Bobby Flay Follows 4 ‘Rules’ to Get the Perfect Burger

Summer’s here and for many that means burgers on the grill. Cook up a burger like a Food Network star by following Bobby Flay’s burger rules. The celebrity chef does four things to get perfect burgers. 

Bobby Flay’s burger ‘rules’ are all about simplicity

Bobby Flay smiles as he attends his Bobby's Burger Palace 10 Year Celebration in 2018
Bobby Flay | Bobby Bank/Getty Images

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In June 2014 Flay shared his burger “rules” with Food Network’s FN Dish while promoting his cooking show Barbecue Addiction: Bobby’s Basics. “There’s nothing more classic than a burger on the grill, but you’d be surprised how many people tell me they’re intimidated by it,” he said before sharing his four “rules.”

The first rule starts at the grocery store or butcher shop. Flay suggests buying “ground beef that has a 80:20 meat-to-fat ratio.” Second, he doesn’t get fancy with seasoning. “Season the meat liberally with salt, pepper and canola oil,” he said. “Adding anything else turns the dish into meatloaf, in my opinion!” 

His third rule is all about shaping the patties. “Form thin, 6-ounce patties by hand, and don’t overwork the meat,” he said. Flay continued, saying he likes to “create a well in the center with my thumb, because the patties tend to puff up in the center.” He also warned against pressing “the burger on the grill,” saying to “NEVER” do it because “you’ll lose all the delicious juices!”

Flay’s No. 1 burger rule is to ‘melt the cheese completely’

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Finally, the last of Flay’s burger rules is about the cheese. His number one burger rule is to “melt the cheese completely! Use two slices of cheese — I like classic American — and close the lid to allow the cheese to get nice and melty.” Flay’s trick to melting cheese on a burger is to use water to help create steam and, in turn, melt the cheese. 

The cookbook author feels so strongly about the cheese being completely melted on a burger that he has signs in the kitchen at each one of his restaurants reminding everyone to do just that. 

The most common grilling mistake, according to Flay, is ‘touching the food too much’

Bobby Flay smiles as he holds up a hamburger
Bobby Flay | Larry Marano/Getty Images

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“The No. 1 mistake people make at the grill is touching the food too much,” Flay said. “Most of the time you’ll see me at the grill doing absolutely nothing!” 

He continued, saying he adds a little bit of oil and lets the grill do the rest. 

“Whether it’s fish, chicken, steak or veggies, I like to add a light touch of canola oil — which has a mild flavor and high smoke point — and then let the grill do its job,” he explained. “If you check on the food and it’s sticking a little, it’s not done cooking. Turn the food only once and let the fire be your guide.”

So fire up the grill and keep Flay’s burger “rules” in mind when it comes to any burger recipe. Buy meat with the preferred meat-to-fat content, season with salt and pepper, don’t overwork the patties, and let the grill do its job.