, olives belong in their wholly intact form, pit and all. An unpitted olive offers just a fraction of the pleasure you'd get from a proper, undefiled olive. But even if you're just trying to take the easy route, we still don't understand why you'd ever want to add them to your baked potato. Sure, they add a salty, briny flavor to an otherwise bland food, but beyond that, they're two foods that don't seem to go together at all.

We feel like adding sliced olives to your baked potato confers a lack of imagination, like it's the only thing you had in your fridge, so you just decided to go for it and try. But if you're going out of your way to make extraordinary baked potatoes? Forget the sliced olives.

16. Roasted red peppers

Look, we love roasted red peppers, and they certainly have their place in a wide variety of dishes. But when it comes to a baked potato, they just don't belong. They're often stored in oil, and topping them on your tuber may lead to an absolutely oil-soaked potato — not exactly what we're going for. Also, the slippery, slightly slimy texture just doesn't pair well with the carb-iness of the star vehicle.

Admittedly, the flavor of roasted red peppers is delicious, so perhaps if you chop them up finely, you can get away with adding some to your baked potato. But is it something we'd ever prioritize on this most delicious of dishes? Absolutely not. If you want to add peppers to your baked potato, there are much better options to consider.

15. Black beans

Who doesn't love a hearty vegan protein source? Black beans are a delicious addition to a wide variety of dishes, but that doesn't mean you have to add them to everything. If you ask us, they just don't belong on a baked potato. That's because baked potatoes are already exceptionally filling and dense. Adding black beans, which is also a hearty ingredient, may make your potato kind of overwhelming. Plus, unless those beans are very well-seasoned, they're just too bland to add much of an interesting flavor to a potato.

That being said, if you're trying to make your baked potato into a super-filling entrée that you may not even want seconds of, go ahead and add those black beans. Just don't complain to us when you realize how uncomfortably full you feel after your meal.

14. Avocado

It's official: The avocado has officially been overhyped. We get the appeal of the texture. Avocados are rich, creamy, and fatty, which just about everyone loves. But when it comes to flavor? Avocados have very little to offer. That's why it's just not one of our favorite ingredients to add to a baked potato. Sure, that different texture is nice, but potatoes are already so bland that what we're really looking for in a good baked potato topping is a ton of flavor, not just creaminess.

If you're piling your baked potato up with a ton of other toppings, adding some avocado to the mix is acceptable. However, in our opinion, it shouldn't make up the bulk of a good baked potato topping — there's just not enough going on.

13. Chili

Can chili be delicious? Absolutely. But does it have any place on a baked potato? We'd argue that it doesn't. Chili is its own dish, and by adding it to a baked potato, you're relegating it to nothing more than a topping. Does chili really deserve that after it's simmered for hours on the stove? Chili shouldn't be overpowered by the likes of a baked potato. It's more than a condiment, and we should treat it as such.

However, we get that sometimes, you have to add something that's both super-hearty and super-saucy to a baked potato, so in that respect, chili seems like a smart choice. But with so many other, more delicious options to choose from, we just can't get onto the chili bandwagon.

12. Diced ham

We get it: Sometimes, you're craving bacon, but you just don't have any in the house. You don't want to leave home to go to the store for just a single ingredient, so you start looking for alternatives. That's where the diced ham comes in. Does it taste bad? Definitely not. But does it belong on a baked potato? We'd argue that the meaty cubes are a little out of place there. let's face it, there's a far better porky addition (hello, bacon!) to consider, but if you're really in a pinch, is not the absolute worst addition you could make.

If you have some diced ham at home and want to make your baked potato a bit more protein-heavy, go ahead and add it. But we would never suggest choosing diced ham over bacon if there were really an option.

11. Crushed tortilla chips

There are definitely a few pros and cons to consider when you're deciding if you want to add crushed tortilla chips to your baked potato or not. On the plus side, crushed tortilla chips add a ton of texture to a baked potato, providing you with the crispy crunch that transforms even the blandest of foods into a fun snack. But on the other hand, crushed tortilla chips don't offer much in terms of flavor other than salt.

If you're just on the hunt for texture, crushed tortilla chips are an excellent addition to your baked potato. However, if you want to pack in as much flavor as possible, crushed tortilla chips aren't going to do much to get you there. It's not our all-time favorite topping, but we wouldn't turn it down at the baked potato bar either.

10. Pico de gallo

Sometimes, you just need to add some freshness and zing to a dish, and for that, pico de gallo is perfect. A tomato-heavy chunky salsa with onions and herbs is a fantastic way to add a ton of flavor to a bland dish like a baked potato. But because this is somewhat of an unconventional pairing, it won't be to everyone's liking. Therefore, it's important to ensure that your other toppings pair well with the pico de gallo. While black beans might provide some balance, the addition of diced ham won't quite fit in this context.

There are plenty of ways to add a touch of freshness to a baked potato, and pico de gallo is just one of them. Don't get us wrong, it's a solid pick, but you may want to explore some of the other fresh veggie options on this list.

9. Pulled pork

We don't always love loading a baked potato up with a ton of meat, but there is one protein that tastes exceptionally delicious on a baked potato, and that's pulled pork. We love this addition because these smoky shreds are so, so flavorful, which means they pair perfectly with the carb-heavy and flavor-deficient baked potato. However, it's important to make sure that your pulled pork comes with plenty of sauce. If it's dry and stringy, it might detract from the textural goal you're trying to achieve. (If that's the case, the best way to fix overcooked pulled pork is to reheat your leftovers with barbecue sauce or liquids such as apple juice or vinegar.)

