Now that winter is coming, most people are prepping their grills for a long storage nap. If you’re like me though and believe that grilling is a year-round sport and crave the unmistakable flavors of barbecued food all year long, then it’s time to discuss how to grill in winter. I’ve got a ton of tips for overcoming the elements.
According to the NPD Group, a market research firm, 26.5 American households fit into the category of “extreme grillers,” meaning they grill in the wintertime. The advantage of winter grilling is that your family and friends can enjoy barbecued food year-round.
Make no mistake about it, there are always challenges when mother nature gets involved. Gas and charcoal grills act differently in cold weather. Cold weather and wind reduce your grill’s heating capacity and cooking efficiency.
There is a need to adjust your methods and there are additional safety precautions to take into consideration. By being prepared and having the right information, you can overcome most weather-related obstacles.
The following are some of my favorite cold weather winter grilling tips to help you in joining the “extreme griller” ranks.
Table of Contents
Click a topic below to be taken directly to that section.
Dress for Success
Winter clothing is a must on those cold windy days. You will often need to be outside for extended periods so make sure you stay warm and dry. Most winter clothing is not only bulky but often extremely flammable too. Always be aware of your surroundings in relation to your grill.
Tuck the loose ends of scarves and hood strings inside your jacket and remember winter gloves are not heat resistant. Make sure to wear gloves made for grilling when operating your grill. Leave a pair of slippers inside by the door so you won’t track mud or snow through the house.
Choose Your Location Wisely
Consider moving your grill to an outside area closer to your door for shorter trips to and from the house. Look for a spot with the most wind protection available. Look for a level spot up against a structure or next to the house that can help block strong gusts of wind.
If it is snowy or icy, make sure to clear a path from your door to the grill before starting so you do not slip and fall. Make sure trees or branches with a buildup of snow are not directly overhead as the heat from the grill may cause the snow overhead to melt.
Let There Be Light
It gets darker earlier during the winter months. If you are not already in a well-lighted area, make sure to use some sort of clip-on grill light or headlamp. A light that fits on the handle of your grill or a flashlight are also good options.
Check Your Equipment Beforehand
It’s time to dust off the snow and chip away any ice buildup that may have accumulated on your grill. If you’re grilling with a gas grill, make sure to check all hoses and connections that may have come loose or cracked from being exposed to the elements.
Check to make sure control knobs move freely. Make sure your lid is closing properly and there are no gaps where heat may escape.
Fuel Is Your Friend
Always make sure you have extra full on hand. The cold weather will cause your food to cook more slowly, and sometimes it may take up to a half as much additional fuel to maintain your desired cooking temperature. Having a charcoal chimney starter loaded up or an extra propane tank ready during your cook in case you need additional fuel is a good idea.
Patience Is a Virtue
Just as you normally would, make sure to heat up the grill in advance but give it up to an additional 5 or so minutes to get to temperature on cold days. Plan for additional cooking times as most foods will take longer to grill to completion.
Pro Tip: in extreme cold, line the inside of a charcoal grill with heavy-duty tinfoil. This will help contain and reflect the heat. Make sure to make holes where the vents are to allow airflow.)
If You’re Looking, You’re Not Cooking
I am sure you have heard this one before. This really applies to every season but is especially true in the cold winter months. Every time you open the lid, you’re allowing precious heat to escape that prolongs the cooking time.
Using an instant read grill thermometer and a wireless digital meat probe will help you resist the urge to check the progress by opening the lid. Be patient and trust the process.
Final Thoughts on Our How to Grill in Winter Guide
No matter how desperate you are for the flavor of barbecued food, never ever grill in an enclosed area like your garage or under a closed in porch overhang. The buildup of carbon monoxide fumes can be deadly, not to mention a serious fire hazard.
If the weather is too extreme, put it off for another day, or better yet, head to your favorite local barbecue joint and share your weather-related woes with other grilling enthusiasts. This is also a good time to get to know the owner/chef and pick their brains for new ideas or techniques.
That is all I have for today. If anybody else has a tip that I missed or an “extreme grilling” story to share, please do so in the comments.
I hope this information was helpful to you and you are one step closer to joining me in “The Extreme Grilling Life”!
Now It’s Your Turn
I want to hear from you:
Which brand of gas grill have you used before?
