We’re huge fans of these Loaded Potato Skins, made with the classic cheddar cheese and bacon combination. They are baked until tender, and crispy and golden brown.
The toppings in these loaded potato skins include crispy bacon and melty cheddar cheese, as well as sour cream and green onions. It’s an American classic!
This recipe is make-ahead friendly for ease and convenience. You can even freeze the potato shells for later.
You’ll love these baked crispy potato skins, loaded with cheese, bacon, sour cream, and scallions. They are the perfect side dish for ribs or anything with BBQ, and also great appetizers for parties or game day!
If you like potatoes, cheese, and bacon, it’s impossible not to like these loaded potato skins. They are seriously delicious!
I recently made these AMAZING Slow Cooker BBQ Baby Back Ribs and served them with these loaded potato skins. They are the perfect combination and can’t wait to share the recipe with you today!
Here’s why I love these loaded potato skins:
- They are simply delicious! Who can resist potatoes, cheese, and bacon?!
- They are crispy and golden brown throughout, around the edges and on the exterior.
- The skin in Russet potatoes crisps up beautifully, making it extra enjoyable.
Aside from the BBQ Ribs, I also love serving these loaded baked potato skins with this succulent Spatchcock BBQ Chicken, as well as this Huli Huli Chicken and Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets, Air Fryer Steak Bites. So good!
Baked, Crispy, and Loaded
These loaded potato skins are baked until tender and fluffy, and then baked again until buttery, crispy, and golden brown around the edges. The second baking process crisps up the exterior skin even more, making every bite extra crispy and enjoyable.
They are loaded with these toppings:
- Melty cheddar cheese
- Crispy bacon
- Sour cream
- Green onions
Use Medium Russet Potatoes
I’d highly recommend using Russet potatoes to make loaded potato skins for two reasons:
- Russet potatoes have thick skin and crisp up really well. If you use other potatoes, the skin would just fall right off.
- Their longer, oval shape and larger size is ideal to hold the all the toppings
- Russets are fluffy and starchy, which helps to absorb and incorporate flavors and the toppings
As for size, make sure the potatoes are not too large, otherwise they will take extra time to bake.
Here are a few helpful ingredient notes from my recipe testing process. The full ingredient list can be found in the recipe card below.
- Russet potatoes: Pick medium sized potatoes so that they don’t take too long to bake. Don’t use other types of potatoes. Russets are best to make loaded potato skins.
- Unsalted butter and/or olive oil
- Shredded cheddar cheese: I use pre shredded cheddar, but you can grate your own if you want. It works either way.
- Cooked bacon, chopped: For 8 potato skins, you need about 6 strips of bacon.
- Sour cream: For the topping.
- Green onions or chives: For the topping, thinly sliced.
- Salt and pepper
These are the ultimate loaded potato skins! They are crispy and loaded with bacon, cheese, and more. They are easy to prep, and you can even make them ahead!
Step 1 | Bake potatoes
Poke holes all over them with a fork. This reduces bake time, helps with air flow, and prevents them from bursting. Do NOT wrap with foil, as this will prevent the exterior from crisping up. Rub potatoes with olive oil all over. Bake for 1 hour at 400 degrees F. Flip them over halfway through.
Tip: Use medium sized Russet potatoes. Larger potatoes will take too long to bake. I would recommend using only Russets because their skin is thick and they crisp up really well (texture).
Step 2 | Scoop out flesh and bake again
- After 1 hour, they should be tender. Cut them in half lengthwise.
- Scoop out the flesh, leaving about ¼ flesh around the skin.
- Brush with olive oil or melted butter, and season with salt and pepper.
- Return to oven and bake at 425 degrees F for 8-10 minutes per side.
Step 3 | Melt cheese and bacon
Flip the potatoes, cut side up. Top with cheese and cooked bacon. Bake again for 2-3 minutes until melted at 425 degrees F.
Step 4 | Add toppings and serve
Serve the loaded potato skins with sour cream and thinly sliced onions or chives.
Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions
Make ahead: Bake the potatoes, remove the flesh, and bake them on each side until golden brown and crisp (step 4 in the recipe card down below). Refrigerate in containers for up to 3 days. When ready to eat, season, brush with oil, and top with cheese and cooked bacon. Bake at 425 degrees F for 4-5 minutes or until melted. Bacon can be cooked up to 3 days in advance.
