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Enhance Your Baked Potatoes with a Flavorful Spice Blend

The potato is consistently ranked as one of the most consumed vegetables in America — and for good reason. This ever-versatile vegetable can be found in many forms such as french fries, chips, hash browns, mashed potatoes, tater tots, and the classic baked potato.

Although baked potatoes allow for endless customization opportunities, it is easy to get stuck in a rut with the usual toppings (you know the ones: cheese, sour cream, bacon, and green onions). Instead of sticking with the status quo, take your baked potato to the next level by turning up the heat with some additional spice, including salsas, jalapeños, and sauces.

Whether you prefer mild heat or want to work up a sweat with each bite, there are many delicious flavor combinations you can choose from that will give your baked potato that punch you desire.

Take inspiration from jalapeño poppers

jalapeno poppers on tray

This popular appetizer is even better when the ingredients are loaded on a baked potato. Fresh jalapeños, spicy pepper jack cheese, and cream cheese come together for a baked potato worthy of a meal in itself, not just a side dish.

All you need to do is take your perfectly baked potato, cut it open, and layer your toppings, starting with the cream cheese, followed by the shredded pepper jack cheese, and then the jalapeños. Layering the cheese in first allows for a greater distribution of flavors so it can melt into the potato.

If you want an even spicier baked potato, be sure to leave in as many seeds as possible from the jalapeños. This is because capsaicin — the compound that your taste buds recognize as spiciness — is primarily found in the pepper’s seeds. You can also deviate away from plain cream cheese and opt for a spicy jalapeño one instead.

Get sweet and spicy with sriracha

bottles of sriracha

If you prefer a little sweet with your spicy, try drizzling your baked potato with a mixture of sriracha and honey. Popular in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, sriracha is made with chili pepper paste, vinegar, garlic, salt, and sugar. While you can find pre-made sriracha in most grocery stores (like the well-known, green-topped bottle from the Huy Fong Foods brand), you can also make your own at home in order to control the level of spice to your preference.

To make this sauce, simply add one part honey and one part sriracha together and heat in the microwave or over the stove, stirring occasionally to fully combine. This blend provides just the right amount of sweet heat to liven up your tastebuds without overwhelming them. Bonus tip: Amplify the Asian-inspired flavors of this sauce and top your potato with some chopped green onions and sesame seeds for a yummy crunch.

Add heat with Southwestern flavors

spicy taco ingredients

Every day can be Taco Tuesday when you add your favorite spicy taco toppings to your baked potato. Southwestern cuisine is synonymous with spice due to its abundant use of peppers, including jalapeños, ancho, chipotle, and habanero, so when it comes to customizing the spice level of your baked potato with toppings, the sky’s the limit.

Some of the most common spicy toppings you can use on your baked potato include bell peppers, sliced jalapeños, hot sauce, and any one of the various types of salsas in Mexican cuisine. You can even try seasoning your baked potato or other toppings with taco seasoning.

The best part is that you can find most of these options in a range of heat levels from mild to hot so you can achieve the exact level of spice you desire. Accidently made your baked potato a little too spicy? Cool it down with some guacamole, a dollop of sour cream, or both!

Middle Eastern inspired

middle eastern batata harra

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Batata harra is a potato dish popular in many Middle Eastern countries like Lebanon that is known for its spice and crispness from being cubed and fried. To modify this traditional dish while keeping its famous crunch, a twice baked potato will more than do the trick.

Once your potato is done cooking, cut it open and scoop out the insides into a bowl. Toss with your favorite cooking oil and the trifecta of batata harra spices — ground coriander, red chilies, and garlic — before placing back inside your potato skins to continue baking until crispy.

To stick with how batata harra is commonly served, serve your potato garnished with fresh cilantro and lemon. If you want your potato even spicier add a bit of harissa on top as well. This paste is made with chili peppers and bell peppers and is also used often in Middle Eastern cuisine to add heat to various meals.

Make a Thai curry

thai red curry in bowl

Thai is a cuisine that leans heavily into curries with many varieties already including diced potatoes. Although curries are traditionally served over rice, switch it up and use your baked potato as the base.

You have many choices — green, yellow, red, or panang — that can be adjusted somewhat to your preferred level of spiciness but for the most part yellow curry and panang tend to be the least spicy of the varieties, red being moderately spicy, and green being the hottest.

To level up your baked potato, simply make your curry with your chosen protein and vegetables (or order in takeout while your potato is cooking if you’re short on time and want to make it that much easier) and add to your finished potato. If it’s still not hot enough for you, sriracha sauce and chili paste make for the perfect final touch.

Try a twist on Buffalo chicken

chicken wings on platter

Many game day spreads include wings and potato skins, but what if we told you that you could combine them both into one super meal? For a meal worthy of both a Sunday afternoon and middle-of-the-week dinner, toss some shredded chicken with Buffalo sauce and stuff inside your baked potato alongside complementary toppings like crumbled blue cheese or ranch dressing to cool the heat.

Considering the fact that Buffalo sauce is essentially just hot sauce (like Frank’s Red Hot made with vinegar and cayenne pepper) and butter, it is naturally going to have a kick to it. However, that also means there are endless choices for heat levels, whether you want to play it safe or give your taste buds a run for their money. Make this sauce yourself or take a trip to your favorite grocery store and choose from the array of choices from mild to melt your face off, perfect if you’re up for your own personal Hot Ones challenge.

