How to Safely Microwave a Potato and Prevent from Exploding in Microwave or Oven

Preventing explosions when baking and cooking potatoes in the microwave or oven, along with microwaving times and recipe toppings suggestions.

How to microwave or otherwise cook non exploding baked potatoes.

Why Do Potatoes Explode?

Whether by oven or microwave, the potato is heated above the boiling point of water. The volume ratio of water to steam is approximately 1:1700. So, when the potato is heated; an unpleasant surprise can sometimes happen. If you are lucky, the explosion occurs in the oven or microwave during cooking; thus only making a ruined potato and a major mess. If you are unlucky; the thing explodes as you are removing it.

How to Prevent Exploding Potatoes

Basically, one must vent the critters; purpose being to give the steam escape routes so there is no pressure buildup.

The method most folks use leaves a lot to be desired. They hold the potato steady with one hand
while repeatedly stabbing it with the other hand using a knife, fork, or ice pick. The statistics are not known as to how many people cut or stab themselves every year using this method. The potato then makes the round trip to the oven or microwave, after which they put on an oven mitt and cut the steaming thing in half, lengthwise. There's a better way...

Safe Way on How to Prepare Your Potato for the Microwave or Oven 

  1. Wash the potato with just water.
  2. Then dry off with paper towels or whatever.
  3. Slice the potato in half, lengthwise.
  4. Place both halves flat side down on a microwave usable dish. If using paper plates, use more than one; otherwise the plate(s) might break through from the moisture when removing from the microwave.
  5. Slicing the potato in half obviously reduces the explosion risk, but putting a couple more holes in each half won't hurt. What with the potato halves laying flat side down, your potato situation is now much more stable. However, you probably still want to steady the potato and keep it from sliding when you poke the holes in it.
  6. When poking the holes, have the sharp side of the knife facing away from your other hand. An ice-pick would probably be safer. Instead of stabbing, just poke/push the knife or ice pick through the potato.
  7. Then, while still holding the potato, pull/wiggle the knife or ice pick out at an angle away from the other hand. Two equally spaced holes in each half should do it.
  8. Your spud is microwave or oven ready.

How Long? Potato Microwave Times, etc.

  1. With the potato halves still flat side down on your plate, put in microwave. Microwave for 5 minutes.
  2. Rotate a quarter turn. Microwave for 3 minutes.
The above microwaving times are for two halves of a baker potato in a 900-watt oven. Microwaving times can vary depending on the wattage and age of the oven. If you are using a 700 or 1100 watt oven, adjust microwaving time accordingly. If you are putting four halves in there, lengthen the microwaving time accordingly.

It is possible to over-microwave a potato, so underestimating is always your best course of action. If it's not perfect on your first attempt, you'll have a pretty good idea of how to make it so on your second. And if you discover when slicing the potatoes they are not completely cooked, not a big deal; back in the microwave they go for another minute or so.

Microwaving Canned Potatoes

Microwaving those little potatoes that come in a can? Those little critters always explode, even when you cut them up beforehand. Always put a cover over them before microwaving the specified 2 to 2-1/2 minutes. Otherwise, you will very likely have a major mess to cleanup.

Potato Recipes – Things to Add to Your Potato

A baked potato worthy of the name.
A baked potato worthy of the name.

Keeping in mind the potatoes are hot and depending on how long you want to wait, flip the potatoes flat side up. Make both horizontal and vertical slices in the potatoes, so the condiments and/or toppings will run into the gaps and crevices.

List of Potato Toppings Making It All Worthwhile...

The Basics

  • Regular Salt
  • Garlic Salt
  • Pepper 
  • Butter
  • Sour Cream
  • Chives
  • Bacon Bits
  • Cheese 
  • Sliced/Diced Olives
  • Sliced/Diced Green Onions 

Other Toppings Folks Have Been Known to Add

  • Chili
  • Other Onion Varieties
  • Gravy
  • Avocados
  • Their favorite Meats
  • Their favorite Vegetables
  • Their favorite Spices
  • Their favorite Herbs
  • Their favorite Seasonings
  • Their favorite Sauces
  • Their favorite Dressings
  • Pretty much their favorite anything.
When your masterpiece is complete, there is certainly nothing wrong with putting it back in the microwave for another 20 to 40 seconds as needed.

May all your potato masterpieces be awesome.  

1 comment:

  1. Interesting; I had not thought of cutting them all the way in half. My step-daughter is a Cordon Bleu trained chef, and her method is to simply make a cross cut in the potato skin prior to baking it whole. This also makes it easier to push together to open it post-baking, and add in your toppings.
    I prefer them to be whole, as it makes a nice 'basket' to hold all the toppings you want...even though there will still be some 'overflow' if you go topping-crazy. LOL
    Check out my recipe hub on how we make an entire meal from a single large baker potato:'