Are you a winter griller? Grilling 365 days a year can be a bit of a challenge depending on the weather but with a few tips, tricks and modifications, winter grilling can be enjoyable and flawless even in 3 feet of snow.
Start by pulling your barbecue, Kamado or Pellet cooker as close to the house as possible if you can, keeping safety in mind of course. It’s great if you can find a spot that is sheltered out of the wind and elements. A general guideline is to keep the barbecue at least 3 meters away from other objects such as a fence, low tree branches or the house. This will make it easier to keep a path from the door to the barbecue. If you have built a shelter for your outdoor cooking it is a good idea to set up a wind barrier for any open sides. This will help limit snow and rain drifts into the area. Make sure the spot you choose is well ventilated. As tempting as it is, a garage is not a safe place to use a cooker of any kind.
Make sure you have a lot of fuel. There’s nothing worse than running out of fuel halfway through grilling. In cooler temperatures, you lose heat quicker and use more fuel to keep your grill hot. Have a backup propane tank, bag of charcoal or pellets ready. Consider getting your grill hooked up to natural gas. It’s safe, convenient and you will never worry about running low on fuel again.
Have all your BBQ tools ready in advance. Get your spatulas, tongs, plates, and platters ready before starting the barbecue. This way you are not going in and out as much. It wouldn’t hurt to warm the platters before putting the finished grilled food on them so they don’t risk cracking and the food doesn’t cool down too much before serving. If you’re using uncovered platters, have tinfoil ready to cover the finished product to keep things nice and hot.
Invest in a good pair of barbecue gloves made for colder weather. Oven mitts and gloves are not safe for grilling.
Perform a grill check before lighting it up. Critters are always looking for a warm home in the winter and your barbecue could be their new headquarters.
If you own a pellet smoker, invest in an insulated blanket. The heat resistant, insulated surface acts as a buffer between the elements and your grill, reducing the amount of fuel burned due to cold outdoor temperatures.
If you own a gas grill, keep it covered when it’s not in use. This will help to eliminate ice build-up on top which will bring down temperatures when you fire it up.
Give yourself a little extra time to preheat your grill. The grill is heating up from freezing temperatures, so you’ll have it give it more time to warm than in the summer.
Attach lights to your grill. Daylight is at a premium during winter and a light attached to the handle of the grill will stream some light on your food every time you open the lid, leaving your hands free to take care of the food on the grill.
Darkness also increases the risk of a trip and slip hazards. Remove extension cords and other possible tripping hazards such as outdoor furniture that could be partially covered. Consider installing overhead string lights. They are attractive and functional. A non-slip mat right in front of the grill is a wise choice as well.
Purchasing a gas, electric or propane outdoor heater will make all the difference and take the chill off. But it is important to pick the right one for your area. If you get snow some heaters will not work right, it is important to talk to an expert to ensure you get the right one. Some are stand-alone while others can be fastened in place. You’ll not regret this purchase as most people use heaters all year long, even in the summer. Adding a fire table or fire pit will add heat and ambiance to the location and you may even be able to convince someone to come out with you. ;)
Get a weatherproof container for all your supplies. Charcoal and pellets will readily accept moisture so make sure you seal it in a container that is waterproof. We would also recommend keeping all barbecue accessories indoors when not in use so they stay warm and rust free.
Use a good meat thermometer. Knowing the temperature of your meat is not just about checking if it’s done but it’s also a safety issue. With thermometers that are WIFI compatible so while you’re in the comfort of your home, you can have quick accurate readings of the temperature of your meat and the barbecue. This takes the guesswork out of grilling and you no longer have to lift the lid letting precious heat out.
With just a few simple steps and a few appropriately placed items, you can turn yourself into a four-season griller no matter the weather.