Everyone seems to love a barbecue grill in the summer. If you’re willing to be a little bit brave, creative, and clever, then keep reading, and enjoy our tips on how to BBQ grill in the winter…
When the weather is nice and warm, the sun is shining, and there’s plenty of hours of daylight, it seems like everyone in the neighborhood wants to get out the grill and enjoy a good cookout.
And while for some people, a few barbecue cookouts in the summer months are sufficient: what if you want more? Just because the nights are pulling in and the air is getting a bit chillier, does that mean you should have to put your grill away and let it accumulate dust while you wait for half a year until the summer starts to kick in once again? Absolutely not!
Winter BBQ Tip No. 1 – Allow More Time For Things To Heat Up
This goes without saying. If the air is freezing cold then make sure you start proceedings a few minutes earlier than what you would do in summer.
Obviously, it depends on just how cold it is and what kind of barbecue unit you have, although it’s recommended that you get the fire going at least five-to-ten minutes earlier than what you would do if it was summer. Remember that your entire grill will be cold and some parts of it may even be frozen solid.
Another hot tip is to start heating gradually rather than cranking up the heat to the max. This will allow those parts of the grill to gradually thaw out and then get hot and will lead to reduced sticking.
And, of course, once you do have the meat on the grill, it will take your meat a little bit longer to cook all the way through, so be prepared to add a few minutes on, depending on how cold it is and what you’re cooking.
Winter Tip No.2 – Shed Some Light On Things
Winter doesn’t only bring much colder weather (unless you happen to live in the Bahamas), but also the days get a lot shorter (especially if you live up in Alaska). Therefore, unless you’re planning on doing a midday grilling session in time for lunch, it’s best to get yourself some lighting in your barbecue area.
Either install a couple of lamps, or consider getting yourself some LED BBQ lights that can attach to the handle of your barbecue. Whatever lighting solution you go for, just make sure that it lights up the food on the grill from above. The last thing you want is for something to be blocking the direct light, which will lead to a very inconvenient shadow being cast across the grilling area.
Good lighting is not only important to be able to see what you’re doing, but you also want to actually see when your meat is cooked sufficiently. The last thing you want is to have to step back out in the cold with a starving belly in order to finish cooking your food all the way through. That’s why it’s essential that you make sure you get lit up.
Winter Tip No.3 – Make Things Easy On Yourself
It’s highly recommended to be closer to your house, for two reasons. First of all, you want to assess what direction the wind is blowing, before you begin grilling. Try and find a spot that is well sheltered from the cold winds. Usually this is against your house. The other thing you want to ensure is that you’re nice and close to your door to minimize the amount of steps you have to take.
Maybe during summer you have a nice area where you place your grill that’s sufficiently away from your house so you don’t get smoke creeping in the open window. Maybe it’s a picturesque part of your yard where you enjoy hanging out and sipping a beer with friends while you casually let the grilling process take its course. Remember, that things are a little different in winter.
During winter grilling sessions, things have to be done a little more efficiently so try to get away from the casual summer attitude and pick a spot which is highly practical.
While you want to shield yourself from the elements, ensure you’re well away from any hazardous items that are hanging from above. Also, never grill in an enclosed area.
If you have snow, then make sure you get out there and shovel a clear path between your grill and house door. Also, be aware of ice. Using non-slip footwear, using some salt and grit to melt ice, or placing a matt on top of icy areas. After all, you wouldn’t want to slip when you’re carrying that precious freshly cooked meat you’ve just worked so hard to cook up.
Winter Tip No.4 – Get Warm (And Stay Warm)
Before you even think about getting outdoors to cook, you need to select some appropriate clothing. Get some thick clothing, a scarf, hat, and grilling gloves that ensure your hands stay warm while you’re putting them to work over the grill.
The warm summer days of flipping burgers in your shorts, moccasins and favorite Hawaiian shirt will seem like an event from the distant past once you’re out there grilling away in the cold harsh winter weather.
It’s obviously better to use heat resistant gloves than woolly mitts for obvious health and safety reasons. Good footwear is particularly important to keep your feet warm and stop you from slipping on any patches of ice that may be lying in wait.
Also, get some slip-ons if you’re going to be constantly coming in and out of the house. While the fire of your grill may give you a little bit of heat, it’s always best that you don’t rely on this. So wrap up warm.
