Baked potatoes are a nutritious side or even a whole meal if you're a light eater or you load it up with bacon, cheddar and sour cream. They're easy to make, though they take a while by veggie standards. However, you don't have to do much during the cook time.
If you're only making a few or a single baked potato, toaster oven use lets you avoid wasting all that energy and getting the kitchen hot with the oven. It's also helpful if your oven is on the fritz or is occupied by other food.
Picking Proper Potatoes
Making a tasty baked potato in the toaster oven starts with selecting the right potato for the job. That would be a russet (also known as an Idaho potato if it's from the state).
Russets' low-moisture content and high starch content let their innards bake up nice and fluffy. Also, their thick skin holds up well on the rack during baking and functions as a built-in serving dish. Their skin also crisps well, providing textural variety, and it separates easily from the flesh for those who prefer not to eat it.
Starchy sweet potatoes with tan or reddish-purple skin are also well suited to baking for the same reasons. Hannah, purple, Japanese and heirloom sweet potatoes are a few varieties you could use to make baked sweet potatoes in the toaster oven.
Tackling the Prep Work
Put the toaster oven rack in the center position. Switch the appliance to its "bake" setting (there should be a dial or button for this; check the instruction manual if you're stumped) and get it preheating to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Potatoes often have dirt in their nooks and crannies, so scrub the tubers with a kitchen brush under cold running water. Apply some pressure, but don't tear the skin. Dry them off well.
Coat the potatoes lightly with cooking oil or melted butter. Don't slather it on, or it will drip and smoke in the toaster. Pat on some salt and pepper to taste and then use a fork to poke holes six or eight times all around the potatoes. Steam builds up inside during baking, and if it can't find a way out – boom! Exploding potatoes aren't just a myth.
What About Aluminum Foil?
Maybe you've seen someone wrap potatoes in foil when baking them. First, can you put aluminum foil in the toaster oven? Yes, you can. That's the microwave you're thinking of; don't put foil in the microwave.
However, just because you can, that doesn't necessarily mean you should. Baking a potato in foil isn't a good move if you like crispy skin. The foil holds in moisture, steaming the potato and rendering its exterior soft and soggy. However, some people like it that way, and if you're one of them, then yes, you can loosely wrap the potatoes in aluminum foil.
Baking and Serving the Potatoes
Place the potatoes directly on the toaster oven rack. If you're making one or two, center them. If you're making three or four, center them in two rows of two on the same rack. Arrange them so they're not touching.
Bake for about 55 to 60 minutes, flipping the potatoes over once halfway through. Cooking time varies by the appliance, potato size, how many you're making and other factors. They're done when the skins are crisp and the flesh is soft all the way through (stick them with a fork to test).
To serve, cut the baked potatoes in half lengthwise, open them and make a few slits in the flesh. Add seasonings or toppings such as:
- Pats of butter
- Salt and pepper
- Garlic powder or minced garlic
- Curry powder or chili powder for spice
- Chopped chives
- Sour cream
- Shredded cheddar
- Crumbled bacon
Making Toaster Oven Potato Wedges
As an alternative to a baked potato, toaster oven potato wedges are simple to prepare. Preheat the toaster oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line the toaster's baking tray with foil. Cut one or two washed and dried potatoes into eighths lengthwise.
Mix desired seasonings in a bowl to taste. Salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and grated Parmesan cheese work well. Brush the wedges with cooking oil or melted butter and dredge them in the seasonings.
Place the wedges in a single layer on the baking tray and bake them in the center of the toaster oven for about 25 minutes, flipping them once halfway through. They're done when they are golden brown on the outside and soft on the inside.
Eric Mohrman is a food and drink, lifestyle, and travel writer living in Orlando, Florida. He spent 10 years working front- and back-of-house in restaurants, adding professional experience to his love of eating and cooking. His stories on food and beverage topics have appeared in numerous print and web publications, including Visit Florida, Orlando Style Magazine, CrushBrew Magazine, Agent Magazine, Dollar Stretcher Magazine, The 863 Magazine and others.