previous next

How to Cook Potatoes in a Microwave

posted in Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces, Vegetables and Beans by Kathy Maister

I love baked potatoes, and have already written about how to bake them in the oven. Unfortunately, I often don’t have the time to wait for up to an hour for my baked potato to cook in the oven, even though they definitely taste better that way.

So, like lot of people, I often zap potatoes in the microwave. In less then 10 minutes, they get cooked, covered with sour cream and bacon, and I’m ready to turn on the TV.

Here’s how to cook a potato in the microwave oven.

First, wash the potato under running water (no soap!). You can scrub it with a vegetable brush or just rub it with your hands. Then pat it dry with a paper towel.

Puncture about four holes in the potato, with the tip of a sharp knife or a fork. This is important, as it allows the steam to escape. Otherwise the potato may explode when you cook it. (Seriously! If you don’t puncture it, the potato will go SPLAT all over the inside of you microwave!)

If you are baking potatoes in the oven, you can rub a small amount of oil on them so that the skin gets nice and crispy. It is not necessary to rub oil on potatoes you are cooking in the microwave oven.

Place the potato on a microwave-safe dish. Check the small print on the back of the dish to be sure. Then place it in the microwave oven. (By the way, microwave ovens do not have to be preheated.)

Many microwaves have moisture sensors inside so that all you need to do is press the button that says ‘potato’ and just wait for the microwave to beep at you.

If your microwave doesn’t have a potato button, a general rule is that one 7-to-8 ounce Idaho potato takes about 7 minutes to cook. 2 will take about 11 minutes.

The microwave will often say REST. That means the potato, not you! You need to just let it sit for a couple of minutes, for it to actually finish cooking.

But remember, each microwave oven is different, so you need to stick a knife in the potato to see if it is done. The knife should slide in easily and you should be able to squeeze the potato without too much resistance.

To open a microwave ‘spud’, it needs a bit of a bash first to break the fibers apart.

First, slice the top with a knife.

Then place a folded paper towel over the microwave potato. Using the bottom part of your fist, give it a bash. Be really careful as the potato will be very hot.

Now if you give it a squeeze it should be nice and fluffy.

You can now top it with your favorite topping.

As my Irish grandfather used to say, “I’ve never met a potato I didn’t like!”

Here are a few more potato posts:

Baked Potato Toppings

Baked Potato with Salsa

Mashed Potatoes

Oven Baked Potatoes

Roasted Potatoes

Sweet Potato Casserole

How to Choose and Use Potatoes


Microwave Potatoes Ingredients:

(4 Servings)

  • 4 medium baking potatoes

If you are new to startcooking, or are a regular visitor here, please consider subscribing for free.


Kathy Maister said:

Hi M, I applaud your efforts and I am very sorry you had such disastrous results! As for the lingering odors, be sure to totally wash out the inside of the microwave. Open the windows and try an odor neutralizing spray. (Be sure to buy an unscented spray!) Good luck and welcome to!

M said:

Thank you for this blog!!!! I’m really very, very new to the kitchen :) and that has no reflection on my mom’s attempts to teach me, I just never had any interest.

I’m trying to start cooking meals that are quick and easy. Then move to the better, harder recopies. But I digress, I had a really bad experience just last night with trying to cook a baked potato in the microwave. I always heard 30mins in the microwave (guess that was for more than one potato), and now that I look, my microwave had a potato button, duh! Well, I successfully made charcoal and have a smoke scented house as a result. Any advice on clearing the house of smoked baked potato carnage? We’ve tried airing the house out but I still smell it!

Mary said:

I love baked potatoes so after microwaving, I rub them all over with olive oil and then bake in the toaster oven at 400 for 5 to 10 mins to get them crispy on the outside. I lcut them open and spray them with “can’t believe it’s butter” and then add low fat sour cream and then salsa. This is really yummy !

Kathy Maister said:

Great Tip! I actually think salsa is a wonderful thing to have on hand. There are some really delicious varieties available at the grocery store. It’s low in calories and totally transforms something as simple as a baked potato! (Have you tried Cod with Salsa?)

Gretchen said:

It looks like there is oil (?) in the picture of puncturing holes, but it is not mentioned in the recipe — should the potato be oiled or not?

Kathy Maister said:

Hi Gretchen, no it is not necessary to oil the potato before it goes into the microwave. (I did so purely for aesthetics!)

Henry B. Ellak said:

I was looking for a way to cook pototoes without oil. Yours was the first site to pop up.

Very useful info on how to cook in the microwave,. I am looking for a way to make french fries without oil.

Henry B. Ellak thanks,

Kathy Maister said:

Hi Henry, this recipe uses just 2 teaspoons of oil!

miranda said:

thankyou so much for the help…i wanted to microwave baked potatoes for lunch to day and had no idea how long to cook them!!! thanks a bunch!!

Kathy Maister said:

That’s great Miranda! If you have the time Oven Baked Potatoes are even better!

Connie said:

When baking potatoes in my microwave, I find that the inside of yhe microwave oven is wet all over . Is this normal or is something wrong with my Micro?

