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Easy Loaded Baked Potato Bar for Family Gatherings

We are always looking for new meal ideas for our get togethers. They need to be tasty but quick and easy with little mess. We found a great one last weekend! See how to put together an easy loaded baked potato bar for family gatherings.

A loaded baked potato topped with melted cheese, sour cream, crispy bacon bits, and chopped chives is served on a white plate with a side of fresh greens. The dish is presented in a rustic setting on a wooden table, evoking the cozy charm of a gingerbread cake village.

Do you ever have parties or family gatherings, and you end up stuck in the kitchen away from the people you are wanting to spend time with? Last year I said, “That’s enough of that!”

Out of my frustration, I decided to survey friends on social media to get some new ideas. You can read the post that is full of great ideas here – “How to Host Family Gatherings Without Missing Your Family.”

Since that time, I have been watching and trying to think of other ideas to try. Last weekend, the loaded baked potato bar turned out to be perfect for what we were looking for – delicious, easy preparation, little mess, easy clean-up!

The Main Thing – Baked Potatoes

I signed up to take the baked potatoes. I knew this would be pretty easy, and I could set the oven to have them baking while we were at church.

Loaded Baked Potato Bar Simple Supplies

A kitchen counter showcases the ingredients for a delightful Baked Potato Bar: 15 russet potatoes, a bottle of olive oil, a salt container, Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil, a blue brush, and a fork beside a white plate. Wooden cabinets and a door set the background.

Easy Preparation

Step 1: Clean the Potatoes

Many of the people in my family like to eat the potato peel, so I like to make sure they are extra clean. After scrubbing them with the vegetable brush, I set them on a kitchen towel to dry a little.

Step 2: Use a Fork to Puncture the Potato Several Times

A person with tattooed arms and a watch is seen squeezing a lemon over a baked potato from the baked potato bar, wrapped in foil on a counter. Nearby, there is a coffee maker with coffee pods, a ceramic mug, a wooden container, and a paper towel roll.

Normally the potatoes are not in the foil when you start “forking” them. I was rushing to get them finished so I could get ready for church and completely forgot to do this. While I was getting ready, Jay unwrapped each one of the potatoes for me and punched holes in them.

A lot of people say that you do not have to punch the holes. There have many times that we have not punched holes in the potatoes, and everything was just fine. Then one day…

Jay had baked potatoes in the air fryer and didn’t punch holes in them. All of them were fine except this one. It literally jumped out of it’s skin! It also made a little bit of a mess. After that experience, we punch the holes.

Step 3: Make an Assembly Line

These next steps are very simple:

  • Brush a little oil onto the potatoes.
  • Roll the potatoes in sea salt.
  • Place them on a piece of foil (I love the pre-cut pieces.)
  • Wrap the potato, making sure the ends are covered.

Step 4: Baking Methods

There are several ways to bake potatoes. Choose the best cooking method for you. Here are a few methods for baked potatoes:

  • Oven Method
  • Microwave
  • Air Fryer
  • Pressure Cooker
  • Instant Pot
  • Slow Cooker or Crock Pot
  • Over a Camp Fire

We usually use one of the top three methods listed when we bake potatoes. For this post, I am going to share the oven method.

Place the prepared potatoes in an oven preheated to 400-425 degrees. The cooking time will depend largely on the size of the potatoes. I had really large potatoes, so instead of 30-45 minutes, some of them took over an hour to bake.

Make sure the potatoes are evenly spaced in the oven. Place them directly on the oven rack or on a baking sheet.

I use the squeeze method to tell if they are done. You can use a hot pad, but if you have an Ove’ Glove, they work great for this. When you squeeze the potatoes, if they squeeze easily and feel soft, they are ready. You can also check by cutting into one of the larger potatoes to see if it is done.

If you are transporting the potatoes, or if it will be a while before you serve them, place them in a cooler. You will have hot potatoes for a while.

Loaded Baked Potato Bar Toppings

When it comes to baked potato toppings,  the sky’s the limit! There are the traditional toppings that we know and love, but the best part of a baked potato bar is getting creative with the toppings. Here are a few ideas:

Traditional Toppings:

  • Butter
  • Sour Cream
  • Green Onions
  • Bacon Bits
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Salt and Black Pepper

Other Topping Ideas:

  • Top with meat
    • BBQ Chopped Beef
    • Pulled Pork
    • Rotisserie Chicken
    • Ground Beef
    • Taco Meat
    • Crispy Bacon
    • Chopped Ham
  • Nacho Cheese Sauce
  • Chili
  • Pico De Gallo
  • Enchilada Sauce
  • Fresh Herbs
  • Marinara Sauce
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Ranch Dressing
  • Broccoli

There is such a variety of toppings that the options are endless!

A man and a woman are sitting at a dining table, smiling at the camera. The table is set with bowls containing various ingredients, such as shredded cheese, diced onions, and chopped meat. Behind them is a wooden cabinet with glass panes displaying dishes.

Here is my nephew Jarrod and his wife Kelly, right before we were about to get started making our potatoes.

We pretty much had traditional toppings this time. If you notice, besides butter of course, you don’t really have to have large amounts of each topping. The baked potato is the star of the show.

A loaded baked potato bar can be an easy weeknight dinner for the family or and excellent way to entertain a large gathering. Either way, this easy meal is delicious with easy preparation and clean-up. That is such a great combination. At your next gathering, I challenge you to have your own potato bar.

Hopefully these easy loaded baked potato bar ideas gave you more great ideas for your next gathering. I would love to hear them and your favorite ways to serve baked potatoes. Please share in the comments.

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How to Make an Easy Loaded Mashed Potato Casserole

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2 Comments

  1. I love potatoes in any form; I think this would be great for a family get together, too! When my 2 kids were young, the 3 of us would go through 3 50# bags from fall till spring. A slice of bread? No thanks, I’d rather have more potatoes! We called my son “Spud” for a while as he was a potato lover, too!

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