How to Grill and Smoke in Cold Weather

"Wrapping it with the ex's wedding dress works well."Kelly Short

Cold, rain, snow, sleet, and wind may not delay the mail but they can sure delay the meal. When the exterior of your grill or smoker is cold the interior is not happy. The cold metal absorbs heat from the warm air inside lowering the cooking temp. Whether you are using gas, charcoal, or pellets, in inclement weather you need to be sure to preheat your cooker until the metal is too hot to touch and you need more fuel to heat the air and the walls of the cooking chamber initially and throughout the whole cook. Also, because the combustion process needs oxygen, it sucks in cold air and that can further reduce the oven temp. Meanwhile, moisture from the meat and water pans condenses on the interior like fog on the bathroom mirror further cooling the metal.

On thin walled metal machines like the Weber Kettle or the Weber Smokey Mountain, and even thick metal pits like the Horizon offsets, unless you add more fuel, you will be late serving dinner. If you serve at all. On insulated devices like ceramic kamados or Backwoods Smokers, you'll use a lot of fuel and time getting it up to target temp, but once you get there maintaining it is less of a problem, although they will need more fuel.

Gas cookers

Many people erroneously believe that gas will not flow at low temperatures. Not true. Propane is in liquid form in the tank, and it must boil to become a gas. The boiling point of propane is -44°F so you should have no problem getting gas to flow unless you live in Siberia. The pressure will drop as the air temp drops, and as the level of fuel drops, but that's why gas grills and smokers have a regulator, that disk-shaped device between the tank and the cooker. It regulates the flow to keep it even. According to the science advisor Prof. Greg Blonder, "Tank pressure never drops below the regulator pressure, so gas should flow just fine. Water vapor is sometimes in the tank and it may freeze and gum up the valves, but this is rare. If you have a large device with a red colored regulator, like a turkey fryer, the pressure may be inadequate."

Also, since nothing is simple in this world, some propane is blended with small amounts of butane to improve ignition. Butane gassifies at 33°F. So the actual boiling point depends on the blend. In real world applications, it doesn't make much of a difference, but if you are working in a really cold climate, this table might come in handy.

Because it takes more fuel to heat your gasser in winter, you may find it doesn't get as hot as it does in warm weather and you will find that you use more gas than in summer. You will also use more fuel because some BTUs are wasted getting the liquid to a gaseous state. One antidote is to use a larger tank on small portables, and use full tanks that have higher pressure on larger grills.

If you are using natural gas, the fuel should be coming from the warm house, and even the cold fuel in the outdoor pipes will flow with no problem, propelled by the warm fuel behind it.

Charcoal and pellets

With charcoal and pellet burners, you will go through more fuel heating the cooking chamber and the metal. So be prepared and light more fuel than you usually do. If you normally use the Minion or snake methods, you might want to skip them and just light the whole firebox. As usual, there's no substitute for experience, so doing a dry run without food makes a lot of sense. Master your instrument!

Some remedies

While we have proven that opening the lid to peek during warm weather has little impact on cooking time in warm weather, in cold weather it has a more profound impact, so keep the lid closed and the warm air in, although the temp does recover pretty quickly once you close the lid. If there's room, try putting bricks in the cooking chamber to absorb and radiate heat. This is especially useful on offset smokers, and I recommend it year-round.

The simplest solution is to place your cooker where it won't get hit with wind and rain, but of course you want to be careful not to melt your vinyl siding or set the eaves ablaze. Never move a grill or smoker indoors. And that means your garage. Carbon monoxide can collect in there, and in an attached garage the home's heating system can easily suck this deadly gas into the house and into your kids' bedrooms.

The Cold Weather Jacket is silicone coated jacket is designed to insulate your 22.5" Weber Smokey Mountain while cooking and it can easily be adapted for a Weber Kettle. Silicone coated, it is great for use in cool, rainy, and windy conditions or as as a weather cover while not using your cooker. It has a flap that opens for reading the temperature indicator, grasping the handle, and adjusting the exhaust vent, and another flap through which you can attach a thermostat controller.

Click here to order from Firecraft




My friend John Dawson of says, "A quick, easy, cheap, and effective shelter for small vertical cooker is a simple wardrobe-style packing box like you use for moving." That's great as long as the wind doesn't pick up. He also offers this advice: "Treat your cooker like you treat yourself when it's cold. Keep it dry, keep it out of the wind, insulate, and take in more calories (fuel and oxygen)."

