Bobby Flay Grilling Tips To Impress Everyone At The Barbecue

Summer barbecues are laid-back events that offer you the perfect opportunity to bring people together to bond over amazingly smoky and tasty food. If you host the cookout yourself, you can showcase amazing dishes like smoky barbecue beef short ribs, grilled corn, juicy grilled burgers, and mouthwatering steak tacos. But hosting can also come with a lot of pressure to make sure those dishes are ones your guests will love. If you're looking to impress with simple but flavorful recipes, celebrity chef and restauranteur Bobby Flay is the ultimate grill master to turn to. 


The TV personality is known for his frequent appearances on Food Network shows, including "Iron Chef," "Beat Bobby Flay," and "Boy Meets Grill," and he has made a career of sharing some of his best grilling and cooking tips. When preparing for your next summer barbecue, keep in mind some of his key pointers that can make your cookout a huge success.

Cook burgers to medium

Many people swear by cooking and eating rare beef, but eating burgers medium-rare can be unsafe. Bobby Flay himself recently got some backlash when he revealed in a video on TikTok that he prefers cooking his hamburgers and steaks to medium rather than leaving them rare or medium-rare. In the viral video, Flay stated, "If the fat doesn't melt, then it's not as delicious ... if you don't cook it and the beef itself is like too rare, it's like hard to chew." You might not think that would be too controversial, but it got a lot of people talking and debating the topic in the video's comment section. 


During an interview with Mashed, Flay stuck by his original opinion. "I have to say most of the people that I know said to me, 'Totally agree with you.' I think there's some peer pressure on us to order red meat rare and medium-rare, whether we like it or not because that's what we've been told to do," he said.

If you want a truly delicious burger, you need to cook it long enough, which, according to Flay means cooking the beef to medium. This allows the fat to melt into the meat, resulting in a much juicier taste than if you only cook to rare. Try cooking to medium doneness at your barbecues and see if you prefer the taste, too.

Use fruit to enhance your barbecue meat dishes

When it comes to making mouthwatering meat dishes, sometimes unexpected ingredients are exactly what you need. Bobby Flay suggests introducing sweet, juicy flavors to your barbecue by incorporating fruit to pump up the taste of pork, beef, chicken, and seafood dishes. Peaches, in particular, can upgrade your classic recipes. 


"When I think about low and slow barbecue things like brisket and pulled pork and smoked chicken, anything with those smoky, spicy flavors, the peach makes perfect sense," Flay told Mashed. "I actually make a barbecue sauce with grilled peaches in the barbecue sauce." The Food Network star also mentioned that nectarines have a similar effect with smoky and spicy dishes.

For a less sweet and more acidic fruit, lime is a great option. "I cook a lot of foods that make sense with lime," Flay said. "I cook a lot of Southwestern and Mexican-inspired dishes, lots of cilantro, lots of chilies, lots of fresh corn, lots of things on the grill, meats and chicken and fish and things like that. You need that acidity to give it that pop." Adding fruit juice to glazes, sauces, and marinades is another great way to bring out the best taste in your favorite summer dishes. 


Try family-style dining to satisfy everyone

If you're the grill master in the summer, you can quickly find yourself spending a lot more time cooking than actually enjoying the barbecue. Bobby Flay has some tips to help avoid this at your next cookout. Speaking to Tasting Table, the chef recommended that instead of preparing everyone's meal, you can make things easier on yourself and more enjoyable for everyone by preparing family-style dining and letting your guests fix their own plates. 


"It's really important that I have a couple of different things going on at the same time, because not everybody eats the same thing," Flay explained. "You have to have sort of a variety and an abundance of variety. I make burger bars and taco bars where I'm making all these different components and then I let people make their own as they go through it. And it makes it really fun, it makes it really casual." He also pointed out that letting people pick their own food and toppings is great if you have anyone over with allergies or other food restrictions. 

