Bobby Flay Tells Us His Best Tips For Upping Your Grilling Game – Exclusive Interview

If there's anyone who knows how to throw an unforgettable summer barbecue bash, it's Chef Bobby Flay. The Food Network veteran is one of the greatest grillmasters in modern history, and his expertise extends well beyond traditional cuts of meat. As you might already know, Flay's fond of using fruit like grilled peaches to enhance his favorite grilling recipes. Thus, it makes perfect sense that Bobby Flay is teaming up with Pepsi to kick off the brand's Grills Night Out campaign. Not only can you catch Flay's sizzling dance moves in Pepsi's Grills Night Out ad spots, but the seasoned chef is also lending fans some invaluable grilling tips and tricks. Inspired by the newest additions to the Pepsi family, Pepsi Lime and Pepsi Peach, the "Boy Meets Grill" star can't wait to show us how to incorporate their cola and fruit flavors into cookout plans this season.

In an exclusive interview with Mashed, Flay detailed his favorite ways to use Pepsi's new flavors in juicy marinades, crisp cocktails, and more. No matter what type of backyard barbecue you plan on hosting, you'll want to add some of Flay's favorite meals to the menu. From vegetarian fare like kale and wild mushroom paella to brown butter brook trout and mascarpone-filled peaches, the chef's mouthwatering picks are sure to fire up your cookout crowd this season.

Flay on why burgers are best served medium

Bobby, you controversially prefer your steaks and burgers cooked medium. What are some of your other hot grilling takes?

When I said that, obviously I knew it was going to get a little uproar here and there, which is fine. 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. I understand that part of it, what I was saying was, listen, especially when you're eating a burger, one of the great things about a burger is the juiciness of it all. If the fat doesn't melt, you're not going to get that juiciness. You're just going to get a lot of very rare meat that's not that juicy and it can actually be almost cold inside. I think that in order for a burger to meet its optimal enjoyment, you need the fat to start to melt and basically create this juiciness in the burger. That's what I was basically saying. That's the way I like my burgers, medium. It's not that big of a deal.


But everybody wants to make a big deal over everything I say, so it is what it is. I'll take it. Anyway, listen, this has been a great partnership for me with Pepsi because grilling is a big part of my life. It's something that I do, not just during the summer, although I really pump it up during the summer. It's something I do all year round as well. I think that these new flavors, the lime and the peach, they make perfect sense for this kind of food. When I think about low and slow barbecue things like brisket and pulled pork and smoked chicken, anything with those smoky, spicy flavors, to me, the peach makes perfect sense. I actually make a barbecue sauce with grilled peaches in the barbecue sauce. 

Peaches aren't the only fruit that I use, but I use them a lot — peaches, nectarines, things like that — in barbecue sauces because it makes perfect sense. It gives it a great texture, it gives it that natural fruitiness and the sweetness that you want to combine with the smokiness and the spiciness of the barbecue sauce and the acidity of it as well. So to me, I love that flavor. And then the Pepsi Lime, the lime is probably the one if I had to pick one, I'd probably pick the lime. Only because I cook a lot of foods that make sense with lime. 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 and the lime with the flavor of the original Pepsi is amazing. So that's what I'm thinking about.

How to elevate your BBQ using Flay's favorite ingredients

If you're hosting a large gathering, what's the best inexpensive cut of meat to grill?

I'm really into skirt steak. Skirt steak is a great meat. If you ask a lot of chefs, they will tell you the same thing. Now, a lot of chefs will also tell you that they love rib eye. It's very expensive though, so if you want something a little more economical and delicious, skirt steak is fantastic. I just tell people with skirt steak, make sure that you have very high heat on the grill. Season it very well, you can use a spice rub if you want, and put it on the grill, very high heat so it gets nice and crusty on the outside. Flip it over, cook it for another minute or so, let it rest, and then slice it against the grain. Very, very important because you'll see the grain is going this way, you want to go against it so it's incredibly tender. I love it. I love making tacos with it. Obviously, you can make fajitas and things like that, steak sandwiches, quesadillas, anything like that. My food in the summer is really, really simple. I do a lot of burger bars and taco bars and things like that, and skirt steak is a fantastic protein.