Another good solution is to wrap the cooking chamber in a welding blanket. They're good wind, rain, and snow protection and can handle the heat without bursting into flame. They can probably handle the heat of the firebox, but I wouldn't press your luck. Reflectix Double Foil InsulationPlaceholder works well for cooking chamber insulation. It has a bubble-wrap type interior clad in a foil sheathing. It is heat resistant, but it can melt if things get too hot, so use it only around the cooking chamber. Don't put it in direct contact with the firebox portion of your cooker. Foil insulation mat works well, too.

With any of these insulators, it is important that you allow proper airflow. If you slow or block oxygen in and smoke out, you can end up starving the fire and extinguishing it or produce gray smoke and soot that can foul the food.

I asked my Facebook friends to send me pix of how they solved the problem and I got some great responses. Several use fiberglass insulation with foil backing or hot water heater blankets but I am concerned that they could burn or melt if things get too hot. If you go this route, you should only wrap the food chamber and keep the insulation from making contact with the hot parts of the cooker. Below are some of the other clever solutions hungry readers have devised to keep their babies warm and happy. My favorite is "Ft. Smokey" built by Brian Romick, at the top of the page.


Mike Schultz built his 18.5" WSM a hut. "It works great, keeps it out of the wind when smoking and covered to keep out the elements."



Jessica Loula Parthun "Built this with plywood and some heavy duty hinges and wrapped it in flexible insulation. The weight keeps it from blowing over and the size can be adjusted due to the hinges. I can pull it close to the smoker or fan it out dependent on the weather. Works great!"



Jim Streisand built a wind shield with an old dog crate as a frame for foil insulation.



Jerod Broussard uses a welding blanket over the cooking chamber, not the firebox (above). "I folded it over on itself and secured it somewhat with small wires so it doesn't fall off when I open the lid. Some readjustment is necessary. With a smoker temp of over 300°F I can still place my hand firmly on the blanket for extended periods of time."


Richard Meisinger Jr. uses a welding blanket on his Traeger, above right.



Naor Chazan "Used a box cutter to cut out room for handles, doors, and vents, then just roll on using those 3M stick-on velcro tabs to make this thing a convertible. I think the heat rating is something like 250 but that is from direct heat. Since this smoker's exterior is warm to the touch (when smoking ~225), I'm not too concerned with it."



Randell Hilton simply wraps his WSM with a hot water heater insulator.



Jerry Becker "Here's what I use on my [Ugly Drum Smoker]. I smoke at -20°F and EASILY maintain 250°F for hours on minimal fuel. Easy and cheap."



Mike Palouian said "I live in the Northeast. My pop up tent's back legs buckled and broke [from] holding a load of snow. The way it fell over couldn't have worked any other way. My electric MasterBuilt smokers have stayed dry since November."



Chris Shore's blanket



Sammy J Shuford says "I have Yoder YS640 I bought used, came with the yoder blanket. Makes a huge difference in pellet consumption."



Mike McKiernan simply shields his smoker with plywood. "It's not very attractive but its effective. I've smoked pork shoulder for 13 hrs & 45 minutes with ambient temperatures from 17 to 25F."



Thomas Uhlin uses a steel-worker's coat to block the wind.

weber smokey mountain in an igloo

Meathead Goldwyn

Meathead is the founder and publisher of, and is also known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", a New York Times Best Seller and named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.

What people say about us

"The world’s leading outdoor cooking resource." Larry Olmsted,

"An amazing compendium of barbecue knowledge." Aaron Franklin, Franklin Barbecue, Austin

"I was crowned World Brisket Champion at the Jack Daniels World Championships using your Big Bad Beef Rub. Your site has played a pivotal role in my development." John Lattuca, WeekendWarriorBBQ, Montreal, Canada

"This meal was as memorable as my first sex, only better." Marie Overholt, San Francisco, CA

"The BBQ community is so extremely fortunate to have someone as passionate and articulate as you." Frank Ostini, Chef Winemaker, Hitching Post II Restaurant & Winery, Buellton, CA

"I adapted your brisket rub recipe this summer and my customers love it (8,000 pounds served in 6 months)! My brisket even won 'best beef' in the Sonoma County Harvest Fair." Chef Larry Vito, BBQ Smokehouse, Sebastapol, CA

"Meathead is the best writer covering this part of the culinary world." John Markus, Producer, BBQ Pitmasters TV show

"The Rosetta Stone of BBQ." Bill Lamb

"I got laid last night because of your pastrami" Name withheld for obvious reasons

"Knowledgeable, smart, hilarious, and self-effacing." Laurel Stone

"I have worked as a professional cook in high end French restaurants for several years, so when I hit the internet looking for some BBQ info, I was really pleased to find an in depth and expansive site that had all the tips I was looking for." Aaron Ettlin, Portland, OR

