How To Make The Perfect Jacket Potato
A comforting baked potato, with crisp skin and a fluffy middle, is one of our favourite things to eat for lunch – or any time, really. Our experts – including recipe writers and our cookery school tutors – share tips for getting the crunchiest skin, and reveal their favourite fillings. Plus 30 instant baked potato topping ideas.
There are different ways to bake a potato: oil or no oil? Wrap in foil or not? And each method has its ardent fans. Food writer Silvana Franco is a huge jacket potato fan: “I love them so much – they’re my absolute favourite working-from-home lunch.” And she reckons her pared-back approach works every time.
Start with the right potato. If you’re not sure which to go for, choose one labelled as a baking potato (find them loose or in packs of four). My favourite is an Albert Bartlett’s Elfe but you can’t go far wrong with a King Edward.
Don’t forget to prick the skin – steam builds inside the potato and needs an escape route or two to avoid any explosions.
Skip the oil – I think rubbing a potato with oil before baking can make the skin a little chewy. For a crisp skin, I just wash and sprinkle with sea salt while still damp then bake straight on the oven shelf. I reckon an hour at 220°C, gas mark 7 is about right for an average-sized jacket.
SHORT OF TIME? SPEED IT UP
If you’ve forgotten to switch your oven on in time, or you’re so hungry you just can’t wait an hour for potato pleasure, don’t despair. You can start your jackets off in the microwave, then finish in the oven for that essential crunchy skin.
Preheat your oven to 220°C, gas mark 7. Prick the potatoes with a fork, place on a plate and microwave on high (900w) for 3 minutes. Turn them over and microwave for another 3 minutes.
Transfer the potatoes to a baking sheet and brush with 1 tbsp oil. Season and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
No time? No problem
Sometimes you just need that satisfyingly cheesy potato hit straight away. These Cheesy Filled Jacket Potatoes can be microwaved in five minutes – or oven-cooked in 30.
BEST POTATOES FOr BAKING
Recognisable from their creamy skin with light red blushes, King Edwards are reliably fluffy when baked.
Grown by Albert Bartlett, Elfe potatoes have a smooth oval shape, creamy skin and bright yellow skin that goes deliciously crunchy in the oven.
To keep things simple, choose these great-value potatoes: they’re chosen to be similar sizes, so your potatoes will be ready at the same time.
OK, so they’re technically not a potato (they’re a root vegetable), but sweet potatoes respond pretty well to a hot oven. Their sweet flesh softens beautifully – perfect for mashing with butter.
OUR EXPERTS’ FAVOURITE FILLINGS
Katie Bishop, recipe writer, likes to keep it simple. “I top with baked beans (they have to be Heinz), simmered gently for 10 minutes until they’re reduced and thickened. Then a shake of Worcestershire sauce, and a grating of something tangy and crumbly, such as a Cheshire. The beans have to be hot enough to make the cheese melty – perfection!”
Omar Abourgebah, chef tutor at the Waitrose Cookery School, likes something a little more meaty with his baked potato. “My top filling is beef chilli, cheese and jalapeños.”
Fellow Cookery School chef tutor Helen Carey is a potato purist. “I love a baked potato with salty butter and nothing else! Top tip is to bake on a bed of rock salt to absorb some of the moisture from the potato and make it extra fluffy.”
Food writer Silvana likes her jackets equally simple. “It has to be cheesy: extra mature Cheddar with a sprinkling of chopped red onion. Or if I’m really in need of comfort, baked beans and a dash of chilli sauce.”
30 INSTANT JACKET POTATO FILLINGS
4. Shredded oak smoked ham and grated Emmental cheese
6. Fat-free cottage cheese with grilled vegetables & thyme
7. Tarka dal and a dollop of yogurt
9. Vine ripened tomato salsa and sliced avocado
10. Roasted beetroot & mint houmous and crumbled feta
11. Chargrilled peppers, jalapeños and soured cream
12. Crumbled crispy bacon rashers and Stilton
13. Mixed bean salad and chilli pesto
14. Baked beans and chipotle chilli sauce
15. Shredded barbecue chicken and grated mature Cheddar
16. Smoked salmon pieces and soft cheese
17. Chargrilled vegetables and pesto
18. Bolognese sauce
20. Cheese coleslaw
21. Flaked tuna, chopped red onion and soured cream
22. Hot smoked mackerel and horseradish
23. Sun drenched tomatoes and Dolcelatte
24. Barbecue pulled pork and soured cream
25. Tuna, mayo, chopped cherry tomatoes and salad onions
26. Smoked trout, mascarpone and horseradish
27. Caramelised red onion chutney and crumbled crispy bacon rashers
28. Chicken, pesto and chopped cherry tomatoes
29. Soured cream and chopped chives
30. Christmas leftovers: shredded cooked sprouts and Stilton
perfect baked potatoes 3 ways
Got a bit more time?