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These TGI Friday’s-inspired potato skins gently elevate an absolute classic. The original and vegetarian versions are both perfect for game day or any day.

potato skins (TGIF and vegetarian versions) on a plate
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Why we love this recipe

As a child of the 1980s raised in New Jersey, there was never going to be a world where I wasn’t obsessed with TGI Friday’s potato skins. They’re basically synonymous with adolescent freedom.

Apparently that feeling got hardwired, because I still love them unreasonably much. Something tells me I’m not alone here.

This pair of recipes is:

  • Classic game day food which, honestly, I also serve as family dinner from time to time
  • Inexpensive to make, hearty, and great for a crowd
  • Baked, yet truly at least as good as the fried version — and they make so much more sense both nutritionally and logistically
  • Prep-ahead friendly

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients in bowls
  • Russet or Idaho potatoes are starchy varieties, and that’s what you want for this recipe. They’ll give you crispy skins, tender, fluffy flesh, and a great shape for filling. Most of them have nice, flat sides for making stable potato skins. Here’s how to bake them to perfection.
  • Extra-sharp cheddar melts well but still packs a super-savory, creamy punch. Shred it on the large holes of a box grater.
  • In many contexts I prefer a really thick-cut bacon. For potato skins, you’ll want something thinner that crumbles well. For the vegetarian version, you’ll use a batch of our beloved shiitake bacon.
  • A minced shallot contributes tons of beautiful flavor and elevates this recipe quite a bit.
  • Here and basically everywhere, I like to use a really good cultured butter from grass-fed cows. It sounds fancy but doesn’t have to be. Kerrygold, for example, is widely available in U.S. grocery stores for a reasonable price.
  • Hot sauce is optional, and you can use your favorite kind. Cholula and Frank’s both complement these flavors nicely.

My favorite sources for meat & pantry staples

For years, I’ve been sourcing our meat from ButcherBox. We love this curated meat delivery service, which provides grass-finished beef, heritage breed pork, organic chicken, and more from small farms direct to the customer. You can learn more in my extensive Butcher Box review and unboxing.

I love Thrive Market for a wide variety of products. Often described as one part Whole Foods, one part Costco, they’re a membership-based online market for healthier products at discounted prices. Plus, they’re mission-driven, engaged in the community, and not currently owned by a giant corporation. You can learn more in my Thrive Market review and unboxing.

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a crowd-pleasing batch of potato skins (TGIF and vegetarian versions). You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. First you’ll bake six small russet or Idaho potatoes with nice, flat sides. You can do this well in advance if you like, or use leftovers. Cut each potato in half such that the flatter sides can become the bottoms of the potato skins. Scoop out most of the flesh and save it for another use.
  2. Brush the potato skins with butter and sprinkle with salt. Bake them skin-side up on a baking rack set over a baking sheet.
  3. Flip them over and spoon in some shallots. Sprinkle with plenty of cheese.
  4. Bake for about five minutes, until melty and delicious. Top with bacon or shiitake bacon, sour cream, and chives. Serve with hot sauce if you like. That’s it!

Expert tips and FAQs

How do you make potato skins crispy?

Invest in a wire rack. It really makes a difference in helping to crisp the potatoes, and it’s useful for lots of other crispy baked recipes and for cooling baked goods, too.

Got any variations?

Of course. Try French onion soup potato skins, or nacho potato skins with pepper jack cheese, guac, sour cream, and sliced black olives.

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

You can bake the potatoes and cook the bacon or shiitake bacon well in advance. Assemble and bake the potato skins themselves right before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week and reheat in the oven or toaster oven.

More favorite baked appetizers

potato skins (TGIF and vegetarian versions) on a plate

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potato skins (TGIF and vegetarian versions) on a plate
4.77 from 13 votes

Potato Skins (TGIF and Vegetarian Versions)

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
These TGI Friday's-inspired potato skins gently elevate an absolute classic. The original and vegetarian versions are both perfect for game day or any day.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 12 pieces
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Ingredients 

  • 6 small to medium baked potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) good salted butter, melted
  • Fine sea salt
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) extra-sharp cheddar, shredded
  • ½ cup (120 grams) sour cream
  • 6 strips cooked bacon, crumbled OR 1 cup shiitake bacon bits
  • ¼ cup minced fresh chives
  • Cholula, Frank’s Red Hot, or another favorite hot sauce
  • Flaky sea salt

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 450°F with a rack in the center. Place a baking rack on a rimmed half-sheet pan.
  • Cut each baked potato in half lengthwise. If there's a side that's flatter (which is often true for russet potatoes), cut so that the flatter sides will be on the bottom and the cut potatoes will be wide, shallow, and stable.
  • From each potato half, scoop out some of the flesh, leaving about 1/4 inch of flesh attached to the skins. (Reserve extra flesh for another use, such as Colcannon Cheddar Skillet Cakes or simply mashing up with a little milk and butter.)
  • Brush tops and bottoms of potato halves with melted butter and sprinkle with fine sea salt. Place potato halves skin-side up on baking rack.
  • Bake for 20 minutes. Skins will be crisp and lightly browned and flesh will be very tender on the inside.
  • Flip potato halves right-side up and sprinkle some minced shallot into each. Top with cheddar.
  • Return potatoes to oven for 5 minutes or so, until cheese is melted.
  • Top each potato skin with a dollop of sour cream, about a tablespoon of crumbled bacon or shiitake bacon bits, some minced chives, a shot of hot sauce, and a bit of flaky sea salt.

Step-by-step video

Notes

  1. Russet or Idaho potatoes are starchy varieties, and that's what you want for this recipe. They'll give you crispy skins, tender, fluffy flesh, and a great shape for filling. Most of them have nice, flat sides for making stable potato skins.
  2. You can bake the potatoes and cook the bacon or shiitake bacon well in advance. Assemble and bake the potato skins themselves right before serving.
  3. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week and reheat in the oven or toaster oven.

Nutrition

Serving: 1piece, Calories: 155kcal, Carbohydrates: 11.3g, Protein: 4.5g, Fat: 10.7g, Fiber: 2.1g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Snacks and Starters
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

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Carolyn Gratzer Cope Bio Photo

About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

4.77 from 13 votes (13 ratings without comment)

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