Freezing: It’s best to freeze the empty shells and top them when ready to bake, as the quality of cheese can go down after it’s been frozen. Freeze the empty potato skin shells for up to 2 months. When ready to bake (no need to thaw), top with cheese and cooked bacon and bake at 425 degrees until melted and warmed.
Pairing and Serving Ideas
I love serving potato skins with Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs. I swear, the tender and flavorful ribs pair really well with loaded potato skins. These are my go-to mains to serve with it:
Yes, you can cut the potatoes in half before baking to reduce the baking time by half. Instead of 1 hour, bake for 30 minutes.
Yes, make the baked empty shells up until step 4 in the recipe card down below. When ready to make, brush with oil, season with salt and pepper, and top with cheese and bacon. Bake according to directions, plus a few extra minutes as needed. Additionally, the bacon can be cooked up to 3 days ahead.
You can freeze the empty shells for 2 months. When ready to bake (no need to thaw), season and top with cheese and cooked bacon and bake at 425 degrees until melted and warmed.
Yes, but you need to bake the potatoes in the oven separately. After you have scooped out the flesh from the potatoes, brush with oil or butter and season. Air fry at 400 degrees for 5 minutes. Then top with cheese and bacon, and air fry for another 2-3 minutes until melted.
This recipe was published in 2019 and updated in October 2022 to include new photos and information, plus a few recipe modifications.
Tips for Success
- Use Russet potatoes, medium in size. Larger potatoes will take much longer to bake.
- Russets are best to make loaded potato skins because their skin is thicker and crisps up really well. Try not to use other types of potatoes.
- Poke holes all over the potatoes: This reduces bake time, helps with air flow, and prevents them from bursting
- Do not wrap potatoes with foil while baking, as this will prevent the exterior from crisping up.
- Be generous with the cheese – it will melt into a thin layer. You can use either pre-shredded or hand grated cheddar.
Loaded Potato Skins with Bacon and Cheese
- 4 medium russet potatoes
- Olive oil
- Melted unsalted butter - optional
- 1 to 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese - to taste
- ⅓ cup chopped cooked bacon - from about 6 strips of bacon
- Salt and pepper - to taste
- Sour cream - to taste
- Thinly sliced green onions or chives - to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Poke the potatoes several times with a fork. Rub all over with some olive oil. Arrange on a baking dish and bake for 1 hour, until cooked through and tender in the center. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
- Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees F.
- Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise (from top to bottom). Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh, leaving about ¼ inch around the skin. Arrange the scooped out shells on an aluminum baking sheet.
- Brush the potato shells all over with olive oil (or melted unsalted butter), and season the interior with salt and pepper to taste.
- Return to oven and bake at 425 degrees F for about 8-10 minutes per side, until crispy and golden brown around the edges. Tip: I bake them cut side up first to allow the oil and seasoning to absorb into the potatoes, then I flip them facing down to bake the other side.
- Top each potato shell with shredded cheese and bacon generously, depending on how “loaded” you want them. Return to oven and bake for 2-4 minutes again until melted, being careful not to burn them.
- Serve with dollops of sour cream and thinly sliced green onions. Enjoy warm!
- Use Russet potatoes: They have thick skin and crisp up really well. They are longer and larger than other potatoes, making it a great choice to hold the toppings. Additionally, they are fluffy and starchy, ideal to absorb flavors and incorporate the toppings.
- Pick medium sized Russets so that they don’t take too long to bake.
- Be generous with the cheese topping – it will melt into a thin layer. You can use either pre-shredded or hand grated cheddar.
- Make ahead: Make the baked empty shells up until step 4 in the recipe card. When ready to make, top with cheese and bacon and bake according to direction, plus a few extra minutes as needed. Additionally, the bacon can be cooked up to 3 days ahead.
- Freeze: It’s best to freeze the empty shells and top them when ready to bake, as the quality of cheese can go down after it’s been frozen. Freeze the empty shells for 2 months. When ready to bake (no need to thaw), season and top with cheese and cooked bacon and bake at 425 degrees until melted and warmed.
- Cheese: Monterey Jack, Mexican blend, or similar. Pre-shredded cheese is fine.
- Bacon: Turkey bacon.
- Do not substitute the potatoes. Use medium Russet potatoes for best results.