There's nothing like biting into the ultimate crispy potato skin with tons of melty cheese and yummy bacon. It's one of my favorite appetizers that's for sure. This easy recipe for homemade air fryer loaded potato skins beats any restaurant.
This popular appetizer is perfect for dinner, game days, movie nights, & potlucks. During football season, grill up some Wagyu burgers or fry some garlic butter chicken wings and throw the ultimate Super Bowl party.
This was inspired by my love for ordering these when going out to TGI Friday's. The local restaurant closed years ago but I can have the best copycat potato skins at home whenever the craving hits. Don't buy the frozen ones, these freshly made potato skins are the bomb!
- Ingredients for Air Fryer Loaded Potato Skins
- Best Potatoes for Making Potato Skins
- How to Make Potato Skins in the Air Fryer
- How Long to Cook Potato Skins in the Air Fryer
- Add Toppings to Potato Skins
- Potato Skin Filling & Dip Ideas
- Equipment Needed
- Storing, Freezing, & Reheating Potato Skins
- Top Tips
- What to Serve with Potato Skins
- Air Fryer Loaded Potato Skins
Ingredients for Air Fryer Loaded Potato Skins
I bet you already have everything you need at your house to make these. The ingredients are mostly staples, making this a great last-minute appetizer or side dish.
- Baked Potatoes - leftover or precooked & cooled baked potatoes.
- Avocado Oil Spray - best hihg-heat oil to use when air frying.
- Cheddar Cheese - for a fast even melt, use shredded.
- Bacon - crispy precooked or leftover (but really whoever has leftover bacon?) pork bacon is a must-have topping.
- Sour Cream - full fat for a thick creamy topping or dip.
- Chives - fresh minced herbs always add a burst of flavor with little effort or cost.
See the recipe card for quantities.
Best Potatoes for Making Potato Skins
When you dine out or order some at your favorite bar, potato skins are almost always made with russet potatoes. The classic baked or jacket potato is ideal. This recipe also uses this popular easy-to-find variety. Here is why it's the best kind of potato to use when making potato skins:
- Inexpensive & readily available all year round.
- Bake easily for a crisp outside & fluffy inside.
- The hearty flesh makes them easy to scoop, fry, & fill.
- Thick-skinned russets are easy to hold to eat without them falling apart
- They taste great & why change a classic that works?
How to Make Potato Skins in the Air Fryer
This quick & easy recipe takes less than 15 minutes if your potatoes are already cooked. Begin by gathering and prepping the items. Here is a summary of the steps for making air fryer loaded potato skins at home:
- Bake the potatoes (if needed)
- Cook & crumble bacon
- Shred the cheese & mince the chives
- Scoop, spray, & air fry the skins
- Add cheese ½ way through air frying
- Top with cooked bacon, sour cream, & chives
Cook the Bacon
When only making a few slices, I like to cook bacon in the toaster oven. Or you can chop it up and pan-fry it on medium heat for 5-8 minutes. Cook it until it is to your desired crispness.
Place cooked bacon on a plate lined with paper towels. Crumble into small bits. Set aside to use later.
Bake & Scoop the Potatoes
I like to use leftover air fryer baked potatoes when making this recipe. I find that using potatoes straight from the refrigerator results in cold flesh that is easy to scoop out. Most importantly try and use potatoes that are similar in size so they cook evenly. Medium-sized russets about 4" are best.
If you don't have extra potatoes on hand, baking them is fairly easy. I recommend my recipe for baking potatoes in the toaster oven if you have one. Or cook them in the oven or microwave until fork tender. Let them cool completely before handling the next step.
Once the potatoes are cool and easy to touch, slice each one in the middle horizontally. Using a spoon, scoop out about ⅔ of the flesh in the middle. Be sure to leave enough potato on the edges & bottom as seen above.
Once the potatoes are all scooped, line them in a single layer in your air fryer. Spray both sides generously with avocado cooking oil.
Store & save the potato flesh to use at a later time. Fry up some potato pancakes or add to casseroles & soups. My favorite is to dice them up, add cheese, & roll it all in tortillas to make yummy vegetarian enchiladas
How Long to Cook Potato Skins in the Air Fryer
Now that the potatoes & bacon are cooked, it is time to air fry & assemble the potato skins. Preheat the air fryer to 375° & set the timer for 10 minutes.
Once it is preheated, place the potatoes in the air fryer in a single layer. You can put a parchment liner down first if you like easy clean-up. Let them cook for 4-5 minutes.
Once they are halfway done cooking, carefully open the air fryer. Sprinkle cheese into each one. Close and let them continue to cook & for the cheese to melt.
They are ready when they have crispy skin, brown edges, & the cheddar is melted. Add more time if you like them more well done & crunchier. Using tongs, carefully remove and place them on a plate.
I own a Brevile Smart Oven which is a toaster oven/air fryer combo - perfect for our family of 5! Whether you have a basket-type such as Consori or Ninja or a tray-style like I have, the preheating & cooking time will be similar. As with any appliance, cooking times will vary so keep an eye on your food.
Add Toppings to Potato Skins
Now is the time for the fun part. Top all of them now with bacon, sour cream, & fresh chives. But what I love is making a potato skin buffet. My kids and guests love these. Everyone can personalize their own. I love extra bacon, I mean really who doesn't?!
Hint: Set out the cooked potato skins and little bowls with all the toppings. This DIY make-your-own is a party favorite. See my section below for a ton more fun yummy ideas.
