How Not to Have an Exploding Potato in a Microwave

Baking and cooking potatoes in the microwave.And some quick and easy potato recipes. And a public service announcement and warning about green potatoes.

Exploding Potatoes

How to microwave or otherwise cook non exploding baked potatoes.
How to microwave or otherwise cook non exploding baked potatoes.

Whether by oven or microwave, the potato is heated above the boiling point of water. The volume ratio of water to steam is approximately 1:1700. So, when the potato is heated; an unpleasant surprise can sometimes happen. If you are lucky, the explosion occurs in the oven or microwave; thus only making a ruined potato and a major mess. If you are unlucky; the thing explodes as you are taking it out.

A tuber worthy of the name.
A tuber worthy of the name. | Source

Potato Microwave Preparation

You have to vent the potato by poking/slicing holes in it. That way, the steam escapes and there is no pressure build up.

The old, oven method leaves a lot to be desired. You hold the potato steady with one hand, while repeatedly stabbing it with the other hand using a knife, fork, or ice pick. The statistics are not known as to how many people cut or stab themselves every year doing this procedure. The potato then makes the round trip to the oven, after which you put on an oven mitt and cut the steaming thing lengthwise.

There's a better way...

How to vent a potato before putting in microwave

  1. Wash the potato with just water. Then dry off with paper towels or whatever.
  2. Slice the potato in half, lengthwise.
  3. Place both halves flat side down on a microwave usable dish. If using paper plates, use more than one; otherwise the plate(s) might break through from the moisture when removing from the microwave.
  4. Slicing the potato in half obviously reduces the explosion risk, but putting a couple more holes in each half won't hurt.
  5. What with the potato halves laying flat, your potato situation is now much more stable. However, you probably still want to steady the potato and keep it from sliding when you poke the holes in it.
  6. When poking the holes, have the sharp side of the knife facing away from your other hand. An ice-pick would probably be safer.
  7. Instead of stabbing, just gently poke/push the knife or ice pick through the potato.
  8. Then, while still holding the potato, pull/wiggle the knife or ice pick out at an angle away from the other hand.
  9. Two equally spaced holes in each half should do it.
  10. Your spud is microwave ready.

Potato Microwaving Time

How to Use Your Microwave Oven Safely and Other Tidbits. Clicking on the FDA link will give you lots of worthy information about microwave ovens in general.
How to Use Your Microwave Oven Safely and Other Tidbits. Clicking on the FDA link will give you lots of worthy information about microwave ovens in general. | Source

With the potato halves still flat side down on your plate, put in microwave.

Microwave for 5 minutes.

Rotate a quarter turn.

Microwave for 3 minutes.

The above microwaving times are for two halves of a baker potato in a 900-watt oven. Microwaving times can vary depending on the wattage and age of the oven. If you are putting four halves in there, lengthen the microwaving time accordingly. Fortunately, it is kind of hard to over-microwave a potato; though it can be done of course. If you are using a 700 or 1100 watt oven, adjust microwaving time accordingly. If it's not perfect on your first attempt, you'll have a pretty good idea of how to make it so on your second. And if you discover when slicing the potatoes they are not completely cooked, back in the microwave they go for another minute or so.

As a side note, the FDA link concerning microwave ovens is definitely worth at least a casual read. For that matter, the FDA website in general can be quite useful.

Microwaving Canned Potatoes?

Microwaving those little potatoes that come in a can? Those little critters always explode, even when you cut them up beforehand. Always put a cover over them before microwaving the specified 2 to 2-1/2 minutes. Otherwise, you're going to have a major cleanup project.

Potato Recipes

Things to add to your potato.

A baked potato worthy of the name.
A baked potato worthy of the name. | Source

Other toppings people have been known to use include: chili, other onions, gravy, avocados, their favorite meats, their favorite vegetables, their favorite spices, their favorite herbs, their favorite seasonings, their favorite sauces, their favorite dressings, pretty much their favorite anything.

When your masterpiece is complete, there is certainly nothing wrong with putting it back in the microwave for another 20 to 40 seconds as needed.

May all your potato masterpieces be awesome.

Keeping in mind the potatoes are hot and depending on how long you want to wait, flip the potatoes flat side up.

Make both horizontal and vertical slices in the potatoes, so the condiments and/or toppings will run into the crevices.

Making it all worthwhile...

  • Regular Salt
  • Garlic Salt
  • Pepper
  • Butter
  • Sour Cream
  • Chives
  • Bacon Bits
  • Cheese
  • Sliced/Diced Olives
  • Sliced/Diced Green Onions

More Main Dish and Side Dish Potato Recipes

And while we are at it, here are a whole bunch of Potato Main Dish and Side Dish Recipes. Once you are there, you'll probably want to bookmark it for future reference.

Yep, it can happen.

Too bad he didn't catch it live. At least it didn't explode when he was taking it out. Excepting for a relatively minor mess, all was well.

Beware Green Potatoes...

A public service announcement about green potatoes. It is not just an urban legend green potatoes are poisonous; they really are poisonous.

The green is just chlorophyll, but it is an indicator another chemical is present, which is indeed a toxin; and a nerve toxin at that. The toxin is present throughout the entire plant. The toxin is solanine; and is dangerous even in small amounts. The federal website, MedlinePlus, will tell you all about it (when they use the word "tuber", they mean the actual potato part of the plant we normally eat). Never eat green potatoes.

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Comments 8 comments

Jamie Brock profile image

Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

This is interesting... never knew a potato could explode in the microwave or the oven unless holes were poked in them. I've done them both ways and always put holes in them when baking in the oven although I never knew why I did this and as far as the microwave, I don't think I have ever put holes in them. I would usually just clean them and wrap them up in a paper towel and put them in the microwave. I guess I was just lucky they didn't explode! Thank you for the tip about cutting them in half...I will be trying that and also for all the yummy topping suggestions :)


QudsiaP1 profile image

QudsiaP1 4 years ago

Mmmm delicious! I usually just slice or chop the potato before microwaving it, save me from the trouble of burning my hands later.


christinet44 3 years ago

omg! I have been nukin' my spuds incorrectly all these years! I was in danger of tator-explosion on many, many occasions! Thank you, thank you for the educational article you have written... I'll be sharing this on my Facebook page forthwith.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 3 years ago from Canada

Hi para, I usually bake a potatoe in the oven (yes, poke a few holes in it first with a fork) and transfer to microwave for last few minutes if I'm running out of time. Never thought of nuking a potatoe from scratch, will try this, thanks for the warning, and the variable cooking time considerations. Toppings sound yummy. Regards, snakeslane


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 3 years ago from California

Just got back from Dickie's BBQ where I had a baked potato. They are amazing. Never thought of slicing the potato in half. I actually thought you wanted me to make two mountains before I looked at the picture. My microwave has a potato button, so it is good to know how long to cook them without the button.

Watching the potato explode in a microwave is really rather cool.


Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

I have never seen a potato explode! Maybe your next hub could be on exploding potatoes. Make a video of it. Haha.

I love potatoes, and I have used the microwave to cook them ever since a former co-worker cooked one during our short break one day. They take forever in an oven, so when I found out there was a shortcut, I pounced on it!

Great hub. Your list of toppings, and the "after" photo are making me hungry.


Insane Mundane profile image

Insane Mundane 3 years ago from Earth

OMG! I first thought this Hub was going to be some type of parody or perhaps a culinary satire, but holy crap, this was actually a Hub about how to simply microwave a freakin' potato... LOL!


Traci Ruffner profile image

Traci Ruffner 2 years ago from Raleigh, North Carolina

I needed this as I plan to nuke some potatoes soon.

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