I grew up on baked potatoes, they are relatively simple to prepare, and they fit most meals so they were a staple around our dinner table. These days I find myself preparing more baked potatoes than ever in my capacity as the Executive Chef in a Steakhouse-style restaurant.
At home, I love to make baked potatoes for many of the same reasons my parents prepared them for me. They are great side dishes for almost any meal, naturally gluten-free and you can top them with almost anything in your refrigerator.
There are a lot of different ways to prepare baked potatoes, but one of my current favorites has been in my air fryer. Like most potato-based foods, an air fryer makes a great alternative to oven roasting. With high-powered convection fans and small energy needs, an air fryer makes short work of these “baked” potatoes and saves a little money on your energy bill along the way.
Air fryer baked potatoes are a fairly straightforward proposition, whether you’re using a countertop, toaster oven style, or a pod/egg style air fryer, the only practical difference between a toaster oven style or a pod/egg style fryer will be how many potatoes you can prepare at once.
To begin you’ll need to take 2-3 medium Russet or Idaho potatoes, wash them under cool water and then dry them.
Idaho potatoes make great french fries and they also make incredible baked potatoes. I prefer a Russet or Idaho over a Yukon or Kennebec because of its low moisture content and thicker skin.
While Yukon golds and Kennebec make great mashed potatoes, their thin skin and high moisture/sugar content make them poor choices for baking. Idaho or Russet potatoes have a lower moisture content and nice thick skin that reacts well to baking/roasting, helping to lock in the steam creating a crispy crunchy outer skin, with a rich, creamy potato center!
Once the potatoes are clean and dry, you will want to coat them with a layer of olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. Some people like to poke holes in their potatoes before roasting, but I’m not a huge fan of this. I like to maintain the integrity of the skin and potato during the baking process, it may take a little longer but the results are always superior.
Once seasoned, you’ll load the potatoes into the air fryer and air fry them at 375°F for 30-40 minutes. I find that pod-style air fryers are usually more efficient, and while you can only fit 3 potatoes or so in most of these models, they are usually done in less time. Toaster oven-style air fryers on the other hand usually take a little longer, so budget 40-45 minutes if you are using one.
After the potatoes have finished baking they should be fork-tender, which means you can insert and remove a fork without resistance. This is an easy way to check for doneness, a skewer, or thin knife will work as well as a fork.
To finish the potatoes we will cut them open in a zig-zag pattern (this creates a more attractive presentation) and then top them with everything from butter and cheddar to cheese, to sour cream and broccoli florets!
Why This Works
- Russet or Idaho potatoes have thick, tougher skins that help create a barrier, locking in steam and creating a rich, flaky baked potato.
- Because of the lower moisture content, the russet potato will retain more structure and have a richer potato flavor.
- By baking our potatoes in the air fryer we can utilize the high-powered convection fan and heating element, while also saving on energy thanks to their smaller power needs.
Mistakes To Avoid
Air fryer-baked potatoes are a pretty straightforward premise, but there is a small amount of room for error. Really the only way you can go wrong with this recipe would be to undercook your potatoes.
If you are planning on using larger potatoes or they don’t seem finished at the end of the cooking process, give them another 10 minutes and check again. There is not a lot worse than the flavor/texture of undercooked potatoes. Make sure to take them all the way to the fork-tender stage to ensure a perfectly cooked potato with crispy skin and a fluffy inside.
One simple way to really step up the flavor of these already incredible air fryer baked potatoes is to try using a different fat that has more flavor when seasoning the potatoes before baking. For example, I love to top my baked potatoes with fresh, crispy bacon, so often I’ll save the bacon fat from the cooking process to use when seasoning my potatoes before baking.
By using bacon fat you increase the flavor and add an awesome sweet/smokey flavor to your air fryer baked potatoes. You can try this with everything from duck fat to avocado or coconut oil depending on your diet needs/palate to create maybe the best baked potato you’ve ever had!
Many recipes for baked potatoes call for wrapping each potato in tinfoil after seasoning. This helps when roasting in a still oven, but in an air fryer, either toaster oven style or pod-style, this step isn’t necessary.
Air fryer baked potatoes are don’t require the extra heat/insulation that comes from tin foil, and with the lower clearances of these smaller appliances, you don’t want to risk getting foil in the fan or touching a heating element. Also, by leaving the tin foil out of the equation you end up with baked potatoes with super crispy skin.
As I mentioned earlier in this article, some folks like to poke holes in their potatoes with a fork before roasting. I don’t find this necessary and like to maintain the integrity of the crispy skin, but if you are a fan of this method, go ahead and use it.
The Perfect Accompaniments for Air Fryer baked potato
Baked potatoes have several classic topping options that will be familiar to most people, like sour cream, cheddar cheese, or bacon bits. That isn’t all you can top a potato with but they are definitely some of my personal favorites. While less common, using broccoli florets or simply the green flowers at the top of the head of broccoli is an awesome way to add a rich, vegetable note to your baked potato.
Experiment away, and see what you come up with! Try using different cheeses for new flavor combinations, like gouda, swiss, gruyere, or feta. Add some olives or capers for a salty bite, or a few spoons fulls of salsa and some shredded cheese.
One of my favorite toppings for a baked potato is guacamole. The combination of the cool spicy blend of avocado, onion, peppers, and herbs with the rich, flaky, baked potato is one of my favorite side dishes, and sometimes the star of a light lunch as well!
As a side dish, air fryer-baked potatoes work great because they play well with so many different foods. Another reason I love preparing baked potatoes in our air fryer is that I can use one rack to prepare the potatoes and roast a steak or pork chops on another rack.
Thanks to the longer cooking time of the potatoes, you can easily add a simple protein or main dish to the air fryer and be confident everything will be done at about the same time. Sadly, because of their smaller capacity, most pod-style air fryers can only accommodate the potatoes.
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