The Absolute Best Type Of Potato For The Fluffiest Baking

When you think of a baked potato, images of a steakhouse or rib joint probably come to mind. Maybe you see it sitting there fluffy and steaming with a dollop of sour cream and some chopped chives on top. Or maybe it's smothered in grated cheese and topped with crispy bacon. Baked potatoes (or jacket potatoes as they are sometimes called) are a classic American dinner staple. But did you know that the humble potato originated in South America?

The history of the potato is an epic tale, but to condense it down, here are the fast facts: The Inca people are said to have cultivated the potato in the Andes around 8,000 years ago, per BBC. Potatoes were not brought to Europe until the mid-1500s after Spanish explorers came to South America. The potato blossoms were so beautiful that Marie Antoinette is said to have worn them in her hair (per Smithsonian Magazine.) The potato is present in nearly every food culture in the world and numerous society's claim it as their own, notes BBC. 

Today, potatoes are the fourth most important crop in the world behind rice, wheat, and corn. According to Potatoes USA, there are more than 200 types of potatoes out there. But which one is best for baking?

Stick to the classics

While purple potatoes are exotic and fingerling potatoes are gosh-darn adorable, when it comes to making a baked potato, none can rival the classics.

The best kind of potatoes for baking are the ones that are high in starch and low in moisture, points out The Pioneer Woman, so you want to use the tried-and-true varieties like russet or Idaho potatoes. According to Fine Cooking, the cells inside of a high-starch, low-moisture potato separate during the baking process and absorb moisture, fluffing up. Russet potatoes also have thick skins, which crisp up nicely in the oven while baking, providing that sturdy shell for all of the toppings you wish to add, per Cookie + Kate.

The Pioneer Woman also points out that you never want to bake a potato in foil as this will result in a limp and soggy skin. To get the best result, simply poke the potato with a fork a few times, lay them directly on the oven rack — spaced out evenly — and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 minutes to an hour. And don't forget to top it with all your favorite goodies once it's out of the oven.