There is nothing like a plate full of crispy potato skins, filled with melty cheddar cheese, and topped with bacon bits, sour cream and green onions.
The first time I had these I was 21 years old, at an outdoor cafe on Newbury Street in Boston; I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
Oh for the days of youth when one could eat potato skins with wild abandon! I could eat a whole plate back then (and drink a pitcher of beer along with it) and be none the worse. Sigh.
The Secret to the Best Potato Skins: Bake, Don't Fry!
These potato skins are easy to make. Some approaches call for deep frying, but I don't think it is really necessary. You just want to bake the skins at a high enough heat so that they get crispy enough to hold the toppings.
The Best Potatoes for Potato Skins
Russets make the best potatoes for these classic potato skins because of their they're big and their skin is tough enough to handle the preparation.
While other potatoes such as red potatoes or Yukon gold potatoes will taste good using this preparation, their thinner skins make them more difficult to work with. The skins will more easily rip while scooping, especially because you pierce the skin in Step 1, creating small tears already.
Tips for Baking a Potato
If you're new to baking potatoes, check out How to Bake a Potato for foolproof step-by-step instructions. If you want just a few tips to bake a better potato, follow these.
- Russets make the best baking potatoes, but remember that the bigger the potato, the longer the baking time.
- Poke holes in them to avoid explosions and allow some of their moisture to escape.
- Rub oil on the skins and sprinkle with kosher salt.
- Skip wrapping in foil.
- To check for doneness, slide a fork or a skewer into the potato. If it slides in and out easily, the potato is done.
Topping Variations to Try
Cheese, sour cream, and chives are the classic topping for potato skins, but sometimes it's fun to switch it up.
- Chili (with or without sour cream and chives)
- Buffalo-sauced chicken and blue cheese
- Bacon, fried onions, and blue cheese
- Cooked shaved steak, fried onions, and American cheese
- Cooked broccoli and cheddar cheese
Make Ahead Tips for Potato Skins
Follow Steps 1, 3, and 4, baking, scooping, and roasting the skins. Then allow the roasted skins to cool completely and place them in a tightly sealed container for up to 2 days. When it comes time to bake the topped potatoes, bring the refrigerated skins to room temperature, and start at Step 5.
You can also cook the bacon ahead of time, as it's done in Step 2, and refrigerate up to 4 days. Bring to room temperature before adding them to the skins in Step 5.
Prep the cheese and green onions up to 2 days ahead of time, too, refrigerating them until needed.
Try These Recipes to Use Up the Insides of the Potatoes!
- Easy Shepherd's Pie
- Potato Dinner Rolls
- Homemade Potato Bread
- Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
- Slow-Cooker Mashed Potatoes
6 medium (3 pounds) russet potatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
6 slices bacon
4 ounces grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Bake the potatoes:
Scrub the potatoes clean then bake the potatoes using your favorite method, either oven or microwave. If using an oven, pierce a few times with a sharp knife or the tines of a fork, rub with olive oil and bake in a 400°F oven for about an hour until the potatoes are cooked through and give a little when pressed.
If using a microwave, pierce the potato a few times with a sharp knife of the tines of a fork, rub all over with olive oil and cook on the high setting for about 5 minutes per potato.
I have found that baking the potatoes in a conventional oven yields potatoes that are easier to work with (cut and scoop out), the potato seems to adhere to the skins a little better, but there is hardly a discernible difference in the final product.
Cook the bacon:
While the potatoes are cooking, cook the bacon strips in a frying pan on medium low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Let cool. Crumble.
Cut the potatoes in half and scoop out the insides:
Remove the potatoes from the oven and let cool enough to handle. Cut in half horizontally. Use a spoon to carefully scoop out the insides, reserving the scooped potatoes for another use, leaving about 1/4 of an inch of potato on the skin.
Bake the potato skins:
Increase the heat of the oven to 450°F. Brush or rub olive oil all over the potato skins, outside and in. Sprinkle with salt.
Place on a baking rack in a roasting pan (don't use a cookie sheet, it will warp, use a roasting pan or broiler pan that can take the heat).
Cook for 10 minutes on one side, then flip the skins over and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool enough to handle.
Add the cheese and bacon and bake again:
Arrange the potato skins skin-side down on the roasting pan or rack. Sprinkle the insides with freshly ground black pepper, cheddar cheese, and crumbled bacon.
Return to the oven. Broil for an additional 2 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven.
Top with sour cream and green onions to serve:
Use tongs to place skins on a serving plate. Add a dollop of sour cream to each skin, sprinkle with green onions.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 17g||21%|
|Saturated Fat 7g||36%|
|Total Carbohydrate 45g||16%|
|Dietary Fiber 5g||17%|
|Total Sugars 3g|
|Vitamin C 20mg||101%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|