It’s no secret that human beings love potatoes. More than a billion people throughout the planet eat them, and potato farmers produce over 300 million tons of spuds each year! That popularity means that potatoes are great sites for culinary innovation–they’re a starchy canvas for human ingenuity!
This extends into baked potatoes and baked potato toppings.
There are certainly some classic options for baked potato toppings and quite a few cuisine-bending options for a culinary explorer–which I certainly am–those tubular tubers.
One night, I got it into my head that one can put anything on a baked potato. The idea kept me up at night, and immediately (well, after a good night’s rest), I decided to try out everything I could imagine. What follows are 16 of the best options I discovered.
Now, be wary. Some of these options might sound surprising, but trust me–I’ve pored over every detail and can confirm that these are the very best baked potato toppings that the human brain can conceive.
Now, let’s start with a classic baked potato topping: sour cream.
Although one most frequently finds sour cream doled out by the spoonful at Mexican restaurants, the stuff is the ambrosia of the gods when it hits a baked potato,
When I have a baked potato, the easy part is the fundamentals–getting the potato nice, crisp, and rich.
But that delightful base calls out for different flavors, and sour cream comes through, lending its distinct tangy-and-creamy taste to any spud.
Its cool, fresh flavor goes excellent with umami in general, cushioning harsh and salty flavors while adding rich and savory delight to a dish.
Now, broccoli might sound like a strange addition to a baked potato. One might be inclined to think, after all, that the potato is already a vegetable–why add more?
The truth is, though, that the potato is not a vegetable. It’s a starch, which means it is more packed full of carbohydrates than vitamins or minerals.
Enter: the humble broccoli. With few calories and an abundance of vitamins and minerals, broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse, and it can be a welcome baked potato topping.
While many might not think broccoli isn’t as yummy as other baked potato toppings, they couldn’t be further from the truth.
When broccoli is oven roasted with herbs and spices, it comes out crispy, earthy, and delicious–the perfect addition to a perfect potato.
The third entry on our list is another famed entry in the baked potato topping hall of fame: cheese.
Yes, this coagulated casein knows its way around a potato, giving a creamy and sharp coup de grace to the bounties of the baked potato.
Moreover, cheese lovers can customize their baked potato with different cheeses, molding the dish to their tastes.
I like to go for a dorm food classic like American cheese, but when I’m feeling aristocratic, I opt for high-class fare like well-aged cheddar.
The opportunities are only limited by your palate!
I’m frontloading dairy here because, hey, let me be honest, dairy is just a potato’s best friend. In this case, we’re talking butter, that celestial stuff that makes the world go round.
Butter is an incredibly simple but incredibly good option for me when I’m looking to top off a baked potato.
When I melt a little knob of butter on a baked potato, I love to see it drip into the crevices of that starchy delight, spreading its gooey, salty, rich flavors wherever it goes.
As a result, when butter goes on a potato, it isn’t just a meal. It’s an experience.
Bacon is the king of all toppings for the carnivores and meat lovers out there.
When sprinkled atop a baked potato, bacon can add a sweet, salty, smoky kick of flavor, not to mention a much-needed crunch.
I highly recommend pairing bacon with a very soft baked potato rather than a crispy one to maximize the texture variation.
On top of that, bacon is a very versatile topping.
With as many different bacon flavors as there are bacon experts, there will always be opportunities to tweak the flavor of a bacon-topped baked potato to add more sweetness, smokiness, or crunch.
Who says you need a bowl to enjoy chili? I certainly don’t!
When I want to scarf down a pot of piping hot, spicy chili, I can never pass up a starch.
Sometimes I’ll go for rice, other times crackers, and even other times cornbread. But truthfully, there’s nothing better than a baked potato piled high with chili.
Since chili’s flavors can change depending on spices and cooking methods, it can be modulated to fit the eater’s palate.
I like spicy chili that is heavy on both meat and veggies, so I like to top potatoes with a few scoops of turkey or beef chili with bell peppers and jalapenos.
Anyone in the mood for something lighter can always pare back the spices or add less meat to their chili-baked potato.
The next stop on my tour of southwestern and Mexican-inspired baked potato toppings is guacamole. Like chili, guacamole is easy to learn and fun to personalize.
In theory, all it requires are avocados, salt, lime juice, onions, and cilantro. However, guac lovers have learned many ways to kick their guac up a notch, adding toppings like cheese, pico de gallo, and more.
This means that guacamole can be a delicious and versatile addition to a baked potato.
It provides a creamy texture to accompany the starchy potato flesh while also adding flavors like sharp cilantro, sour lime, and decadent onion.
The result is that when I added guacamole to a baked potato, it wasn’t just a topping–it was a meal unto itself.
Guacamole’s crimson-colored cousin is salsa, a culinary treat known for its divine blend of sweet tomatoes with sharp, salty spices and tangy peppers.
