I am a HUGE fan of baked potatoes.
I love baked potatoes so much that a few years back I came up with a master plan to open a baked potato shop… Ok I know a lot of these posts are starting with me telling you about my half-baked food business ideas. It guess I’m easily distracted. Anyway, moving on.
In my opinion, throwing a baked potato party is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your friends.
When I tell people about this favourite dinner party strategy of mine, I get a mixed bag of reactions. Some people say “Oh man I love baked potatoes! What a great idea!” There are a few that ask me if I’m going to twice bake them with bacon and cheese, like the kind you get at chain restaurants. Nope, because the build-your-own, buffet style setup is my favourite part about the whole thing. Most people around where I live, because this is a very ‘Kale smoothie and sprouted almond milk’ focused part of the world, couldn’t imagine just diving into a whole potato. These people need a lot of convincing, especially since they’re usually imagining the standard toppings we’re used to - the sour cream, cheese, chive kinda deal.
There are a million ways to stuff a potato!
I like to think of a baked potato as being as versatile as a sandwich. Nearly anything goes. Including lighter stuff like leafy green salads, fresh salsas, and hearty lean things like say a turkey chilli or salsa verde braised chicken thighs. Seriously though, think about it. What doesn’t go with potato?
To further appease the low carb peeps in your circle, you can do what I do and bake a few sweet potatoes as well. Cut those bad boys in half and offer them as an option alongside the standard russets. Seriously, this dinner party will please almost anybody. (Yeah, I know, sweet potatoes are also a carb, but let’s meet in the middle here).
How to bake potatoes
Definitely nothing fancy here. Some people tell you to rub them with oil and salt, or nestle them in a bed of salt so the skin gets extra crispy. These are nice touches, but not necessary in my world. The main consideration here is that potatoes take literally forever to cook through, so it’s important to plan ahead. Here’s my easy potato baking technique:
Straight on the rack
Make sure there is space between each one so they cook evenly
1 to 1.5 hours
Then drop the oven to 200 degrees until you’re ready to serve.
*If you’re baking sweet potatoes too, those will need to be on a pan of some kind or they will ooze sugary syrup that will burn on the bottom of the oven. Not fun.
Need more convincing?
One of the best things about throwing a baked potato party is how easy it is for you, the host. If you’re making all the toppings yourself you can rely on a lot of make-aheads. Or, an even better plan is to use my personal favourite tactic which is asking each of my guests to bring a topping with them. That way, all you have to do is crank on the oven, do a bit of scrubbing, and your fully loaded baked potato bar will build itself.
If you’re feeling wild & crazy, let your friends decide which toppings they want to bring. If you’re more of a micromanager, stick with a theme and assign certain things to people. At my last party we had such a variety of toppings that I split my potato into two, and did them up with two disparate flavour profiles. It was great.
What kinds of themes you ask? Here are a few ideas to get your started.
One final selling point
This is one of those parties where nobody needs to worry about dietary restrictions and likes and dislikes, because it’s totally customizeable and everyone builds their own adventure.
Unless one of your friends is allergic to potatoes, which is pretty rare (I think?) In which case, they can build a bowl of toppings and still be pretty happy. I hope I have made a believer out of you! Tag me with your baked potato party photos on Instagram if you have one.
Oh, and that baked potato shop I mentioned earlier has yet to come to fruition, but who knows what the future holds.