Baked Potato Bar
When you’re hosting a party and looking for new and inventive food ideas, you can’t go wrong with a baked potato bar.
This is easy to prepare, it’s a surefire crowd-pleaser, and the creative aspect of it ensures that no two potatoes are going to be exactly alike.
It’s also a safe option. Most people like potatoes and a baked potato bar with all the fixin’s is something that is going to appeal to meat eaters (bacon bits, anyone?) and non-meat eaters (hold the bacon bits, please) alike!
But how does one go about making these potatoes in an efficient way? What kind of ingredients go well in a baked potato bar?
Read on to find out.
The Best Way To Cook Potatoes for a Baked Potato Bar
There is no one best way to cook your potatoes for your baked potato bar. However, there are many options to choose from. That’s why it’s a good idea to pick the option that best fits your cooking style, your kitchen setup, and your guest list.
One option is to cook your potatoes in a slow cooker. This allows them to cook over a long period of time and makes for very tender potato insides.
Of course, the standard is still the traditional oven baked potato. It was good enough for your mom and there’s something to be said for why the classics are so classic. If you have a large oven and you’re having a large party, it’s one of the most convenient ways to cook all of your potatoes at once.
Grilling is also a solid option, but that requires a bit more attention than the “set it and forget it” style of the conventional oven or slow cooker.
If you want something more hands-free, it’s also possible to make baked potatoes in the microwave. Of course, you’re sacrificing space for convenience at that point, and you’re going to have to do multiple loads in order to feed an entire party.
Then you’ve got the air fryer. Air fryer baked potatoes are delicious, but you may run into the same issue as the microwave. Your average air fryer isn’t going to hold enough potatoes to cook for an entire party in one or even two batches. It’s going to be a lot of back and forth.
How to Keep Baked Potatoes Warm
Timing is also a concern when making your baked potatoes. If you’re cooking them too early you don’t want them sitting out on the counter for too long. If you want your potatoes to keep their moist interior and crispy skin, you’re going to have to do a little work until your guests arrive and are ready to dig in.
If you’re baking them in the oven, one option is to just turn your oven down low enough where it will keep the potatoes warm without burning. It’s recommended that the potatoes retain an internal temperature of 135 degrees F or hotter (most prefer something in the neighborhood of 185 to 200). Some ovens have a warming setting, which typically heats food somewhere between 170 and 200 degrees F. If your oven doesn’t have that, set it somewhere between 200 and 250.
A lot of slow cookers have a Keep Warm setting. If you’re cooking your potatoes in the slow cooker, turn it to that setting once they’re done. Of course, you could also mix and match your methods. Transfer done potatoes from your oven into your slow cooker on Keep Warm setting or take potatoes from your slow cooker and put them in the oven at a low temperature to preserve their warmth.
The Best Potatoes for Baked Potatoes
There are a lot of different potatoes out there. You’ve got high starch, medium starch, and low starch varieties.
But which one is best for your party guests? What will give you the best baked potato bar possible?
We’ve found Russet potatoes are perfect for baking. They’re big enough where each single potato is a side on its own and they bake perfectly. They are high-starch, low moisture potatoes that are sometimes called the Idaho Potato.
The Best Ingredients for a Baked Potato Bar
Your baked potato bar is only as good as its ingredients.
We recommend the following to ensure that your baked potato bar is talked about for years to come:
- Chives or Green Onions
- Different variations of cheese like cheddar, gorgonzola, Parmesan, muenster, etc.
- Sour Cream
- Cooked Broccoli
- Crumbled Bacon
- Salsa Con Queso
- Beans (Black or Pinto)
- Pork Rinds
- Sriracha Sauce
- Barbecue Sauce
- Buffalo Sauce
- Ranch Dressing
- Blue Cheese Dressing
- Pizza Sauce
- Cooked Brussels Sprouts
- Hot Dog Slices
- Pulled pork
- Salt and pepper
Foil or No Foil?
Ah, the age old question. Should I bake my potatoes in aluminium foil?
It’s very possible to bake potatoes without foil, but when going the baked potato bar route, we highly recommend using foil. That’s because it keeps each individual potato contained and even helps people keep their toppings inside.