Has this ever happened to you?

Yesterday I was thinking of baked potatoes to go with the broiled lamb steak and broccoli I wanted to serve for dinner.  Usually we don’t get baked potatoes for dinner because I fail to prep in time to serve them.

So my reasoning for quick baked potato prep went like this:

Wash potatoes; put into cold oven; set heat for 375 degrees; set timer for one hour; go watch program on TV while they bake.

Easy-peasy-baked potatoes!

The timer went off and I went to the kitchen to check to see if the potatoes were done.  I gave the one on the right a quick squeeze and it appeared to be done.  I checked the one on the left and it still felt a bit hard.

“Odd.”  I thought

What happened next was stunning!  I began to pull my hand out of the oven, thinking to let it finish baking, and


It exploded covering the entire oven and the oven door with potato dust!

Now I am certain that we have all heard the admonishment to prick your potatoes before baking, but has any one of you ever actually experienced this event?  I would venture to guess that you, like me (until last evening) has not.  😉

I went looking to find some scientific explanation of how this works, and strangely no one learned speaks of such common science.  However, those of us with even limited exposure to scientific learning know that anything that builds up pressure without allowing it to vent will explode.  Ever had a balloon pop in your face when you tried to inflate it?

(Only in the 60s could they bring this to you with such verve… HA!)

In the case of my potato, it had built up steam and my little squeeze caused a weakening in the skin.  I am very grateful that the exploding potato waited for me to remove my hand and stand up before blowing up!

Potato-explosionOf all the potatoes I have ever baked this is the first to explode on me.  

Well, I guess it had to happen sooner or later.   My brand new oven has now been christened.   😯


There were two things I did differently this time:

  • I didn’t coat the skins with olive oil 
  • I put them in to cook while the oven came to temperature

This could have had something to do with it, or it could have been just a fluke.     One thing is certain;  from now on I will stab all my potatoes before baking!


Now there are some out there who think this can only happen in a microwave, and others who think this is just an old wives tale.  I am here to tell you that they are wrong.


Has anyone else out there been the victim of strange kitchen science?


ACCOLADES:  My husband Bob cleaned up the mess for me while I went out put the animals away, and when I came back in the mess was gone.  Isn’t he sweet!

56 thoughts on “Has this ever happened to you?

  1. quilt32 says:

    I had this happen only once in 60+ years of baking potatoes. And it had to happen the night I had guests for dinner. It’s not a pretty sight.

  2. whitegirllovesindianfood says:

    Wowza, that’s never happened to me before, thank goodness! Good thing your face was out of there, else you could have had some burns! Come to think of it, I bet I probably don’t remember to prick my potatoes every time, either! That’s so weird!!!

    • Lynda says:

      It is weird, and yes, I was grateful not to have had my face in the way of flying potato bits! TBTW, the jacket was good with a bit of butter, green onion and sour cream.

  3. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Not strange, just pressurized steam and you’re right, that’s why you always prick the skin before baking (same for roasting any veg with skin intact – like sweet potatoes or squash: ) Don’t believe that either oven temp or oiling has any bearing… SO GLAD you weren’t caught in the line of fire!!
    “Boiling” eggs in the microwave will do the same, if you don’t pierce the wide end(air pocket) with a (dressmaking) pin first.

  4. katechiconi says:

    Like you, I’ve had a lucky escape from exploding foodstuffs. I had a small bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice standing on the counter while I was working. I heard a strange creaking noise once or twice, but couldn’t put my finger on the source until the cap gave way and a jet of juice spouted out of the bottle and painted a section of the ceiling orange temporarily. The weird thing was, it was in date and still chilled….. woo, spooky!

    • Lynda says:

      That IS weird, Kate! Guess we are all glad for you that you didn’t drink it!

      One incident that sticks in my mind is when my great aunt was making boiled eggs for a picnic in Kansas. We left her place in Lincoln, NE and drove to the park in Kansas…

      All of a sudden she starts getting animated and shouting “the eggs, the eggs!” By the time she got home they had boiled dry and exploded! She had the worst mess and stench to clean up that I had ever seen! Poor Auntie.

