Grilling has long been considered a summertime activity, but you can actually grill just about anytime during the year -- even in the winter. Grilled food is often healthier than food prepared with other cooking methods, which can be a refreshing change from heavy holiday meals. Here are 7 tips for grilling in the winter.
1. Shield Your Grill from the Wind If Possible
If you can move your grill, shield it as best you can from the wind. For example, if you typically keep your grill in your backyard, consider moving it under your carport if you have one. Wheels on movable grills don't necessarily make them portable, however, it does make it so you can put your grill in a different place during inclement weather.
2. Build a Structure to Protect Your Outdoor Grill & Yourself
If you don't have a structure like a carport to put your outdoor grill during the winter, consider purchasing or building one. A gazebo, a simple awning, or a full or partial structure can work well. Patio grills can be protected from rain and snow with an overhead cover, and a partial wall or two can protect your grill from harsh winter winds. These can also help make it more comfortable outdoors for you when you grill!
3. Be Mindful of Longer Cook Times in Colder Temperatures
Even with your grill under a structure, the cold temperatures will affect your cooking times. For example, your grill may not preheat as quickly as it does during the summer and it may take longer to cook a meat to the proper temperature. Use your lid as much as possible to keep the heat inside the grill, and be particularly careful about checking the internal temperature or "doneness" of meats, especially chicken. An internal meat thermometer is a must-have for winter grilling. Gas grills with shut off timers should be adjusted to compensate for longer cook times during the winter.
4. Be Mindful of Using More Fuel During Winter Grilling
Because the cook times during winter are longer than summer, you're going to use more fuel than you normally do to grill your food. Stock an extra fuel tank or two during the winter for your outdoor gas grill so you don't accidentally run out of fuel while you're cooking.
5. Use Ceramic Grill Briquettes to Use Your Heat More Efficiently
Ceramic grill briquettes, often called "moon rocks", can help you use the heat you have more efficiently. They hold onto heat well, even in colder temperatures, and help to stabilize the temperature of your grill. If you're struggling to keep your grill hot enough to cook food in the winter, ceramic grill briquettes may resolve the issue.
6. Clean Your Grill Thoroughly
After using your grill all summer, give it a thorough cleaning before the coldest weather hits. Follow your user manual and get the right cleaning solutions and tools for the job. Set aside a day on the weekend to go over your grill in detail so you can start grilling this winter with a clean, ready-to-go grill. You can do the same at the end of the winter season to get ready for spring and summer grilling.
7. Use a Grill Cover
If you don't already have an outdoor grill cover, it's time to get one stat. You need a grill cover to protect your grill from the elements all the time, but this is especially true during the winter season. LP grills, or liquid propane grills, should always have a cover, even if you have the grill stored underneath a structure or have built one around it.
Grilling during the winter can help you cook healthier, more delicious food than other types of cooking. While ovens, crock pots, and even frying pans become a winter staple for most, these tips can help you fire up your grill and enjoy tasty grilled food any time of the year.