Bobby Flay’s Easy Tip for Avoiding the ‘No. 1 Mistake People Make at the Grill’

Getting ready to barbecue? Avoid what celebrity chef Bobby Flay calls the most common mistake “people make at the grill.” The Food Network star, who also knows how to make perfectly grilled corn, wants people to stop touching the food too much.

‘Touching food too much’ is the ‘No. 1 mistake people make at the grill’, according to Bobby Flay

Bobby Flay smiles during a cooking segment on 'Late Night with Seth Meyers' Season 7 in 2019
Bobby Flay | Lloyd Bishop/NBC

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The former Boy Meets Grill host shared some of his grilling tips with Food Network’s FN Dish in June 2014 while promoting Barbecue Addiction: Bobby’s Basics. Besides sharing his “signature technique” for grilled corn, Flay opened up about a common grilling mistake that can easily be avoided without any tools or expensive kitchen gadgets. In short, leave the food alone.

“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 the way he grills, no matter what the food, is extremely simple even compared to Ina Garten’s method for grilling steak.

“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,” he added before saying, “Turn the food only once and let the fire be your guide.”

Be patient and resist the urge to constantly turn the food or move it around the grill. Do what Flay does and do “absolutely nothing” while the grill does the work. 

Another grilling tip from Flay: ‘cut things in bigger pieces’

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Wondering how to keep food from falling through the grates of the grill? Flay has a solution. And just like his advice for avoiding the most common grilling mistake, it’s straightforward. 

“Many people ask me how to prevent food from falling through the grates and my answer is simple: Cut things in bigger pieces!” he said. “Keep vegetables whole or in larger sections so they’re easier to manage on the grill. You can always cut them smaller after they’re grilled.” 

For smaller foods such as shrimp or cherry tomatoes, Flay reaches for “water-soaked wooden skewers.” Why? Because they make “transferring and flipping them on the grill easier and quicker too!”

What about the lid of the grill? Flay’s tip for grilling with the lid on and off

Not sure when to put the lid of the grill on? Flay has an answer.

“My rule of thumb is to leave the lid off for ingredients that cook quickly like shrimp and vegetables,” he said. He puts the lid on when he’s preparing “longer-grilling items like poultry and steak.” That way he uses “the grill like an oven” to “prevent burning or overcooking.”

Follow Flay’s advice and don’t touch the food on the grill too much. Keep the lid on or off depending on the food and cut everything into large pieces. Keep all of those tips in mind and get grilling.