Have you used any of the gas grill brands listed above and have any feedback to share?
What features do you typically like to see in a built-in grill?
Are you going to be purchasing a new grill in the future? Do you plan on looking at a Pellet Grill, Smoker, Built-In Gas Grill, or Charcoal Model?
Let me know by leaving a quick comment below.
If you still have questions, please feel free to send me a message.
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A backyard warrior, certified carnivore, lover of good whiskey, self-proclaimed grill master and I’m Living The Grilling Life!
I have a passion for cooking with live fire and smoke, no matter the weather. I’m a real person just like you, who loves outdoor cooking and BBQ. Food, fun, and time spent with family and friends are what it’s all about! It is my mission to take my passion and knowledge for outdoor cooking and all things BBQ and share this expertise in techniques and grilling equipment with you. In other words, Living The Grilling Life!
I live in Texas, so what is nice is that I never have to worry about snow….thank goodness. I did live in Alaska for 22 years, and your suggestions are spot on. Always have the grill close to the door with plenty of fuel on hand 🙂
Hi. I am glad you enjoyed it. If there is anything else you have questions about, please let me know and I will work them into future articles. Happy Grilling
Those are great tips for grilling in winter. I especially like the idea of lining the grill with foil. When I lived in the Midwest, no one I knew ever grilled in winter. But now I am hearing about it a lot. If you can move the grill closer to the house and it’s not a snowstorm–why not?
Hi Sandra. Exactly. Why not. I am glad you found them useful. If there is anything else you have questions about, please let me know and I will work them into future articles. Check back soon for more useful grilling information. Happy Grilling
This is awesome. I think if I could, I would grill every single day of my life. I’ve never tried grilling in the winter, but perhaps I will give it a shot. I never gets especially cold here in the South during the winter, so it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch. Look forward to seeing some pictures of snow grilling at its finest! Take care.
I feel the same way. It is always a good time for barbecue =). If there is anything else you have questions about, please let me know and I will work them into future articles. Check back soon for more useful grilling information. Happy Grilling
Yessss! I’ve always loved the idea grilling in the winter, but never really took the plunge into just going out there and doing it. You gave some pretty great tips so maybe this year’s the year I take that dive. I mean…who doesn’t love grilled meat ALL the time!? ^__^
Hi Daniel and thank you. Let me know if you ever need any pointers or suggestions. I would be happy to help. If there is anything else you have questions about, please let me know and I will work them into future articles. Check back soon for more useful grilling information. Happy Grilling
So many helpful ideas because I’m usually not Grilling in Winter because of the cold as you guess 🙂
The cold in my hands is killing me so I’m trying not to grill at all.
I didn’t know that there is a glove for grilling.
Can you please suggest me on one?
Yes, I have been there too where my hands are numb and hurting. Thankfully grilling and heat resistance gloves have come a long way recently and there many good choices out there. I personally like the Revolutionary 932°F Extreme Heat Resistant EN407 Certified Gloves. You can find them here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RUBZNDQ?ref_=ams_ad_dp_asin_img There are many other quality and even cheaper options out there that work well. I hope this helps. Let me know if I could help out with any other questions or tips in the future.
I love to grill in the winter time, heck all year round, but I find the cold really gets my appetite going. My Wife thinks I’m a little bit crazy and maybe that’s as little bit true. I loved your phrase, “Extreme Grillers” and I thank you for the tips you have provided on your website.
Kind regards, Jeff.
Ahhh, another proud member of the “Extreme Grillers” club! Welcome! We are glad to have you. If it’s crazy to be able to enjoy some smokey grilled BBQ flavor year round, then I am right there with you. I am glad you found this article helpful Jeff. Don’t forget to check back in from time to time as I am always on the lookout for helpful tips or stories I can share. Happy Grilling!
This article makes me feel silly for worrying about the temps in the low 40s at night here in SoCal! Haha! I would have never thought so much would need to go into grilling in extreme temperatures – great article!
Hi Liz and thanks for stopping by. I grew up in SoCal and am now in NoCal. So even though we don’t get the extreme weather like some, we still get the cold, rain and wind. I have also camped and BBQ’d in the snow and rain many times so I know these techniques can help. I hope this has inspired you to join the “Extreme Griller” ranks. I know you got it in you. 🙂 Thanks again for the support. It really is appreciated.
All the best,