The One Secret Ingredient Bobby Flay Uses to Make Perfect Burgers

Hint: It's in your kitchen right now.

Bobby Flay posing with Burger 101, as seen on Food Network Kitchen Live.

Photo by: Rob Pryce

Rob Pryce

By: Alessandra Bulow
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There are burgers and then there are Bobby Flay burgers.

As any hardcore Bobby fan knows, when you watch him make a burger, his enthusiasm is completely contagious. That's because the one true burger king genuinely loves to teach people his tips and tricks.

"Whenever I make burgers, it makes me very, very happy," he says in his Burger 101 class on the Food Network Kitchen app.

Lucky for us, Bobby shared all of his best tips for how to make perfect burgers, plus the one super surprising ingredient that's the secret to success. Here's a sneak peek at what you'll learn — watch the class for even more burger know-how.

1. Form your patties gently.

"You don't want to spend a lot of time shaping your burger," Bobby says. "Basically, you want to get the burger shaped until it just holds together, so that when you eat it you can sort of see the granular pieces of the beef running through it. Otherwise, it gets like meat loaf and I don’t want that."

He prefers to make each patty with 5 1/2 to 6 ounces of meat so the burger has the best mouthfeel when you take a bite.

2. Press a divot into each patty with your thumb.

"When a burger [without a well] cooks, it plumps up like a football," Bobby says. "But when I put a well in the burger, it kind of looks like a funny shape, but it plumps back up to the original shape that you want the burger to be in."

3. Use a flat cooking surface.

If you're cooking burgers indoors, skip the grill pan and go with a stovetop griddle, heavy cast-iron pan or large skillet that hold its heat well.

Burger 101 beauty, as seen on Food Network Kitchen Live.

Photo by: Rob Pryce

Rob Pryce

Bobby's a fan of cooking on a flat surface because it allows a burger to cook in its own juices: "It releases the fat, it releases the juices and it keeps it really nice and moist," he says.

4. Flip only once.

"Let the griddle do its job," Bobby says. By flipping the burger only one time, you'll get a crispy seared crust that locks in the burger's juices. Once you've flipped the burger, resist the urge to press down on it with the spatula. You don't want those glorious juices to get smooshed out onto the griddle — you want them in your burger!

5. Melt the cheese perfectly and completely — with the secret ingredient!

There's one surprising ingredient that Bobby uses that's key to making his perfect cheeseburgers.

Drumroll, please ... believe it or not, it's water!

Just fill a squeeze bottle with water, add a little bit of water to the griddle to create steam, cover the burger and the result will be an insanely juicy burger that has crispy edges and is covered in ooey, gooey, perfectly melted cheese.

"When it gets right down to it, I want American cheese on my burger, because it melts well and it reminds me of my childhood," Bobby says.

6. Keep toppings simple.

"Chefs like to put a lot of things on burgers, but to me if you put too many things on a burger, all of the flavors start to get muddled and it doesn't taste like anything," Bobby says. "I like my burgers to be really simple. I like them to have a couple of ingredients, not a lot."

Sometimes he goes traditional with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles. Other times he likes thick-cut bacon and fried eggs, like in his Brunch Burger class on the Food Network Kitchen app.

He's always down for something spicy, too, like pickled jalapenos, fresno chiles or just simply hot sauce.

7. Crunchify.

Only Bobby can turn the word crunch into a verb. Any true Bobby fan knows that a Bobby Flay burger isn’t complete without a crispy component to add great texture and flavor. Pickles, coleslaw, potato chips and crushed tortilla chips are just a few ways that he likes to crunchify his burgers.

In the end, the key to making a perfect Bobby burger is to treat every single component in the best way possible and keep it simple.

Then, he says, "turn out the lights."

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