When you choose to add pulled pork to your baked potato, though, you're basically turning it into an entire meal. Once the pork has been added, your baked potato must resign its role as a side dish. For those who are looking for a whole potato-centered meal, though, pulled pork is definitely an interesting topping to try.

8. Sour cream

There's a reason sour cream is an absolute classic on the baked potato topping circuit. It offers so much in such a humble package. Like a lot of the other ingredients on this list, sour cream, like its cousin crème fraîche, offers your baked potato some much-needed creaminess (it indeed lives up to its name). It also has a distinct tang to it that provides a contrast with the other ingredients you're likely to pair with it, ultimately offering you a more balanced dish. 

The only reason sour cream doesn't rank higher on our list is the fact that it definitely can't stand on its own. If you choose to add sour cream to your baked potato, it's going to need some assistance from other toppings. Otherwise, the dish ends up being kind of bland and boring. Chives, at the very least, should be a requirement but adding a meaty option wouldn't be a bad idea either.

7. Jalapeños

For spicy food lovers, baked potatoes can often miss the mark. There's generally not much going on in terms of heat, and depending on the toppings you use, it may be almost completely devoid of spice at all. Sure, you can always add some hot sauce, but if you're looking for something a bit more substantial, you may want to turn to jalapeños. The popular chili peppers don't just offer a burst of heat, they also provide extra flavor as well.

If you decide to add jalapeños to your baked potato, you'll have to think about what variety to choose. Looking to add some tang? Then buy already-sliced pickled jalapeños in a jar (or make your own using a vinegar and sugar brine). On the other hand, for those who want spice that's a bit more intense, fresh jalapeños are the way to go. Keep the seeds in for some added heat, or remove them if you prefer a slightly milder pepper.

6. Shredded cheese

Cheese is an essential addition to almost every dish ever. There are very few foods that don't taste even better when they're sprinkled with a generous serving of mozzarella or cheddar. So, it should come as no surprise that baked potatoes aren't an exception. You can choose to incorporate cheese in a few different ways. Our favorite involves immediately adding the shreds to the baked potato right after it comes out of the oven. This results in gooey, melted cheese that mixes in with the potato perfectly. You can also sprinkle some onto the top of the baked potato after you've already added all of your other toppings, but it might not melt quite as much if you take this route.

While shredded cheese may not be the most flavorful topping you can add to a baked potato, it's still an essential nonetheless. As an alternative, consider adding soft, spreadable mascarpone, which Ree Drummond recommends as the cheesy ingredient to try on twice-baked potatoes

5. Scallions

There are few vegetables in this world that are more delightful than scallions. They have a crispness to them, and if you cut them into large-enough pieces, they can even provide a bit of a crunch. They also add a ton of flavor, even if you're only using a small amount. Plus, their bright green color makes just about any dish, including baked potatoes, more appetizing. We think that scallions are an important addition to any good baked potato, whether you prefer the white or green part of the veggie.

Although chives may be the standard when it comes to oniony baked potato toppings, we like scallions because they're often less expensive and easier to find than chives. But who says you can't include both?

4. Bacon

Technically, there are plenty of different kinds of meat that you could add to a baked potato. But in reality, there is really only one meaty topping that matters: bacon. Whether you prefer your bacon in bit form or you like heftier chunks of the stuff doesn't matter. The important thing is that fatty, juicy goodness takes your baked potato to a whole new plane of existence. Crisp bacon adds an undeniably pleasurable textural element, while the drippings make an otherwise-average baked potato come alive.

You can totally get bacon bits in a bag if you're looking for a fuss-free addition to your baked potato, but it's even better when you fry those strips fresh. Combine it with other toppings like sour cream and cheese if you want a classic baked potato at its best.

3. Pepperoncini

Now, we're fully aware that pepperoncini isn't the most common of baked potato toppings. But the fact that this small pepper can literally transform the entire dish earns it a high spot on this list. Pepperoncini is delightfully acidic, adding a punch of flavor to your baked potato. The peppers themselves are delicious, but you can even add some of the juice (if you're getting the jarred variety) if you really want to bring out the tang. Sure, it adds a bit of heat, but the main attraction is the absolutely mouth-puckering flavor.

Pepperoncini aren't for everyone, but if you already like them on your pizza, then you may want to give them a try on your baked potato. You may just find that it becomes one of your all-time favorite potato toppings.

2. Butter

When it comes to baked potato toppings, you really can't write off the classics. Perhaps the most beloved baked potato topping of them all is also the simplest: butter. Just a small tab takes a potato from a boring old root vegetable into a carb of the highest magnitude. You can always stick to the plain stuff, but we prefer salted butter on our baked potatoes. And if you're feeling fancy, adding some truffle butter to the mix can feel like a huge treat.

Of course, if you want to make the best baked potato possible, you're probably going to add more than just butter. But because butter is such a special, versatile ingredient, it's really all you need if you're making a simple side dish or snack.

1. Chives

Behold the greatest baked potato topping of all time: the humble chive. This onion cousin has a similar flavor profile to scallions, but they're not quite as intense, and they're considerably smaller. This means that you can chop them really finely and mix them in with the potato well, ensuring that every bite offers a bit of the freshness and punch a good chive offers. Fresh chives are truly a delicacy to be treasured, and they're at their best when they're served on top of a steaming hot baked potato.

Not only do they taste delicious, offering a fresh flavor profile that most veggies don't offer, but they also add a lovely pop of green to your baked potato, making it look even more appetizing than it already is.