How to Set Up a Baked Potato Bar for Your Next Party

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baked potato bar with chili

Looking for an easy and affordable meal idea for a large family or gathering?!

Loaded baked potatoes are always a hit! Let’s face it, coming up with meal ideas when hosting a party or feeding lots of people can get tricky when you’ve got different dietary restrictions to think about, picky eaters to accommodate, and figuring out an idea that doesn’t require a lot of prep or clean-up.

loaded baked potato

Well… if you enjoy warm baked potatoes as much as we do, you’re going to love this fun baked potato bar idea as an easy and YUMMY entertaining idea.

potato bar on the counter

Potato bar to the rescue!

I recently had my dad and some close family over after a year of being apart due to COVID, and was looking for a simple idea that would appeal to everyone! I am so glad I decided to do a baked potato bar with a slow cooker full of chili, because everyone LOVED it, and I appreciated that it really didn’t take a ton of work.

I actually prepped my chili in the morning, worked a full day, and then put together a simple potato bar for my family that actually looked pretty impressive but was easy.

how to bake the best baked potatoes

The big benefits of having a baked potato bar for a crowd:

  • Most people like potatoes.
  • Even if you’re dairy-free or vegetarian, you can still enjoy it.
  • It feeds a large crowd for cheap!
  • It’s a well-rounded and filling meal or snack when you add the right toppings. It’s a great source of:
    • Carbs
    • Protein
    • Fats

Here are some easy tips & tricks for hosting your own baked potato bar!

baked potatoes sitting on foil pans

1. Find the best-baked potato recipe to prep your potatoes.

For the perfect baked potato bar, serve the best baked potatoes! Baking a bunch of russet potatoes in the oven is super easy. Go HERE to read how to make the best oven-baked potatoes for this baked potato bar idea!

slow cooker chili

2. Make a pot of chili to really beef it up.

I actually rarely use a set recipe to make chili for my family, and usually combine cooked ground beef, beans, diced tomatoes etc. This copycat Wendy’s chili is pretty close to what I usually make. On this night, I made a big batch in the slow cooker, which is great for keeping it warm to serve.

Eating keto? Check out our delicious knockoff Wendy’s Keto-friendly chili recipe on our sister site, Hip2Keto!

premade packaged veggie toppings sitting on counter with white plates

3. Buy premade toppings to save on time and cleanup.

I honestly love this tip as it does make things so much easier. The green onion and sliced jalapenos are so worth it to buy presliced. For bacon, I love the Kirkland premade thick cut Bacon from Costco because you can throw a few pieces to cook in the microwave and then crumble in a bowl- easy peasy!

Hip Tip: If you want to chop up all your own ingredients, I highly recommend this food chopper! You can perfectly and quickly dice up so many different veggies in just minutes!

Here’s a list of our suggested toppings for a baked potato bar:

potato bar toppings

Dairy items:

  • Butter
  • Sour cream (squeezable recommended)
  • Shredded cheese
  • Velveeta cheese
  • Gorgonzola cheese
  • Cheddar cheese

Protein items:


  • Diced onions
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Salsa
  • Steamed broccoli


  • Scallions
  • Chives
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Buffalo sauce

loaded baked potato on plate with girls smiling

Collin’s family LOVES a good baked potato bar too and she had this to say:

“Two summers ago, I was trying to come up with a fun idea for feeding a large group of hungry yet picky teenagers. After doing some browsing online for inspiration, I decided on a potato bar! I loved this idea because it didn’t seem too difficult or too expensive – just bake a bunch of potatoes and then decide on toppings. And I also thought it was great since the variety of toppings available would appeal to many different taste buds and dietary restrictions.

And guess what? It turned out to be a total success!

teenage boy blowing out candles on birthday cake

We celebrated my son, Nick’s, 18th birthday (yes 18!! 😢) a couple years ago, and all of the teens were so excited about the potato bar! It was nice to see everyone enjoying their meal, especially considering the size of the group.

Oh and if you need a dessert idea for a large group that’s super easy, we love Costco cake! It’s so good, so affordable, and so BIG! The only downside, I can’t resist Costco cake, and I am a total frosting addict. Those corner pieces end up on my plate every single time.”

baked potato from baked potato bar

With so many toppings to choose from, friends can load their potatoes up as little or as much as they want. And one thing is for sure, they’ll have a great time, no matter what!

people at baked potato bar with toppings

Other food bar ideas to inspire your next party:

  • taco bar
  • hot dog bar
  • hot cocoa bar
  • mini pizza bar
  • ice cream bar 

Put together this easy blueberry cheesecake dessert to serve afterward! 

About the writer:

Lina has a Bachelor's Degree from Northern Arizona University with 11 years of blogging and photography experience having work featured in, Martha Stewart, Country Living, Fox News, Buzzfeed, and HGTV.

