Exploding Baked Potato in Microwave or Oven - How to Pierce / Prevent / Cook

Latest update: April 7, 2023. Page URL indicates original publication date; meanwhile, times change and the updates continue.

Yes, Potatoes Really Do Explode. How to Safely Cook a Potato and Prevent from Exploding in Oven or Microwave. Stabbing and Poking Holes in Them Is Not the Safest nor the Best Way.

Do Potatoes Explode? Yes They Do.

Here's about preventing potato explosions when baking or cooking potatoes in the oven or microwave, and the method actually makes things much safer and more convenient.  Also includes 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 potato, purpose being to give the steam escape routes so there is no pressure buildup.

Piercing / Pricking / Slicing a Potato

The method most folks use leaves a lot to be desired. They hold the potato steady with one hand while repeatedly poking and 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 much better way...

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

  1. Wash the potato with water.
  2. Then dry 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. Instead of stabbing, just gently push the knife tip through the potato.
  7. Then while still holding the potato, slowly pull/wiggle the knife out at an angle away from the other hand. Two equally spaced holes in each half should do it.
  8. Your spud is now oven and microwave 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 more 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, thus making it rubbery; 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 cutting the potatoes that 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 and splatter, 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 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 that 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
  • Favorite Meats
  • Favorite Vegetables
  • Favorite Spices
  • Favorite Herbs
  • Favorite Seasonings
  • Favorite Sauces
  • 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 30 seconds as needed.

May all your potato masterpieces be awesome.

Meanwhile, here's a page about the possible and sometimes real dangers of Green Potatoes.

- End of Article -

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