How To Bake A Perfect Baked Potato – BONUS Cucumber And Onion Salad

There are plenty of formulas people use to try to figure out how long to bake a potato. Pretty much everyone agrees that traditional baking makes for the lightest, fluffiest results, but no one knows how long to go.

This simple trick makes it easy to get the perfect spud every time.


Start with russets, and one wooden shish-kabob skewer for each one.

Pierce each potato lengthwise with a skewer. Don’t hold it this way.

You’ll need to push really hard to go through a raw potato. If you go all the way through you can keep going right into your hand. Hold it this way instead.

You probably won’t be able to get the skewer all the way through. That’s fine, as long as you get at least through the center. Leave a couple of inches sticking out, but break the rest off.

Tear off a piece of foil for each potato, large enough to wrap it completely.

Wet each potato just enough for salt to stick, and coat all the way around with kosher salt.

Wrap the potatoes, and put in the oven at 400° for about 45 minutes.

Now for the trick: Pull gently on the skewer. When it comes out without resistance, it’s done.

Seems a little too simple, doesn’t it? But yes, it’s just that easy. If it doesn’t come right out, go another 10 minutes in the oven.

Now that it’s perfectly baked, you need to top it. This is a great time to have fresh chives growing outside.

Did you know chives will come back in the spring? I didn’t. Totally unexpected, and just in time for the cookout. Cut a little with your kitchen shears or regular scissors.

Slice a potato in half. Cut a cross-hatch pattern in the top and put a pat of butter on each side. Top with some diced chive and serve.

And that’s it.

Bonus – Cucumber and Onion Salad

The cucumber and onion salad you find on a typical salad bar has a mayonnaise-based dressing, which usually means corn syrup as the #1 ingredient. I could fix this problem just by using home-made mayonnaise. But this recipe is even simpler.

This is about the easiest, lightest, freshest-tasting salad you can make. I could easily go through a whole batch of this by myself every week all summer.


1 large cucumber
1 large sweet onion
(onion and cucumber should be about the same weight)
white vinegar


Slice the onion into shreds.

Peel the cucumber.

Combine the cucumber and onion in a large bowl.

Realize that the bowl you picked is barely big enough to hold everything, and nowhere near big enough to mix it. (Oops.)

Transfer to a larger bowl.

Combine the cuke and onion by mixing from the bottom.

Transfer to a large container with a tight seal.

Fill with white vinegar …

… until it’s a little less than halfway full.

Fill with water until the veggies are covered, put the lid on and shake well. Leave in the refrigerator overnight, or on the counter for three hours or more before serving.

And that’s it.

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