I believe you can grill all year round, whatever the weather. Though going by many of the complaints I see in Facebook groups about rain preventing play, it’s evident not everybody agrees.
So in this article, I’m going to give you some guidance on how to master the art of grilling in the rain. It only requires a smidgeon of creativity, some common sense, and a little planning.
I know you love barbecuing, and you can’t control the weather, but you can overcome the situation. The bright and sunny weather forecast isn’t always right so don’t rely on it, and always be prepared.
After taking on board the advice in this article, the next time it rains down on your grilling get together, there will be no chaos, no fuss, just a good cooked meal and a helluva good time.
Let’s start with some gear that can help you to grill in the rain.
No Multitasking Required, If You Plan for It
Have you seen someone juggling an umbrella in one hand and a spatula in the other trying to flip the burgers? Not a good idea, he could lose his balance and drop his food. Unless you’re wearing a raincoat and the rain is not too heavy or windy, you might be okay.
What kind of rain do you typically experience in your area? You want to plan for the normal weather, not the occasional hurricane.
If it only drizzles or rains straight down, you can probably get away with a patio umbrella. However, if you experience mostly gusty winds with the rain, you’ll need a more permanent solution.
All you need to grill in rainy weather are some good non-slip shoes, a raincoat and one of these five solutions.
5 Ways to Keep Rain from Ruining Your Grilling
Here are some ideas to protect you and your grill from the rain:
1. Patio Umbrella
This is the least expensive of the solutions. Look for the biggest umbrella you can find and make sure you can tie or weigh it down against high wind gusts. 5-gallon buckets of wet sand make good anchors for umbrellas and tarps.
2. BBQ Canopy
This is the same idea as a gazebo or shelter, only smaller and usually a material canopy draped over a metal frame that’s only just large enough to cover a BBQ, not a seating and dining area.
3. A Retractable Awning
Retractable awnings are a welcome addition to any deck or patio. Not only do they keep snow and rain off you and your grill, but they offer plenty of shade for the hot summer days.
4. A Permanent Covered Grilling Station
For anyone who loves to cook outside, a covered grilling station is an ideal cure for rain-soaked grills. This is the most expensive solution but can add value to the property when done right. You’ll want to consult a professional designer and installer to incorporate your needs and ideas.
5. Tarp Tent or Dining Fly Tent
The Boy Scout Solution. This is a camping solution that’s been around since man first began grilling in the rain. Look for a flame resistant or retardant tarp. Never use a sheet of plastic. It can easily melt and catch fire. Make sure you suspend the tarp at least 6 feet above the surface of the grill if you put the grill under it.
No matter what solution you choose, make sure the gap between the grill and the roof is at least 6 feet. The heat and flare-ups can easily cause a fire. That’s why we don’t recommend structures like snow shelters for cars that have a polyethylene cover. And, most backyard sheds are too small. They will quickly fill with dangerous smoke, and the ceilings are too low.
Now, moving on: Wet and slippery weather can slow you down. Lower temperatures and windy conditions can affect your grill heat, cooking time and the quality of your food. To overcome these cooking challenges, here’s a tip.
Pre-Cook to Reduce Your Time in the Rain
Why not pre-cook your meal while out of the rain, following tips from our guide on how to grill indoors? The reverse searing method works well for burgers and steaks. You just place them in a low oven until the internal temperature reaches 120°F (49°C) and then finish searing them on the grill.
No one will know you weren’t standing out in the rain the entire time and the meat will be a perfect medium rare, with a great sear from the grill.
If you know ahead of time that it will rain, why not change the menu to meat that you can cook low and slow like a brisket, whole chicken or pork butt?
This will eliminate you having to monitor fast cooking foods like steak and hamburger continuously. It’s no fun having to babysit those in the rain and miss all the social activities or the football game.
If you’re serving veggies, wrap them in foil with all the ingredients. You can start them in the oven or leave them to cook low and slow on the grill. The foil will keep the heat and flavor inside, even if you open the lid frequently.
The Wind is Your Enemy
If the wind is flipping the burgers for you, it’s time to make a windbreak. Patio umbrellas and BBQ canopies don’t do anything to protect against the wind. Even covered grilling stations and awnings won’t help if the wind blows from the wrong direction.
You can set up a basic wall or wind block using a sheet of plywood or similar material to stop the wind. Just make sure it is stable enough so that it won’t fall on anyone or the grill.
Better Temperature Control
The combination of wind and rain will lower your grill temperature the same way you blow on a hot spoon of soup to cool it off. If you are using charcoal, you’ll need to start earlier and add more to maintain the temperature. Charcoal absorbs moisture making it harder to light.
Gas grills are susceptible to having the burners blowout from strong gusts of wind. If it happens, be sure to turn off the gas, open the lid for a couple of minutes to let the gas escape before relighting.
You’ll find a remote grill thermometer to be an indispensable tool during inclement weather. You can monitor the grill and food temperatures while you stay warm and dry. This technique works well for low and slow smoking, but for high-heat grilling, you’ll need to check your food every couple of minutes to prevent burning.
Watch your vents and see where they are facing. Is the wind or rain blowing directly into any of them? Be sure to close them or turn your grill in a different direction.
Grilling in the Rain Has Its Advantages
A rainy day means the air is humid. The humidity reduces evaporation, keeping your food moist and juicy longer.
Also, we tend to grill with the cover closed to keep out the rain and the wind. The extra smoke adds flavor to everything you’re grilling.
So, grilling while it rains is not all bad. Your food will taste better, as long as it doesn’t get soaking wet on the way to the house.
But, grilling in the rain has challenges and safety hazards too. In these conditions, you can make bad choices.
Play It Safe and Don’t Do The Following
It’s always a bad idea to grill inside your garage. It will soon fill with smoke which can leak into the house. But more importantly, smoke contains carbon monoxide and other components that can kill you.
Not to mention, you have a fire burning inside your garage where you probably have a lawnmower and extra gas tank with some gas still in it. One spark from a popping coal is all it takes to ruin your life.
As I said before, don’t put your grill under the garage door, overhang or tarp if it is less than 6 feet higher than the grill.
Avoid having it rain directly on the food or the coals. The rain will not only get the food wet and cool off the coals, but the wind and heavy drops can project the ash all over your food.
Here’s another good thing when you grill in the rain.
Planning for Rain Will Make You a Better Cook
If you love to grill and smoke outside, rain is inevitable. There is an old Norwegian saying,
“There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.”
If we apply the same positive attitude toward grilling in the rain, “there is only bad planning.”
Here are the tips to grilling successfully on a rainy day.
- Start your fire earlier, and use more charcoal.
- Plan for some type of shelter from the rain above and wind from the side.
- Keep the lid closed as much as possible.
- Use a remote thermometer to reduce your time standing in the rain.
- Keep an eye on gas burners so that they don’t suddenly blow out.
- Pre-cook meat using the reverse-searing method.
- Wrap veggies in foil and grill them at the same time. They will retain heat and moisture.
With a little preparation, you’ll be able to cook rain or shine and achieve excellent results.
Great chefs know how to improvise. Finding solutions to grilling in the rain will make you a better cook in the long run.
Professional chefs and pitmasters know how to keep things organized, monitor their food, and keep their cool while entertaining others. They prepare for inclement weather before it ever happens.
With these tips, you’ll have everything ready whenever it starts to drizzle on you. Let me know how you make out during your next wet grilling party. I love to hear about ingenious solutions to everyday problems.