Expert Tips for Grilling in Winter

Cooking How-To, Dinner, How-To, Winter
on January 20, 2017
Latin Marinade
Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn

Who says grilling is just for the summer months? Brush up on these simple tips from the experts at Longhorn Steakhouse, so you can play grill master all year long.

Prep and clean your grill.

Prepping for winter grilling actually starts in the summer. If you are storing your grill for the majority of the season, be sure to clean it thoroughly before doing so, and put a grill cover over it to protect it. And as always, be sure your grill is clean before you fire it up.

Prepare rubs and sauces in advance.

Prepare rubs and sauces ahead of time in large batches. This not only saves time when you decide to cook, but it can also help limit the time you spend outside. Marinate large pieces of meat the night before, and allow for
enough cooking time.

Allow more time for the grill to pre-heat.

Pre-heating your gas grill can take up to twice as long in below-freezing temperatures. Cooking on any grill, no matter the type, may also take longer, so use a meat thermometer to ensure meats and fish are safe to eat. You can find meat thermometers at the grocery store for $10-$15.

Dress the part.

Your grill may be warm, but bundle up, and remember to avoid any scarfs, tassels or other clothing items that could come in contact with the grill during use. Wear thin gloves that allow proper movement of your hands.

Safety first!

Clear a path and remove all snow before you ignite the grill. Make sure you 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. Even in freezing temperatures, fight the urge to bring the grill inside your garage or under an overhang.

No matter the weather—snow, rain, sleet, wind—never grill inside your garage or under an overhang. Be sure your grill is at least five feet away from all combustible materials and in a well-ventilated area.

Always have extra charcoal and propane on-hand.

Charcoal lovers should always be prepared with extra briquettes in cold weather. Grilling time may need to be extended to reach the right temperature, so add briquettes when necessary. Gas grillers have it a little easier, but remember to position the grill at a 90 degree angle to the wind. This will help control the temperature inside the grill even throughout gusty times.

Use a meat thermometer.

Keeping your grill closed as much as possible is especially important in the winter because too much opening and closing will continue to reduce the temperature inside. Having a good meat thermometer can save you from having to repeatedly open the grill to check the temperature and is especially useful when grilling or smoking large pieces of meat.

Place your grill near a light source, or use a grill light for hands-free lighting

Winter grilling can be challenging as it gets dark earlier in the day. Having a light outside is ideal, or you may consider using a quality grill light. Often times grill lights can be found at your local hardware or home improvement store; they provide a great source of hands-free lighting.

This article was republished with permission. It originally appeared as Tips for Grilling in Winter at Honest Cooking.