Nowadays wood pellet grills have been turning many grill enthusiasts into rockstars in their own backyard. Enjoying lots of laughter with family and friends is all part of the fun of winter grilling outdoors.
Yes, this is the life of a wood pellet grill rockstar. A life creating happy memories filled with mouth-watering grilling and cooking sessions. Not to mention happy tummies, too.
As winter is upon us, many would say they have to enjoy their weekend meals with family and friends indoors rather than bundling up and heading outside for a little winter grilling.
Just because it’s snowing outside doesn’t mean delicious grilling has to come to a screeching halt.
Winter grilling must endure. After all, the smell and taste of grilled meat savored straight from a wood pellet grill are a real “warmer”.
If you want to make the best out of your wood pellet grill no matter the weather, here are some winter grilling tips to ensure you stay safe, sound, and ready to enjoy your grilled dinner.
First and foremost always remember that safety is a top priority!
Winter Grilling Safety Tips
1. Observe distance and stay in an open spaceThere should be enough distance between the grill, your house, or your fences when winter grilling, and experts recommend at least ten feet away
While the cold weather makes it so tempting to bring your grill inside, in the garage, under an awning, or in your covered patio, doing so is not safe. It increases fire risk and potentially carbon monoxide poisoning.
It’s best to stay in an open area where there aren’t fire hazards within proximity and there is a good amount of ventilation. Be wary of combustible materials when deciding where to relocate your grill.
Keep your grill away from overhanging porch roofs, wooden fences, or tree branches; even when covered with ice, these things are still flammable.
2. Check Your Grill Lid and Knobs
If your grill is covered in snow, after you’ve shoveled it out, check the lid and knobs. It’s possible that these have been frozen shut.
Be sure to avoid forcing it open, otherwise, you could damage them. You can either move it to a warmer area and give it time to defrost or carefully pour warm water on the knobs.
3. For Non-Wood Pellet Grills - Check for Gas Leaks and Blockages
Before you start preparing for your winter grilling recipes, first check the gas lines, jets, and burners, you're looking for any blockage. After confirming everything is clear when you turn it on to light the grill, the flame should be blue and NOT yellow.
A yellow flame indicates a blockage in the burner or air inlets and therefore adjustments must be made.
4. Clear The Area of Any Slipping or Tripping Hazards
The area between the grill and your back or front doors must be devoid of snow, garden gnomes, and any other objects that could increase your risk of slipping or tripping. Winter ice sneaks up real quick, not to mention those sneaky little gnomes! 😉
Outdoor furniture, extension cords, and other tripping hazards should be removed, winterizing the area before ice and snow cover them.
Any clutter that makes it hard for you to shovel the snow should be removed prior to the start of your winter grilling sessions. It just makes it easier and this way, you can rest assured you have a clear and safe pathway from the grill to your home’s back or front door.
5. Get Out Your Shovel
Have a snow shovel handy near your grill patio even before winter comes. Having a shovel handy spares you the hassle and the risk of falling or slipping looking for the shovel after the snow has already fallen.
Remember that sleet, freezing rain, and snow make surfaces very slippery, so having your winter gear, like a shovel at hand, makes preparing your winter grilling area less laborious.
6. Know the Weather
If you’re using a gas grill, note that it will likely take twice as long to preheat it under frigid temperatures.
Strong, cold winds will make it difficult for your grill to maintain the correct temperature. So keep this in mind when preparing for a winter grilling party with your friends.
TIP: If you’re using a gas grill, on a gusty day, place your grill 90 degrees to the wind to ensure your grill flame doesn't get blown out. If you’re using a wood pellet grill this won’t be a concern of yours.
Remember, cooking times may take longer, so schedule your grilling session at least an hour in advance prior to your regular dinner schedule. Of course, take into consideration the cooking time of the food that you’re about to put on the grill, it'll pay off to plan ahead just a wee bit.
7. Wear Appropriate Clothes - This may sound silly but there’s good reasoning behind it.
Before you go out and start grilling, check what you’re wearing first. Make sure you’re bundled up and avoid wearing tassels, scarves, and any other clothing accessories that may dangle over the grill.
