A baked potato can be part of a nutritious meal when you make healthy topping choices, but you'll have to make some minor adjustments when baking a potato at altitudes 3,000 feet above sea level or higher. The drier air, lower oxygen levels and reduced atmospheric pressure mean it takes longer to cook food than it does closer to sea level. Try reducing the amount of butter and using Greek yogurt instead of sour cream to make a baked potato healthier. Alternatively, spoon vegetarian chili or steamed vegetables and low-fat cheese over top to make a complete meal.
Scrub the potato thoroughly under cold water to remove any dirt on the skin. Russet potatoes work well for baking because they have thick, firm skins and starchy flesh that doesn't fall apart when cooked.
Coat the potatoes lightly with a bit of olive oil and season with your choice of spices such as sea salt and black pepper.
Pierce the potato in about four different places with a fork so steam can escape while cooking. Failure to provide vents for steam results in an exploded potato in the oven.
Preheat the oven to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit. If you're only baking a single potato, you can save energy by using a toaster oven instead of a conventional oven.
Place the potato on a baking tray and set it in the oven on the center rack. Alternatively, place the potato directly on the oven rack with a tray on the rack below to catch any falling sea salt or other drippings.
Bake the potato for about 50 minutes for a medium-sized potato and up to 1 hour for a large potato. Squeeze the center of the potato while wearing an oven mitt. Alternatively, see if you can insert a fork easily in the center of the potato. Add 5 to 10 minutes of extra cooking time if the potato is firm and doesn't feel soft to the center.
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It is often erroneously recommended to increase the temperature when cooking at high altitudes, but this doesn't actually help speed up cooking times. In fact, this just makes the water in the potatoes evaporate faster which leads to a very dry baked potato.
Add another 10 to 15 minutes of cooking time if cooking four or more potatoes at once.
- USDA Food Safety Inspection Service: High Altitude Cooking and Food Safety
- Colorado State University Extension: High Altitude Food Preparation
- University of Wyoming Extension: Altitude Adjusters
- Betty Crocker: Baking and Cooking at High Altitudes
- The Kitchn: How to Bake a Potato in the Oven
- What's Cooking America: Perfect Baked Potatoes - Secrets for Baking Potatoes