This creamy, decadent secret ingredient is the key to better twice-baked potatoes

Every few months, I get a craving for a fully-dressed baked potato that won’t subside until I buy a few russet potatoes, good butter, not-too-good shredded cheddar cheese, full-fat sour cream and chives. To me, it’s truly the ideal meal. It’s simple and hits all the right flavor notes. 

Recently, when that craving arrived, I signed into the app for my local supermarket and ordered the ingredients for delivery. Now, grocery delivery is one of those luxuries that I don’t take for granted. During packed weeks, as this one was, it’s a service that makes my life feel so much simpler. That being said, I still occasionally end up with a bizarre substitution. 

Once, I ordered a jar of roasted red peppers, but instead was given a jar of unsweetened apple sauce. Another time, I was presented with three scruffy coconuts instead of a 13.6-ounce can of coconut milk. There was also a time when, instead of receiving four avocados, I received four bags of avocados (my various panicked uses of those avocados is a story in its own right). 

And sure enough, when my bag of baked potato ingredients arrived, so did a notable substitution. The full-fat sour cream was nowhere to be found; in its place was a stocky little tub of mascarpone. As it would turn out, that mistake was actually a tremendous stroke of luck. 

Mascarpone is a soft Italian acid-set cream cheese. Its flavor is a cross between butter and Philadelphia cream cheese, but its texture is shockingly light and airy. It’s luxe, velvety, a little tangy — and looking at it in the grocery bag, I wondered why I had never previously considered pairing it with potatoes.

Having the mascarpone changed my plans a little bit. I shifted from making plain baked potatoes to twice-baked potatoes so that I could use the cheese to its full potential. After lathering the skin of the potatoes in olive oil and flaky sea salt, I baked them at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. 

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At that point, the flesh is tender; you can slice into it with a knife and spoon it out into a separate bowl, along with a few hearty tablespoons of mascarpone, the shredded cheddar cheese, finely minced chives, more salt and an abundance of cracked pepper. I scooped the potato mixture back into the potato skins, baking them at 350 degrees again for another 15 minutes. 

Before serving, I topped the potatoes with more fresh chives. They were tremendous. The whipped butteriness of the mascarpone cheese gave the potato filling both flavor and volume, while the cheddar cheese was just decadent. It was kept fresh by the bite of the cooked and fresh chives. 

You could, of course, add additional ingredients to your mixture. Some caramelized onions, steamed broccoli florets, cubed ham or crispy bacon would all be delicious. Feel free to mix up the cheese, as well. Asiago goes great with mascarpone, while pairing grated Swiss cheese with those caramelized onions leads to a “French onion twice-baked potato” kind of vibe. This recipe, however, is just as good in its simplicity.

Mascarpone and Cheddar Twice-Baked Potatoes


4 servings

Cook Time

50 minutes


  • 4 russet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese 
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chives, divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste 


  1. Place the russet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle the skin with the olive oil, then sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

  2. Remove the potatoes from the oven. Slice into the skin vertically, as if you’re opening a zipper on the potato’s “jacket.” Be sure not to slice all the way through; you just want to create a slit so you can retrieve the potato flesh. 

  3. Carefully scoop the interior of the potatoes into a large bowl. Add the mascarpone cheese, and using a whisk or an electric mixer, whip the mixture until smooth and fluffy. Fold in the cheddar cheese and 2 tablespoons of chives. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

  4. Carefully scoop the potato mixture back into the potato skins. Bake at 350 for an additional 15 minutes. Garnish with the remaining chives before serving. 

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