Can you really BBQ in winter? Of course! Winter grilling is fun and perfectly safe as long as you follow some simple precautions.
Here in the northeastern United States, winters can be pretty rough. Many people close up their grills for the winter and don’t open them until the weather warms up in spring.
I’m not like most people. I actually enjoy winter grilling!
Okay, I’m not saying I’ll stand at the grill in the middle of a blizzard. But once the snow stops you can bet clearing a path to the grill is high on my list of priorities.
Top Tips For Winter Grilling
Whether you’re slowly smoking baby back ribs or quickly grilling frozen burger patties, here are some practical tips for grilling in the snow and cold.
Summer grilling is all about shorts and flip flops, but grilling in winter calls for a much different wardrobe.
Pull out your winter coat, gloves, and a warm hat. And be sure to wear appropriate footwear. Winter boats and thick socks will keep you warm and slip free.
No Slip Zone
Take extra care when clearing a path from your house to the grill and be sure there’s no ice or tripping hazards in your way before you start cooking.
Stepping on a patch of ice could send you and your food to the ground. At best, you’ll be picking chicken breast out of the snow. Or worse, you could break an ankle and be down for the count.
I already told you to dress for the cold and bundle up to stay warm. But avoid loose clothing like scarves or long coats that can ignite if they get too close to the open flames.
Invest in a good pair of BBQ gloves. Regular gloves and mittens are warm but they aren’t safe to use when grilling. Wear heatproof gloves to keep your hands both warm and safe.
Watch Out For Critters
When the weather gets cold, small animals like squirrels and chipmunks seek shelter from the cold wherever they can, and your barbecue may be the perfect place for them to hide.
Before you light up the grill, make sure you check inside and under the grates to be certain there are no animals of nests inside.
Moving Right Along
If possible, you may want to move your grill closer to your house in winter. There will be less work involved in clearing a path through snow, and you’ll have a shorter walk as you bring things back and forth.
Just don’t get too close to your house. You still want to keep a safe distance of about 10 feet to avoid a potential fire. And don’t even think about grilling in the garage.
Let There Be Light
The sun goes down earlier in the winter, so make sure you have ample lighting so you can see what you’re cooking and also avoid any tripping hazards in the dark.
Overhead lighting works best. I have string lights like these hanging right over my grill and they work well. You can also use a grill light or even a headlamp to brighten up the grill area.
Check Your Fuel Levels
There’s nothing worse than running out of fuel in the middle of a grilling session. You should always keep extra fuel on hand for these minor emergencies. Just pick up an extra tank of propane or bags of either charcoal or wood pellets and you can’t go wrong.
Monitoring the fuel level is especially important when winter grilling. The cold temperatures outside will make your grill work that much harder to keep a steady cooking temperature inside.
In other words, it will take longer for your grill to get up to temperature and you’ll go through gas or charcoal much faster than usual.
Keep A Lid On It
Even under normal circumstances, you generally want to grill with the lid closed. Yes, you’ll need to open it to flip your meat or check the internal temperature, but every time you lift the lid heat escapes and you add more cooking time.
This is especially true when grilling in winter as the air temperature is so much colder.
What’s The Temp?
Speaking of temperatures, consider using a good probe thermometer with a remote readout that can monitor your meat’s temperature while you stay cozy and warm inside.
Some barbecue thermometers even connect directly to your smartphone.
Don’t Be A Hero
I lover winter grilling as much as the next guy but even I have my limits. There’s no reason to risk your life just for the sake of dinner.
A good dose of common sense is important.
Want to barbecue in snow flurries? Go for it.
Dangerously cold temperatures, high winds, or heavy snows in the forecast. Stay inside where it’s safe and warm.