Add, omit, or use one of these alternatives for other delicious recipe ideas for potato skins. These may help you enjoy this recipe even with dietary, health, allergy, or personal nutritional preferences. This recipe is already gluten-free as written.
- Bacon - instead of pork bacon, make turkey bacon in the microwave & crumb on top.
- Cheese - use dairy-free or vegan cheese.
- Vegetarian - omit the bacon.
- Sour Cream - use Greek yogurt as a substitute.
- Chives - use diced scallions or green onions as a substitute.
See this recipe for Air Fryer Potato Peels for another great way to enjoy crispy russet potatoes.
Potato Skin Filling & Dip Ideas
Here are some other great ideas for stuffed potato skins. These variations include fun, unique, gourmet, vegan, & spicy options. So pile high all your favorites then dunk them into these yummy dips too.
- Add sweet Caramelized Onions
- Spoon in Classic Southern Pimento Cheese
- Top with leftover Smoked Pulled Pork
- Stuff with Homemade 3-Ingredient Sloppy Joe Meat
- Fill with shredded rotisserie chicken
- Add Broccoli Steamed in the Instant Pot or other cooked vegetables
- Spoon in some cooked black beans
- Drizzle on some truffle oil, Sriracha, or pesto
Dips & Dressing
The key to crispy crunchy potato skins without oil is the air fryer. They will not be greasy thanks to this great piece of kitchen equipment. They come in all kinds of models, sizes, & prices - so buy one today.
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Storing, Freezing, & Reheating Potato Skins
Potato skins store well & last for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. This is actually a good make-ahead appetizer recipe. Plate and wrap the pre-cooked potato skins & warm up when ready to eat.
Reheat homemade potato skins easily in the air fryer. Preheat to 350° and warm them up for 5 minutes.
Potato skins can also be frozen. I recommend cooking them as directed, including adding the cheese & bacon. Then freeze them by lining them up on a baking sheet or plate in a single layer until they are frozen solid, about 3 hours.
Finally, remove them and stack them in a freezer Ziploc bag or container for up to 30 days. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
All of these great tips are shared in the post. But these are so good and important they are worth mentioning again so you don't miss them.
- Leftover pre-cooked baked potatoes are a shortcut.
- Russets are the recommended variety for this recipe.
- Use similar-sized potatoes so they cook evenly.
- Time & temperature are for either tray or basket air fryers - times may vary so watch as you cook.
- Only add the cheese halfway when air frying.
- Set up potato skins as a DIY bar for parties.
- Storing & reheating is easy so make a double batch!
Traditional potato skin recipes call for some of the insides to be removed. That leaves a hole to be stuffed with the other ingredients. However, if you want to skip that step, go right ahead. For a shortcut, just make potato halves that are crisped in the air fryer and sprinkle on less cheese & bacon - some will still melt & stick.
Loaded potato skins filled with cheese & bacon are not what I would call health food that's good or bad for you. However, they are healthier when made in the air fryer versus deep frying or pan frying with oil.
What to Serve with Potato Skins
Potato skins make a great side dish. These are my favorite main dishes that go well with this recipe:
- Grilled BBQ Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
- Grilled Tri-Tip Steak
- 3-Ingredient Sloppy Joes
- Smoked Pulled Pork
Air Fryer Loaded Potato Skins
- air fryer
- 4 leftover cooked baked potatoes medium russets about 4"
- 4 slices bacon cooked & crumbled
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- ⅓ cup full-fat sour cream
- 2 tablespoons chives
- If your potatoes are not using leftover potatoes, bake them in the oven, toaster oven, or microwave. They need to be fork-tender and cooked all the way through. Let them cool completely before moving on.
- Cook the bacon in the oven, microwave, or toaster oven. Or cook the strips of bacon in a skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. Using tongs, flip after cooking for 4 minutes & continue cooking on the other side until crispy and done. Place cooked bacon on a plate lined with paper towels. Once cool, crumble and set aside.
- Shred the cheddar cheese & mince the chives if needed.
- Once the potatoes are cool and easy to touch, slice each one in the middle horizontally. Using a spoon, scoop out about ⅔ of the flesh in the middle. Be sure to leave enough potato on the edges & bottom.
- Preheat the air fryer to 375° and set the timer to 10 minutes.
- Spray both sides of the skins with avocado oil spray.
- Once the air fryer is preheated, add them to your air fryer. Keep them in a single layer and leave space between them if you have room. This allows the hot heat to circulate around all the skin & edges for a crispier bite.
- Let them cook for 4 minutes. Once they are halfway done cooking, carefully open the air fryer. Sprinkle cheese into each one. Close and let them continue to cook & for the cheese to melt.
- They are ready when they have crispy skin, brown edges, & the cheddar is melted. Add more time if you like them more well done & crunchier. Using tongs, carefully remove and place them on a plate.
- Serve with sour cream, chives, & other toppings or dips. I share a ton of yummy ideas above.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for 30 days. Reheat homemade potato skins easily in the air fryer. Preheat to 350° and warm them up for 5 minutes.
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 10.8g||14%|
|Saturated Fat 5.6g||28%|
|Total Carbohydrate 17.5g||6%|
|Dietary Fiber 2.6g||9%|
|Total Sugars 1.3g|
|Vitamin D 2mcg||9%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
|Recipe analyzed by|