Although it’s traditional to think of cooking with wood pellet grills as a warm-weather activity, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy beautifully grilled food all year round. A lot of regions in the United States get pretty chilly in the winter, but if it’s not actively snowing or raining, and the wind isn’t too strong, then get that baby fired up!
Cooking in the cold does change how you do things a little, so here are some tips from the experts here at Z Grills to make your winter cooking taste just as good as anything prepared in the warmer months.
7 Winter Grilling Tips From the Experts
1. Give Your Grill a Blanket
For the best results, you need to keep the heat in and the cold out, and the best way to do that is with insulation. Our thermal blanket is ideal for keeping your grill at a constant temperature when the elements are doing their best to cool your grill. It attaches quickly and easily with magnets, and provides constant temperatures, keeping your cooking consistent whatever the weather. You wouldn’t go out in the snow without appropriate clothing, so don’t leave your grill to fend for itself!
Another tip is to keep your grill out of the wind. Wind chill can cause temperatures to plummet, so cooking in a relatively sheltered spot makes sense. Not only do these precautions help cooking times but they reduce the number of wood pellets you need. That brings us to the next point.
2. Don’t Run Out of Pellets
Cold conditions mean that your grill has to work harder, burning more fuel. Insulation will sure help but you will need to factor in increased pellet consumption.
So always make sure you have plenty of supplies before you start. And it certainly helps if you choose good-quality pure wood pellets free from fillers and binders. These pellets burn most efficiently. Any extra cost is made up for by the fact that you’ll use less than the cheaper types.
3. Choose Fast-Cooking Foods
Look, we’re not going to tell you you can’t cook your favorite brisket recipe when it’s 20F outside, but just know that it will not be a fast meal. To keep cooking times within the same day, try those fast-cooking meats and recipes you may not have tried in the summer. Smoked burgers and other fast-cooking cuts will get your food on the table in a much more reasonable time frame.
4. Be Patient
If you’ve ever smoked pulled pork you’ll know that sometimes things just can’t be hurried along. But whether slow cooking or making something like crispy chicken wings or burgers, cooking in the cold will lengthen the process and you need to factor in extra time.
It’s so important that a grill is up to temperature before you start cooking. If that takes your grill 15 minutes in summer you’ll be looking at more like 25 minutes come winter. Whatever you are cooking will take longer, the grill just won’t be as hot when the temperature dips.
5. Don’t Take a Peek
Chill air sucked into the grill will drop the temperature significantly and the result is more pellets burnt and longer cooking times – so don’t take a look until you suspect it is actually done.
We all want to look at what’s going on but that really isn’t a good idea when you’re cooking in the cold. This is where a wireless meat probe. comes into its own. The best way to know your meat is cooked is by knowing its internal temperature. When it reaches the magic number, it’s done, period – and no lid opening is required.
6. Don’t Forget Safety
Whatever the outside temperature, don’t be tempted to cook with a wood pellet grill in a confined space. Yes, a garage might be out of the wind and a few degrees warmer than outside but don’t make the mistake of cooking in there. All wood fires emit carbon monoxide and this colorless, odorless gas can be dangerous and even lethal in a confined space.
7. Think About the Transfer
At some point, you are going to want to move the cooked food from the grill to the kitchen. It may only be a few yards but at winter temperatures that could make all the difference between piping hot and lukewarm. While it won’t make a huge difference if you keep what you’re grilling warm as you move it inside and let it cool at room temperature, you give the flavors a chance to settle throughout the meat.
There’s nothing better than a cast iron pot with a lid for this task, carefully warmed for a few minutes in the grill itself. Though the pot is heavy, that heaviness is what allows it to stay hot for longer.
Food grilled on a wood pellet grill is just too darn good only to have it for a few months of the year. If usually only use your pellet grill in the summer, give winter grilling a go… And you’ll wonder why you have never done it before!
What’s your favorite winter grilling tip? Let us know in the comment section below!