Why Is My Baked Potato Hard?

A potato is one food you can prepare in the oven if you need an easy and delicious meal. However, what happens if it doesn't come out as it should? More specifically, what if it comes out hard? If that's your concern, we researched the issue to give you the answers you might need!

The first area of interest is baking time. Maybe you didn't give it enough time to bake thoroughly; it takes about 55-65 minutes at 400F. The temperature of the oven is also crucial. If you're baking at a lower temperature than 400F, the potato will need more than 55-65 minutes. Other factors, like the size of the potato, also play a part in this. 

Baking a potato should be easy. But, it could be hard for people who don't have the experience. There are more factors at play here. If you'd like to learn more on this topic, keep reading. We'll answer more questions you may have.

Baked potato with melted butter and freshly ground pepper in wooden bowl - Why Is My Baked Potato Hard

Factors To Consider When Baking Potatoes

Baking a potato sounds simple enough. All you need to do is grab one, poke some holes in it, cover it in oil, and let it sit in the oven for a while. It's simple in thought, but it takes a bit more than that to bake one properly.

Three factors influence how successful this will go. They are baking time, baking temperature, and potato size; each factor impacts the others.

Potato Size

Bunch of potatos. Isolated on white background, Potato for lunch

This factor is one you can understand easily. A smaller potato will bake in less time than a larger one. Of course, larger potatoes will take longer to cook because there are more starch granules to break down. 

If you're following a timeframe you found online, you'll need to adjust for the potato you have; potatoes aren't always the same size. If you have one that weighs more than a pound, you might want to leave it in the oven for 15-30 minutes more. 

Needless to say, you can also check on it periodically to see if it's coming along. Every 20 minutes or so, flip the potato. In addition, poke it with a fork.

The inside of the potato should feel soft throughout as you pierce it. If it doesn't, let it continue baking. 

Baking Temperature

Cropped image of female hand turning stove controller. Woman is operating black oven knob. Appliance is in kitchen at home.

Now we need to know about the baking temperature. At what temperature were you baking the potato? The Idaho Potato Commission recommends baking them at 400F; it will only take an hour to bake at this temperature. 

Of course, they also mention how size could affect the baking time. Smaller potatoes take less time, and bigger ones take a little longer. 

If you're baking them at a temperature lower than 400F, the potato will need more time in the oven. You can approach this issue in two ways—adjust the baking time or increase the baking temperature. 

Adjusting Baking Time

Some ovens may not be able to go up as high as 400F. For this reason, people in this situation will need to increase the baking time. If 350F is the highest the oven can go, try baking the potato for 60-75 minutes. 

At 300-325F, the potato will need to spend about an hour and a half in the oven. At worst, you may need to wait two hours to bake the potato at 300F. 

Increasing The Temperature

Instead of using a lower temperature, you could always go a bit higher. Maybe you were already baking the potato at 400F, but it still came out hard. So, why not crank it up a bit? 

Try baking the potato at 450F; it should take about 45-50 minutes to bake at this temperature. At 425F, it will take about 50-55 minutes to bake. 

Baking Time

Red tomato-shaped kitchen timer with cooking in the background. To let you know when to turn off the stove and food is ready. Brazilian cuisine. Kitchen concept. Household appliance concept.

Baking time is one factor that's tricky to adjust; it becomes a guessing game. As you can see from the details above, just about everything affects baking time. 

The size of the potato, the temperature inside the oven, and even the number of potatoes you're baking affect baking time! If you're baking more than one potato, you'll need to wait about 15 additional minutes.

The best way to adjust for this is by experience; frequently baking potatoes will help you learn what exactly is going wrong. It raises the question—how long did you bake the potato? 

Maybe you baked it for 40 minutes. So, we know that 40 minutes isn't enough time to bake the potato in your case. Let it bake for longer, and see how that goes. 

If it's ready after an hour, you'll know the baseline baking time you're working with. From here, we can adjust freely. 

