Winter Grilling 101

Whoever said grilling season is in the summer never owned a pellet grill. When you have a SmokePro pellet grill from Camp Chef on your back patio, grilling season never ends. You can continue smoking ribs, searing steaks, and grilling burgers no matter what the temperature is outside. Keep reading to see how you can use your grill to the fullest all year round.

1. Stock Up on Fuel

If you live in an area with snowy, rainy, or otherwise chilly winter weather, your grill is going to burn more wood pellets than it would in the summer. This is because the temperature outside is so much lower than the ambient temperature your grill is trying to reach. It will burn more fuel (plan on about 50% more) to hit the right heat, so you should make sure you have plenty of extra pellets.

But don’t just buy any old wood pellets. To get the most efficient and hottest burn, you need pure hardwood pellets—no chemical fillers or wood biproducts. When you’re already using extra fuel, these pellets will give you the most bang for your buck.

2. Check Food Without Opening the Lid

While in the summer, cracking the lid of your pellet grill isn’t detrimental to the food you’re cooking, it can make a big impact during winter. Because the outside temperature is so much colder than the inside of the grill, the heat will escape much quicker if you open the chamber. You risk swaying the cooking temperature if you consistently crack the lid.

Instead, check the food from the outside. Using the meat probe thermometer or a wireless thermometer, you can track your food’s internal temperature from the digital readout on the front of the grill. That means no peeking, no temperature swings, and food cooked to perfection.

3. Keep Your Grill Insulated

Just like you put a coat on when it’s cold outside, you can do the same for your pellet grill and smoker. The more insulation you can provide for your cooker, the quicker it will heat up, the steadier the temperature will be, and the less fuel you will burn.

First of all, remove any snow from the grill’s body (if you live in a snowy place), and place it in an area where it will be somewhat shielded from weather like wind, rain, or snow. Then install a pellet grill blanket around the surface. The heavy duty, heat-resistant material will lock heat in and keep cold out. You’ll see a big difference in heating speeds and temperature maintenance with a blanket around your grill in cold weather.

24-inch blanket or a 36-inch blanket


4. Plan Accordingly

When you’re grilling in cold weather, you should plan on your meal taking a little longer to cook than it does warm weather. Your grill will take longer to preheat—15-20 minutes instead of 10—and your food will probably take longer to cook because the chamber temperature may fall about 10° lower than normal. To work around the timing, we recommend cooking recipes that are low-and-slow or quick-and-easy. With low-and-slow, you won’t be worried about a tight time budget because of the nature of such a recipe, and your grill won’t have to work so hard to maintain a low temperature. On the other hand, quick-and-easy recipes never take that long in the first place. All you need is your grill to reach the right temperature, and you’ll be done cooking in a few minutes.

5. Use Cast Iron

Once you finish cooking your food, it’s difficult to keep it warm outside in the winter time. When you’re wrapping up the cooking process, you can set a cast iron skillet with a lid or a Dutch oven with a lid inside your grill. This will warm up the cast iron—a metal that holds heat famously. Place finished food inside the dish, and move it from the grill. The iron will act as a warming dish for anything inside, and you’ll get to sit down to a nice warm meal.

6. Follow Safety Precautions

Despite the sour weather, never grill indoors. A garage or shed might look like the perfect place for you and your pellet grill to take shelter from the snow, wind, rain, or cold, but it’s not a good idea. Carbon monoxide can accumulate from cooking in an enclosed area, which is dangerous for you and your family.

You also want to make sure you’ve placed your grill far enough away from any vinyl siding or eaves. If you have your pellet grill set to a high temperature and it’s too close to such areas, you could have a melted mess on your hands.

Lastly, of course, be sure to bundle up with enough layers to brave winter grilling. Stay warm, enjoy the outdoors, and eat the delicious food you love all year long. You’ll show everyone that grilling season is right now.

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