What's your favorite summer Pepsi cocktail using Pepsi Lime or Pepsi Peach?

Summer Pepsi cocktail, hmm, that's a good question. Let's see, I think if I had to, I'm probably a tequila drinker. When you think about the Pepsi with the lime it makes perfect sense. You already have the sweetness from the Pepsi, you have the acidity from the lime, you have obviously the heat, so to speak, from the tequila and then I would just add maybe a little bit more citrus, maybe like a squeeze of orange juice or something like that. You get the effervescence from the Pepsi, so you don't need any club soda or anything like that. Three ingredients, tequila, lime, Pepsi, a splash of orange juice, delicious, lots of ice.

Flay's tips for adding more flavor to barbecue classics

What is the best way to use cola in a barbecue recipe?

In a glaze. Think about it this way: It's like caramel, right, it's got that caramel flavor, right? I would do something that's like maybe some honey, some of the lime Pepsi, maybe some hot sauce and then glaze it on chicken or pork chops or something along those lines. It inherently makes perfect sense to glaze something with it. A lot of people use some sort of cola in their sauces because you have caramel right off the bat.

Do you have a favorite hot sauce for summertime?

I like Cholula probably. It's the most commercially known. Obviously there's Tabasco, but I like Cholula. I like the roundness of the Cholula.

Right. And how do you add more flavor to grilled corn?

Some kind of compound butter. So grill the corn and then make a butter with maybe some fresh basil and some garlic. Basil garlic butter, or you can do something like what we talked about before, maybe some maple and some hot sauce in some butter as well. So you get that sweet, you get the spicy, and then you have the smokiness from the grilled corn. That works really nicely too.

The summer fruits Flay can't grill enough of

What are some of your favorite store-bought food hacks to save time while you're grilling?

I think you can find your favorite barbecue sauce and enhance it just like you're buying a tomato sauce. To me, that's the thing I do the most of because barbecue sauce can take a while to cook. 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.

What are some of the underrated fruits or veggies that you think more people should try grilling?

Well, I grill a lot of stone fruits in the summer, which are obviously things like nectarines and plums. I grill pineapples as well — pineapples hold up really well on the grill. You want things that are going to hold up on the grill. One of the things that I like to do is this: I like to take the peaches and cut the pit out and then grill them and then fill the center with some kind of mascarpone cheese or some yogurt or some sour cream that's flavored so this way you get the sweet and the tart at the same time.

The chef's go-to easy campfire recipe

When you're serving vegan or vegetarian guests, what's one of your favorite plant-based menu picks?

I make a paella with kale and wild mushrooms and rice. Usually, I put some fried artichokes in there as well. But the key to it is to make sure that the rice gets this sort of crust on the bottom, it's called the socarrat. And then I saute the kale with some garlic and some olive oil, put it on top and the rice has the wild mushrooms running through it so you get lots of earthiness and big flavors from the vegetables and from the rice, but also you get the texture from the crunchy rice on the bottom.

You mentioned on your Instagram recently that you vacationed in the Adirondack Mountains as a kid. So, what's one of your favorite easy camping recipes?

Brook trout. The first time I caught a fish when I was a kid, it was brook trout. Literally add brown butter and some capers and that's it.

That sounds great.

Brown butter, its the easiest sauce in the world. You take some butter, you put it in a pan, you let it get brown.

Yeah, and capers are delicious, too. Can you share any new ingredients or tools that you've gotten into recently or over the past year or so?

I'll give you an ingredient because I've been using this chili pepper called aji amarillo. It's a yellow chili from South America. It's hard to get them fresh, but they sell it in a jar that's completely pureed. So you just scoop it out and add it to mayonnaise. I actually use it in a fried chicken dish where I have this spicy Aji Amarillo mayonnaise. So, so good. I've been using that a lot.

Follow @Pepsi on X, Threads, Instagram, and TikTok to stay tuned for more from Bobby Flay's series of grilling advice for the Grills Night Out campaign.

This interview has been edited for clarity.