Bobby Flay's Burger Rule You Should Never Break

Chef, restaurateur, and Food Network personality Bobby Flay knows his way around a grill, and he has one particular burger rule that anyone doing some home grilling should be aware of. It all comes down to the seasoning. Though you may be tempted to add all kinds of seasonings in the quest for a super flavorful burger, according to Flay, all you really need is a generous amount of salt, pepper, and canola oil (via Food Network). That's it. "Adding anything else turns the dish into meatloaf, in my opinion!" he explains.

Bon Appétit agrees with Flay, saying you don't need to add things like sautéed onions, bread crumbs, or eggs in order to create your perfect patty, which many cooks think is the key. Just salt and pepper and you're good to go. The timing is also crucial when it comes to your seasoning. According to Cook's Illustrated, if you want juicy, tender burger patties, you shouldn't add the salt until the last minute. This may run contrary to all your beliefs about seasoning and tasting as you go, but the rules are different for grilling.

Of course, this seasoning rule also benefits from your burger meat being high-quality. Flay recommends aiming for an 80/20 ratio of meat to fat, which means your burger will be juicy. Perhaps you can ask the butcher at the market or grocery store to grind the meat fresh — when the ingredients are as simple as in beef burgers, freshness makes a difference.

Perfectly cooking — and topping — your seasoned burgers

At all stages of the burger-making process, from forming the patties to flipping them on the grill, the key is to handle the meat as little as possible. Flay warns cooks not to spend too much time working the meat when crafting the patties, as it can make the burgers tough (via Food Network). However, this step is also applicable when grilling. Though you may be tempted when the burgers puff up slightly in the middle, under no circumstances should you ever press the burger to flatten that bump out. Your burgers may look picture perfect with their flat tops, but what you've done is just squeezed out all the juices, and you'll be left with a dry patty.

If you've followed Flay's rule and stuck with just salt and pepper to season your beef patties, the options are limitless when it comes to toppings. If the burgers taste incredible when they're plain, you've already got an amazing canvas to add any flavor combinations you've concocted. Delish has an extensive list of 100 different toppings to consider, including everything from avocado to caramelized onions to a fried egg. As with seasoning, though, remember that generally, simplicity is key — Gotham Burger Social Club founder Mike Puma recommends that you try to restrict your choices to about one sauce and two toppings to avoid an unwieldy burger that you can't even take a bite of (via Today).