How To Flambé Your Food Safely

Light it up, without burning down the house

Maybe it's the thrill of bananas Foster served tableside or just the fact that we're still teenage pyromaniacs at heart, but setting food on fire is undeniably cool. And while technically any amount of liquor you add to a recipe can be simmered off the old-fashioned way, we'll never turn down the chance to put on our own pyrotechnics show in the kitchen. Here's how to safely flambé, so you can ensure your eyebrows make it past dinner

① Choose the Right Pan

This is the one time we'll put aside our trusty Dutch oven: High-sided pots can make it difficult to ignite your food without singeing the hairs on your forearms. Stick to wide skillets with sloped sides.

② Measure Out Your Booze into a Separate Container

It might be unlikely, but accidents happen, and igniting 750 milliliters of rum (while it's still in your hand) isn't a risk worth taking. Transfer your alcohol into a measuring cup or a small bowl before playing with fire.

③ Take the Pan off the Heat

If you're working on a gas burner, it's especially important to take your pan off the flame—now you can safely drop in your spirit without it unexpectedly igniting before you're ready for it to. 

④ Light It Up

You'll often see tuxedoed waiters and professional chefs tilt the pan toward their burner's flame until the alcohol catches fire. But if it's your first time, a long-handled lighter (versus stubby matches) is our favorite tool for the job. If you find that your food isn't lighting, tilt your pan so all the alcohol pools to one side before trying again.