Twice-baked potatoes make for an easy side dish. Just cook the spuds until tender, cut in half, and hollow them out like potato skin boats. Load the savory filling inside and broil to create bubbly, melted cheese tops that you can sprinkle with crispy bacon and green onions.
I’m going to show you how to take a simple potato side dish and elevate the flavor of each serving by twice-baking it. The extra step allows you to create a concentrated flavorful filling which then gets topped with cheese and garnish. If you’ve never tried this recipe before, you’re in for a treat, and guests will be delightfully impressed.
Over the course of many experiments, I found the recipe for perfectly baked potatoes which I use as a guide for this recipe. After the first initial bake, the inside flesh is scooped out and later combined with a mixture of sour cream, butter, milk, bacon, and green onions.
Russet or Idaho is the best type of potato to use because they have a flaky texture when cooked. The starchy centers effortlessly absorb the butter, milk, and sour cream, creating a smooth, yet light filling. For this recipe, I use larger sized potatoes, 12 to 14 ounces which make generous dinner portions. For appetizers, smaller sizes, about 5 to 8 ounces in size can be used.
Tips for baking potatoes
- Wash and dry them well
- Pierce them several times with a fork
- Brush with olive oil
- Season with kosher salt.
- Bake on a wire rack to ensure even cooking.
- Cook to an internal temperature of between 200 to 210ºF (93 to 99ºC)
Prepare the potato skins
To create sturdy potato skin boats, use a spoon to carefully remove the potato flesh, leaving about ¼-inch thick rim around the edges. Place them cut-side up on a wire rack set on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes to dry them out slightly before adding the filling.
Make crispy bacon bits
A quick way to make crispy bacon on the stove-top is to cut them into thin strips then fry them in the pan. I use thick-cut bacon so it holds its shape better and is less brittle once cooked. Always start the bacon in a cold pan then turn the heat up to medium. This prevents it from burning too quickly on the surface before the bacon is cooked through.
Mash with butter first
Just like with my homemade mashed potatoes recipe, make sure to crush the scooped out flesh with butter before adding in the wet ingredients. Coating the potato starches with fat prevents it from interacting with the water molecules in the milk, which can make the consistency gluey instead of light and creamy.
The potato filling
Whole milk and sour cream make the filling smooth and light, creating a nice contrast in textures between the inside and outside. Bacon provides smokiness while the green onions give fresh herbaceous notes. The aged cheddar cheese binds the filling together when combined with the potato mixture.
Broil just before serving
To finish off the dish, one last sprinkle of cheddar cheese goes on top, followed by a 5-minute broil. The high heat blasts the potatoes one last time to melt the topping and give a final char to the skins. I like to save some chopped bacon and green onions to add on top for the final presentation.
Temporary storing and reheating
The potatoes can be covered with plastic wrap or foil and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat one at a time in the microwave on the “high” setting in 30-second intervals until warmed through, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Can you freeze twice-baked potatoes?
Yes, make sure that the potatoes have cooled to room temperature after broiling. You can individually wrap with plastic and store them in resealable bags in the freezer for up to one month. To reheat, unwrap the potatoes then bake at 350°F (177°C) on a wire rack or foil-lined baking sheet until warmed through, about 30 to 45 minutes, making sure to check every 5 minutes.
Alternate mix-in and topping suggestions
- Monterey Jack, gruyere, smoked gouda, parmesan or mozzarella cheese
- Plain Greek yogurt or creme fraiche
- Chopped grilled chicken or pulled pork
- Herbs like chives, thyme, parsley, dill or rosemary
- Pesto or buffalo sauce
Is it necessary to wrap the potato in foil?
No! Wrapping in foil steams the potato. This will create centers that are soft, but the skin will be soggy. The skin should be as dry as possible from start to finish to help it stay crisp as it bakes in the oven. This is important as most people often eat the entire thing.
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Twice Baked Potatoes
- 4 russet potatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 8 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into ¼-inch thick pieces
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- ¾ cup sour cream
- ½ cup whole milk
- ½ cup sliced green onions
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Set the oven rack to the center position. Preheat to 400ºF (204ºF).
- Place a wire rack on top of a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet, set aside.
- Scrub and rinse the outside of the potatoes with cool water. Dry with a towel.
- Pierce each potato with a fork 8 times, about ⅛-inch deep pricks all around.
- Evenly space the potatoes on top of the wire rack.
- Lightly brush olive oil over the surface of the potatoes. Sprinkle with salt.
- Bake until the center of the potato pierces easily with a fork and registers between 200 to 205ºF (93 to 96ºC), about 60 to 80 minutes depending on size. Meanwhile, cook the bacon.
- Add the bacon to a cold large cast iron skillet. Turn heat to medium, cook, stirring occasionally until crispy, about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
- Remove the potatoes from the oven, and allow to cool until cool enough to touch, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Slice each potato lengthwise down the center.
- Use a spoon to remove the flesh and transfer to a large bowl. It helps to place the potato in a paper towel to help scoop out the flesh. Make sure to leave about ¼-inch thick shell of flesh around the edges. There should be about 3 ½ cups of flesh.
- Place the potato skins cut side up, back on the sheet pan on top of the wire rack and place in the oven for 10 minutes to help dry the shells.
- Lightly mash the potatoes with the butter.
- Add 1 cup of cheese, sour cream, milk, ¼ cup of green onions, and bacon (reserving 2 tablespoons for topping). Use a spatula to combine the ingredients together.
- Fill each potato boat with about ½ cup of filling, shaped into a mound.
- Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of cheese on top.
- Broil until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.
- Top with reserved bacon, green onions, and black pepper, then serve immediately.
- Storing and Reheating: Refrigerate covered for up to 3 days. Reheat one at a time in the microwave on “high” setting in 30-second intervals until warmed through, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Freezing: Individually wrap potatoes in plastic, place into a resealable bags, store in the freezer for up to 1 month. To reheat, unwrap and bake at 350°F (177°C) on a wire rack or foil-lined baking sheet until warmed through, about 30 to 45 minutes, checking every 5 minutes.
- Make it an appetizer: Use smaller sized potatoes, about 5 to 8 ounces.
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