Winter Tip No.5 – Expect To Burn More Fuel
Make sure that you have a back-up tank if you are using propane or gas and that you’re extra prudent when it comes to considering how much fuel you’re going to require.
Remember that propane, gas, and charcoal behave a little bit differently during the cold months of winter. Did you know that a winter cookout may require around 1.5 times the amount of fuel that you would have needed if it were still summer?
Winter Tip No.6 – Thin Cuts For Colder Days
It makes sense to choose thinner cuts of meat as opposed to the chunkier ones. Things like burgers and pork chops are ideal.
Remember, if the weather is really harsh and the day is particularly cold then outdoor cooking is all about being as efficient as possible. Gone are those glorious sunny days when you can afford to loaf around, while enjoying one or two brews while letting the grilling unfold over the course of a couple of hours.
Now you want to get straight to the point and simplify everything as much as possible: getting everything prepared, generating sufficient heat, and getting the raw meat onto the grill before taking the cooked meat off the grill and into the house.
If you’re thinking of grilling chicken breasts then consider butterflying beforehand. If you want to eat sausages then consider going for chipolatas. Spare ribs will obviously be done before a chunky rack of ribs and a thick cut of steak should be fine if you like it bloody and pink on the inside.
Winter Tip No.7 – Don’t Let The Warmth Escape – Retain The Heat
Given the cold outside temperature, your grill is going to lose significantly more heat than it would during the summer. Therefore, it helps to use a couple of methods to try and counteract this. When you’ve already placed all your meat onto the grill, consider putting the lid down. If you have a barbecue unit with additional vents and you have the option of closing, then keep them closed.
Try and resist the temptation to keep opening the grill to have a look. You should have a pretty good idea of how long things take to cook. Only open when you think you need to flip the meat or take it off. When you do open the lid, make sure you have a thorough look, do what you need to do and then get it closed again.
Remember that winter barbecuing is all about being organized and efficient.
And, it’s not just on the grill when you want to be trying everything you can to retain heat. When your food is finally cooked and you’re ready to take it into the house, ceramic cookware may be the ideal way to keep your food insulated and keep it at a nice warm temperature.
Having a hot, cast iron pan to place cooked meat in is another way to keep the heat while you’re waiting for the rest of your meat to finish cooking.
Winter Tip No.8 – Just Because It’s Cold Don’t Skip On The Cleaning
Ideally, you want to give your grill a good cleaning after each and every time you use it. One way to make things easier is to take the gratings indoors, or even into a shed or garage in order to clean that part.
If it’s especially cold then you may just want to get indoors and curl up in front of the fireplace after being outdoors for an hour cooking up your dinner on the grill. However, we would definitely recommend that you don’t get too complacent when it comes to cleaning up your barbecue after using it.
Also, if you’re keeping your barbecue outside, make sure you have a strong and weather resistant cover that keeps it completely covered and sheltered from the elements. Periodically take the cover off on dry days and check for signs of rust.
Winter Tip No.9 – Always Check The Weather Forecast And Have A Plan B Up Your Sleeve
Before you set out to put your plan in action and get grilling on a chilly winter’s day, we would always recommend that you check the weather forecast. And, while the forecast may be telling you that tomorrow’s skies are going to be blue and clear, you should never rule out the possibility that things may change overnight.
If you are buying meat and organizing a get-together that involves you firing up the grill on a winter’s day, it’s definitely wise to have a plan B.
If you’re planning on doing burgers, ensure you can switch it up and cook them in the kitchen, or maybe you have to grill them in the morning and merely heat them up later on because the weather forecast is now telling you that the day will start off nice and clear before rain clouds develop later on.
So, make sure you have some alternative plan of action, just in case the weather is going to screw you over.
Maybe you’re having second doubts about whether or not to grill in the winter? Maybe you take a look outside and feel cold just by the sight of things. However, before you decide to throw in the towel and switch the kitchen oven on, just remember this… The harder you have to work for something, the more satisfying it is when you get it.
Anyone can barbecue in the summer. However, it’s only going to be the most determined, hard-core folk doing it in the winter.
Barbecuing in winter is an amazing experience. In a way, it’s like an extreme sport. So, if you’re unsure of whether to be brave and step outside, then just imagine how satisfying that first bite is going to be. Not only do you get to eat some delicious grilled meat, but you get to enjoy a taste of satisfaction that you’ll never get by staying in the kitchen.
So, please stay safe, always use common sense, follow our top tips above, and then get outside and start enjoying winter barbecues!