The last thing you want to happen is to see your scarf catch on fire. Remember, it’s smart to have a multi-purpose fire extinguisher ready.
8. Install Proper Lighting
Outdoor lighting is quite possibly one of my favorite things about being out on our patio at night and also very important especially if you plan to do some winter grilling after dark. And if you live in the PNW you’re likely to be grilling after dark. Avoid trailing extension cords which could be a trip hazard.
Naked flames as a source of light is not a good idea if you have little kids and pets. Invest in a good headlamp that enables you to still do the cooking hands-free. Or you could string up some beautiful outdoor lights, we love them on our patio.
Other Important Winter Grilling Tips
Keep The Lid Closed
Winter grilling gurus agree that if you keep opening the lid of your grill to check if the meat is properly cooked, you’ll never be able to successfully cook your meat.
This is when an app-connected wireless thermometer becomes very helpful. This device allows you to monitor cooking time and the grill temperature without the need to frequently open the grill lid.
Keep The Food Warm
Getting the food out of the grill and transferring it into a cold plate could ruin the excitement out of winter grilling.
Try warming the plate first by putting them into your toaster oven on warm, around 130ºF, or if you don’t have a toaster oven you could try placing your plate in a microwave for up to two minutes (be careful pulling out the plate, it might be quite warm) before you take the food out of the grill.
There’s nothing worse than eating on an ice-cold plate especially during the winter months. We ALWAYS serve ourselves and our guests using warm plates.
Use The Right Type of Wood Pellets
Quality and efficiency are key, spare yourself the hassle of having to replace your wood pellets very often.
Make sure you are using one hundred percent virgin hardwood pellets. These are compressed pellets that do not have recycled wood materials and chemical fillers that are usually present in low-quality wood pellets.
Pellets made from virgin hardwood are known to burn most efficiently compared to other types of wood pellets.
Have Extra Fuel on Hand
Whether you have a wood pellet grill like we do or a gas grill, the cold weather impacts the amount of time it takes for your grill to heat up and maintain its temperature.
Since the cooking process takes longer than when you grill during the summer months, it is a must that you have your extra fuel on hand.
So, if you’re like us and looking forward to more winter grilling days ahead, you’d better stock up on plenty of fuel. You wouldn’t want to run out of pellets or propane, depending on the type of grill you have.
Have Your Grease Bucket Liners Ready
There is nothing more stressful than realizing too late that you do not have grease bucket liners for your wood pellet grill. Be sure that you always have stock of wood pellet grill grease bucket liners year round.
Don’t just settle for aluminum grease bucket liners or you’ll only be adding further harm to the environment.
Try A La Carte’s wood pellet grill grease bucket liners that are eco-friendly. These can withstand very hot temperatures and are designed to work well even when exposed to outdoor elements.
Use an Insulation Blanket Designed for Your Grill
Insulation blankets help provide the utmost heat retention during winter grilling. Having this will make preheating the grill a lot faster while temperature stability becomes more achievable regardless of the weather.
Note that preheating time and temperature stability are very crucial for winter grilling. Not to mention that with an insulation blanket you will use less fuel since heat is less likely to escape.
There are different types of insulation blankets and most of these are manufactured according to the grill make and model.
Grill foods that keep you warm.
The best thing about winter grilling is that it helps keep you warm.
So, whenever you’re planning recipes for winter grilling, think about chili and spicy marinades.
Choose Easy-To-Grill Foods
Depending on the kind of grill that you use, winter grilling usually calls for easy-to-cook foods. Avoid choosing a recipe that requires sauce basting every few minutes.
Opening your grill frequently will let out the heat and could result in your food taking longer to cook than expected. It may also affect the quality of your grilled meat.
Try whole roasted fish or whole roasted chicken, these are considered low-maintenance winter grilling entrée. And, don’t forget pizza, pizza is GREAT on a Traeger!
Go ahead and start preparing your 3-2-1 BBQ Baby Back Ribs or your Grilled Shrimp with Old Bay and Aioli.
Or, how about some roasted winter vegetable kabobs and grilled asparagus?
Do you have some helpful winter grilling tips that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comment section.
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