Can a Baked Potato Explode?

I’m writing an article based upon the fungicide efficacy experiments I conducted the past two summers. It is tedious. As I review articles, trace down citations, and format I feel my creativity dying. So I decided to take a few minutes off to write about a recent question I resolved: Can a baked potato explode?

I’ve seen the warnings–you probably have too–always puncture the skin of a potato before baking it. The fear is that pressure will build up in the potato, causing it to explode. For years I faithfully poked holes in potatoes before I baked them. And then I started asking questions:

– Can a baked potato explode?

– If they can, how common are they?

– How loud and messy is an exploding potato (if indeed they do explode)?

Thus I began baking potatoes without piercing the skins several months ago. I estimate I baked about 20 potatoes without puncturing the skins to no ill effect. It is likely that small breaks in the skin were present due to shipping and handling trauma. My faith in the exploding potato waned.

Then it happened. Six potatoes sat in the oven baking last week when I heard what sounded like a muffled gunshot. A loud, low pop.

Chaos reigned inside the oven. The largest potato had exploded. Instead of sitting on the rack where I had placed it, the potato now decorated the walls, ceiling, floor, and door of the oven. A ragged shell remained on the rack.

I carefully removed the surviving five potatoes (I feared they might follow suit and explode while I was holding them). After waiting an hour for the oven to cool down I brushed the potato carnage up. The pieces looked and felt like instant mashed potato flakes.

From now on I will puncture the skins of potatoes I am baking. I have learned that yes, they are indeed capable of exploding.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Can a Baked Potato Explode?

  1. Leslie Wilson

    I’ve had a similar experience where I had a mini-potato explosion. I didn’t hear any noise. When I went to gather the potato, it looked like it vomited out about a quarter of it’s insides onto the baking stone it was on. I had always thought that that potato exploding thing was a myth, but I try to remember to puncture my potatoes now!

  2. Yes, indeed, baked potatoes can explode, & it sure can make a mess of the oven. Puncturing it (a fork is the most efficient) allows steam to escape, preventing explosions. I will say, though, that the potato skin left behind is really crispy, & delicious with lots of butter. But I much prefer a clean oven….

  3. Michael Kielar

    Well we had our 1st. potato explosion in over 40 years of my wife’s experience at baking them. She too had been taught to always puncture the potatoes with a fork before baking them. So last night my wife, Cynde, put 3 washed and punctured potatoes on a baking sheet and one of them exploded leaving potato “guts” all over the inside of the oven. They were baked at 325 deg F. for nearly 2 hours. After reading several articles and theories on potatoes blowing up, I’m still not convinced that “puncturing” prevents this rare phenomenon. I bet that if we enlist the US Government to research this, they would be willing to spend millions of our tax $$ to get to the bottom of it !!! By the way, I wonder if potatoes should be banned because they are so dangerous! LOL

  4. Scott S

    I’ve had a potato explode the last two time I have baked them, and yes I did puncture them with a fork. What a mess!

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