Using your smoker in the cold weather, have you ever thought to try it? This article is here to debunk some common myths and shed some light on using a smoker in the winter. With the information described below, you should have an answer to any questions you have about using a smoker in the cold weather. Let’s not waste any time, here are some very useful cold weather smoking tips.
Choosing the Right Grill
If you plan on smoking meats in the cold weather, then you should purchase the proper equipment. In this case, you are going to want to get a smoker that will be able to keep the temperature at the right level. That is to say, the cold weather will make it much more difficult to keep the smoker hot. Generally speaking, know that the style of smoker you choose can impact how well your smoker is going to perform in the cold weather.
The Backwoods Chubby 3400 Outdoor Charcoal Smoker is a higher end smoker but does very well in the cold weather. Notably, it’s thick steel design will help regulate the temperature. In addition, it is the most portable smoker in the backwoods line, while being able to convert into a BBQ pit or a grill by taking out the water pan. All things considered, this is a really nice smoker and will perform in the cold weather without much issue.
On the other hand, the Weber Smokey Mountain 22” will have a harder time keeping up the temperature. This is due to a thinner exterior shell in addition opening the lid will expose the food directly to the cold weather. Although it is possible to cook in the cold weather with this one, you will most likely have a harder time.
If you want an offset smoker the Traeger TFB38TOD Renegade Pro Wood Pellet Grill would be a good choice. Like the Backwoods Chubby, this model has a thicker steel body and can be used for many other applications other than smoking. In addition, the electric pellet smoker will start up quicker and easier in the cold weather due to not having to rely on the warmth of charcoal. Ultimately any smoker you choose will work, but this one will do a very good job smoking in cold weather.
Make Sure You Have Enough Fuel
Using the right fuel for your smoker is a crucial step, and by now you should know what types of wood, charcoal, or pellets you should be using with your smoker. Not only does the type of fuel you use matter, but also the amount you use should be considered.
In colder weather, you are going to use more fuel especially if you have a smoker that lets out a lot of heat when you check it. It’s important to realize that you will burn through much more of everything when you are smoking in the cold, for this reason, you should stock up on your choice of wood and coals before attempting to use your smoker in the cold weather.
Some people say when starting up the smoker in the cold you should use more wood right off the start. In the event that the wood catches too quickly, you will have to deal with a fire that will get too hot and you might even have to take one of the burning pieces out of the smoker. To avoid any dangerous situations like this, start your smoker as you normally would and just wait it out, it’s just going to take longer with colder weather.
Make sure to keep an eye on your wood source as your cooking, with the colder temperatures it will deplete much quicker. For this reason, you will have to top up the wood source more often than you would on a summer day. Keep an extra stock of your wood, charcoal, and pellets just in case the smoker’s fire goes out and you have to start all over. Not to mention, if the coals happen to get wet you won’t be able to start them up as easily as the first time.
Sheltering the Smoker
Keeping the smoker sheltered from the elements is a very important step when smoking in cold weather. In the event that rain or snow gets inside the smoker, you will have to start over again and if you already have food on the smoker it could be ruined. In order to avoid this situation, you are going to want to find a good place to keep the smoker out of the cold weather. You may find that some spots are better for wind then they are for rain, so use your best judgment to pick out a decent spot to set up your smoker.
It is advised that you build some sort of shelter for the smoker. You can make one out of scrap pieces of plywood that you have lying around the house or garage. With plywood being relatively cheap it would be an affordable solution to go out and buy some if you don’t have any. It is important to realize that without the shelter the smoker will be completely exposed to the elements and will take much longer to cook and use more fuel to stay up to temperature.
It goes without saying that you should never use a smoker indoors. Under these circumstances, there will be a build up of carbon monoxide and the last thing you need is a trip to the hospital. Always use your smoker outdoors to prevent any dangerous and harmful side effects of carbon monoxide. In an event that someone has received a harmful dose of carbon monoxide get them out of the smoke immediately and if they aren’t breathing perform CPR and call the authorities.
Using A Chimney Starter
If you’re using a charcoal smoker in cold weather, your best bet would be to invest in a chimney starter. The B2Q 76956 Chimney Grill Starter is a solid choice when it comes to chimney starters. With its 5 lb. capacity you will be able to start up any size of a charcoal smoker with ease. The durable zinc construction will keep everything contained, while it’s hardwood handle and heat shields will keep the dangerous heat from your hands.
Using a chimney starter is pretty straightforward. They usually have a section for you to put a fire-starter, as well as a large section for your charcoal. The goal is to get this small amount of coals started and to add them to more charcoal in the smoker. As a result, it will take less time to start the smoker up with the coals being spread out inside the smoker. In the long run, it’s worth purchasing one of these if you have a charcoal smoker as it makes starting the smoker a lot easier in the cold weather.
Stabilizing the Temperature
Once you have your smoker started you want to make sure the temperature gets stabilized before you add your meat of choice. When the smoker is starting to catch, the temperature will rise and drop until most of the coals and wood are lit. In addition, you will have to adjust any vents accordingly, but don’t adjust too much at once or your temperature will be all over the map.
The whole point of smoking food is to cook it slowly at a low temperature. Making sure you’re at the right temperature can be tricky, not only is keeping a steady temperature difficult but sometimes the built-in thermometer isn’t very accurate. Although this may be true, you can always be sure of your temperature if you have the right tools. For one thing, you should be using a probe thermometer, to begin with. You can get a dual probe thermometer like the ThermoPro TP-08S Wireless Remote Digital Cooking Meat Thermometer that will allow you to monitor both the temperature of the oven as well as the temperature of the food.
