Cheddar and Bacon Twice-Baked Potatoes are pillows of potato perfection you and your next steak will enjoy cozying up to! Follow my tips for perfect twice-baked potatoes every time!
Cheddar and Bacon Twice-Baked Potatoes are an easy make-ahead side dish that delivers pure comfort. Although the process takes a fair amount of time, it’s mostly hands-off time that will allow you to do other things while the potatoes are baking.
With the recent popularity of low-carbohydrate diets, the nutritional reputation of potatoes has taken a beating. While it’s true they are mainly starch, they also contain high levels of vitamins C and B6, minerals such as potassium and folic acid, and because of the skin, plenty of fiber. See? Health food in disguise!
Okay, so that might be stretching it, but it’s a nice indulgence once in a while. Because the potato is halved instead of stuffed whole, the portion size for this indulgence is within reason.
What are the best potatoes for twice-baked potatoes?
Russets are the best choice for baking and twice-baking because of their high starch content. When preparing a batch, select potatoes that are similar in size and shape for a nice presentation and so they all get cooked around the same time.
Tips for perfect twice-baked potatoes:
- Wash the potatoes well and blot dry.
- Pierce the potatoes in eight to 10 places with a small knife or fork. This allows heat to penetrate and will prevent the potato from exploding in the oven when heat and steam build up in the interior of the potato.
- Never wrap the potato in aluminum foil for two important reasons:
- They steam inside the foil rather than bake.
- If left inside the foil and not properly handled after cooking, they can produce the botulinum toxin because of the lack of oxygen.
- Do not coat the potato in oil to help crisp the skin. I’ve found oil actually acts as a barrier to moisture escaping from inside the potato. Just pierce and set directly on the oven rack or on a baking sheet and let the dry heat of the oven do its thing.
- Once the potatoes are baked, you’ll need to work quickly; cooked potatoes are easiest to work with when warm. As soon as you can safely handle the cooked potato (disposable gloves help tremendously), cut the potatoes in half and scoop the pulp into a potato ricer, leaving a thin shell next to the skin.
- I like to use a potato ricer because it helps to produce a smooth, airy, almost souffle-like filling. However, don’t let “riced” potatoes cool before mixing in the butter or they will feel grainy. Have the melted butter ready for the potato pulp and gently fold it in before adding the buttermilk, half-and-half and other ingredients.
Combining the potato pulp with melted butter before adding other dairy is a tip from America’s Test Kitchen. They say the fat in butter coats the starch molecules and helps prevent their reacting to the water in dairy which, along with over-mixing, contributes to mashed potatoes turning gummy. I’ve used this method many times and it works very well.
Once filled you can thoroughly cool the potatoes and store for heating at a later time–up to two days before serving. These Cheddar and Bacon Twice-Baked Potatoes also freeze well. Just thaw and bake in the oven for the best results.
The buttermilk in this recipe adds a tangy flavor without all the calories of sour cream. Pour the half-and-half over the potato-butter combination, then add the buttermilk last. If added first, buttermilk has a tendency to curdle when added directly to hot potatoes.
Go crazy with cheese! Other cheeses such as goat cheese, blue cheese, Gruyere or Parmesan may be used.
Want another great twice-baked potato recipe? Try my Spinach Parmesan Ranch Twice-Baked Potatoes!
Helpful tools and equipment to make Cheddar and Bacon Twice-Baked Potatoes (Affiliate Links):
- 2 jumbo Russet potatoes
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/4 cup half-and-half
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, plus more for topping if desired
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Scrub potatoes and blot dry. Pierce in 8-10 places with a fork and place directly on oven racks or on a baking sheet.
- Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until easily pierced with a knife.
- Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop the pulp into a potato ricer, leaving a 1/8-inch thick shell.
- Press pulp into a bowl. Immediately fold in the melted butter then add half-and-half and buttermilk, cheese, salt and black pepper to taste. Be careful to not over-mix.
- Scoop the filling back into the potatoes, top with more cheese if desired
- Return to the oven for 30 minutes or until heated through and potatoes begin to lightly brown.
- Top with bacon and chopped fresh chives and serve.
MAKE AHEAD: May be assembled two days ahead of time. Refrigerate until needed.
Amount Per Serving Calories 497 Total Fat 37g Saturated Fat 21g Trans Fat 1g Unsaturated Fat 12g Cholesterol 104mg Sodium 774mg Carbohydrates 22g Net Carbohydrates 0g Fiber 2g Sugar 2g Sugar Alcohols 0g Protein 21g