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Grilling in Cold Weather

Depending on where you are and what day it is, it might be cold as crap outside. However, the cold doesn't stop our hunger nor our passion to grill. For real grilling enthusiasts, it doesn't matter what the weather is. When the urge to grill hits, it's hard to stop it. For those of us who are crazy enough to challenge Mother Nature, follow these step by step instructions on how to grill in the cold.


Grilling meat

Choose the Right Meat

When grilling in cold weather, it is important to choose cuts of meat that will retain heat well. Thick steaks and bone-in chicken are excellent options for grilling in cold temperatures.

Thick steaks, such as ribeye or New York strip, have a higher meat-to-bone ratio, allowing them to retain heat for a longer duration. The thickness of the steak acts as insulation, preventing the cold air from quickly cooling the meat. Additionally, the marbling in these cuts adds flavor and tenderness to the steak, making them a popular choice for grilling enthusiasts.


Bone-in chicken, such as drumsticks or thighs, also retain heat effectively due to the bones acting as a natural insulator. The bone absorbs and distributes heat evenly throughout the meat, resulting in juicy and flavorful chicken. The skin on bone-in chicken also helps to lock in moisture, preventing it from drying out during the grilling process.


When selecting these cuts of meat, it is important to consider their size and thickness. Opt for steaks that are at least 1.5 inches thick, as thinner cuts may cook too quickly and not retain heat as effectively. Similarly, choose bone-in chicken pieces that are adequately sized and have enough meat to ensure a satisfying meal.


Monitor the Temperature of the Grill

To properly monitor the temperature and adjust cooking times when grilling in cold weather, there are a few key steps to follow:

  1. Preheat the grill: Start by preheating the grill for a longer period than you would in normal weather conditions. This is because the cold temperature outside can significantly affect the grill's heat retention. Preheating for at least 15-20 minutes will help ensure a consistent cooking temperature.

  2. Use a reliable thermometer: Invest in a high-quality meat thermometer to accurately monitor the internal temperature of the food you're grilling. This is crucial to ensure that the food reaches a safe and proper temperature for doneness, especially when grilling in cold weather.

  3. Adjust cooking times: Due to the colder ambient temperature, the cooking times may need to be slightly extended. The exact adjustment will depend on factors such as the thickness of the food, the type of meat, and the desired level of doneness. Keep a close eye on the food's progress and refer to recommended cooking times as a general guideline, but be prepared to make adjustments as needed.

  4. Create a wind barrier: In cold weather, the wind can have a significant impact on the grill's heat distribution. Consider setting up a wind barrier around the grill to minimize heat loss and maintain a more stable cooking temperature. This can be achieved by using portable grill screens or even improvising with heat-resistant materials like aluminum foil.

  5. Keep the grill lid closed: Opening the grill lid frequently can cause significant heat loss and hinder the cooking process. To prevent this, try to limit lid openings to essential moments, such as when flipping the food or checking the internal temperature. Keeping the lid closed as much as possible will help retain heat and ensure even cooking.

  6. Allow for additional resting time: After grilling in cold weather, it's a good idea to allow the cooked food to rest for a slightly longer period than usual. This allows the meat to retain its juices and reach the desired level of doneness. Tent the food with aluminum foil and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.


Marinate the Meat

Marinating meat before grilling in cold weather can provide numerous benefits that enhance the flavor, tenderness, and juiciness of the final dish. Cold weather grilling poses challenges such as longer cooking times and increased moisture loss, which can result in dry and tough meat. However, marinating can help overcome these issues and create a delicious grilled meal even in chilly conditions.


One of the primary benefits of marinating meat before grilling in cold weather is that it helps to tenderize the meat. The cold temperatures can cause the meat to become tougher, but marinating allows the flavors and enzymes in the marinade to break down the connective tissues, resulting in a more tender and juicy outcome. To maximize the tenderizing effect, it is recommended to choose marinades that contain acidic ingredients like citrus juices, vinegar, or wine.


Marinating meat in cold weather also imparts additional flavor. The longer marinating time allows the meat to absorb the flavors of the marinade more effectively. This is especially important when grilling in colder temperatures because the natural flavors of the meat can diminish due to the cold air. A well-seasoned marinade with spices, herbs, garlic, and aromatic ingredients can infuse the meat with a delightful taste, enhancing the overall grilling experience.

Furthermore, marinating can act as a protective layer for the meat, helping to prevent moisture loss during the grilling process. In cold weather, it is crucial to retain as much moisture as possible since the dry air tends to accelerate moisture evaporation. The marinade forms a barrier that seals in the moisture, keeping the meat juicy and preventing it from drying out.


Overall, the most important thing to remember when grilling in cold weather is to stay safe. No meal is worth your life. So ensure that you are taking every precaution to protect your self from hypothermia, frostbite, and other cold related issues. Also protect your property by cooking at a safe distance from the home. Stay warm and happy grilling.


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