Bobby Flay's Go-To Oil For Cooking Burgers In A Cast Iron Pan

While Giada De Laurentiis may be your go-to celebrity chef for homemade pasta tips, and while you might rely on Emeril Lagasse for roux advice, if you're looking for the best burger techniques, who else would you look to but Bobby Flay? When he's not facing down challengers on Food Network, Mr. Flay keeps busy at the helm of his Bobby's Burgers small restaurant chain, which currently serves up burgers, fries, and milkshakes at five locations.

We often associate burgers with backyard gatherings, and even though we may love the smoky flavor of burgers cooked on the grill, Bobby argues that great burgers don't have to be cooked in the great outdoors. In fact, Bobby Flay shared a number of guidelines for fantastic burgers with TODAY, from advocating for 80/20 ground chuck, rather than a leaner blend of ground beef, to his affection for burgers cooked on a cast iron pan or griddle. Bobby's definitely a fan of cast iron, and his choice of oil — canola oil — is important for achieving the best results.

Why canola oil?

Bobby Flay doesn't use much oil for cooking his burgers in cast iron — only a couple of teaspoons — and he chooses canola oil over other vegetable oils because it's neutral in flavor. Canola oil also has a relatively high smoke point of roughly 400 degrees. Since Bobby puts his cast iron pan over high heat, choosing an oil like canola is ideal; it won't alter the flavor of the simply seasoned ground beef (Bobby recommends just salt and pepper), and it also lets you cook at a high enough temperature that the burger achieves the perfect crust.

Canola oil, in addition to being Bobby's go-to for cooking burgers, is also one of the oils that cast iron cookware producers Lodge recommends for properly seasoning cast iron, for the very same reasons it's perfect for cooking burgers: canola oil won't impart flavor to food you cook in your seasoned cast iron, and you can cook at a high temperature without worrying about the pan smoking.

If you're cooking burgers in cast iron using Bobby Flay's method, you'll want to make sure you avoid unrefined oils like walnut, hemp seed, or sesame oil for two reasons. First, they're immensely flavorful, which makes them perfect to drizzle on soup or use in a salad dressing, but also means they'll flavor your burger. Second, their low smoke point means you'll either have a smoky mess or you'll have to lower the cooking temperature, which can hinder your ability to properly crust the burger's exterior.