Don’t Put Your Grill Away: BBQ Recipes for All Year Long
Most people break out the grill around Memorial Day and tuck it away at the end of summer when the temperatures start to drop. Just think of all those grilled sausages and steaks you miss during the cooler months. You may not lounge around the pool while you BBQ in the winter, but you can definitely break out the grill to cook your favorite winter dishes. Check out our best tips and winter BBQ recipes to keep the flames going all year.
Reasons to Grill in the Winter
If you think of grilling as a summer-only cooking method, you may wonder why you should bother with winter grilling. Sure, cooking on your stove keeps you out of the chilly weather, but it also limits your options. You just can’t accurately replicate the delicious grilled flavor indoors.
Here are some of our favorite reasons to grill year-round:
- Capture Summer Flavors: Winter can feel like it goes on forever. By grilling, you get those delicious flavors of summer even in January. Think of it as a mini vacation with each bite reminding you of the sunny summer days coming in a few months.
- Keep Cooking Smells Outside: During the winter, you have your windows closed, so you don’t get much fresh air. Cooking indoors means all of those odors linger. By grilling, you keep those odors outdoors, so your indoor air stays fresher.
- Expand Options: Grilling gives you another option for winter food prep. You can try winter favorites in a new way with a grilled preparation.
Winter Grilling Basics
You’ve decided to brave the chilly temperatures to grill. How do you go about doing it? Grilling in the winter is basically the same as grilling in the summer, although you may need to make a few adjustments to your grilling routine.
Use these winter grilling basics to get you started:
- Position the Grill: You may want to reposition your grill for easier access during the winter. By moving the grill closer to the house, you make it easier to get to the grill quickly to minimize your time outdoors. Another consideration is positioning the grill behind a structure that will help block the cold wind. Remember you should always keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your home, car, structures or other flammable objects.
- Use a Grill Cover: Keeping your grill covered protects it from snow, ice, rain and other weather elements. It also makes it easier to start grilling. You can simply remove the cover along with the snow and ice instead of scraping off the grill itself before you can light it.
- Remove Ice and Snow: If you don’t have a grill cover, remove all snow and ice from the grill before you light it. A layer of ice and snow lowers the temperature in the grill and increases the amount of time needed to heat up the grill.
- Use Gas: You can cook on a charcoal grill year round, but a gas grill heats up faster with less prep work. This easier prep means you’ll spend less time outdoors in the cold. You can also adjust the heat levels easily, so your food cooks better.
- Have Extra Fuel: Grilling in cold temperatures means your grill has to work a little harder to compensate. Make sure you have plenty of fuel on hand to keep the grill going until the food is cooked thoroughly.
- Light the Area: Install a grill light to make it easier to see. Sunset comes much earlier in winter, so you may find yourself grilling in the dark.
- Add Cooking Time: Along with the extra fuel, you may need to increase your cooking time to cook meat thoroughly. In some cases, you may need to increase your grilling time by 20 to 30 percent because the cold outside air makes it harder for the grill to heat up.
- Keep It Closed: It’s tempting to peek at your food, but keeping the grill closed as much as possible keeps the heat inside to speed up cooking. Open the lid only when needed to flip your food.
- Grill Food That’s in Season: One of the best parts about grilling year-round is the variety of in-season foods you can enjoy. Look for seasonal items to cook during the winter. You might grill winter squash in the cooler months, for example.
- Use Caution: When you’re surrounded by snow and can see your breath, you may forget just how hot the grill gets. Always use caution, so you don’t burn yourself when grilling in cold weather.
- Dress Appropriately: You may only spend a few minutes at a time outside, but it’s still important to dress warmly based on the current weather. Wear a hat and grilling gloves to stay warm. If you wear a scarf, tuck it in, so it doesn’t fall onto the grilling surface. Pay attention to where you reach, so your coat or sweatshirt doesn’t catch on fire.
- Keep a Shovel Handy: If you live in a snowy climate, you may need to dig your way to the grill some days. Keep a shovel handy to clear a path and to make a clear area around the grill.
- Never Use a Grill Indoors: Unless it is a specially designed indoor appliance, never bring a grill indoors. Even bringing it into your garage can cause harmful fumes and carbon monoxide to enter your home with potentially deadly results. You also expose yourself to a fire risk. Keep the grill outdoors in a well-ventilated area away from any structures or overhangs.
Create Your Winter Grilling Menu With These BBQ Ideas
Plan your winter grilling menu in advance to cover all of your bases. Think about your normal winter meals. Can you cook any of them on the grill? Are there any summer classics you cook on the grill that you miss during the winter? Anything you normally grill during the summer will also work throughout the year. It just may need a little extra cooking time in colder weather.
When grilling meat in the winter, consider the cuts. Thick steaks, pork chops and other meat will take longer to cook in the winter. Butterfly those thick pieces of meat, or choose thinner cuts to save on cooking time.
Not sure what to cook? Try some of the following winter grilling recipes.
You don’t have to resign yourself to visiting a steakhouse to get a juicy grilled steak in the winter. Use your grill to cook up your signature steaks year-round. A thinner cut is your best bet because it will cook fast, which is good on cold days when grilling can take longer anyway. Add seasonings such as salt and pepper to get the flavor you want on the steak. Adding some spicy seasonings will help warm up the dish on a cold winter day.
Once seasoned, grill your steak to your preferred level of doneness. Keep in mind that the steak will likely need some extra cooking time compared to summer time grilling. Use a meat thermometer to judge how done the steak is.
