In my 20 years as a recipe developer and food editor, I’ve returned over and over to the humble potato; I even wrote a cookbook called Potato. Why? Because potatoes are comforting and satisfying, especially when used to make my absolute favorite— a cheesy, creamy twice baked potato.
Get the recipe: Twice-Baked Potatoes with Cheddar and Chives
Like mashed potatoes baked in their own crisp little shell, a twice-baked is made by baking a potato; scooping out the flesh; mashing it with cheese, butter, and sour cream; then baking it again to melt the cheese and blend all of the flavors. Variations abound—you can use different cheeses and add all kinds of flavorful ingredients. Caramelized onions and blue cheese, herby mushrooms, bacon and kale, or chorizo and roasted red peppers are a few of my favorite flavor combinations. Depending on how big you make them, they can be a side dish or a main course, but no matter how you serve them, they’re always a crowd pleaser.
Use starchy potatoes, like russets. They mash up light and fluffy and absorb flavorful ingredients like sour cream and cheese well.
Choose potatoes about the same size and shape. This will ensure that they bake evenly.
Pierce the potatoes before baking. They need to vent steam so that they don’t explode in the oven.
Use bold, flavorful ingredients for the add-ins, like strong cheeses, freshly ground pepper, and spicy chorizo. Because potatoes are mild, the add-ins really count.
Don’t overwork the potatoes. To prevent a gluey texture, mash in the butter, salt, and pepper by hand just until blended, not perfectly smooth, and then fold in the other ingredients. Don’t worry if the mixture feels dry; the butter and cheese will melt during the second bake and add moisture.
Oil the potato skins before the second bake. This helps the skins to crisp.
You can assemble the potatoes ahead. They can be refrigerated for up to 1 day before the second bake.