Knowing how hot the smoker is, is a very important detail, given that the meat will dry out on a temperature too high and won’t cook at all on a temperature to low. The temperature you select is based on what kind of meat your cooking and how long you’re cooking it for. Make sure to consult the recipe to see what temperature you need to be at. With this in mind, it’s going to be a lot more difficult to keep everything perfect in the cold weather, so be prepared to have to fiddle around with it until you get the temperature just right.
Insulating the Smoker
One thing you can do to keep the smoker from cooling down to quickly is to wrap it up in some sort of insulating material. There are a lot of things you can use from your local hardware store, just make sure that it is rated for high temperatures.
One thing you can use is furnace insulation. They use these around furnaces to keep the air inside hot and prevent it from escaping the duct-work. This same system can be used for your smoker, just make sure not to cover up any of the vents or you’re going to have some really big problems.
A welder’s blanket works as well. These are thick insulated blankets that are meant to protect floors or other exposed materials that could catch fire when welding. You simply just throw one of these on top of your smoker and it will keep that warm air inside much better.
If you’re lucky you can purchase a winter jacket for your smoker. These are specially designed to fit around the smoker it was made for, including holes for the vents. These are a great thing to have if you plan on smoking meats in the cold weather.
Keep the Lid Shut
One of the most important things to remember is when you open the lid, you are letting all the heat out. Each time you open the lid it could add as much as 20 minutes to the overall cooking time, so it is very important that you only open the lid when you absolutely need to. As a result of not keeping the lid closed, you could potentially lose your heat or even put out the coals if they were to get wet from the rain or snow.
By using a wireless digital thermometer, you will have to check the food far less often. When smoking meat in cold weather, it’s almost a necessity if you want to get the food done on time. You can check out this article here to help you decided on which thermometer will be the best fit for your cooking needs. I personally like the ThermoPro TP-08S Wireless Remote Digital Cooking Meat Thermometer as it has 2 different probes that can get the temperatures of the meat and the smoker at the same time.
Take Your Time
Patience is a great virtue, that being said smoking meat in the cold weather is probably going to test it. First, it’s going to take longer to get the smoker started. Second, the smoker will burn through more fuel and cost more to run than normal. Third, the stall near the end of the cooking time will be longer as well. That being said, don’t worry too much as it will all be fine once it’s ready to eat.
In light of the weather being colder, some people might think that they should use more fuel at once to keep the fire warmer. Some might go as far as to double the amount of fuel they would normally use at once. Not only will this result in a hotter fire, but it will create way too much smoke and possibly ruin your nice cut of meat. Try your best to use the recommended amount of fuel, and if it still isn’t getting hot enough, add a little bit at a time and wait for it to catch.
Another thing some people do is use lighter fluid to get the smoker up to temperature quicker in the winter. This not only is not recommended as it could flare up, but it will add a nasty taste to the meat once its all said and done. If you aren’t supposed to be using lighter fluid with your smoker, then don’t as it could be potentially dangerous and can ruin the flavor of the meat.
In the cold weather not only is your smoker going to need to be insulated, but you will need to be as well. Make sure to dress appropriately for the weather, or you might end up getting sick and not able to enjoy your tasty smoked meal. In, short don’t go out smoking some meat in the middle of a cold winter in your shorts and t-shirt, this is just common sense.
When cooking on a smoker, you should always have some insulated thermal gloves handy. A lot of these gloves are made of silicone and can resist temperatures of up to 900 degrees. Even though the smoker is at a low heat you could get burned easily if you are exposed to it for a period of time. And it makes it a lot easier if you need to adjust anything. Generally speaking, it would be a good idea to keep some gloves nearby in case you need them.
When done cooking on your smoker, don’t leave it out in the cold. If it has any electrical components, bring those indoors and try to keep your smoker covered when not using it. Most smokers come with a cover to protect it from rain and snow, it’s generally not advised to use these covers as an insulator while cooking. As a result of it being made of thinner material, there’s a good chance it will melt or catch fire.
Make sure to all the components such as the grates, the water pan, and the inside of the smoker. Some grease on the inside of the smoker is ok, as it adds to the flavor of the next cooking session. After all, those old flavors add a lot to everything you smoke in the future.
- Never use gas or charcoal again: cooking with wood just tastes better. Traeger created the original wood-pellet grill as the ultimate way to achieve wood-fired taste.
- Versatile barbecue cooking: hot and fast, or low and slow, the Traeger Renegade Pro pellet grill offers 6-in-1 versatility to grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise, and BBQ food to juicy perfection.
- Precision temperature control: The Digital Pro Controller rocks Advanced Grilling Logic, which maintains a +/- 15 degree F temperature control to guarantee precision grilling.
Last update on 2024-02-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy your favorite smoked meats in the cold weather. By using the tips provided you should have no problem smoking some delicious food. The first thing to remember is to keep it sheltered from the elements. You can achieve this by finding a good location for the smoker, building a shelter, and insulating it. Another thing, always make sure to keep the lid closed, you don’t want all of your heat to escape. Equally important, keep yourself warm too as you don’t want to be getting sick or even worse having to deal with frostbite.
I hope you enjoyed this article, feel free to leave comments below and don’t forget to like and share these tips with your friends!
Last Updated on July 5, 2019 by Judith Fertig