Go Southern with classic BBQ

southern bbq plate

Similar to Buffalo sauce, BBQ sauce can be found in many heat levels and flavor profiles. Combining a base of tomato paste or vinegar with a sweetener like brown sugar or molasses and a handful of spices, BBQ sauce can range from sweet to spicy and tangy to smooth to align with your personal taste preferences. In fact, the amount of BBQ styles is so vast that different regions in southern America have become synonymous with certain regional styles, each believing that their version is the best, of course.

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But when it comes to spicing up your baked potato, it’s as simple as choosing your favorite BBQ sauce from the store. For a simple lunch or dinner, just toss your sauce in a protein like pulled pork, brisket, or shredded chicken and add inside your baked potato for a complete meal the whole family will love. You can amp up the heat even more by adding some shredded pepper jack cheese and BBQ baked beans.

Try Bombay baked potatoes

indian bombay potatoes

If you’re really ready to take your baked potato to the next level, try Bombay potatoes, a traditional dish throughout India. These potatoes are made with a blend of spices that bring on the heat including chili powder and curry leaves mixed in a sauce of tomatoes and onions.

Rather than cooking this dish how it is typically made by dicing your potatoes and covering it in the sauce (or masala as this type of paste is known as in Indian cooking), you’ll want to bake your potato first and make the Masala separately so that you can pour it directly over your finished baked potato.

Bombay potatoes are typically served as a side but by transforming your baked potato you can easily make a light meal out of this or serve it as a spicy accompaniment to a main course of Indian lentil daal. Since daal can also be made spicy, this could be another great addition on top of your Bombay baked potato instead of just on the side.

Top with chili

cincinnati chili on plate

Chili is usually thought of as a meal in itself, but not when it comes to Cincinnati chili. This regional dish is popular in Ohio and made famous by the fact that it is served over spaghetti noodles or hot dogs and topped with shredded cheddar cheese.

For a twist on Cincinnati chili, replace the noodles with a baked potato and load it up with spiciest chili you can find or make it yourself. Generally, Cincinnati chili tends to be on the sweeter rather than spicy side due to the addition of brown sugar, so if you do like more of a punch, you’ll want to play around with the seasonings a bit — more chili powder, less brown sugar — to achieve a spicier flavor. And if you really want to set your mouth on fire, replace the cheddar cheese with pepper jack or another spicy variety.

Tap into Cajun flavors

cajun seafood boil

Not to be confused with Creole seasoning — another southern favorite — Cajun spice blend is a Louisiana original made with a unique combination of smoky and spicy seasonings, including paprika, salt, black pepper, garlic, cayenne, oregano, thyme, and onion powder. While everyone has their own take (and heat tolerance) on this blend, it has become popular for its versatility in everything from soups and stews to meat and veggies, including potatoes.

Due to the commonality of the spices used in this seasoning, chances are high that you already have everything you need in your pantry to make your very own Cajun blend. Experiment to your heart’s desire and go in as much as you like with the spicier seasonings to achieve that just right punch to your taste buds.

While you can go the simple route and mix your Cajun blend into a twice-baked potato, you can also make it into more of a meal by using this blend on chicken or shrimp that can go inside your baked potato.

Enjoy Jamaican jerk

jamaican jerk chicken drumsticks

It seems like almost every region has their own take on spicy seasoning, and the Caribbean is no exception. Jerk seasoning originated in Jamaica and combines the best of both sweet and spicy with cinnamon, coriander, cayenne, allspice, onion powder, garlic, brown sugar, and thyme.

Use this as a dry rub (or a marinade mixed with oil) on your desired protein (chicken is one of the most common and traditional choices) before placing it on the grill to enhance the seasoning’s smoky flavor. Once your meat is done cooking, place it inside your baked potato and top with Jamaican hot sauce.

Made with Scotch bonnet peppers, brown sugar, and vinegar, this hot sauce is considered very hot as this particular pepper is rated as a 100,000+ Scoville Heat Units (SHU) according to the Scoville Scale — a unit of measurement for the spiciness of peppers. For reference, the habanero pepper is rated right above this on the scale at 250,000+ SHU.

Deconstruct classic falafel

falafel in a pita

A vegetarian favorite, falafel is a Middle Eastern dish that can be transformed into a delicious baked potato. Made by frying balls of ground chickpeas, broad beans, and seasonings into a crispy fritter, falafel can be deconstructed to achieve the same flavors without the need for the messiness associated with deep frying.

First, take your chickpeas and mix them with your chosen cooking oil and classic falafel seasonings like cumin, coriander, and red pepper. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread them out evenly to roast them in the oven at the same time that your baked potato is cooking. Then, once they are both done, slice open your baked potato, stuff it with the roasted chickpeas, and top it with fresh chopped cilantro, parsley, and spicy tahini sauce. Not only is tahini a standard addition to falafel, it adds just the right amount of creaminess and kick to your potato so it’s not dry in flavor or texture.

Go fresh with Kimchi

chopsticks holding kimchi

Kimchi is a fresh and spicy Korean side dish made with fermented cabbage and gochugaru — a type of ground Korean chili powder. Due to the fermentation involved in making kimchi, it is rich in probiotics, making it a super gut-friendly, healthy food. Kimchi has become more popular over the years, so a lot of local grocery stores now carry premade kimchi that you can buy without having to go to a specialty store. However, it is super easy to make if you choose to do so yourself in order to better control the level of spiciness.

To make it into a dish that both vegetarians and meat lovers will enjoy, add it to your baked potato alongside toppings like sriracha, spicy mayo, and green onions. To make it into a full meal you can even fry up some marinated tofu or another protein like chicken and add that to your baked potato as well.

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