Checking Internal Temperature For Readiness

It can be hard to determine if food is ready, especially baked potatoes. After all, the skin covers the inside. So, you'll never know how it's doing unless you touch it or slice it open. 

Each one requires you to take the potato out of the oven. Thus, it's not the best way to check your potato for readiness. For this reason, you should try using a food thermometer. 

Click here to see this food thermometer on Amazon.

It's one of the better ways to check if the insides are good to eat. People would typically use one to check the internal temperature of meat, but you could also use it for potatoes. 

An internal temperature of 210 degrees F indicates the potato is ready.

Par-Baking/Boiling the Potato

Some people might not want to deal with the headache of trial and error. After all, who has the time to wait hours to bake a potato repeatedly until it bakes correctly? 

It can be frustrating! So, you'd be grateful to learn that you don't have to wait that long. You could always par-bake the potato, and you could also parboil them. 

This method of baking a potato makes it take less time to cook throughout. It involves partially cooking a potato before putting it in the oven. You can do this in one of two ways—boil it or microwave it. 

Parboiling

cooking potatoes in boiling water in a stainless steel pot on the stove, selected focus, narrow depth of field

The concept is simple; you need to prepare the potatoes for boiling. So, this involves putting your potatoes in a pot and filling it with water. Throw in some salt if you'd like. 

Then, cover the pot with a lid; turn the stove on high heat. Once the water begins to boil, you'll want to turn down the heat. Remember, we're not boiling the potato completely. 

Let it boil for 5-15 minutes more. Afterward, test it. More specifically, take a fork and poke the potato. If the fork goes in with little resistance, you baked it. We don't want this result. Instead, it should go in with slight resistance. If this is the case, take the pot off the heat, drain the water, and let the potato cool down. 

Once it's cool, you can move it into the oven. At this point, it should take no longer than 20-30 minutes to bake. 

Par-Baking

Potato tubers in the microwave

Par-baking is a faster method; it's faster because it uses the microwave instead of the stove. However, some people are opposed to this. 

Microwaves tend to change the texture of the potato. It might become drier than you'd like. In addition, you lose out on crispy skin. 

Since it's not staying in heat for a long while, the skin doesn't cook as much. These are some important details to keep in mind. If this doesn't sound appetizing to you, go with parboiling. 

In any case, you can start by cleaning the potato and poking some holes on all sides. Then, set it in the microwave for three minutes. 

This step makes the insides of the potato softer. As mentioned, it's much faster than parboiling a potato. While the potato is inside the microwave, preheat the oven to 410 degrees F. 

Once three minutes are up, carefully take out the potato. Prepare it however you'd like. After that, place the potato in the oven for 25 minutes. 

Finally, take it out. It should be ready to eat! If you need a visual demonstration, here's a YouTube video to help:

How Do You Know If You Overcooked a Baked Potato?

With how long the cooking time can be, there's a chance you might forget about it. So, it raises the question—how do you know if the potato is overcooked? 

The Idaho Potato Commission suggests looking at the skin first. If you spot wrinkles all over, it indicates the potato is overdone. However, some people might use foil to hold the potato. 

So, what then? If that's the case, look at the bottom of the potato. A dark brown spot signals an overcooked potato. Once you start chowing down on it, the insides will also show you how overcooked it is. 

Potatoes are 80% water. If it's dry after baking, you let it bake for too long.

In Closing

Baking a potato sounds so easy, but it isn't! As we've found, there are a lot of variables to consider. So, what do you think is causing the problem? Could it be the temperature, the baking time, or the potato size? In any case, we hope you found this informative. 

Before you go, do you have other potato concerns? Do you want to try the parboiling method? For more information, check out:

How Long To Parboil Potatoes

Are you considering choosing another type of potato for baking? If you'd like help choosing, check out our post:

What Potatoes Are Best For Baking?

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