For most home chefs, the winter months can bring a lot of uncertainty for their grill. With many parts of the country facing the cold temperatures and precipitation brought on by Mother Nature, grilling might take a backseat to cooking in the kitchen or using one of the many food delivery services to bring dinner to your doorstep. While those options may sound convenient, we’re firm believers that you can’t sacrifice the taste and the experience of grilling. No matter the conditions, there’s never an off-season for true grill masters, and that’s because they know all the tips and tricks to cooking an excellent meal, despite the conditions outdoors.
We know you love to grill, so why compromise on something you enjoy for months at a time? Thanks to your friends here at Blue Rhino, you can make the most of your grill even during the coldest months of the year. Check out these tips on how to properly and effectively utilize your grill this winter!
Prioritize Grill Safety
Regardless of the season, grill safety remains an important part of making any meal from the comfort of your backyard. During the winter, however, safety takes on an added weight because of the often-unforgiving elements. Depending on the physical geography of where you call home, you could be in for plenty of rain, snow, and ice this winter. That means you must be aware of the condition of your grill before kicking it on. Here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure a safe grilling experience.
1. Check your tank, grill, and other surroundings
Check all the gas lines, burners and jets for possible blockages caused by debris or cold weather. Insects, such as spiders, have been known to make webs which will restrict gas flow. It may have been awhile since you last used your grill, so a quick walk around your station will make life a lot easier when you’re ready to fire it up.
2. Clear a path to and around your grill
After snowfall, do your best to clear a path to your grill and remove any ice or snow from the top or sides of the grill itself. By clearing a path to your grill, you also remove any obstacles or slippery surfaces that could make bringing food or utensils in and out from your home more treacherous.
3. Never grill in an enclosed area
Resist the urge to bring the grill to the garage, and avoid overhangs, porches, or anything that could present a fire hazard. No matter the conditions outside, grilling indoors or with flammable objects nearby puts you and others in danger.
While those are just some of our top safety tips, consult our list of winter grilling best practices when you have a question in mind.
Warming Up & Keeping Your Grill Hot
Naturally, during this time of year, it’s hard for us all to stay warm, and our grills are no different. On a typical summer day, the flame from your grill can almost be overwhelming when you lift the lid. Well, in the winter, many grill masters run into the opposite problem. Preheating your grill has always been a prerequisite to making a delicious meal, and that step cannot be overlooked in the winter. Patience is a virtue when you’re having a “Wintercue,” as it can take almost twice as long to preheat your grill in freezing temperatures. To prevent food from sticking to the grates, factor in at least 15 extra minutes of preheating to ensure it’s hot enough.
It’s also wise to allow for extra cooking time in the winter. Food takes longer to cook in the cold – anywhere from 30 to 75 percent longer than when it’s warm outside. This is compounded every time you open the lid to get a peek of your food. Do your best to avoid peeking too often by investing in a digital thermometer, and by knowing the right temperature to achieve doneness for your food. Check out our handy Meat Temperature Guide to know the exact temperature to cook your poultry, fish, and beef.
Consider What Food You’ll Be Grilling
Between tender steaks, tasty sides, and even your go-to dessert recipe, there are plenty of foods you can make on your grill. But even more than the summer, the food you plan on making can influence many of your grilling decisions in the winter. Chances are you won’t want to grill for several hours at a time when it’s chilly outside, so plan on making foods that are simple and quick to grill. There are several recipes, including many fan favorites, that give you all the fun of grilling and get you back indoors in a timely manner so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.
When grilling, consider a variety of cooking methods as well to bring out the flavor of your food. Direct cooking, especially in colder weather, can be a real lifesaver when you’re looking to get a good sear on something like a steak. Using a side burner can also reduce trips in and out of your kitchen, as it combines the best features of your stove into your grill. As we like to say, the best grill masters are the ones who come prepared, so keep these cooking tips in mind for your next trip to the grill.
Don’t Run Out of Propane
If you’ve been grilling long enough, you’ll know that sinking feeling of running out of propane just when you need it the most. It’s okay, we’ve all been there. But the real grill masters learn from their mistakes. When grilling during the winter, the last thing you want to do is trek through the tough, blistery conditions for a single tank of propane. That’s why, before this season hits its coldest peaks, stock up on plenty of Blue Rhino propane to keep you fueled through the winter. Grilling in these colder temperatures can use up to twice as much fuel as grilling in the summertime, so be sure to keep at least one extra tank on hand this winter.
Let Blue Rhino Fuel Your Wintercue
Like us, our friends at the Hearth Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) are huge fans of grilling year-round. So much so that HPBA put together a list of the reasons why you should fire up your grill and have yourself a Wintercue this season. With so many benefits to grilling in the winter, we won’t blame you for getting out to your backyard at least once a week over the next few months. And when you need propane the most, Blue Rhino has your back. Just visit our Propane Finder for the closest location carrying our trusted brand and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a winter cookout king or queen!