Originally I was planning to take my kamado grill inside for the winter. I was worried it would get moisture into the ceramics and the ceramics might crack when it freezes. Luckily I found that a lot of people cook with a kamado smoker in the winter even in places where the smoker is not covered so I decided to keep it out during the winter. I’m glad I did I’ve gotten to do a lot of great cooks during the winter.
Tips for smoking in winter
Use a cover for the grill, this will prevent rain and snow from getting into the pit.
If you have a kamado grill put something between the lid and the base and prop it slightly open. If you prop the grill lid slightly ajar, it is necessary to have a cover for the grill else you will get rain and snow directly into the pit and that isn’t good. Freezing water will expand and you might get issues.
When you have high moisture and below-freezing temperatures, the lid will freeze and you won’t be able to open it without damaging the seal for the lid. This happened to me a few times. I solved the issue by lighting the grill from the bottom air vent. I had some coals still inside so the coals ignited and the ceramics got warm and I was able to open the grill without damaging the seal.
- Expect longer cook times
- Avoid opening the lid unnecessarily as the cold air will drop the temperatures and it will take a lot longer to heat up again
- If you use a water pan fill it with boiling water instead of cold water
- Use a temperature tracker that you can see remotely to track meat and grill temperature.
- During heavy wind it is a good idea to shelter your grill a bit. The wind will cause more cold air to flow through the bottom air vent and cause temperature changes that are hard to control.
It will also take a lot longer to get your grill to temperature than usual. When using a ceramic grill it’s often harder to get the temperature down after it gets too high. In winter it’s hard to get the temperatures up. Start the cook by igniting the coals as usual but let it ignite more coals than usual. Close the lid only after you see a lot of coals burning. Getting the temperatures down is a lot easier in cold weather. I recommend slightly overshooting your target temperature and then let it cool down instead of the usual other way around. In summer do the exact opposite.
Using an automatic temperature controller in winter
I highly recommend them for any longer cook. Check out my earlier blog post about them. In winter it can be quite challenging. What the controller does is blow air through the bottom vent. What happens when the air outside is well below freezing? It will cause temperatures in the pit to go down very fast. if What does the controller do? It will start to blow even more air. Once all the coals are burning the temperatures will begin to rise and you will vastly overshoot your target temps.
You can avoid the problem by not making the controller work so hard. Make sure you are at or slightly above your target when you hook it up. Once you are within 8 degrees of your target the controller will manage fine. If the grill temperature is too far below from your target temperature set your target closer to your actual temperature and ramp it up 5-10 degrees at a time to make the fan work slightly and not at full power to catch up.
What do the manufacturers say about winter cooking?
Big Green Egg
YOU CAN cook in every season, in any weather … even in the rain or snow
Thanks to its high-tech ceramic composition, an EGG will endure extreme temperature differences and can maintain internal temperatures irrespective of the weather. You will find yourself using your EGG in all seasons. Want a perfectly roasted turkey in the middle of winter … no problem!
However, do not leave an unused EGG open or with the cap removed, and never allow rain or snow to enter an unused EGG. Should the interior of an EGG get wet, dry completely then light a small amount of charcoal and allow the EGG to heat very gradually to not more than 350°F / 177°C to slowly burn off any residue or moisture.https://biggreenegg.com/first-timer-tips/
Unfortunately KamadoJoe didn’t have an official response to these questions but I found that a lot of people do you use all year round even in places like Canada where you get snow and frost.
Will the Ceramics Crack Under Extreme Heat, Cold or Rain?
No. Primo ceramics are very sturdy and there is no danger of cracking due to extreme heat, below zero temperatures, or rain. Do not pour water into the grill while it is hot to extinguish the lit charcoal. It may crack the ceramics, and it will definitely create a mess inside your grill.
Do I need a Grill Cover?
Primo grills are made to live outside. Many owners prefer a grill cover to reduce occasional cleaning of the outside, or to protect the surface of their wood grill table from the sun and elements, or for off-season storage.http://www.primogrill.com/en-us/resources/faq