Adding salsa as a baked potato topping can give a nice Mexican-inspired kick to a spud, or it can be a sweeter offering that melds with the salty, savory potato flavor to produce divine culinary delight.
I’ll typically mix some Roma tomatoes with onions, lime juice, cilantro, and jalapeno when I want a classic salsa.
But if I’m in the mood for something tropical, I love adding diced mango–it imparts the unique sweet-sharp taste to a baked potato that I don’t get to experience every day.
I love onions, but they’re too strong (and tummy ache-inducing) to put on a baked potato by themselves. The solution, I’ve found, is to use chives as a baked potato topping.
Chives are vegetable cousins to green onions, scallions, and shallots, which are themselves relatives of the onion.
These onion alternatives give something like the sharp and lightly sweet taste of onion but with a less intense flavor.
This makes chives a strong option when I want a simple baked potato topping.
All I need to do is dice some up and sprinkle them over a baked potato to add a subtle but still-flavor-packed flourish.
The delicious little vegetable known as the jalapeno has appeared a few times on this list, among other items, but let’s be honest, it deserves a spot of its own.
Jalapenos are some of the most popular chile peppers on the market. While hot, they are not as hot as their incendiary cousin, the habanero.
Once you get past the heat, they also bring a delicate, lightly sweet flavor, almost akin to bell pepper.
When I add jalapenos as baked potato toppings, I go for one of two options.
I might dice up one or two jalapenos and sprinkle them inside the cavity of a baked potato, infusing it with spicy-sweet goodness.
I also like to soak the jalapenos in whiskey to reduce their heat. Doing so not only removes the capsicum that makes jalapenos hot–it also brings out their sweetness and gives a slight boozy kick to them.
Like sour cream, ranch dressing is the perfect creamy addition to a baked potato.
Although you might associate ranch dressing with salads, this condiment is lovely when paired with a vegetable or hearty meal.
In this case, ranch dressing serves as a light but flavorful baked potato topping, with the classic herb seasonings adding zest to your starchy treat.
If you add the ranch dressing while the baked potato is still warm, the dressing will blend into the fluffy potato chunks, making the dish even more decadent.
For an elevated baked potato, pair the ranch dressing with a few bacon bits to create texture and increase the protein.
Tomatoes are a staple in cuisines worldwide, from Spanish and French to Mexican, American, and, of course, Italian.
Like the potato, the tomato is a “New World” product. It was first cultivated in the Andes Mountains of present-day Peru and Bolivia. So adding tomatoes to baked potatoes is just doing what nature intended.
There are many tomato varieties, each of which can bring a distinct flavor to a baked potato dish.
The common globe tomato is as good a choice as any. It gives an acidic bite and delicate sweetness to the hardy potato. Yum yum!
Do vegetables belong on a baked potato? Well, if you want to stay healthy, then yes.
I know it sounds strange to put lettuce on a baked potato, but it’s an excellent choice for personal health and taste!
The crisp, buttery flavor of lettuce laces a pleasant coolness through the firm foundation of the potato, and its natural crunchiness pairs well with a soft, tender baked potato.
Add your favorite hot sauce or another topping to a lettuce/baked potato combo for elevated flavors.
Olives are one of the most controversial items on this list, but I love them. Sure, their sharp, briny flavor isn’t for everyone, but who doesn’t love a gin martini with plenty of olives?
Simply dicing up olives and layering them on top of a baked potato can turn a simple weeknight side into a culinary adventure the likes of which you won’t forget.
The brininess transforms the entire flavor profile of the potato, creating a taste evocative of Italian subs or deli sandwiches.
Mamma mia, I love olives on baked potatoes!
To return to the Tex-Mex flavors that have dominated this list, I think that taco meat and baked potatoes together make the ultimate bar food. What’s not to love, after all?
The rich, decadent, savory, and spicy flavors of taco meat blend perfectly with the canvas of the potato.
The potato, meanwhile, lovingly absorbs the meat’s juices, creating a dish that, while messy, is just delicious.
For those looking for a slightly healthier option, I recommend going for turkey taco meat–the flavor difference is negligible, and it’s just as good as a baked potato topping.
After trying all of those baked potato options, I felt my arteries clogging by the minute.
That’s why the very last option I’m recommending is vegetables–that’s right, vegetables.
Don’t be scared!
While some have been traumatized by bad vegetables, well-prepared vegetables are quite delicious as baked potato toppings.
If you want some earthy-umami flavors, try sauteed collards with onions. On the other hand, try shredded carrots if you want a hearty crunch.
Well, there you have it! I’ve gone through the wringer with baked potato toppings, and I’ve come out in one piece.
Although this list encompasses some of my favorite baked potato toppings, there are indeed others that I haven’t covered.
But don’t worry–my love for baked potatoes knows no bounds, and I won’t stop until I’ve truly found every topping imaginable.
If you’re looking for a little more topping inspiration, check out our list of the best burger accouterments!