Don’t let cold weather deter your tastebuds. Just because the temperature has taken a plunge doesn’t mean you can’t still fire up your home grill and enjoy the amazing tastes it has to offer. Diehard grill masters know that the cold weather is only an obstacle, but one that can be overcome. So follow these simple steps to combat the weather and squeeze all the goodness from your grill year-round.
1. Cover Your Grill
Keep your grill covered when not in use – especially in the winter – to protect it from the elements. It doesn’t matter how nice or expensive that grill you got over the summer is. If you think it’s impermeable to rust or damage, think again. Extended exposure to the elements will damage your grill, so get a weatherproof grill cover and make sure your grill stays in excellent condition for years, not just a few seasons.
2. Reposition the Grill
Consider re-positioning your cooking area in the winter to minimize the number of steps you have to take to get from your house to your grill. Identify the direction that the wind blows most often and try to find a spot that offers the best protection from the blusters of winter. Cooking close to a structure or house is your best choice to help block those cold gusts. Just be sure to avoid overhangs, porches and anything that could present a fire hazard. NEVER cook in an enclosed area.
3. Don’t Run Out of Fuel
Propane and gas act differently in cold weather. Grilling time may need to be extended, or the grill may need a little extra fuel to reach the right temperature. Be sure to add charcoal briquettes when necessary or have an extra propane tank on hand. One trick is to position the grill perpendicular to the wind. This will help control the temperature inside the grill even throughout gusty cooking hours.
4. Create a Grill Path
Clear a path to your grill and remove all snow and ice before ignition—the weather alone will lower the temperatures inside the grill, so any additional snow will just add to this problem. Also, make sure there is ample room around the grill for you to move freely and give your grill enough time to pre-heat.
5. Ceramic Cookware
Use ceramic cookware for heat retention. Ceramic cookware will help to insulate your food and keep it at temperature. This is handy for transporting food to your grill or back inside after you’ve created your grilled delights.
6. Cast Iron Pan
Heat up a cast iron pan to temporarily hold your cooked food while you finish the rest of the cooking. Jut a caveat to keep in mind if you do this, food will continue to cook in case iron so take it off the grill a little sooner than you would normally.
7. Let Your Grill “Wake-Up”
As is the case with all proper grilling, make sure to warm up the grill in advance. Give it a little more time to get up to temperature and combat the cold. Every grill is different but you’ll need at least 5 additional minutes. Remember, every part of your grill is cold and critical parts could be frozen solid. Also, you may want to start warming the grill slower than you would in the summer, bringing the grill up to temperature over a longer period of time than usual.
8. Adjust Cooking Time
Adjust your cooking time accordingly. Some foods will take slightly longer to grill but other foods like roasts, ribs, chicken and turkey may require substantially more time than expected. A good rule of thumb is to add 20 minutes cooking time per pound for every 5 degrees BELOW 45 degrees F.
9. Preserve Your Heat
Make sure to leave the lid down on the grill with the vents open. Every time you open the grill you will lose heat in the cooking chamber. Grilling when the temperature is below zero will lead to longer cooking times and the more you open the lid, the longer your food will take to cook.
10. Choose Quick Cooking Cuts
You can minimize the amount of time you spend in the cold but selecting food with a shorter cooking time. Thinner or smaller cuts of meat cook quickly over high heat. Thin steaks, pork loins, chicken breasts and kabobs grill to perfection in a few minutes, reducing your exposure and the number of visits you need to make to your BBQ. Sticking to recipes you’re already familiar with is another way to reduce the amount of time outside.
11. Bundle Up
Winter BBQ is about more than your grilling gear. Plan ahead and ensure that you’re prepared with suitable clothing and footwear. Keep some slip-on shoes near the door along with a comfy coat and hat. Regular mittens or gloves can be difficult to grill in so consider fingerless versions so that you can maintain dexterity and a “hands on” connection with your food. We recommend using heat-resistant gloves if you have them. Avoid scarfs, tassels, or other clothing items that could come in contact with the grill during use!