Two nights ago you would have seen me, standing in snow boots and a winter jacket, flipping chicken breasts on the grill. Perhaps you would have thought I was crazy to grill outside when the temperature was below freezing. But I like to grill all year long. You should, too, and you won't be alone if you get grilling.
In addition to my fondness for grilling outside in the cold, lots of Americans do it, too. That's according the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association. One of their surveys showed that more than six in 10 Americans grill year round.
Even though there is no reason not to fire up the grill in winter, there are some tips for grilling that are specific to the season. Keep in mind these 5 grilling tips for cooking outdoors in winter:
- Dress warmly. If you are going to stay outside to watch over your food cooking, make sure you dress warmly before you get grilling. Me, I tend to throw the food on the grill and run back inside. I'd rather go in and out than grill outside and freeze.
- Dress for safety. In winter you're likely to be wearing items that could catch on fire, such as a dangling scarf. Make sure they are tucked in or kept away from the open flame.
- Move your grill closer to the house. One of the reasons I can easily do my grilling outside, without having to stay outside and freeze the whole time, is we moved our grill closer to the house. Granted, it's not right up against the house—that would be a fire hazard—but it is right outside the back door, just off the deck. That said, never move a grill inside the house, even the garage, as you risk carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Make sure you can see what you're doing. The Wall Street Journal recently had an article on winter grilling, and one of the best grilling tips in that story was to wear a headlamp when you are grilling outside. This will help you to see what you're doing or where you're going. I'm lucky that I can do my outdoor cooking by the glow of my backdoor's outdoor light.
- Give the grill time to warm up. That same Wall Street Journal article noted that it could take your grill almost twice as long to warm up in winter than in summer. So plan accordingly when grilling outside in the cold.
I say get grilling outside so that you can enjoy your favorite grilled foods all year long. There's no reason that the winter dishes you serve can't be the same barbecue burgers or grilled fish that you might have served in the summer.
You may also like my other stories on grilling: