The Reason Why Your Baked Potatoes Are Not Crispy

Baked potatoes are a culinary failsafe, ideal for everyone from kitchen novices right the way up to Michelin-starred chefs. They're a blank canvas for food creativity and enjoyment: Sure, coating them in cheese, chili, or beans is a good start, but why not stretch the limits of possibility a little? Grate a nice, expensive truffle over them, perhaps, or even sprinkle some edible gold on top.

As exciting as those toppings might be for the evening dinner table, the simple pleasure of a crispy baked potato cannot be understated. So, why is it, no matter how hard you try, sometimes you just can't stop those skins from going soft or soggy? The problem could be the seasoning. Smothering baked potatoes in oil and salt before cooking may seem logical to achieve a bronzed crispiness, but the heat of the oven might actually cause them to simply run off, achieving nothing at all. Fortunately, there is a straightforward way to avoid this — as well as other useful techniques to ensure your baked potatoes are always golden and crispy.

Patience is key for crispy baked potatoes

To avoid the disaster of baked potato skins that are soggy or chewy, don't season them too early. Instead, put them in the oven and wait patiently until they reach a temperature of 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, baste them with bacon fat, preferably (or, if not, regular olive oil), and cover them with a decent dose of kosher salt. Once the potatoes are returned to the oven, the added extras will help to ensure the skins become crispy and tasty.

While holding off on seasoning baked potatoes is vital for delicious skins, there are other mistakes to watch out for too. A common one is wrapping baked potatoes in foil to achieve faster cooking. They might cook faster, but this method will likely result in soft skins because the moisture from the potatoes is unable to escape. Another, fairly obvious, obstacle to achieving crispy potatoes is if they've not been dried properly after washing. While rinsing potatoes before cooking is a good idea, if you cook them while soaking wet the skins are not going to harden satisfactorily.

So, to achieve thoroughly crispy baked potatoes, avoid myths about cooking them in tin foil, don't forget the basics of mopping up dampness, and only baste them once they're hot enough to benefit from it.