Best Grills And Smokers For Cold Weather
There are some people who simply clean, cover and pack their grill away when summer ends. Then there are those of us who know that the desire for fire-kissed meat will burn again regardless of the season.
While grilling in the winter and other cold times of year isn’t always as easy as it is in the summer, there are still a few things you can do to hedge your chances for success. At the very least you can reduce your chances of suffering some of the more common problems.
Cold Weather Grill Characteristics
One of the biggest problems face by cold weather, outdoor chefs is the stark contrast between the cold of the surrounding environment and the heat inside the grill. Even if the temperature is in the 40-degree range, things like cold rain, sleet, and wind can steal heat energy from under the lid.
In a high heat application like searing off a steak or crisping the natural casing on a hot dog, this isn’t too much of a problem. You simply crank the flame up as high as you can get it. In extreme cold, you might need to move the meat closer to the flame.
In a scenario like this, a grill that lets you adjust the height of the great or the coal box becomes a priority. This type of feature is more likely to be found on a charcoal grill.
When it comes to low heat applications and things like hybrid grilling bone-in pieces of chicken, the challenge lies in maintaining a consistent temperature throughout the cooking area of the grill grates. Areas near the sides and lip of the lid are likely to be cooler than the center or the long square inches near something like a gas burner.
It’s also worth noting that Kamado grills are especially handy. Most have a double ceramic wall construction that acts as a superior insulator. This essentially cuts out most of the relationship between the cold outside air and the inside dynamics of the flame. It also makes for very efficient use of charcoal.
In a scenario, like this advanced preheating is a “Must.” Without a properly hot grill, the flame will spend too much heat energy competing with the outside air temperature.
Gas Grills For Cold Weather
With gas grills, you get a little bit more control, as well as a more convenient ignition. On a modestly cold day, say with temperatures lingering within 10 degrees of freezing, they are arguably ideal.
Yet as you approach zero degrees Fahrenheit liquid propane, in particular, can be a little fickle. Small one-pound propane cylinders that are left for too long in the deep cold can lose pressure, leaving you with a weak fire, or simply not staying lit at all. You could even run into this problem with a half-full 25-pound tank.
If you are going to be grilling with gas in single degree temperatures, it’s a good idea to keep your propane tank someplace warm for a few hours or perhaps overnight. Then you can hook the warm tank up to the grill at the last minute.
Best Gas Grills For Cold Weather
Using A Smoker In Cold Weather
Smokers are similarly challenged when it comes to cold weather. Even if you are using a state of the art smoker cabinet or wood pellet grill with automated temperature controls, the outside air can make it hard to keep the interior smoke at the correct temperature. In some of these scenarios you end up with extremely long smoke times, and a bitter flavor exterior from soot.
One way to mitigate this problem is to look for a smoker or a wood pellet grill that has a specific insulator blanket. This will essentially give the smoker a second skin to protect it from the heat loss caused by cold air.
Smoker Cabinets For Cold Weather
Wood Pellet Grills For Cold Weather
There are also some grills, like wood pellet grills that have digital controls with dual heat probes. The programming they utilize can compensate for cold weather. Some can even keep the internal temperature in a range that it plus or minus of 10-degrees of the designated target temperature.
As the name implies these grills use prepared wood pellets that are essentially “Upcycled” from the hardwood fibers produced when processing trees into lumber. The pellets are added to a large hopper. Then an electric auger slowly delivers them at the specified rate to a small internal firepot. An electric igniter then sparks the fire. At that point, a small internal fan makes sure the flame gets the air it needs to keep burning, while also dispersing the hot smoke up to the primary cooking chamber. While they are called “Grills” most of them lack a direct heat feature, which makes them more like sophisticated smokers that are often capable of very high temperatures.