Sausage is the perfect comfort food for cold nights. Cook your favorite type of sausage on the grill to capture a smoky flavor and to get those appealing grill marks you just can’t resist.
Sausage is an easy winter grilling option because it’s straightforward to cook. Put it on the grill, flip it to cook all the sides and your dinner is ready. Add some onions to the grill to complement your sausage sandwiches.
You can also use the grilled sausage in other dishes. Cut it up and add it to your favorite creamy pasta dish or a baked ziti recipe. Grilling it first adds that smoky flavor to the pasta dish. Add it to your favorite potato soup for a protein boost and added flavor. Soup is a go-to for cold days, and a touch of grilled flavor puts it over the top.
Instead of picking up the phone and ordering delivery, grill a pizza on your grill this winter. The grill adds a rich smokiness to your homemade pizza, adding an extra layer of flavor. You should definitely try grilled pizza any time of year, but you can come up with some fun fall and winter combinations for the toppings.
Start with a good crust. Brush the bottom of the crust well with olive oil to keep it from sticking to the grill. You can pre-bake the crust, or grill it for a few minutes on each side to keep it stable for topping. Some people prefer to top the dough after putting it on the grill to avoid moving the topped pizza, although this can be challenging in the winter. If you pre-bake or grill the crust first, it’ll be much easier to take it inside to top it and then return it to the grill.
The toppings you choose are completely up to you. Let each person make an individual pizza or make a family pie. Add tomato, pesto, white sauce or olive oil, and then top the pizza with your favorite toppings. Roasted vegetables work well on fall and winter pizzas. Roast the veggies ahead of time, or use leftover roasted vegetables from a previous meal. Add cheese before putting the pizza on the grill.
Try some of these fall and winter pizza topping ideas:
- Turkey sausage and Brussels sprouts
- Sweet potato and kale
- Apple, goat cheese and pecan
- Butternut squash and gorgonzola
- Turkey, cranberry sauce, pesto, caramelized onions, and ricotta
Cool the pizza with the grill lid down until the crust is baked and the cheese is melted and golden.
Carry the fun of kebabs into the winter with winter skewers. Because the ingredients are cut into such small pieces, they cook quickly, which is a bonus in colder temperatures. They’re easy to make and to customize based on your family’s preferences.
Start with your meat. Chunks of sausage, chicken breast or steak work well. Cut them into chunks large enough to easily skewer yet small enough to cook quickly. Add chunks of squash, sweet potato, Brussels sprouts and other favorite in-season veggies. Drizzle an oil-based dressing on the skewers, or brush them with olive oil and sprinkle your favorite dry seasonings on them.
Place the skewers on a heated grill. Turn them occasionally to cook the food on all sides. When they’re done, slide the food off the skewers onto a plate, and dinner is ready.
Grilled Tomato Soup
Nothing beats a creamy bowl of tomato soup on a cold day – except maybe a bowl of tomato soup with a toasty grilled cheese sandwich on the side. Forget the can of gloppy condensed tomato soup in your pantry. Whip up homemade tomato soup with a smoky grilled twist.
Wash about six large tomatoes, and remove the stems. Cut the tomatoes into halves or quarters. Toss them in a few tablespoons of olive oil with salt and pepper to taste. Place the tomatoes on a hot grill or grill tray, cooking them until they start to char. This should only take three to five minutes per side.
After the tomatoes cool slightly, puree them in a food processor. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons each of chopped garlic and shallots to match your taste preferences. Cook for a few minutes until the pieces start to caramelize.
Add the tomato puree and about 1 cup of fresh, finely chopped basil leaves to the pot. Cook for about 3 minutes before adding 3 cups of chicken or vegetable broth to the mix. Simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes to let the flavors mingle.
Grilled Winter Veggies
Grilled winter vegetables are perfect as a side dish for your grilled winter meal. It’s an easy way to change up the prep instead of boiling, roasting or sautéing your Brussels sprouts and winter squash. Cut Brussels sprouts in half. If you’re grilling squash, sweet potatoes or other veggies, prep and cut them into smaller pieces. Parboiling by tossing the veggies in boiling water for 1 or 2 minutes helps them cook faster once on the grill.
Vegetables need at least a little oil on them to keep them from sticking since they don’t have natural fat. Toss the veggies with olive oil, salt, pepper and other preferred seasonings. If the pieces are large enough, you can place them directly on the grill grate. For smaller pieces, use a grill tray or pan. Stir the veggies occasionally to brown them on all sides until they are completely cooked and soft.
Grilled Apples and Pears
Round out your cooler weather grilled menu by grilling a healthy dessert. Apples and pears are perfect for fall and winter desserts, and they both hold up well to grilling. Cut the fruit into ¼-inch slices. Toss them with a mixture of water and lemon juice. Place them on the grill for 5 to 7 minutes per side or until they’re soft. Sprinkle a mixture of cinnamon and brown sugar on top of the grilled fruit slices. You can serve them alone or with ice cream. Another tasty option is to grill slices of angel food cake to go along with the grilled fruit.
BBQ Recipe Ideas for Winter
Try one of our favorite grilling recipes this winter:
- Grilled Sausage and Potato Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette
- Cheesy BBQ Sausage Bites
- Bacon-Wrapped Sausage with Saurkraut
- Land and Sea BBQ
What’s your favorite winter grilling recipe? Comment below and let us know.