It’s the middle of winter and you’re craving some BBQ ribs and your favourite: grilled corn on the cob. You can almost taste the smoky meat and sweet corn. You may think that you’ll just have to deal with your cravings. That it’s just too cold and snowy outside.
Well, no fear. With a little planning and multiple layers of clothing, you can use your grill straight through the winter!
You see, I for one live in a snow, cold, gloomy and dark corner of the Midwest. And all Midwesterner like to take advantage of a break in the storms to head outside. No joke, you’ll see people eating outside in the winter if the sun is out. So, it makes sense that we grill in the cold weather.
Take it from me – Don’t let the cold weather prevent you from grilling those ribs and dusting off your famous grilled corn recipe. So, what if 3 inches of snow just dropped on your town; go ahead and grill up those burgers. And, don’t let the fact that sun goes down at 4 p.m. stop you from grilling those Italian sausages you’ve had a hankering for.
Why not check out all of the tips below to successfully and safely grill in the wintertime. Go ahead and bring a bit of summertime to your winter dinner table! There’s nothing like freshly grilled corn on the cob or a hot dog with grill marks on it to brighten up a gloomy, Gray day.
Because so many people grill in the winter, I thought that it’s the perfect subject to talk about.
I’ve done some research and compiled lists of tips for successful winter grilling. I’ve also got some do’s and don’ts and some safety rules that you’ll really want to stick to.
Because, it will take a bit more thinking in order to stay safe when you are grilling in the winter. But, once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t jumped into winter grilling sooner!
Seriously, if the weather is calm enough to be outside, then it’s probably just right for a BBQ!
First things first
Check to make sure your patio or deck is free of ice and snow. You don’t want to slip and fall while grilling dinner.
Think about picking up a pair of those removable cleats that you can attach to the bottom of your boots. They’re practically required here in the Upper Midwest so you don’t fall flat on your face when it snows.
Or, if you have a concrete patio like I do, you can throw down some pet-safe ice melter so there won’t be any risk of you slipping when you’re going in and out of the house.
Cold weather grilling supplies
You’ll need your warmest clothes…don’t forget about your long johns! And pick up pair of finger less gloves – they’re great for keeping your hands warm while holding your grilling utensils. But, remember, a regular everyday pair of gloves is NOT heat-resistant.
There are gloves especially made for grilling. And, they’ll also keep your hands covered in the cold weather.
And, don’t forget about a hat! Keeping your head and ears warm is half the battle when you’re dressing for cold weather. You may have to wrap yourself up in layers upon layers of clothes, but it will all be worth it when that first juicy burgers comes off the grill!
Lions and tigers and bears
Oh, and there’s another thing you need to do before you start up your grill in cold weather: Open the grill and check for wild animals. You see, in the bad weather, animals look for shelter and where’s a better place to wait out a storm than a covered grill. If you do find a family of squirrels, chipmunks or even opossum hunkered down in your grill, leave their eviction to your local animal control.
Finding the perfect spot
But even though it may be cold outside, it is not advisable to use your grill in the garage or under an overhang. You need to make sure there is ample air flow, so you’ll have to grill out in the open.
And try to set up your grill so the wind isn’t to your back. You don’t want the wind blowing into the grill and cooling it down every time you open the lid.
Conserve that heat
When you’re finally ready to light up the grill and start cooking, keep the lid closed as much as possible. You’ll want to avoid heat escaping as your food will take much longer to cook.
And, as it may take longer to cook your food because of heat escaping, you may want to invest in a good meat thermometer. You don’t want to take any chances in having under cooked meat.
Is it ok to leave the gas grill outside in the winter?
It’s totally fine to leave your gas grill out all winter. Just make sure you keep the lid shut so snow doesn’t get inside. Even better – get a cover for your grill.
It can get very windy where I live. So, I keep my grill pushed up against the house so there is no chance that the wind could blow it over. And, when I want to grill, I just move the grill out into the open, safely away from the house.
Is it dangerous to grill in cold weather?
No, it’s not dangerous to grill in the winter. Plenty of people grill all year round, it all types of weather. But you’ll need to organize and plan to make sure everything is just right.
- You have to make sure you have a well-ventilated area on your patio or deck that is free of ice and snow
- You’ll have to make sure wild animals haven’t turned your grill into their winter den
- You have to have the proper cold weather gear
- You may have to add on cooking time as the grill will take longer to heat and could lose heat every time you open the lid
- You’ll need a light source so that you can operate the grill safely. Remember, it gets dark really early in the winter. Why not invest in a headlamp to keep your hands free. You’ll want to make sure your food is cooked properly, so you’ll need to be able to see everything clearly
- You’ll need a warmed plate to take the cooked food from the grill into the house
Does cold weather affect the propane grill?
Yes, you’ll find you use more propane in the winter months. Also, it will take longer to heat up the grill, so count on waiting up to 40 minutes before your grill is hot enough to cook properly.
And, every time you open the lid, the grill could lose heat. So, plan to season your food before it goes on the grill or after you bring it in the house. And resist the urge to peek inside to see how things are cooking.
Do propane tanks freeze in the winter?
Propane tanks generally do not freeze in the winter. There are really only a couple of situations where your tank could freeze. If the temperatures reach -44degF in your neck of the woods, your tank could freeze. Try wrapping your propane tank in an insulated blanket if you’re worried.
Also, there is a chance your propane tank could freeze if its pressure decreases. So, try to remember to keep the tank full at all times.
Otherwise, it’s pretty rare for a propane tank to freeze up. Oh, and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you to never ever try to warm up your propane tank with an open flame! Please, remember to stay smart and stay safe!
Should a grill be covered?
Yes, I am firm believer that, whether you are a summer griller, or you grill all four seasons, you should cover your grill whenever it’s not in use. For one thing, you’ll keep it clean; who wants to see bird poop on top of their grill? It’ll last longer if you keep it away from the elements. And you’ll keep snow from accumulating on it.
The weather outside is frightful
The winter here in the Upper Midwest is long. It feels like it will be years until the daffodils start blooming. But I am not going to let the weather force me inside for months on end, and I don’t want you too, either.
I’m already looking for new recipes that I can try out on my grill this winter. And I’m specifically looking for recipes that call for marinating the meat before it goes on the grill, instead of recipes that call for seasoning the meat throughout the cooking process. I’m going to want to keep that grill lid closed as much as possible.
I’m also looking for a good meat thermometer and a new headlamp so I can stay safe and not worry about undercooked food.
And, I’m going to make sure I make sure my propane tank is full before the full brunt of the winter. I don’t want to run out of gas in the middle of cooking!
So, take it from me, you live in an area that has a long and brutal winter, you can still grill to your heart’s content. You probably have all of the cold weather clothing you’d need to cook your food outside. And I’m guessing you also have a good snow shovel or snowblower to remove the snow from your deck or patio.
What are you waiting for? Start mixing up your favorite marinade. Grocery stores have corn on the cob all year round now, so pick up a few ears. And why not splurge and get some shrimp you can cook on the “barbie.”
Have fun, stay safe, and don’t stop grilling!