“I’m actually just going to order a couple of appetizers instead of an entrée, but can they come out when everybody else’s food does, please?” Raise your hand if you’ve done that. I’m excited for you to dig deeper into my TGI Fridays Potato skins recipe.
Because especially at a place like TGI Fridays, that is a perfectly reasonable decision. Try it. You’ll get to feel like a total rebel against menu placement, and also it’s delicious.
And how many times has your table ordered an appetizer sampler (TGI Fridays calls it the “classic combo” on their menu if you’re looking for it) and watched the potato skins disappear first?
When you were young, did you think the skin of a baked potato was sort of like an apple core? Attached to the food part, but not really edible. Somewhere along the way, it turned out that we were correct about apple cores, but potato skins can be delicious. And then TGI Fridays taught us that to use them to their full potential, they should be treated as vessels for cheese and bacon. What could be better than that?
How to Make TGI Fridays Potato Skins
These potato skins make a very special treat for a family celebration dinner, and they’re great for a party or football night. This recipe doubles or even triples easily, making it a great choice for a crowd. And there are a ton of variations you can play with—some suggestions are offered after the recipe.
Little crispy, potato-y cheesy, bacon-y boats of deliciousness. Yes, please.
Isn’t that easy? Aren’t they amazing?
Tips & Tricks
Russet potatoes really are best. Smaller or thinner-skinned potatoes won’t keep their shape.
Grating the mozzarella and cheddar yourself is a tiny bit more time consuming, but it’s better. The pre-packaged shredded cheese is fine, but more expensive and not quite as flavorful. It’s also sometimes coated with additives to keep it from sticking, which means it won’t melt as easily.
Be a little careful when you’re scooping out the potato. That quarter-inch you’re leaving is load-bearing potato, and your little boat won’t hold together very well without it.
You’ll naturally end up with some scooped-out baked potato insides. There are plenty of uses for that, of course, and nobody sane would throw away perfectly good potato. But its best to have a plan in mind for how you want to use it. Few people are going to complain if you serve two potato dishes, but if you’d like to use the extra for another meal, it will keep just fine in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days.
If you’re using larger potatoes, cut out a middle section (slicing potatoes into thirds) and save the middle with the rest of the scooped-out potato for another use; this is to keep the potato skins from being too deep.
Microwave shortcut: to cut down on cooking time, you can replace the initial bake with the microwave. Cooking times will vary based on microwave strength and potato size; you will probably want to cook them for at least 8-10 minutes. Stop every few minutes to turn the potatoes over and test for softness. Then allow them to cool, and scoop, fill and bake according to the recipe.
You can also assemble them in advance. After crisping the potato skins top and bottom, allow them to cool before adding the cheese and bacon. Refrigerate, and then pop them in the oven when you’re ready to serve.
This recipe is a lot of fun to play around with. Leave out the bacon for the vegetarians, amp up the cheese for the cheese lovers. This isn’t a “don’t mess with perfection” situation. It’s “mess with perfection all you want, it will just become a different kind of perfection.”
Spicy Tex-Mex potato skins: pile the skins with pepper jack and jalapenos, and serve with salsa
Pizza potato skins: fill the potato skins with mozzarella and chopped up pepperoni, and serve with marinara to dip in
Roasted garlic potato skins: about halfway through the initial potato-baking, throw a few whole heads of garlic into a shallow dish; trimmed, drizzled with olive oil, and bundled upright in foil. Roast them until the garlic is soft, spreadable and fragrant. Fill the potato skins with garlic, mozzarella, and parmesan and bake.
Or if you want to go the extra mile and really mimic TGI Fridays Potato Skins, the restaurant serves their potato skins with a ranch-flavored sour cream on the side. Simply use a powdered ranch salad seasoning mix, and mix into the sour cream a little bit at a time, tasting as you go, until you’re happy with the flavor.