The Ultimate Microwave Baked Potato Hack

The weird and witty late comedian Mitch Hedberg had no shortage of jokes about food, including this very relatable one: “I like baked potatoes. I don’t have a microwave oven, and it takes forever to bake a potato in a conventional oven. Sometimes I’ll just throw one in there, even if I don’t want one, because by the time it’s done…who knows?” 

He had a great point. Baking a potato in the oven can take an hour or more, depending on the method. That’s fine when you’ve got nothing but time, but that’s not exactly how I would describe myself even on a good day. Luckily, I do have a microwave, and with it comes this possibly controversial opinion: Microwave-baked potatoes are even better than oven-baked.

Microwave “Baked” Potatoes Are the Best Baked Potatoes

Not only are microwave-“baked” spuds ready in about 10 minutes, they’re also texturally pretty great—steamy, fluffy interior with a slightly crunchy skin (my favorite part). If you go a little longer on the cooking time, you’ll end up with little crunchy bits along the edges where the potato dries out—for me, this is the best part of a microwave baked potato, and I always save it for the last bite.

How to “Bake” a Potato in the Microwave

It’s easy! Here’s all you do. 

  1. Give the potato a good scrub:Use a scrub brush to thoroughly clean the potato skin, and dry it with a paper towel.
  2. Poke holes in the potato:Using a fork or the tip of a knife, poke several small holes all over the potato before microwaving. This allows the potato to release steam as it cooks, resulting in a crispy skin and fluffy interior.
  3. Microwave your potato: Microwave on high for 4-5 minutes, flip, and microwave for an additional 4-5 minutes depending on the size of your potato and the efficiency of your microwave oven. (Give it a little squeeze in between cooking times to see how far you have to go.)
  4. Slice and top it:After microwaving, slice your potato down the middle, and top it with whatever your heart desires. Kosher salt, butter, and sour cream are pretty standard, but you can also make it a more substantial meal with toppings like cheesy broccoli or chili and salsa.

4 Tips for Microwave Potato Success

  • Use the right potato for the job: Russet potatoes are ideal for baking, but you can also microwave a sweet potato, and the results are similarly spectacular.
  • Embrace the crunchy bits: I recommend cooking a medium-sized russet potato for about 7-10 minutes, but if you go on the longer side of that window, you get one of the best parts of a microwave-baked potato: little crunchy bits. I love the crunchy bits, but they might not be for everyone, so if you’re looking for a fluffy interior and lightly crisped skin, go for a shorter baking time.
  • The best way to slice a “baked” potato: For a restaurant-style presentation, don’t cut the potato all the way down the center. Instead, slice the potato lengthwise about halfway down and about a half inch from each end. Then, using a towel to protect your hands, squeeze the potato to reveal its steamy center.
  • Try the hybrid approach: Speaking of restaurant style, if you want to take things to the next level, preheat your oven while the potatoes are in the microwave. When they’re done, rub them with olive oil, cover them in kosher salt, and bake them in the oven for an additional 10-15 minutes. This hybrid approach gives you the same deliciously salty, crispy skin as an oven method in less than half the time it would take to bake it completely in the oven.