  5. shoreacres says:

    This may be the only lesson my mother tried to teach me that really took: never put potatoes or any veggie like a squash in the oven without sticking it with a fork or knife. I’ve never seen a potato explode, but I surely have heard the stories. You’re not alone.

    On the other hand – there are those pressure cookers. That’s something that can create a terrible mess. I don’t even remember what mom was cooking – she wasn’t canning – but the danged thing blew and it took a ladder and two days to get the ceiling cleaned up. For all I know they repainted it, but I was too young to remember anything but the noise and the ruckus.

    I’m glad you weren’t hurt – and yes, Bob is a sweetie. You can tell him I said so. 😉

    • Lynda says:

      Those old pressure cookers can take your head off if you are standing too close. (Or so I’ve been told)

      I have an old one and I am considering buying one of those new ones with the hand nuts on the rim and tossing the old one. I will be saving up for it for a good while as they are so expensive!

          • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

            A canner is much more diverse for keeping foods you can’t do in a water bath like browns beans and meat…
            Still make me nervous though – you have to be so very careful!

  6. Doreen says:

    I am so glad to ‘hear’ you are ok. Piercing them and coating with oil is the “norm” here. I have no personal experience with this but always knew it could happen.

    • Lynda says:

      Doreen, I have been thinking about it all day and I realize that usually I end up cutting out the nicks and bruises when I prep for baking. I then rub them with olive oil and a bit of Kosher salt. I believe the nicks and cuts may have been what kept me from this disaster.

      These potatoes were perfect and unblemished so I just scrubbed them and popped them into the oven… As for knowing this could happen, well, I learned how to cook from my mother and my dad always said: “She was the only woman he ever knew that could burn water!” 😛

      Surely that tells you a thing or two about my cooking knowledge. LOL!

    • Lynda says:

      Adrian, that is the theory and practice, but I guess it can still happen if you don’t poke them well enough… or so I have read, anyway. 😀 Thanks for visiting!

  7. Littlesundog says:

    I have never had this happen, Lynda. But, my Sissy Jo had it happen about a year ago and was she ever mad!! LOL I’m so glad you weren’t burned and that the mess was contained in the oven.

    • Lynda says:

      Lori, you are probably more prudent than I am, and always stab your taters!
      Ahem, your sister and I have that in common then. (I didn’t mention it, but I did lose it a bit when it first happened!) 😉

    • Lynda says:

      I hate it when I do that! I wrote you a comment and then forgot to press the “approve and reply” button! 😛
      Anyway, the gist was: I didn’t remark on it in my post, but I did sort of resemble your Sissy Jo, when it happened. 😉
      And thank you, Lori. It could have just as easily burst up as down, so I count myself lucky!

    • Lynda says:

      OK, it’s official: WordPress is haunted today.
      Both my comments went through, but the first one didn’t show up when I was answering on the comments board. (So, as you can readily see I did press the “approve and reply” button and I am not suffering from early Alzheimer’s… yet.)

  8. Kathleen Clark says:

    This happened to mom when she and dad got married and she baked her first potatoes. I got to hear the explosion story every time we baked potatoes. My job was to prick them really well. Then she found a prong rack at a yard sale. You put your potatoes vertically down on the prongs and stick it in the oven.

    • Lynda says:

      I remember that rack, Kathee! I was thinking about it yesterday and lamenting that, for some reason, it never made the trip with us. Guess I will need to investigate into getting a new one. 😉

      • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

        Only problem is they’re made of aluminum and there’s some question of a connection between aluminum and Alzheimer’s Disease… You might try using a nice, new nail instead?

  9. diannegray says:

    Yikes! I’ve never had this happen to me Lynda. You’re so lucky you didn’t get burned. I’m scared of cooking potatoes now (hubby’s going to have to cook tonight) 😉

    • Lynda says:

      Thank you, Dianne! If you have kabob skewers for the BBQ you can put those through and leave them in while they cook. It is supposed to shorten the cooking time too! (Or so I have read.) I am going to try that for next time. 🙂

    • Lynda says:

      It certainly was, Claire! Apparently, for some of us at any rate, it is one of those experiences that you just have to go through before you believe it. I’m a believer! 😉

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