"A Famous Dave's commercial came on claiming the best ribs in the world, and my honey shook his head and said, 'nope, it's right here.' Many, many thanks!" Red Taylor, San Francisco, CA

"We had a fantastic season winning two Grand Championships and five Reserve Grand Championships. I always appreciate referring to your site. Thanks." Steve, Grills Gone Wild, IA

"I have always loved cooking ribs but with our new gas grill they were never as good as charcoal. Well that all changed last night when I made the greatest ribs I have ever tasted. My wife wanted to know if I bought them somewhere and then claimed I cooked them myself." Allen Nicley, Mont Alto, PA

"The Memphis Dust and the pulled pork are excellent! I had to dang near run people out of my house!" Aswad Johnson

"I was about to buy a new smoker. After reading your article about setting up a horizontal smoker, I decided to try rehabilitating something the previous owner of my house left in the backyard. Total investment: $100. I figure I saved at least $500!" Coleman Shelton, Calvert City, KY

" is the most information packed barbecue site known to man." Pitmaster and BBQ Columnist George Hensler

" is the world's go-to place for a barbecue treasure house of reliable information." Ardie "Remus Powers" Davis, author of numerous barbecue books

"This is my new go-to method for prime rib." Candy Weaver, President, Kansas City Barbeque Society

"We've won five Grand Championships and two Reserve Championships in the past three months. Learned much about BBQ from you and wanted to give you credit." Harry Soo,

"The Alton Brown of Que." Joe Mizrahi, Smokin' Joe's, NYC

"I have always loved to travel and eat. Life became boring when I had to give up my worldly adventures. Thanks to you I now love to cook. I am now having adventures at home in my kitchen and my back yard. I am no longer bored, and my large family is grateful too. Thank you so much." Dugan Hoeflinger, Tucson, AZ

"I am in the process of opening a cafe and thought your simple sweet sour slaw is an amazing winner." James Murray, Toronto

"I had two ribs and my boyfriend ate the other 3 1/2 pounds. He couldn't stop to talk. He had to bring a box of tissues to the table because these ribs are so good they make him weep. He tells me that my ribs have deepened his love for me. Well, fine, but I know that just means he wants more ribs." Nancy J. Mostad, Minnesota


Grillin' in the Snow

To the tune of "Singin' in the Rain" with apologies to Gene Kelly

I'm grillin' in the snow,
Just grillin' in the snow!
What a glorious feelin',
I'm chillin' doncha know.

I'm laughing at snow
Meltin' in the glow.
The grill is not fazed,
The meat's ready for glaze.

Let the stormy clouds chase
Everyone from the place,
Come on with the flakes,
I've a smile on my face.

I walk out the door,
With a hunger for pork,
Flippin' the meat,
I'm ready to eat.

[Dance] Grillin' in the snow
Dee-ah dee-ah dee-ah
Dee-ah dee-ah dee-ah
I'm chillin' doncha know!
I'm grillin' and chillin' in the snow!




Related articles



Many merchants pay us a small referral fee when you click our links and purchase from them. On Amazon it works on everything from grills to diapers, they never tell us what you bought, and it has zero impact on the price you pay, but has a major impact on our ability to improve this site! And remember, we only recommend products we love. If you like, please save this link and use it every time you go to Amazon

...some HTML for the first variant...



Get Smoke Signals, our free e-letter. No spam. Guaranteed

Enter your email:

If you love barbecue and grilling, get a FREE 30-day membership in our Pitmaster Club. We can up your game.

  • FREE 30 day trial membership.
  • Sneak previews of Meathead’s new book.
  • We block ads from members.
  • Real community. No politics. No flame wars.
  • Monthly newsletter.
  • Video seminars with famous pitmasters.
  • Weekly podcasts with Greg Rempe.
  • Weekly BBQ cartoons by Jerry King.
  • Comprehensive Temperature Guide Magnet ($10 retail).
  • Monthly giveaways of Gold Medal grills and smokers worth up to $2000.
  • Discounts on products we love.
  • Support for!

Lookit what our members are cooking:

Post comments and questions below


1) Please try the table of contents or the search box at the top of every page before you ask for help.

2) Try to post your question to the appropriate page.

3) Tell us everything we need to know to help such as the type of cooker and thermometer. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F so if you are not using a good digital thermometer we probably can't help you with time and temp questions. Please read this article about thermometers.

4) If you are a member of the Pitmaster Club, your comments login is probably different.

5) Posts with links in them may not appear immediately.


Click to ask questions and make comments