When it comes to the cold weather, I much prefer to stay indoors or head south to some remote beach where I can baste in the sun and fire up my grills in the warmth rather than the cold. But the reality is I am a canuck and living in the cold is a way of life in the great white north. So outdoors we must go to fire up my grills and smokers and cook up something yummy.

I may not like the cold, but it is not going to keep me from my passion of eating and grilling. So here are a few tips to help you weather the cold. 

  • Now the first and most important rule when it comes to winter grilling is: never ever bring your grill or smoker indoors to cook. Not in your house or even your garage. To put it simply…YOU WILL DIE. Gas and charcoal grills produce carbon monoxide and breathing that in will kill you. So don’t bring them indoors please!

  • As the summer and fall come to an end and the cold winter days set in you will want to make sure you clean you grill really well. A clean grill is a hotter grill and in the winter you need all the heat you can get.

  • Keep your grill out of the direct wind. Tuck it in a corner. The less wind the more heat you will have.

  • Bundle yourself up in your warmest clothes. Now don’t over do it, since you still want to be able to move around. I wear long johns and a thick pair of jeans, add a few layers of fleece and a wind breaker, a warm toque or balaclava (if it’s really cold), ski goggles for during those days when there is a blizzard and mitts (the type where you can expose your fingers). Don’t forget; warm boots.  I also fire up my patio heater to get a little warmer. Those hand and food warming pads work too.  But the reality is bundle up and get out there.

  • I am lucky my grilling zone is off my garage and I keep a few heaters going inside to keep me warm. But don’t get lazy staying in the garage can be a little risky, especially if you have a beer fridge inside and you might just burn or overcook your foods. So stay alert and keep the warming sessions to a few minutes at a time.

  • Now that you’re all bundled up, head outside.  Keep a path shoveled to the grill or smoker.  The last thing you need is to take a spill on your way to the grill.  Brush off any snow from your grill or smoker.  Remove the grill cover.  (You better have a cover since it will keep your grill lasting longer.)

  • Now when it comes to fueling your grill in the winter time there are a few things to remember.  Charcoal is pretty easy.  Once it gets hot you just have to monitor it and add more fuel as necessary.  It also keeps ya warm.  But remember in the winter you will use two to three times more charcoal than you will in warmer weather so make sure you stock up. Natural gas is the easiest to use.  It gives you a constant fuel source that gives you an even flow.  You may use more fuel in the winter vs. the summer but with natural gas you have a constant supply

  • Then there’s Propane.  Well it’s the hardest to work with when you’re winter grilling.  The colder it gets, the less propane flows.  As well, as the tank empties, the less it flows.  So I recommend keeping your propane tanks full.  Have more than one tank on hand and I sometimes even wrap the tank with a blanket.  Do not store your tanks in the garage either this is dangerous. Keep them outdoors!

  • Now that you have the grill fired up, keep that lid closed.  Most of your grilling should be done with the lid closed.  It keeps the heat in.  Every time you open that lid, you lose valuable heat.

  • Next fire up your grill. You will want to give yourself a little extra time to get the grill hot. I usually allow for 15 to 20 minutes to get the grill to high, hot enough to sear a steak at about 650+ degrees.

  • Before you fire up your grill get as much of your mise en place (prep) done indoors. Marinate the meats, prepare the side dishes and salads. Get all the other stuff done first indoors and then fire up the grill. After the grill is hot bring out what you will be grilling.

  • Now get cooking.  Do easy stuff in the winter.  Burgers, steaks, and chops are good choices.  You want stuff that doesn’t take too long to cook.  But the rotisserie works great too spinning slowly with the lid closed.

  • Always have a hot beverage with ya when winter grilling.  It’ll keep ya warm from the inside out. I like a hot cider with a shot or two of bourbon. It makes me very happy.

So don’t put that grill away at the end of summer fire it up all year long and become a winter gastro grilling expert.

Want more great grilling tips? Head on over to Think Beef for my videos on reverse sear and indirect heat grilling.

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