Loaded Baked Potatoes

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Eat Your FoodFamily-FriendlyBaconPotatoes

These LOADED baked potatoes turn a standard side dish into a full-on entrée. Packed with steamed broccoli, bacon, cheddar, sour cream, and chives, they are a meal on their own! They are quick to toss together, have a variety of different flavors and ingredients, and are economical to make in bulk.

Cheesy, broccoli, bacon loaded baked potato on a white plate with a salad of spinach and tomato behind it on a white plate. The potato is sliced down each side and the top and bottom. Chopped bacon, broccoli, scallions and shredded cheddar cheese are on the potato. A spoonful of sour cream is in the middle of the potato.

Cheesy loaded baked potatoes with broccoli and bacon are a great pantry meal. Potatoes store well and are generally available in bulk. Keep a few pounds in your pantry, and this becomes an easy and comforting dinner.

These loaded baked potatoes are pretty much exactly what I want for dinner on a chilly winter day or cool spring evening, but they run right up against one of my biggest struggles when feeding my kids: It’s intimidating to see big piles of food. Most kids I know struggle with it, and I know mine do. No worries! We can solve it!

Normally, baked potatoes are seen as a side dish, but these are so stuffed and have so much going on that they are essentially a meal in themselves. Sometimes, I’ll serve them with a little side salad or something just to lighten up the plate. But, honestly, you can serve them with absolutely nothing else and be in good shape. Life is busy. Go easy on yourself.

Let’s dig in!

Side view of quick and easy loaded baked potatoes on a worn baking sheet. Along with cheddar cheese, broccoli and bacon, the potato has a spoonful of sour cream and chopped scallions. A second potato is partially visible to the right.

THE BEST WAY TO MAKE BACON

I prefer to bake my bacon in the oven. Yep, you read that right—I place it on a baking rack over a baking sheet, and I get uniform crispy bacon every time. Check out my step-by-step guide: How to Make Bacon in the Oven.

THE BEST POTATOES FOR LOADED BAKED POTATOES

Simply Recipes has an excellent tutorial on baked potatoes, so I won’t reinvent the wheel here. I essentially follow the method in that article.

I shoot for medium-to-large potatoes (less than a pound per potato, for sure). I scrub mine well and stab them with a fork many times all over. Then, I rub them with some olive oil and a good sprinkle of coarse salt. Bake the potatoes at 400˚F until they have wrinkled skins and are very tender on the inside; about an hour is a good guideline.

I wouldn’t alter from the classic here. Russet potatoes are what you want. That said, I would stay away from the Godzilla-sized potatoes that you can sometimes find. A lot is going into these, and you don’t need to start with a pound of potatoes. I shoot for around 10- to 12-ounce russet potatoes.

A broccoli and bacon loaded baked potato is in the background and a fork is holding up a bite of the potato. Broccoli, chopped bacon and cheddar cheese are visible along with the creamy potato.

ALTERNATIVE TOPPINGS FOR BAKED POTATOES

Whether you set up a toppings bar and let people choose their own, or serve them up ready to eat, I think your family will love these!

I used some of my favorite (and classic) toppings for my loaded baked potatoes, but you can get quite inventive with these if you are so inclined. You might try:

  • Pulled pork and smoked gouda
  • Chorizo, red onions, and queso
  • Pepperoni, mozzarella, and marinara

Potatoes are an incredibly flexible starting point for so many flavor combos! For this recipe, I blanch fresh broccoli, but you could absolutely use frozen broccoli if that’s what you have on hand.

MAKING IN ADVANCE AND REHEATING

Baked potatoes can be made well in advance, and they store magnificently in the fridge for up to a week.

While you can reheat them in the microwave in a pinch, reheating in the oven will give you a better texture on the skin, which I like. I reheat mine on a baking sheet at 350˚F for about 20 minutes, until they are just warmed through.

A young girl and boy are sitting at a kitchen table with plates and drinks in front of them. One plate is split into four sections. Each section has one type of food on it. Bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, mashed potato and cooked broccoli is on the plate. The boy is giving a thumbs up sign at his chair.

THE DAD ADD

Eat Your Food - Dad Add

Quick home fries! I don’t need to add anything extra to these potatoes that isn’t already there, but I do like to sneak one potato into the back of the fridge for quick home fries the next morning.

Home fries are a great way to use up potato leftovers. Dice up a cold baked potato (leave the skin on) and add it to a skillet with a drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of seasoned salt. Cook it over medium high heat until the potatoes get crispy, and serve it with eggs.

