You've Been Basting Baked Potatoes At The Wrong Time

If your baked spuds are coming out of the oven with squishy skins, you may be basting them at the wrong time. Try coating them with oil towards the end of the cooking time, rather than the start, to help them develop a skin that's so crispy it could almost be described as a shell.

Traditionally, baked potatoes are rubbed with a touch of oil and coated in salt before being tossed in the oven. The benefit of this technique is that the prep work is done at the start; simply wash, dry, and prick the potatoes before massaging on a drizzle of oil, sprinkling on some kosher salt, and baking them low and slow. Although this technique works, there's definitely room for improvement if you want to maximize that exterior crunch and don't mind returning to the oven to baste your taters a few minutes before they're done.

For a crispier baked potato, place your pricked and dry potatoes in the oven, skipping the oiling and salting stage. Then remove the hot spuds from the oven 10 minutes before they're ready and baste them with oil at this point, using a brush to prevent burning your fingers. Coat them well and sprinkle on enough salt to guarantee optimum flavor and texture. Return the potatoes to the oven for the last 10 minutes to give them time to crisp up before you split through their crunchy skins and dive into their tender bellies.

Oil acts as a barrier to the steam in baked potatoes

Why does basting potatoes with oil later rather than earlier make for a better baked spud? Slathering oil on the skin of a potato creates a barrier on its surface, which prevents the steam created inside it from escaping while it bakes. Roasting the potatoes un-oiled allows the moisture inside to be released without hindrance, and basting the dehydrated surfaces of your hot spuds later instantly amps up the crisping process. It also means the salt you've sprinkled on the skins doesn't have enough time to slide off the surface of the potatoes during their final short burst of cooking time, resulting in an appetizingly salty crunch. And it's that veritably crunchy skin, when paired with a fluffy, buttery interior, that takes a simple baked potato from seemingly sound to scrumptiously supreme.

The next time you're craving the hit of dopamine that comes from the audible crunch of splitting through the salty, crispy skin of a just-baked potato, try basting it later. It's a simple tip for a delicious baked potato that will lend your spud game some serious street cred.