Grilling in the fall — and even the winter — can be just as fun and tasty as grilling in the summer! Savory BBQ cooking with open-flame flavor is a perfect match for colder weather. So if you’ve been looking for an opportunity to get together with friends and family, consider this your reason to brave the chill and chow down while you’re at it.
To make your cold weather cookout a fun and safe one, check out these seven important tips. From stocking up on fuel to discovering the virtues of WiFi pellet smokers, these tips will help you perfect the art of cold weather grilling.
1. Resist the temptation to move your grill into any kind of confined space.
The cardinal safety rule of winter grilling is never grill inside, or in any confined space like a garage or tent. All grills emit carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas that can be lethal when it builds up in confined spaces. On top of that, using an outdoor grill in any kind of indoor environment is a fire hazard.
Instead, grill in the open air, where carbon monoxide dissipates safely. It might be a little chillier, but it’s a flat-out requirement for safe grilling. And don’t forget to keep an eye on fire safety even when you’re outside. Grilling safety rules like keeping your grill at least two feet from any flammable materials still apply.
2. Account for the extra heat that your grill will lose in cold weather.
Cold air makes a grill lose heat more quickly, and every pitmaster needs to plan for this fact. First, know that all grills will take longer to heat up in the winter. Whether you’re cooking on a gas grill, kamado grill, pellet grill or traditional charcoal grill, give the grill a few extra minutes to get up to temperature.
One tip that many pitmasters swear by is to cook on a double-walled grill, as these are built with an internal thermal jacket that retains heat more effectively no matter the weather outside. Grilla Grills Pellet Grills, and the Primate Gas Grill & Griddle both feature double-wall insulation, so you don’t need to use a messy, smelly grill blanket. In addition, simply keeping your grill closed as much as possible will help it retain heat more effectively. That’s another big benefit to pellet grills, there’s no need to open the lid while cooking!
3. Pick up some extra fuel.
Since your grill will burn more fuel in cold weather, it’s also important to grab some extra fuel before you get started. Those additional briquettes, propane tanks or competition blend pellets will help keep your grill going strong during the winter. Keep them easily available so you can access them quickly if you need to refuel.
If you’re using a propane grill, remember that cold temperatures affect propane in a way that they don’t with other fuels. If it’s seriously cold outside, your propane tank may not provide the same pressure that you’re used to, so be ready to use more fuel and/or troubleshoot your propane grill.
4. Find some delicious cold weather recipes.
Many pitmasters change up their grilling menus when outdoor temperatures drop. The conventional wisdom is to favor rich, hearty dishes when it’s cold and, in this case, the conventional wisdom is spot on! Smoked turkey, sausage, ribs and fall veggies like acorn squash are all popular choices.
However, a lot of pitmasters also favor quick-cooking ingredients when working the grill in cold weather. Faster-cooking cuts of meat, for example, make it easier to grill in the cold. Finally, don’t forget to have some warm drinks available! Cider and mulled wine are definitely classics, but provide some non-alcoholic options like coffee and hot chocolate, too.
5. Use a grill with smart wireless features.
A WiFi enabled grill can make it so you barely have to go outside at all! These grills use built-in digital temperature control that’s connected to an app on your mobile device. Once you’ve set up the app, it’s easy to control the temperature from anywhere with WiFi service. A smart grill is ideal for low and slow techniques like smoking. Get the smoker set at the right temperature, then just keep an eye on your app while you stay warm and cozy inside.
WiFi pellet smokers are one of the most popular types of smart grill. The combination of a pellet grill’s consistent, low-maintenance heat with the convenience of WiFi access makes them awesome grills for winter. Even better, many models include a probe that monitors your meat’s temperature automatically. You’ll be able to check the temperature on your pork butt and adjust the heat as needed without venturing out into the cold.
6. Create a comfortable and warm winter hangout area
Cold weather grilling is a lot more fun when you’ve got company. You probably already know how a grill can be a perfect anchor point for an outdoor social space, but think about how you can make your patio more hospitable to your guests in cooler weather.
Adding a patio heat lamp or a fire pit can make a big difference in terms of comfort. A gathering area (like a circle of seating around a fire) is crucial for any patio, but it’s even more important in cold weather. Long story short, keep people warm and full, and you’re gonna have a good time!
7. Prepare your grill for colder temperatures.
Be good to your grill during colder months. Get a cover for your grill to protect it when it’s not in use. This will help prevent rust as well as saving you the annoyance of clearing snow and ice off your grill. Take particular care if you’re using your grill in an area where you’ve spread ice melting salt, as it can damage your grill’s metal body.
In addition, keep up with your normal grill maintenance tasks. We know it sucks scraping a drip pan in the cold, but trust us, you’d rather spend a few extra minutes scraping than ruin your food in a grease fire! Regularly cleaning your grill will prevent the build-up of grease and grime that can affect your food’s flavor and damage your grill in the long run. Check your grill’s instruction manual for information on how to clean it correctly.