Join The Discussion

Comments 66

  1. Suzanne

    Great idea! We did a hot dog bar for my daughter’s birthday to go with a Minnie theme. We did add a couple of easy sides like baked beans and pasta salad. It was fun and affordable for a large group!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      How fun! I love the hot dog bar idea – thanks so much for sharing!

  2. candace

    It’s a good potluck idea. We used to do one atleast once a year at my old school. Kitchen did the potatoes and everyone just had to bring toppings to share.

  3. KetaCar

    Love this idea! Looks like the party turned out well. Been following H2S since ~ 2012 & I so cant believe Nick is 18!!!! That blew my mind reading that…I’ve watched them all grow up here on your blog Collin! 💜💜

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Thanks so much for being a loyal follower through all of these years. We sure appreciate YOU. And yes, so crazy that I now have an 18-year-old. Where did the time go? It’s definitely bittersweet.

      • Ashley

        I’m a long-time follower too, almost since it started. Could it have been 2007 or 2008? Anyway, I agree — it’s so hard to believe your son is 18!!!

        • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

          Thanks SO much for being a longtime reader, Ashley! It is truly appreciated! ❤️

  4. M

    We do this a lot for family gatherings. We are vegans but the rest of the family is not so this is a great way to have a meal together and everyone is happy!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Yes, I agree – it’s such a great option for all different dietary restrictions, and I was just impressed that every single teen at the party seemed to enjoy the meal! 🙂

  5. Amy

    We host poker games once a month and the expense gets high feeding 25 grown men and a few women. This would be a fun and cheap meal.

  6. Mer

    My friend did a mashed potato bar at her wedding. The mashed potatoes were served in martini glasses and you could add a number of toppings. Super cute, affordable, and a crowd pleaser!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Aww, SUPER cute! Thanks for sharing with us, Mer!

  7. Nickole

    We do this for my in laws extended family Christmas gathering every year!
    It’s a perfect affordable way to feed 40+, and its low pressure on the host. They dont have to spend all day in the kitchen and we can enjoy each other’s company.

    Baked potatoes are a perfect cold weather meal!

  8. Sara

    I organize meals to feed our elementary teachers on the nights they stay late for Parent-teacher conference (4 nights each year). The baked potato bar is such an easy one to do! We’ve also done walking tacos, a pasta bar and soup and salad. I’d love other easy, inexpensive ideas that people have!

    • Jamie

      We do soup and baked potato bar in the fall, taco bar in the spring. Pasta and salad sounds like a good easy one too! Always looking for good crowd pleasing foods for the teacher meals here too.

    • Amy R.

      Spaghetti and meatballs, pulled pork/chicken, pancake bar, breakfast burrito bars are always a hit too!

      • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

        Oh love the burrito bar idea. Great brunch idea too!

    • CAJ

      Love the idea of a pound cake bar! I might borrow your suggestion 🙂 thanks!

    • kspwife859

      My husband is also a police officer. Thank you for being so kind and caring to those less fortunate and to other LEOs. God bless you!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      How sweet! You’re very welcome! Thank YOU for taking the time to comment! So generous of you to provide a yummy meal for all of them. 💗

  9. mrsj6991

    These are awesome ideas! We have family fellowship nights once a month and this is perfect! Never thought to do any of these….thank you guys!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Oh great! You’re so welcome!

  10. Jennifer

    Sit a bottle of that ‘everything but the bagel’ spice blend next to the other spices and I am pretty sure that list is for the perfect potato bar.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Oh yes! Yummy idea! Thanks for the suggestion!

    • Mel

      Adding a couple sweet potatoes for variety would be great too!

  11. Jess

    I do this for my kids birthday parties! I also add salsa & pico de gallo as more topping options.

  12. Brandi

    Potato bar was the biggest hit I made for the hot lunch program at my kids’ school, they always got excited 🙂

  13. teamdrakecoupons

    I too have a Costco buttercream addiction! Great ideas! I’m always looking for ways to feed the masses for cheap!

  14. Judy

    We are doing a pasta bar at the Ronald McDonald House. White sauce, red sauce, meatballs, cheeses, bread sticks, rotini pasta, and salad. I’m thinking this is a a good idea for different dietary needs. Probably should be doing something gluten free though.

  15. Mel

    Fun idea! I do agree the sour cream squeeze bag is convenient, I always grab one when we do taco night.

    and WOW, I can’t believe Nick is 18 already??!!!!! My baby turns 18 in April, graduates in May and planning to go off to college in Aug of next year. Where *has* the time flown?

  16. Jessica

    Off topic: But if you entered 4 Coke Codes for a $2 Amazon code check your account because mine was in there already this morning!

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      SWEET! Thanks for sharing!

