Cooking School

12 tips for winter grilling

By: Jenny Potter

Blueberry Barbecue Finishing Glaze</br>Photography by Jeff Coulson Author: Canadian Living Credits: Blueberry Barbecue Finishing Glaze</br>Photography by Jeff Coulson

Cooking School

12 tips for winter grilling

By: Jenny Potter
Just because the snow is falling and the temperature is dropping, that doesn’t mean you can’t break out the barbecue. Don’t let the weather stop you from enjoying a juicy grilled steak in the middle of winter.

Winter grilling can be just as fun and satisfying as summer. We’ve got a few tips to help you make a tasty barbecued pulled pork or smoked meat when the snow flies.

Make your Sunday supper a barbecue roast with these tips from award-winning barbecue chef Mike Callaghan, director of the Canadian national barbecue team.

-Dress for the weather. Take time to put on boots, a coat and a tuque. If you’re underdressed, chances are you’re going to rush and be careless.

-Watch for critters. Some animals will crawl into barbecues in the winter and hole up. Give your grill an inspection before you start.

-Make sure all your tools are in place before lighting the barbie. Get your tongs, a bottle of water and a light or lamp ready before you start. In the summer you can grill into the evening, but you don’t want to be caught grilling in the dark come winter. Callaghan suggests a clip-on light or a headlamp to help you see how your food is cooking.

-Have lots of fuel. There’s nothing worse than running out of fuel halfway through grilling. In cooler temperatures, you lose heat quicker and use more fuel to keep your grill hot. Have a backup propane tank or bag of charcoal handy.


-Keep a bottle of warm water on hand. A bottle of water at the ready will save you in case of a grease fire. Remember, you can’t pull the hose out like you would in the summer.

-You might want to have a fire extinguisher ready. In cool weather, grease can pool on the bottom of your grill and catch fire. Be prepared for flare-ups.

-Always cook in an open space. Place you grill at least 10 feet away from surrounding buildings and never cook inside a garage. Get a shovel out and clear a path to an appropriate spot for grilling that’s away from your house.

-Preheat your grill. The grill is heating up from freezing temperatures, so you’ll have it give it more time to warm than in the summer. You need time to melt the grease off the grill.

-Cook with the cover down. It sounds obvious, but every time you open the grill you add 10 minutes to the cook time, says Callaghan. Not only do you lose heat but you also expose your food to the elements.

-Preheat your serving platter. When you’re ready to take your food off the grill, bring out a warm plate so your food doesn’t cool too quickly.

-Invest in a digital thermometer. A remote digital thermometer you can leave in the meat is worth it in the winter. It will help you gauge the temperature of your meat and know when it is done. Callaghan likes a Bluetooth-enabled thermometer that sends the temperature measurements right to a phone or laptop. That way you can relax inside and monitor your meat at the same time.

-Try cold smoking or slow grilling. This is the time to spend an afternoon slow roasting brisket or pulled pork for a weekend supper. Callaghan also suggests using the cooler temperatures to your advantage by cold smoking cheese or vegetables. Don’t forget: There is always time for juicy grilled steak.

More: Our best barbecue recipes and tips

Share X
Cooking School

12 tips for winter grilling