Winter Grilling Tips

winter grillingby J. A. Young

If it’s blustery outside and blizzards are in the forecast, sure you can order pizza. But if it’s just cold, clear, and relatively windless, you can still enjoy cooking on your grill. In fact, a recent survey of more than 1,000 people across the U.S. showed that half of them grill year round. With a few tips and some minor preparations, you don’t have to sacrifice that luscious char on your steak—now go bundle up; you’re getting hungry!

Clear the Way & Cover Up

A snow-covered, icy path is not your friend when you’re carrying a platter of chicken wings to and from the grill. Be sure your path is snow and ice free before grilling even if it’s just a few feet from your door to the grill. Icy stairs, decks and pavement can be treacherous even without a heaping pile of burgers to tote. Keep your path salted and clear so you’ll always be ready to cook outdoors.

Dress for the weather; you’ll do a better job grilling if you aren’t freezing. I know you’ve seen that guy in his t-shirt standing out there with his cigarette pretending to feel no cold, but a jacket, hat and gloves are going to keep you more comfortable, which will ultimately enhance your cooking results. Don’t wear items that dangle like scarves—you don’t want to cook any clothing.

It’s Going to Take Longer

No matter what kind of grill you own, it’s going to take longer to heat up in winter. If you’re grilling with charcoal—first of all, you are a dedicated winter-griller—you’ll likely need extra briquettes on hand. You may also need to adjust cooking times as you get to know how your grill performs in winter. Some items may need an extra couple minutes of cooking time or possibly more. Use a meat thermometer and cook with the grill lid closed. If it’s windy, you might want to move your grill to a less blustery location that employs the house or a line of trees or bushes as a wind break; it will make grilling a bit easier on you. Just be sure to keep your grill at least five feet away from combustible material.

Winter Grilling Foods

Are you really going to go through all that work when temperatures are freezing just to grill hot dogs? On the other hand, hot dogs cook up fast, so it’s a good choice on particularly cold grilling days. You might want to consider other types of dishes to grill that will provide hearty eating, but won’t require you to stand outdoors too long. A whole baked potato is still going to take time to cook through, but you can cut it into wedges to shorten the cook time. Here are a few more winter grilling food ideas:

Consider grilling a pizza; grilled pizza is delicious, doesn’t take long to cook and you can top it however you like.

Instead of grilling a thick steak, thin steaks will cook quickly, as will thickly sliced mushrooms. If you want to add vegetables for a mushroom medley, chop them smaller so they’ll cook more quickly.

Salmon, boneless chicken breasts and other boneless meats often cook up more quickly than items with bones. Alternatively, on milder days or if you don’t mind the cold, there’s nothing like thick wintery cuts of meat charred on the grill to give your family that hearth-wonderful flavor that only a grill can provide.

Do you like to grill outdoors during winter? Share some of your tips and favorite winter grilling foods in the Comments section below.

 

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  1. There is always the old favorite option of watching from the kitchen window while someone else does the grilling!

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