When cold weather shows up, you have two choices: bundle up the grill and stop barbecuing, or man up, bundle yourself up, and don’t let some silly blizzard and subzero weather stand between you and the perfect rack of ribs. Here’s some great advice from Fiery Foods Central on how to make that happen when the ice gods forbid it.
- The smoker will take longer to preheat when the temperature drops below 45 degrees F. Figure at least 30 minutes for a charcoal grill or smoker and 20 minutes for a gas-fired grill to come up to cooking temperature.
- Adjust the cooking time to compensate for lower temperatures. Figure another five to 10 minutes for every five degrees below 45 degrees F. ambient temperature.
- Add another 15 minutes of cooking time every time you open the lid to add more fuel or wood.
- Shield the smoker from the wind but don’t use it in an enclosed area or under a porch overhang. Wind has a greater impact on cold-weather cooking than actual ambient temperature.
- If you’re using a drip pan for smoking, fill it with boiling water. The hot water will help raise the grill temperature and help stabilize the temperature. Put the empty drip pan in the smoker and then add water from a tea kettle instead of trying to carry a tray filled with hot water to the cooker.
- Placing ceramic fire bricks in the cooker will add thermal mass and help compensate for the loss of heat when the cover is opened.
- Expect to use more fuel during colder weather. To be safe, estimate on using twice as much charcoal as you would during the warmer months. Be sure to have an adequate supply on hand. To maintain the temperature of a charcoal grill, use long-handled tongs to add 10 to 12 pieces of lump charwood to the edges of burning coals every 30 to 45 minutes.