How To Grill Outside In The Cold, According To A Grillmaster

Here at Mashed, one of our very favorite ways to cook is to light up the ol' grill and sear steaks, chicken, veggies, and a whole lot more to burnished perfection. We love the convivial nature of grilling, the intense flavor the high heat imparts to our favorite foods, and how quick and simple cleanup can be since we're not dealing with a bunch of pots and pans.

Typically, though, we limit our grillmaster-ing to the warmer spring and summer months, retreating inside to our stovetops and ovens when temperatures get too chilly to contemplate spending too much time outside. But, as Michael Ollier, grillmaster and senior corporate chef for the Certified Angus Beef brand, told us in an exclusive interview, there's no reason not to grill in the winter — as long as you throw on a jacket and follow his tips. "Grilling during winter can absolutely be fun!" Ollier said. 

Read on to learn what he shared with us about successful cold-weather grilling.

Plan some extra preheating time

Per Michael Ollier, one of the most important factors to consider when grilling in colder weather is preheating your grill. In the summer months, a grill will come to temperature quickly, but in the winter, it will take a bit longer. "You'll want to plan extra time for your grill to preheat and food may take longer to cook," Ollier said. "Plus, the outside grill thermometer is less accurate when it's cold. We recommend using a meat thermometer to gauge doneness."

Once the grill is hot, it's important to keep it that way, Ollier noted: You might get away with open-top grilling during the summer, but not in the cold. "When you're grilling in cooler temperatures it's important to keep the grill's lid closed as much as possible. You don't want to introduce the outside cool air, which will slow the cooking process," he said.

Winter grilling really is doable

So you've read Michael Ollier's tips and know to lock in that heat during winter grilling. But is this truly a suitable method for cold-weather cooking? Ollier assured us that it is. "You really can extend your grilling season to be year-long as long as you don't mind braving the cold!" he said. One approach he recommends is grilling principal items, like a protein, and preparing sides and salads inside, where it's warm. "It's always a fun surprise when guests see the star of the food spread is from the grill, and it's easy to prepare the rest of the meal indoors," he shared.

As Ollier noted, summery foods can easily be recreated on a wintertime grill. But it can be fun to put a cold-weather twist on grill classics like a cheeseburger. "We did that with our fig and Brie burger recently," he said. "The richness of the fig and brie give it such a warmth that's perfect for those winter months."

"I think people forget that grilling isn't just a summer activity," Ollier summarized. Sold! We're going to throw on a vest and some gloves, and get the grill fired up.