There is never a bad time to eat a baked potato. Here in the Midwest, they’re particularly delightful when there’s a crispness in the air and people who would commonly have no interest in anything so festive are chirping about apple-picking and hay rides and strolling down the street wearing sweaters over plaid collared shirts. But they’re also great during, say, an unseasonably cold spring when every day hovers just on the verge of freezing rain and that almost doesn’t matter because you’ve been ordered to stay inside anyway. In either case, a baked potato is a beautiful thing.
With that in mind, we set out to discover which of the many methods of baking a potato should prove most satisfactory. We sought out methods from both the culinary and the internet world, and while the bulk of these recipes employed the oven, some other household appliances are represented as well. Nearly all of these methods resulted in a decent-enough baked potato, and though the gulf between an acceptable baked potato and an excellent one is wide, that chasm can be bridged with enough butter, salt, and pepper.
A few quick notes: In all cases, potatoes were scrubbed beforehand; any additional preparation is noted below. Had we the means, you’d see potatoes a) made on a grill, and b) cooked in a campfire, but alas, it was not to be. These potatoes were all roughly the same size, but you should still assume that the lack of uniformity in potatoes is a variable beyond our control. Lastl, appliances (and altitudes) vary—450 degrees at an hour for one of us may not be the same for you.