3 Grilling Tips for Cold Winter Days

Winter in the south is best explained as all four seasons appearing within a 7-day timespan every week for three months. While you may enjoy some “winter” days in short sleeves, there are the rare days in multiple layers, which can impact your outdoor plans. Never fear! The few true days of winter won’t stop your plans to enjoy your growing fondness for the outdoors, or at least a shared meal on the grill. Follow these 3 tips for grilling on cold winter days. 

Keep Grilling Simple 

Southeast Dairy Association - Grilled Chicken Cheddar Casserole with Mushrooms

Use recipes that call for minimal work, letting you spend more time indoors on cold days. An easy way to do this is to grill foods that complement the winter foods keeping you warm. First, choose foods with short cooking times to minimize the amount of time you spend in the cold, like thinner or smaller cuts of meat such as thin steaks, pork loins, chicken breasts, and kabob-style dishes. Then, add them to your favorite recipes! If you want to serve a winter favorite like chili, add some grilled chicken or meat. Grill some veggies as a side or, for those who believe in a weekend of grilling, get creative with what meats you smoke that you can add into or with a side of warm soup. Oh, and don’t forget to make s’mores while you’re at it!

Stay Safe and Warm 

Darkness and cold, stiff joints do not go well together, especially when the excitement of getting inside is near! Remove extension cords and other possible tripping hazards, add lighting by your grill and, most importantly, stay warm! To keep the feeling in your hands, use fingerless gloves for a better grip while cooking, or protect your hands and wrists against burns with specially insulated gloves for baking and grilling. If you wear a scarf or long coat, make sure to keep the fabric tucked in and away from the grill. 

And don’t forget about your food! With the warm indoors calling to you, make sure to use a thermometer while grilling so all your food is safe to eat. To keep your food warm with fewer trips to the kitchen, use ceramic cookware with high walls to insulate your food once it’s finished. 

Take More Time 

Nothing likes the colder temperatures, including your grill. Food takes longer to cook in the winter, and grills can take more time to warm up. Make sure to warm up the grill in advance, giving it a little more time to get up to temperature and combat the cold than in the summer. (Hey, it gives your meat more time to marinate, right?) Additionally, the grill will have to work a little harder to maintain heat in winter weather, so have extra fuel at the ready. And as much as you want to check on your meal, keep the lid closed. You’ll cut down on additional heat loss. 

Wind can force your grill to work harder to keep a consistent temperature. Identify the direction that the wind blows most often and try to place your grill in an area that is shielded. Cooking close to a structure or house is your best choice to help block those cold gusts, but make sure to avoid fire hazards like cloth overhangs and wooden decks. On the days when the wind is sharp and cold, it’s tempting to lapse on safety for comfort and cook as close to the indoor heat as possible, but fight the urge! Keep your house protected so, at the least, you have somewhere to enjoy the non-burnt meal you’ve created. 

Happy grilling, no matter the temperature!