Kathy Maister said:

Hi Connie, Mine does the same thing. The potatoes are releasing moisture as they cook. If you did not poke the potatoes first, that moisture build-up would eventually make them explode in the microwave. The moisture inside the microwave also tells the automatic moisture sensor when the potatoes are cooked. Just wipe the inside down with a paper towel after removing the potatoes from the microwave.

Sarah said:

Thanks for the “recipe”! I LOVE baked potatoes, but rarely have the patience to wait 45-60 minutes for one to bake in the oven.

Kathy Maister said:

Just in case you missed it, I now have a video on How to Cook Potatoes in a Microwave!

Seb said:

Great stuff thanks. One small thing – You don’t mention the wattage of your microwave. Althoug 7-8 minutes if probably fine for a 800watt microwave, if you have a much more or less powerful microwave you would need to adjust the timing.

Kathy Maister said:

Seb, you are so right! A “Full Size” microwave oven has more wattage than a small counter top size. You really have to experiment with your own oven. My 17 year old microwave died and I replaced it with a more powerful oven. The first week was a bit frustrating as everything had to get recalculated just a bit!

Anita said:

If you place your potatoe in a ziploc bag and add a 1/2 cup of water to the bag then zip it up except for about a 2 inch opening the potatoes will be very moist….works everytime, and you can cook corn on the cob the same way and it is delicious too! Try it, you’ll be amazed.

startcooking team said:


Thanks for the tip! It’s surely an easy way to bake potatoes in the microwave!
Now with Glad and Ziploc you can buy the new Steamy bag, a special bag with ready to steam vegetables, that goes in the microwave!! Both Glad and Ziploc show how easy it is to steam up elaborate recipes in microwave bags!
To steam with regular ziploc bags potatoes, or even broccoli you need to put them for 12-15 minutes.


the startcooking team :)

Frigidaire parts said:

I still don’t have a microwave (if you can ever believe that). I prefer my food oven cooked, I don’t really trust microwaves just because there have been some rumors about microwaves linked to cancer. Now I am having second thoughts, a microwave would save me so much time and I am seriously considering geting one.

Kathy Maister said:

There are microwave radiation monitors that you can get if you are nervous about using a microwave. I actually worry more about using a cell phone!

elli said:

omg! i really didn’t know how to cook potatos and now that i know, i want to thank ya sooooooooooo much!


elli s d

Kathy Maister said:

Congratulations Elli! It sounds like a whole new culinary adventure is underway! This is my favorite quick meal. Enjoy!

chris said:

I do not poke holes in my Potatoes,, sweet ones or yams either.

This allows steam escape, not good for cooking.

But I have a weak microwave

Kathy Maister said:

Whoa! Those spuds would definitely go SPLAT in my microwave!
My 17 year old microwave finally died and the new one I bought is really powerful! It really took some getting used to. Cooking time using the new one has decreased substantially.

burt said:

This is similar to the cooking bag idea, I suppose, but I poke holes in the potatoes and then wrap each one in cling (Saran?) wrap. I cook half time on one side, let sit for a couple of minutes, and then cook the other half time on the other side. The cooking is more uniform and less dry.

Kathy Maister said:

My microwave died and the new on does not work as well as my old one, particularly when microwaving potatoes. Burt, your cling wrap trick sounds like it may help. Meanwhile, I have been baking them in the oven and WOW – perfect every time!

mike DUNfield said:

you would have to be irish to talk to a potatoe

startcooking said:

But of course! My (Irish) grandfather ate potatoes every day of his life and never met one he did not like! :)

Martes said:

Has anyone heard about these microwave potato baker bags from MTBobbins? They sound like a great idea, but do they actually work?

natasha said:

Hi, My mum always makes potoatoes in the microwave and then puts them into the oven to get them crispy, is this more time consuming and how long would they be in the microwave and then the oven?

startcooking said:

Hi Natasha,
Your Mum’s method is quite brilliant! Potatoes cooked this way are soft and fluffy on the inside and have a fabulous crispy skin.

Start by preheating your regular oven to 400 degrees.

For this method, in the past I have rubbed the outside of the potato with olive oil and a bit of salt and then microwaved the potatoes for about half of the normal microwave cooking time.

Then, using a pair of tongs, put the partially cooked microwaved potato in the oven and continue cooking it for about 1/2 hour.

Stick a paring knife in the potato to check for doneness. If it is still hard, continue cooking until tender.

Jeanette said:

I wash the potatoes, poke the holes with a fork, microwave for 4 minutes with a 1,000 watt microwave, then carefully put the potatoes in aluminum foil and wrap them up and allow them to continue steaming in the foil for 5 minutes. When opening the foil, be very careful of the steam.

startcooking said:

Great tip Jeanette! Thanks for sharing!

Jekyra Brooks said:

My name is Taisa and I told my grandma that this might be a good tip for her. I hope it helps her a lot, this website is a good source. I hope that it stays online forever.

startcooking said:

Thanks Jekyra!

Lauren Clark said:

I just made baked potatoes and they have never tasted so good!

startcooking said:

Congratulations Lauren!
Happy cooking…

More content