Alton Brown And Alex Guarnaschelli Disagree On This Baked Potato Step

When it comes to cooking methods, some things just come down to preference. You may be more of a fan of butter over bacon grease when frying eggs, or perhaps you're head over heels for your air fryer and won't ever look at your oven the same way again. But at the end of the day, some kitchen techniques aren't just about what works better for you – they're about what works at all.

Take, for example, the great baked potato debate that's recently sprung up on Twitter between esteemed Food Network stars Alton Brown and Alex Guarnaschelli. One follower, @DavidMKerr, asked the chefs whether or not they poke holes in potatoes before baking, and the two had polar opposite responses. Guarnaschelli matter-of-factly replied, "I don't," while Brown proudly tweeted, "Absolutely yes."

Some followers seemed baffled at Guarnaschelli's response, while the chef inquired about Brown's preferred potato method (which, he noted on Twitter, begins by stabbing the spud with a fork). That leaves us with the same question: Which technique is the right technique? It's long been assumed that you should always prick your potatoes before baking to avoid an explosion, and we're ready to break down whether that's an age-old myth or a fact of science once and for all.

Even experts are divided on this age old potato debate

It's the kind of tidbit that gets passed down through family kitchens and cooking with mom or dad – whatever you do, don't forget to stab the potato, or you might end up with a mess to clean up (and no side with dinner).

Food52 conducted an experiment to see if un-poked potatoes will explode in the oven, and the results were anticlimactic. None of the potatoes budged, leaving the team wondering if it was even necessary at all.

The outlet followed up with food science expert Brennan Smith, who explained that "it's good to prick them." Smith says that potato skin can act like a "pressure vessel," and if steam can't escape, then the potato may burst. Smith also notes that this may not happen every time and is less likely to happen in an oven than in a microwave. Nothing quite beats the ease of a microwaved baked potato, so you may want to stick with Brown's advice and poke away.

The Idaho Potato Commission, however, claims that "it is very rare that a baked potato will burst if the steam can't escape." The commission states that the only times you should poke a potato is if you're microwaving it or you're using ones straight from the fridge. That being said, there's no arguing that it's an added step that takes all of one minute – and it may save you the headache of cleaning up later on.