  17. Melanie T

    You can also bake your potatoes earlier in the day and they will stay warm in an unopened cooler for up to 6 hours.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Oh awesome! Thanks so much for the helpful tip!

    • Dee

      Yes! I came here to post this. Preheat the cooler with hot water, then pour it out.

  18. Kitty

    Great idea! I like the taco bar idea too. Is there a certain chopper you recommend?

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Hi Kitty! I have the older version of this one and it has worked very well for me!

    • Jen

      I am a mini-chopper snob. Only Pampered Chef ones meet my needs – i don’t sell them. Our 13 year old one feel victim to a drop and broke, my family was crippled!

  19. Yep

    Why is there a rainbow on his cake?

    • Ash

      Does it matter??

    • Lena

      It appears to match the rainbow on his “Life is Good” t-shirt.

      • Lena

        Hope Nick had a wonderful birthday celebration 🙂

    • Gigi

      Why can’t a rainbow just be a rainbow?

    • Suzanne H

      I’m sorry, but that is none of your business.

  20. Joni

    Squeezable sour cream is one of the Kroger Friday/Saturday specials this week (Aug23, 24)! Very cheap and a name brand.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Ooh! Great find, Joni! Thanks for letting us know!

  21. Amanda

    Hi Collin been following you since I found you online in 2010. I couldn’t believe how much your son had grown when I saw the pic you posted (his photo beside his sister piper). And now he’s 18 and all grown. Where did the time go?

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      I know – so crazy how the time flies. 😢 Thanks so much for sticking with us through the years. ❤️

  22. Deb

    If any of you are so inclined: I volunteer at my local Ronald McDonald House. We are always looking for groups to cook dinner for our families. A baked potato bar is a simple and relatively inexpensive way to go. As has already been addressed, this can work for all sorts of dietary preferences. There are RMH chapters in most major cities.

  23. M

    Also wanted to add when we do baked potato bars with our family parties I always make a big salad too that the toppings can go on if anyone is doing low carb!

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks, M! That’s so nice to consider others like that!

  24. Patty

    We did this for sweet 16 bday party. Along with s’more bar for desert. It was a huge success 👍🏻

  25. Melissa Bradshaw

    We did this at our wedding. Big hit, cheap and goes far. 🙂

  26. Wanda

    We’ve done a bake potato and salad bar for two showers for two different families. Everyone enjoyed it. Many toppings for a baked potato also can go on a salad. The toppings for both go in the middle and those usually just for a salad like croutons go on the salad side. So any guest that doesn’t like a baked potato has a chef salad. Some guests just enjoyed a large baked potato. But most enjoyed a smaller potato and a salad.

  27. JameK

    Happiest birthday to Nick blessings all around!

  28. Amy R.

    We did this for my daughters high-school grad party. It was easy and affordable. We got our potatoes from Sam’s and if I remember correctly, for around $9 a bag, you get 15ish super big potatoes; definitely large enough for a meal. Add in some toppings and maybe some pulled pork/chicken and voila. It was a HUGE hit and unique.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh how neat. Love this idea for a grad party!

  29. Suzanne H

    I can’t believe Nick is 18; I’ve been following since March 2009 and your kids were so little!
    It’s funny you posted this. We just had family in town for Easter week and we did steaks on the grill, salad and a baked potato bar one night. 9 people total and our “kids” range from 12 – 27, 4 boys and 1 girl, all big eaters. This was a HUGE hit!!! My SIL and I decided we will be doing this from now on as it was easy, not that expensive and the kids were all stuffed!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Aww, That sounds super fun! Glad it was a hit! Nick is actually going to be 20 on July 11th. This was from two years ago. Thanks so much for being a longtime follower! It sure means a lot! 💕🤗

  30. Stella

    I don’t mean to be that “person” and I realize this post is from 2 years ago, but we are still in a pandemic and sharing utensils may not be the safest thing moving forward. Perhaps each individual could have a set of small ramekins with varied toppings; it’s the sharing and the possibility of double dipping that is scary. Yes, I realize there are several vaccines available, but I also realize there is a large segment of the population that still insists this virus is a hoax. Honestly, I do not see a safe way forward for “buffet style” restaurants, salad bars, etc.,

    • Amy

      I completely agree Stella. I’ll do these on a much smaller scale for my family.
      I found the tip for turning the one recipe into keto chili when this is on a post about a baked potato bar lol everything in moderation i guess? 😜

      • Amy

        Found the tip funny*

      • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

        Oh true. Lol I meant to call out how Collin eats keto and only ate the chili at her gathering so it may be an option for both keto and non keto eaters. 👍

  31. Tara

    One of my fondest memories from an event I went to was the baked potato bar followed by a sweet potato bar for dessert! It was insanely delicious! I would highly recommend the combo to anyone looking for an easy way to do fun foods at an event!!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Ohhhhh I love this idea. Thanks for sharing!

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