Potato skins have been one of my favorite things for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I always ordered the appetizer samplers instead of actual meals at the all-American chains like TGI Fridays and Chili’s. Mozzarella sticks, buffalo wings, southwestern eggrolls, and potato skins – such was my childhood. If you’re unfamiliar, the classic potato skin is a hallowed out potato that is baked or fried until crispy and then topped with lots of cheese and bacon crumbles. It is served with sour cream and, usually, green onions for topping. They taste like comfort and are damn addicting!
I still love the classic but my way of eating has changed. I love veggies as much or more than I love my old fried bar faves from my youth. The idea struck me to make a healthier version of classic potato skins by baking them and stuffing them with veggies! Social isolation encouraged me to make this idea a reality given the need for cozy dishes that can be made with pantry and freezer staples.
I stuffed my skins with frozen broccoli, and diced bell pepper, onion, garlic and jalapeño. Use whatever you have on hand and whatever you like! Keeping with the classic potato skin, I top them with melty cheddar cheese and served these bad boys with sour cream and fresh green onions.
Potatoes last a long time so long as you keep them in a cool and dark space. Buy a bag and keep them around for different dishes. Onions and garlic are the same way. Frozen veggies stay fresh for a while before they get freezer burn. Using them means there is a higher water content. To keep your frozen veg crisp and avoid sogginess, cover them for half the cooking time and then remove the cover and turn up the heat to cook off the extra liquid and finish cooking. If you cannot find fresh green onions, chives make a great substitute. You can also use dried chives (just a pinch will do), which lack the same texture but have a nice oniony flavor.
I have the inclination that potato skins are fried in bars and restaurants when they are ultra crispy, like a french fry. While these skins have a nice crisp on the outside, the are definitely softer than they would be if they were fried. If you have a broiler (I sadly do not) then you can broil the skins until the inside gets crisp – I have provided instructions for this method below.
The best news is these freeze and reheat super well! You need to make sure they are not touching when you first put them into the freezer. Let them get nice and frozen and then you can pile them into a bag or container. They actually get the MOST crispy straight from the freezer into the oven! Not sure why, but they are even more crispy after they have been frozen than they are when you first make them. To reheat, simply pop em onto a rack inside a baking sheet and into a 425 degree oven until warmed through and, of course, crispy – 20-25 minutes.
Veggie Stuffed Potato Skins
Servings: makes 8 potato skins
Time: about 2 hours
- 4 russet potatoes, scrubbed clean (choose a good size and shape for potato skins)
- roughly 2.5 cups of veggies – I used:
- 1.5 cups of frozen broccoli
- half a large red bell pepper, diced
- one small jalapeño, diced
- 1/3 cup of diced red onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
- 4 ounces of cheese (I used cheddar), shredded
- sour cream and sliced green onions for serving
- cooking oil
To bake potatoes:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Rub potatoes with oil, sprinkle them with salt, and place on a wire rack inside a sheet pan. This allows them to cook evenly on all sides.
- Bake potatoes for 25 minutes. Flip potatoes (carefully – they’re hot) and bake for another 25 minutes or until soft on the inside and crisp on the outside.
- Allow potatoes to cool until you can comfortably handle them, about 30 minutes or so.
Note: The potatoes should be relatively skinny. If they are too wide then they will be pretty deep after you scoop out the insides. This can be a problem as far as the stuffing heating through before the cheese and potato skins start to overly brown – especially if you are meal prepping them. Choose skinner, small-medium sized russets for best results.
To make the veggie filling:
- Start with the fresh veggies if using: add the diced onion, garlic, jalapeño, and bell pepper to a pan with some oil over medium heat. Cook for about 3 minutes until they start to soften and become fragrant.
- Add the frozen veggies to the fresh (adding more oil if needed – carefully add them because hot oil and water can flare up).
- Stir, cover, and cook for 4 minutes.
- Uncover, stir, add salt, and finish cooking until frozen veggies reach desired texture. Be sure to let all the liquid cook off – turning up the heat if needed.
To finish the potato skins:
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Slice potatoes in half vertically (long ways).
- Scoop out the inside of the potato, leaving about half a centimeter of potato flesh through the sides and inside. If you scoop out too much, simply pack some of the potato back in.
- Rub skins and the hallowed out inside with some oil and salt (important – do not skip the salt!) and place on the metal rack inside a sheet pan.
- Roast your naked potato skins for 10-15 minutes until the outside is crisp and the insides turn golden.
- NOTE: If you have a broiler, turn it on in the last 3 minutes or so. This will allow the inside to get even more crispy. Make sure you keep your eye on them and do not let them burn!
- Pull the naked skins from the oven and stuff em’ with the veggies. The skins will be hot so be careful, but the veggies should be cool enough that you can use your hands to tuck everything in nice and tight.
- Place back into the oven for 5 minutes.
- Layer shredded cheese on top.
- Place back into the oven until cheese is melted and veggies are warmed through, about 3 minutes.
- Serve with sour cream and green onions.
- Prep these and freeze them! Make sure you initially freeze them in a single layer, not touching (so they do not stick together). Then then they have frozen over, you can stack em’ or bag em’ however you want to keep them for storage. They actually get MORE crispy after being frozen and then oven baked. Don’t ask me why, but it is a wonderful thing!
- To reheat: bake on the rack in the sheet pan at 400 for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melty and starting to brown and veggies are warmed through.
- Note that the exact time will depend on the size of your skins and how full you stuffed them! I overstuffed mine so it took longer for them to heat through. Keep this in mind.
- If using dried chives instead of fresh, mix them into the sour cream and set aside for 30 minutes or so (or longer). This will help soften them and let the flavors incorporate.