Cooking just doesn't get much easier than this. You may be thinking, "It's not difficult to bake potatoes in the oven." I agree. But, here's what I love about this slow cooker method for "baking" potatoes:
- It doesn't require any oven heat; that's especially a plus during the hot summer months when you don't want to heat up the kitchen by having the oven on for an hour.
- The potatoes can be started in the slow cooker in the morning and forgotten until it's time to eat them with dinner--no fuss, no stress!
- It's economical. Rule of thumb is that 8 hours in a slow cooker uses half the electricity of 1 hour in the oven.
- They can be prepped the night before, so all you have to do on a busy morning is plug in the slow cooker.
This is so easy, it's kind of hard to call it a recipe. It's really more of technique. I first learned about this from a Martha Stewart recipe. Here's how to bake spuds the easy way:
Step-by-step photos for making
Slow Cooker Baked Potatoes
Step 1. Assemble the ingredients:
- potatoes: Russet, Yukon gold, and sweet potatoes all work well. I prefer organic potatoes, especially since I like to eat the nutrient-rich skin. You can cook whatever quantity suits you, as long as you don't fill your slow cooker more than 3/4 full. I can fit approx. 4 lbs of spuds in my 6.5 qt. slow cooker.
- olive oil -- this is optional, but it adds flavor while the spuds cook; feel free to omit it if you prefer a plain potato more similar to a regular oven baked potato
- salt & pepper -- also optional, but adds flavor; I prefer freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
- herbs, garlic powder, other seasonings -- all optional. I normally just stick with salt and pepper; but you can add more flavors, if you like.
view on Amazon:
My 6.5-qt slow cooker (rated #1 by Cooks Illustrated)
Oxo salt & pepper grinders (My son recommended these and they are awesome--there's a dial to easily adjust from fine to coarse grind. They work better than any grinders I've used before.)
Step 2. Wash and scrub the potatoes, removing any rotten or bad spots. I like to use a 3-M scrub pad for scrubbing. Although they're made for scrubbing dishes & pots, they work great for scrubbing potatoes, because they're flexible and can get into every nook and cranny. These scrubbers are widely available at grocery and discount stores (Target,WalMart) and are also available on Amazon.
view on Amazon: 3M Scotch Brite scrub pads
Let the potato skins dry on the outside before proceeding. It only takes a few minutes.
Step 3. Prick each potato with a fork--approx. 6-8 times per potato. This keeps them from exploding when steam builds up inside as they cook.
Step 4. Place potatoes on a large baking sheet or dish (to contain the mess), drizzle a little olive oil on each one, and rub oil all over each potato with your hands.
Step 5. Sprinkle on salt and pepper, or whatever other herbs or seasonings your little heart desires.
Step 6. Wrap each potato individually in aluminum foil, sealing them up tightly. I use pre-cut aluminum foil sheets that I bought at Costco. They are so convenient and also available on Amazon.
view on Amazon: economy priced aluminum foil sheets
Step 7. Place the wrapped potatoes in the slow cooker, foil seam side up. No need to grease the inside of the crock pot or add any liquid. Cook them dry--there's no mess or clean up when you're through. Cook them on low for 8 hours (slow cooker times may vary), until tender when pressed with fingers.
- Note: It's important not to over-fill your slow cooker. If you do, the potatoes on top won't get done before the ones on the bottom are overcooked. I fill mine approx. 3/4 full.
Done! Remove the foil, cut the potatoes across the top, press in the two ends toward the center, and the potato should open up.
- The inside is moist and delicious. The slow cooking time enhances the natural sugars in the potato, so they taste a bit sweeter than when they're baked in the oven.
- They don't have the white, dry, fluffy texture of potatoes baked in the oven. Slow cooking makes them more moist, sweet, and yellowish in color. Both taste good; they're just different.
- You may notice that the flesh next to the skin has darkened. That's because the pigment and flavors from the skin and olive oil have been absorbed into the potato. Taste's great, so you don't need to avoid eating those darkened areas (as long as you were careful to remove any rotten spots before cooking them).
Regular white Russet potatoes, Yukon Golds, and sweet potatoes all turn out great in the slow cooker. The flavor of the sweet potatoes is A-MAZING! My favorite--and they are crazy nutritious.
OOPS ALERT! Here's how a Russet potato looked that was overcooked in the slow cooker. I had left a couple of cooked potatoes in my slow cooker and thought I'd turned it off but actually turned it on high. 2 hours later, I discovered darkened, overcooked potatoes. Yuck. Lesson learned.
Many ways to enjoy baked potatoes...
Serve them as a side with a meal.
- They're traditionally topped with sour cream & chives. For a healthier alternative, try Greek yogurt or my healthy sour cream substitute that's made with cottage cheese.
view Healthy Sour Cream Substitute recipe
Serve them as a main course.
- Have a Baked Potato Bar with topping options for loading them up. This makes a fun family meal or party buffet. You can prep all the toppings ahead of time and slow cook the potatoes during the day, so everything is ready at dinner time. Easy!
view my Baked Potato Bar topping tips and recipe
Make soup with the leftovers.
There are so many ways to enjoy baked potatoes, and using a crock pot makes them easier than ever to prepare.
Make it a Yummy day!
Baked Potatoes in a Slow Cooker
- Russet, Yukon Gold, or sweet potatoes -- enough to fill your slow cooker no more than 3/4 full*
- olive oil, optional**(1-2 tablespoons for 4 lbs. potatoes)
- salt & pepper, optional**
- other seasonings, optional** (garlic powder, herbs, etc.)
You need: a slow cooker and aluminum foil
Directions: Wash, scrub, and cut out any bad spots from potatoes. Wipe them dry and let them sit until skin is visibly dry all over (they should dry within a few minutes). Prick each potato 6-8 times with a fork. Place potatoes in single layer on baking sheet or large dish, drizzle with olive oil, and use hands to rub a thin coat of olive oil evenly all over the potato skin. Sprinkle with salt & pepper (and other herbs or seasoning, if desired). Wrap each potato individually in a piece of aluminum foil. Add potatoes to slow cooker, foil seam side up, being careful that it's not more than 3/4 full. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours (slow cooker times may vary), until tender when pressed with fingers.
*approximately 4 lbs of potatoes can be cooked in a 6-1/2 qt. slow cooker.
**if you prefer a plain potato more similar to a typical oven baked potato, omit the olive oil and seasonings