The Last-Minute Mistake That Makes Baked Potatoes Gummy

We all love potatoes, especially baked ones with crispy skins and fluffy centers, crowned with butter and other favorite toppings like sour cream and chives. This oh-so-delicious side dish will please your crowd any day, whether served with a fresh bowl of salad for lunch or alongside a juicy steak for dinner. But apart from being an eater's delight, baked potatoes are loved by home cooks because they're so simple to prepare. You literally just need to wash the spuds, dry, prick, and oil them, then place in a preheated oven and viola! Dinner's ready.

But even with such a straightforward recipe, you'd be surprised at how often a lackluster serving of baked potatoes is presented at dinner tables. There are several ways you can ruin your baked potatoes if you fail to pay attention to the little things. Even more disheartening is having done everything right from the start, only to fumble at the end and commit this last-minute mistake: letting your potatoes rest and become gummy before cutting.

Resting baked potatoes before cutting will trap moisture

Right after removing your baked spuds from the oven, the centers are still releasing steam due to the high core temperatures, and letting them rest will trap in moisture, making your taters dense and soggy inside. To bake delicious potatoes, cut open the spuds immediately after they leave the oven, then give them a gentle squeeze from the sides. This will allow steam to escape and make your potatoes nice and fluffy. But remember, the taters are still extremely hot, so be sure to have your oven mitts on as you press on them.

In fact, you'll notice several steps outlined in recipes that are geared towards having minimal water content in the spuds. Right from the start, the best potatoes to bake are the starchy kind with low moisture content — that's why almost everyone swears by russets. You're advised to dry your tubers after washing to remove any excess water that may turn them soggy. Then, before baking, pricking the potatoes or slicing a little cross on them provides a way for moisture to escape during baking. And you should skip wrapping the potatoes in aluminum foil, because that seals in moisture and can produce a soggy dish. (Although if you need to wait before serving your baked potatoes, wrap each one in aluminum foil after baking to retain the heat and prevent drying.)

Once you've cooked and sliced open your tubers, add toppings of your choice and serve perfectly baked potatoes!