How Bobby Flay Perfectly Melts The Cheese On His Burgers Every Time

The things that really matter when it comes to making an all-American cheeseburger come down to the ingredients and the technique. The beef should be good quality, juicy, and flavorsome; the lightly toasted bun still squishy enough to be satisfying to eat but able to withstand the onslaught of juices and sauces; and of course, the cheese should be perfectly melted. There's nothing more disappointing than being served a burger topped with cold, unmelted, still square-shaped cheese.

For Bobby Flay, gooey cheese is essential; he even has signs in his restaurants reminding staff to melt the cheese fully when making burgers. And luckily, the chef is full of top tips for home cooks to make sure you get that perfectly hot, oozing mouthful with every single bite: It's all about using steam to get a good, even melt.

The chef, TV personality, and Bobby's Burgers founder prefers to use a blend of ground beef such as chuck or sirloin which is 80% lean and 20% fat. And salt and pepper are the only two ingredients Bobby Flay uses to season his burgers. But once he adds the cheese to the patties in the pan, it's a simple splash of water and the use of a lid that transforms the burger from good to great. Creating an enclosed space in which the burgers begin to steam means the cheese melts completely, perfectly enveloping each patty.

Bobby Flay melts cheese by using water to create steam

To employ Bobby Flay's melting hack, it's essential to use a skillet or griddle; this technique won't work on the grill, as you need a flat surface for the water. Flay prefers to make burgers in a cast-iron skillet as it cooks evenly for a good crust. And he's not the only chef to believe so; for the best flavor, David Chang believes burgers should never touch a grill. Controversial, perhaps, but it's key for melting cheese.

It's important to add the cheese at the right time, and let it properly melt. Once you've flipped your burger – only once, to develop that browned crust – cook on the second side until it's done to your liking. Then grab the cheese, a jug of water, and a lid. Flay recommends a couple of slices of cheese per patty for the best melty texture.

Place the cheese on the burger, then add a few splashes of water to the pan. Right away, cover the pan in a tight-fitting lid to ensure steam builds up without escaping. It should take around 30 seconds for the cheese to melt fully. If you're using a larger flat griddle, try covering each individual patty with a smaller domed lid, available in restaurant supply stores or online. The steam also helps cook the sides of the burgers since they've only been flipped once. The result? Perfectly cooked burgers, beautifully dressed in evenly melted cheese.

The best cheese to use when making burgers

The most important role for the cheese on any burger is for it to melt well. And while you might expect chefs to opt for a full-flavored artisanal cheese, American cheese actually does the job admirably. For Bobby Flay, it's absolutely fine to mix cheeses; using a thin slice each of American cheese and white cheddar on each patty gives a great melt as well as producing the optimal taste for great everyday burgers. For a spicier type of patty, he might go for pepper jack cheese.

If you want to switch things up and experiment with different cheeses, think about what will complement the other ingredients on the burger. Gooey brie can be a natural match for bacon, for example. Or smoked gouda could work well with the sweet smokiness of barbecue sauce; just make sure it's a younger cheese with enough moisture to be able to melt properly. You could even put cheese inside the patty for a homemade Juicy Lucy cheeseburger

As for other toppings, that's up to you. But to take another top tip from Flay, try layering on some potato chips to add crunch, and provide a thrilling combo of textures. Juicy succulent beef, heaps of oozingly soft melting cheese, and crunchy salty chips sounds like a match made in burger heaven.