Save money by grilling skirt steak

Ask any steak lover what the best cut of beef is and you're sure to get a strong opinion and a lively debate if you disagree. Many chefs and meat eaters swear by ribeye steak, which is known for its marbling and tenderness. While others prefer New York strip steak. There are some key differences between ribeye and New York strip steak, but one thing both cuts have in common is that they're quite pricey. 


If you want to enjoy delicious steak but don't want to blow your grocery budget on one meal, Bobby Flay suggests skirt steak as an affordable solution. To make sure your economical steak is just as much of a crowd-pleaser, Flay offered a few easy tips to prep and cook the steak (via Mashed).

First, turn your grill to high heat and let it warm up before adding the meat. The high heat will help the juicy steak develop a crispy outer layer. Use a spice rub to season the steak well. Then, place the seasoned skirt steak on the grill and cook at high heat for a minute or two on each side. When you're ready to serve the meat, be sure to slice it against the grain. Following these easy steps results in maximum tenderness for the perfect cookout steak. 


Grill chicken thighs for more flavor

Another great way to save money and host a barbecue that everyone will love is to grill chicken. Chicken is a lot more affordable than beef, so you can cut costs by serving some flavorful chicken dishes alongside or in place of burgers and steaks. For perfectly juicy chicken, Bobby Flay recommended selecting chicken thighs rather than chicken breasts. "I like chicken thighs over chicken breasts all day long. Way more flavor," he told Tasting Table. 


Chicken thighs are dark meat and have more fat than chicken breasts resulting in more tender meat. When selecting your poultry, Flay suggests picking bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. "I like the crispiness of the chicken skin when you cook it correctly ... The dark meat is going to have more flavor and more moisture than white meat, and also when you keep the bone in it has less of a chance to dry out," he said (via Food Network). Chicken thighs are easy to cook, and grilled chicken is a simple base that you can add a lot of different flavors to. With sauces, rubs, glazes, and marinades, you can make your chicken recipes a huge success. 

Save time with store-bought barbecue sauce

It's easy to get overwhelmed when you're feeding a crowd. When you want to make the food as delicious as possible and make something for everyone to enjoy, the to-do list can quickly get out of hand. But you can make things a little less stressful by taking shortcuts when possible. Instead of making every piece of your barbecue spread from scratch, use reliable store-bought brands for some components. 


Bobby Flay revealed he often uses a store-bought barbecue sauce instead of making it from scratch. This saves a lot of time, and you don't have to sacrifice taste. He suggests finding a sauce brand that you love and then customizing it by mixing in a few extra ingredients to give it a more gourmet taste without all the extra kitchen time. "That's the thing I do the most of because barbecue sauce can take a while to cook," Flay told Mashed. "I have a particular barbecue sauce that I like that I mess with and I add other ingredients to it. This way I have the base and it takes me just a few minutes to throw it together." 

For another delicious twist, you can also caramelize the barbecue sauce to add a rich flavor to the store-bought condiment. 


Only flip meat once while grilling

According to Bobby Flay, you can upgrade your burgers and steaks by avoiding one common grilling mistake: flipping the meat too often. "Most of the time, people get afraid of burning things, and they flip things too quickly ...," Flay told Today Food. "If you flip and turn and flip and turn, you're never going to give the grill, or whatever you're cooking on, a chance to actually form a crust."


While it's tempting to flip the meat multiple times or turn it to check how cooked it is, this can ruin the flavor and texture of the meat. Flay insists the key to great grilling is to turn the food only once during the cooking time. "One flip, let the grill do its job. You get it nice and crusty, you flip it over ... and then you finish it." Cooking on high heat and turning the meat only once allows the outside to sear quickly while the center of the meat stays flavorful and juicy.

Remember some foods are better to cook ahead of time

If you really want a standout barbecue, it's important to have several dishes for everyone to choose from. Instead of trying to cook all your food at the same time, you can prep ahead to free up grill space and make the day less hectic. Not only does cooking in advance simplify your day, but it also results in better flavor for some recipes. 


