A cinch to make, easy to assemble ahead of time, with individual portions just right for entertaining—what more could you ask for in a holiday side dish? Twicebaked potatoes have it all. And what’s more, I love the way twice-baked potatoes deliver the fluffy texture of mashed potatoes combined with the satisfyingly chewy texture of baked potato skins.
The only choice of potato for twice-baked is a russet. Sometimes labeled simply as baking potatoes, the high-starch and low-moisture interior of these potatoes translates into a wonderfully fluffy mash that can absorb a generous amount of enrichment without becoming gummy or heavy. And their rugged, thick skin is an ideal shell to hold the filling.
The best tool for the fluffiest filling is a potato ricer. You can also use a potato masher, but the potatoes won’t be quite as light (try the Oxo Good Grips potato ricer, which sells for $19.99 at Oxo.com). Where the fun comes in is deciding on flavorings to create an appealing side dish that complements your menu. I always start with some sort of dairy, since without it, the potatoes will be dry. When I’m putting on the ritz, I combine butter, crème fraîche, and light cream, which creates a lovely texture and incomparable flavor worth every calorie, as you’ll see in the recipe Twice-Baked Potatoes with Crème Fraîche & Chives. I’ve included two of my most trusted flavor variations (Twice-Baked Potatoes with Cheese and Bacon and Twice-Baked Potatoes with Porcini & White Truffles), but feel free to experiment with combinations of your own. Do keep in mind, though, that you’ll be serving these as a side dish, so they shouldn’t upstage the main course.
Scoop, mix, and fill
1. Scoop out the flesh, leaving a thin layer in the shell so it doesn’t fall apart.
2. Use a light hand when mixing in the filling ingredients so the potatoes remain light and fluffy.
3. Spoon the filling back into the shell, pressing just enough so it holds together.