REPORT CARD

Eat Your Food - Kid Report v2

When I started my career as a Dad Cook, I definitely would’ve screwed up this meal. I would’ve served my kids exactly what I was eating: a completely stuffed-to-the-max potato. That will almost certainly cause a food fight.

Instead, I learned the trick is to just serve smaller portions of individual items. Sure, this loses the effect of a huge, loaded potato, but it does allow you to keep your sanity as a parent.

My kids crushed about 1/4 to 1/2 of a baked potato along with various toppings that I served on the side. Two thumbs up, as you can see!

MORE POTATO RECIPES

  • Twice Baked Potatoes
  • How to Bake a Potato
  • Baked Potato Soup
  • Chorizo-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
  • Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

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Loaded Baked Potatoes Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 6-8 strips bacon
  • 6 medium-large russet potatoes, scrubbed well
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound fresh broccoli, cut into florets (or use frozen)
  • 8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese

To serve:

  • Sour cream
  • Fresh chives

Dad Add: Quick Home Fries (serves 2):

  • 1 baked potato, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • Eggs, for serving

Method

1 Prepare the bacon: Line a baking sheet with foil, then top with a wire baking rack (cookie cooling rack). Lay the bacon strips on the wire rack perpendicular to the wires, making sure the bacon pieces don’t overlap.

2 Bake the bacon and scrub the potatoes: Place the bacon in a cold oven and set the temperature to 375°F. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Check the bacon around the 18-minute mark. Some types of bacon cook faster than others. (See How to Make Bacon in the Oven for full details.)

While the bacon bakes, scrub potatoes well and then stab each potato about 10 times with a fork to prevent the possibility of a potato exploding in the oven. (It can happen!)

Remove the bacon from the oven; transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

3 Bake the potatoes: Increase the heat to 400˚F. Place potatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle well with olive oil, and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake potatoes for about an hour until the skins are shriveled slightly and the potatoes are very tender. (See How to Bake a Potato for more details.)

Six russet baked potatoes are on a worn baking sheet. The skin is dimpled and salt covers each one.

4 Blanch the broccoli: While the potatoes bake, cook your broccoli. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a big pinch of salt to the water to season it. Add broccoli to the water and boil for 3 minutes until the broccoli is just tender, but not mushy at all.

Drain broccoli once it is tender and set aside for assembly. We will warm everything up once the potatoes are assembled at the end.

5 Open the potatoes: Once your potatoes are baked, let them cool slightly so you can handle them. Cut each potato down the center, being careful not to cut all the way through. Then cut two perpendicular cuts near the end of each potato; this will allow you to open each potato up easier. I like to use a small paring knife to slice up the interior of the potato, making it easier to unfold and stuff.

Four baked russet potatoes are on a worn baking sheet. The skin is salted and a paring knife is laid underneath the potatoes. One potato is cut down each side and across the top revealing the creamy potato inside.

5 Stuff the potatoes: Sprinkle some cheese over the potato. I like a lot of cheese, but feel free to use as much or as little as you’d like. Top with about 1/2 cup of cooked broccoli and 1 piece of crumbled bacon. Sprinkle the broccoli with more cheese and more broccoli or bacon depending on the size of the potato and the size of your appetite!

Two loaded baked potatoes with bacon on a worn baking sheet. The russet potatoes are split open with broccoli, chopped bacon and unmelted, shredded cheddar cheese.

6 Reheat the potatoes: Place the stuffed potato back in the oven for 5-10 minutes to really melt the cheese and warm the fillings.

7 Serve: Top the warm potatoes with sour cream and chives and serve.

Two quick and easy loaded baked potatoes on a baking sheet. The russet potatoes are split down the middle and loaded with bacon, cheddar cheese, sliced green onions, broccoli and a dollup of sour cream in the center of the potato.

Leftovers: Store any extra potatoes before filling them. Leftover potatoes can be used within a week for baked potatoes, loaded potatoes, or quick Dad Add home fries!

8 How to Make Dad Add Home Fries: Cut a leftover potato into about 1/4-inch cubes. Into a medium skillet set over medium heat, add the olive oil. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the potato cubes and seasoned salt. Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are crispy and browned on the edges. Remove from skillet and serve with eggs.

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Nick Evans

Nick has been writing delicious recipes for the home cook for almost a decade. He lives in Denver, CO and embraces a delicate balance of diaper changing, trail running and beer drinking. His website is Macheesmo and his first book is Love Your Leftovers.

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