According to Bobby Flay during a live cooking demonstration for Food & Wine, potatoes and lobster turn out better when precooked. If you're planning to make grilled potatoes, he advises that you parboil, slice, cool, and then grill them. That way, they're mostly cooked before grilling, shortening the grill time and ensuring the potatoes are tender and cooked through. 

Similarly, Flay said he always steams or boils lobsters ahead of grilling them. "I've experimented a lot with raw lobsters on the grill, and there's something about it that makes them tough. It doesn't work the way I want it to work," he explained. But, he suggests that by precooking the lobsters and then grilling, you can get a much better result. "You get that really good creamy texture of the lobster meat, which is really why we're eating it in the first place," he said. 


The perfect grilled corn starts with a soak

Corn on the cob is a staple summer dish that tastes amazing when grilled. You can make your grilled corn even better and get everyone coming back for a second cob by following a few tips from Bobby Flay. According to Flay, the secret to his delicious grilled corn starts before cooking them. "One of the most important things is that you soak the corn in water," Flay said on the Food Network. He instructed that you first remove the corn silk and discard the inedible pieces. Then place the corn with some of the husk remaining in a large container of plain water to soak for 15-20 minutes. The moisture that is absorbed helps keep the corn from drying out, and the natural sweetness of the corn is enhanced by this process. 


After grilling, Flay suggests further flavoring the corn by adding compound butter. "I take unsalted butter, put it in a food processor, and you can put chilies in there or roasted shallots, all kinds of savory ingredients, or herbs like cilantro and lime," he told Tasting Table. "So when the corn comes off the grill and it's still hot, then you slather that butter on there, it's delicious."

Go old school with a charcoal grill

The tools you use to cook can be just as important as the ingredients in your recipes. If you host a lot of cookouts and are looking for the best grill possible, Bobby Flay told People that he prefers using charcoal. Speaking about the benefits of charcoal, he explained, "It's more pure, it's got more flavor, it's more old school." 


If you want to grill with charcoal and are new to it, Flay recommended getting a chimney starter to help light the charcoal. A chimney starter is an affordable and quick purchase that will make grilling much easier. "It's a cylinder, and you put crumbled-up newspaper in the bottom of it, you fill it with charcoal and then you light the newspaper and put it in the grill and let it slowly heat up," he explained. The chimney starter is a great method to heat your charcoal and will typically get the coals lit faster than using lighter fluid or another method. 

Set up two grilling stations

Bobby Flay is renowned not only as a cook but particularly as a grilling star. If you're looking for advice on how to take your outdoor cooking up a notch, he's definitely the expert to look to. Even President Barack Obama took Flay's grilling advice. The Obamas once invited Flay to the White House to share his grilling tips. During his cooking lesson, Flay shared a secret with the then-president that we can all use to make our barbecues even better. 


The celebrity chef pointed out that he had two grilling stations, one with a higher heat and a second set to a much lower heat. He explained that he starts by putting his steaks over direct heat at the hotter portion of the grill. This sears the meat to give it a crusty outer layer. Then, he moves the steak up on the grill to continue cooking over indirect heat. Finishing the cooking process over low heat keeps the steak from burning or drying out. 

Pick the right ground beef for flavorful burgers

The meat you select makes a huge difference in how your burgers turn out. Even if you follow every tip and have mastered your grilling technique, your patties will turn out lackluster if you don't have good ground beef to start with. To choose the best ground beef at your grocery store, one of the most essential elements to check is the fat content. Bobby Flay recommends using higher-fat beef for more succulent burgers. 


"First, you have to pick out the proper kind of meat," Flay told Today Food. "I like to say 80/20, which means 80% beef, 20% fat." You can get leaner ground beef if you don't want as much fat, but you will be sacrificing flavor. "You want to make sure you have enough fat in there so that it has a lot of flavor, and it keeps the burger nice and juicy." 

Flay also recommends heating your grill, grill pan, or skillet to very high heat before adding the raw patties.