Bobby Flay’s 10 Commandments of Grilling

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, June 10th, 2014

Bobby's Perfect BurgerOn his all-new series Barbecue Addiction: Bobby’s Basics (Sundays at 11a|10c), grill master Bobby Flay is putting away his recipes for involved, complicated meals and focusing on those essential summertime favorites all of us should have in our arsenals. Each week he’ll break down the how-tos for various authentic plates and share his secrets for turning out the most-authentic true barbecue, which are largely dependent upon his grilling commandments. Read on below to learn Bobby’s 10 must-know pieces of advice for all things grilling, from juicy burgers and smoky barbecue sauce to entertaining tips and the ultimate pantry ingredients.

1. Direct/Indirect Heat: Set up your grill with two zones — one for direct heat, and the other for indirect heat. Use the direct heat to sear meats and veggies, and move them to the cool side to allow the food to finish grilling without overcooking.

2. Lid On or Off? That Is the Question! My rule of thumb is to leave the lid off for ingredients that cook quickly like shrimp and vegetables and put the lid on for longer-grilling items like poultry and steak, to use the grill like an oven and prevent burning or overcooking.

3. Burger 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. Here are my rules:

  • Purchase ground beef that has a 80:20 meat-to-fat ratio.
  • Season the meat liberally with salt, pepper and canola oil. Adding anything else turns the dish into meatloaf, in my opinion!
  • Form thin, 6-ounce patties by hand, and don’t overwork the meat. I like to create a well in the center with my thumb, because the patties tend to puff up in the center. Remember: NEVER press the burger on the grill (you’ll lose all the delicious juices!).
  • And my #1 burger rule: 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.


4. Juicy, Crunchy Grilled Corn on the Cob: My signature technique for perfectly grilled corn is a simple three-step process. Pull back the husk and remove the silks. Re-cover the corn with the husk and soak the ears in water for about 20 minutes. Fire up the grill and place the corn directly on the grates so it gets a nice charred flavor and color. Just a little bit of extra effort will result in a big payoff — the juiciest and crunchiest corn ever.

5. Make the Most of Your Spice Pantry: If you don’t have time to marinate, spice rubs are a great shortcut. By keeping a well-stocked spice pantry you can create your own flavor combination that’s versatile enough to use on fish, vegetables, chicken and more. Bonus tip: Make a big batch and store in an airtight container so you can use it all grilling season — up to 3 months. Spice rubs not only add huge flavor, but also form a nice crust on proteins for added texture.

6. BBQ Sauce Basics: Every home cook should be able to make a basic barbecue sauce from their pantry staples. What I like to do is make a basic sauce in a large batch and place portions of it in freezer-safe, pint-size containers. That way I always have some on hand and can even flavor it, depending on my mood, with things like habanero peppers, pineapples or molasses.

7. Flavor-Infused Oils: If I’m short on time and can’t marinade, I like to blend a simple infused olive oil to use as a finishing sauce on things like shellfish, chicken and even potatoes. I use ingredients like garlic, herbs and chiles that have bold, impactful flavors in each bite.

8. Party Drinks: I like to mix up a big pitcher of party drinks like sangria or flavored teas and lemonades. Not only are they crowd pleasers, but they also free me from playing bartender and mixing individual cocktails all night. And remember, keep the ice separate to prevent the melted cubes from diluting the flavor of the beverage.

9. Size Matters: Many people ask me how to prevent food from falling through the grates, and my answer is simple: Cut things in bigger pieces! 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 things like shrimp or cherry tomatoes, I like to use water-soaked wooden skewers, which makes transferring and flipping them on the grill easier and quicker too!

10. Let the Grill Do Its Job! The No. 1 mistake people make at the grill is touching the food too much. Most of the time you’ll see me at the grill doing absolutely nothing! 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. 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.

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Comments (11)

  1. Stuart says:

    These are all great tips! The only thing I would change is the canola oil. Not a great oil. I use olive oil or coconut oil instead. much healthier oils!

    • Ken says:

      You'll be hard pressed (no pun intended) to find a healthier oil than Rapeseed.

      • larry says:

        rapeseed AKA Canola oil
        raw rapeseed oil is poisonous so it is processed with heat. we don't eat raw pork or chicken either. so i see no reason to use Canola oil.

        peanut, flax, walnut, hemp, safflower, cottonseed, coconut.
        grapeseed is ok but will go rancid before the others.

        olive or grapeseed is not healthier.
        they just have different rations of omega 3 fats and fats.

        overall Canola is most versatile.
        grapeseed, peanut and coconut have high smoke points.
        olive oil has a low smoke point.

        use peanut oil for high temperature cooking, canola oil for medium high temperature cooking, olive oil for medium temperature cooking, and a variety of polyunsaturated oils for baked goods. In a way there is no “healthiest oil” since each oil can offer different benefits and one may be a better choice than another in a cooking process, individual tastes, health needs and culture.

        i think hemp, cottonseed and safflower oils are best.
        but i often reach first for the Canola to cook with because of its temperature range.
        dressings are another matter.
        i don't use Canola in dressings because i like the special characteristics other oils can contribute to the taste.
        canola is too bland for my tastes.

        happy grilling everyone!

        • larry says:

          oh, i am sorry.
          i meant to say: i see no reason NOT to use Canola oil.
          silly me.

          and just want to add that i learned so much from Mr Flay!

          Happy Grilling!

  2. Berdj J. Rassam says:

    Bobby is the king of grilling – great tips, thanks.

  3. HoppingMadTexan says:

    Bobby is the "Grill God" he is the best!

  4. Chef Lenny says:

    i love Bobby…good stuff to right on a stone.

  5. PureCarnivore says:

    Commandement 11: Always have a bacon cocktail in one hand while working the grill…

  6. Belicious1 says:

    Great tips. Wish I could save it like I can save recipes.

  7. Kimberly says:

    Sorry guys I am allergic to canola oils soy oils vegetable oils margarine etc. the only oils I can basically use is olive oil, grape seed oil and organic rice bran oil and pure butter. All others are garbage to my body. I use olive oil on the grill with no problem. I also deep fry with it etc.

  8. wartface says:

    My most valued tool is my Thermapen temperature gauge… It tells me when my food is at the temp I'm targeting in just 3 seconds. That makes it easy when I have people over and someone wants a rare steak or a well done steak. Medium rare is 135 degrees. Rare is 125 degrees and well done is 150 degrees. It takes all of the guess work out of grilling.

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