A hearty baked potato is the perfect complement to many meat dishes or when served as the star of a meal. After a few fork pricks through the skin, the potato is ready for the oven. Some people prefer to wrap the potato in foil to soften the skin and seal in the flavors of added herbs and spices. However, whether you use foil or skip it does not significantly affect the cooking time.
A baked potato is finished cooking when it reaches an internal temperature of 210 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a meat thermometer helps you gauge when the potato has reached that mark. Place the oven racks in the middle slot before preheating the oven to 400 F. Once the oven has reached the desired temperature, insert the fork-pierced potatoes on a baking sheet.
A large baked potato takes between 45 and 60 minutes to cook at 400 F. If you don't have a meat thermometer handy, use a fork to pierce through the skin. If the fork easily slides in and out of the potato, then it is ready. If the fork must be "pushed" or "forced" through, then it needs several more minutes in the oven.
Some baked potato recipes call for lower oven temperatures. This extends the cooking time necessary for a large baked potato. For example, a large potato prepared at 350 F takes between 60 and 75 minutes to cook, while a potato prepared at 325 degrees F needs between 90 and 100 minutes.
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