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Hosting a dinner party or event? Make these EASY Slow Cooker Baked Potatoes and serve a DIY Baked Potato Bar for a fun, interactive dinner guests will love!
Grab the EASY recipe for Slow Cooker Baked Potatoes below and check out my party tips and tricks for setting up the perfect LOADED Baked Potato Bar!
When you were a child did you know without a doubt what you wanted to be when you grew up? I always knew I was going to be a Mom (BTW, my heart is full with so much joy now that I finally get to be a Mom 😊) and dreamt of being a teacher or writer one day.
As a child, I thought being a teacher was teaching kids in school and being a writer meant writing a book. But as I got older, and fate would have it, I realized there are all kinds of teachers and writers and I have been blessed to have a career that has allowed me to follow these dreams (although not the way I originally thought) and do so much more!
Now days I couldn’t image doing anything else but teach cooking classes, writing a food blog (as well as writing for newspapers and other websites), and work as a chef and event planner. In addition to being a Mom, it is what I was born to do!
I love teaching and writing and fussing over a great meal and all the details of a party. In fact, it is so hard for me to let others be in charge of the planning and organizing and “running the show,” that I couldn’t relax at my own wedding because I knew how things needed to be done. And when I’m at other events, I carefully take note of things that are going well and making the event top notch; and can’t help but also want to step in and take charge when things are going awry.
Needless to say, I know what recipes are always a hit and have many cooking and party tips and hacks up my sleeve. Like, everything doesn’t have to be homemade (no one turns down a store-bought dinner roll) and people love (I mean LOVE) DIY food bars!
From chili bars, to hot chocolate bars, to build your own ice cream sundae bars; people love being able to customize their favorite foods. We even had a s’mores bar at our wedding!
But of all the “create your own” food bars I’ve set up over the years a loaded baked potato bar or mashed potato bar is the biggest crowd pleaser. I mean I totally get it, who doesn’t love potatoes?!?!
I’ve served a baked potato bar or mashed potato bar at many dinner parties and large events and not only is it a crowd pleaser, it is pretty easy to prepare. To keep things easy, I tend to do more baked potato bars over mashed potato bars; because for me making baked potatoes are easier to prepare than mashed potatoes due to one big cooking hack – I make Slow Cooker Baked Potatoes!
Yes, you can cook baked potatoes in the slow cooker and they turn out perfect!! I love this cooking and entertaining hack as making potatoes this way is less time consuming than making mashed potatoes AND you free up valuable space in your oven and on your stove top to cook other things. It also means you can have a baked potato bar for a summer cookout because you don’t even have to turn your oven on and heat up your whole house! Cooking the baked potatoes in a slow cooker also means you can serve the potatoes directly in the slow cooker, easily keeping them hot without needing additional serving equipment.
For my food bars I never shy away from toppings and I try to go all out and serve as many toppings as possible to make sure whatever I’m serving, whether chili, ice cream or slow cooker baked potatoes, can be LOADED with toppings!
When I was getting ready for my most recent summer dinner party, I headed to my local Walmart to get all my baked potato bar toppings. While I was stocking up on the cheese and other dairy products I discovered the new Land O Lakes® Soft Squeeze™ Spread in a convenient, easy to squeeze bottle. Not only is this new Land O Lakes® product made with real butter, the easy to squeeze, right out the refrigerator bottle would be perfect for my baked potato bar as it is less messy and easier to serve than sticks of butter. As I’ve said many times before, when hosting parties and serving buffets or food bars, make things easier on yourself by taking shortcuts and using cooking hacks when needed. This new Land O Lakes® Soft Squeeze™ Spread is not only convenient for my baked potato bar, but would be great served on a pancake bar, with freshly grilled corn or with homemade biscuits!
Baked potato bar toppings:
Meat: diced ham, bacon, taco meat, BBQ pulled pork or chicken, pepperoni, chili, sausage
Cheese: cheddar, feta, blue cheese, mozzarella, queso
Vegetables: corn, broccoli, green onions, roasted red bell peppers, jalapenos
Dairy: sour cream, Greek yogurt, Land O Lakes® Soft Squeeze™ Spread
Nuts and seeds: pepitas, sunflower seeds, pecans, pine nuts
Other assorted toppings: fried onions, black beans, gravy, marinara sauce
Additional baked potato bar ideas and tips:
Toppings can be placed directly in serving bowls, wrapped with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator (for perishable items) up to a day in advance.
Don’t worry about mixing and matching serving bowls. An assortment of bowls in different sizes work great for serving different toppings and different colors or designs on the bowls add character to the bar set up.
If serving chili, queso or gray for your baked potato bar, invest in additional slow cookers. A 6 or 8-quart slow cooker is great for large quantities (like chili) and then smaller 2-quart slow cookers are great for things like gravy or queso.
Make sure and include knives, tongs and spoons on your potato bar set up so guests can easily serve, open and top their potato.
How to cook baked potatoes in a slow cooker:
To cook baked potatoes in a slow cooker, you prepare the potatoes as you would for baking in the oven (brushing the potato skins with olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper, wrapping in foil). You then cook the potatoes in the slow cooker on high for 4-5 hours and on low for 7-8. See recipe below.
- 6 Russet potatoes*
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt and black pepper, as needed
- Aluminum foil, as needed
- Desired toppings, see list above
- Scrub and wash potatoes really well. Thoroughly dry potatoes with a paper towel and pierce several times all over with a fork.
- Working with one potato at a time, place potato on a sheet of foil. Brush potato all over with olive oil and then season generously with salt and black pepper. Wrap aluminum foil tightly around potato and place in an 8-quart slow cooker.
- Repeat this process with the remaining potatoes.
- Cover and cook the potatoes for 4 ½ - 5 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low; or until potatoes are tender.
*If you are using smaller Russet potatoes (like those found in a 5 or 10-pound bag) you will be able to fit about 8-9 potatoes in your slow cooker and the cooking time will remain the same.
Do you like food bars? What toppings would you put on your slow cooker baked potato? If you want to make your own baked potato bar just like I did, stock up on a variety of toppings from your local Walmart. Be sure and try the new and convenient Land O Lakes® Soft Squeeze™ Spread (located in the dairy section) by taking advantage of this coupon to save $0.50 off ONE (1) Land O Lakes® Soft Squeeze™ Spread (coupon expires 12/31/18).