How to Confidently Cook Outdoors in the Rain, Wind, and Cold

Posted on Leave a comment

Harsh weather can present some challenges, but that's no reason to put your smoker away for the winter! Here are some tips to help you cook like a boss in the rain, wind, and cold.


As an avid barbecue enthusiast, you understand that barbecue doesn't really have a season. Cold weather is coming, but your opportunities for smoking and grilling are by no means over.

My motto is: "Don't fight the elements... adapt to them."

The weather can change quickly, and a bit of flexibility and adapting to the weather goes a long way in producing fantastic grilled and smoked meals all winter long.

Prefer to talk with us? Visit our store at 140 W Main Street in New Holland, PA or call us at (717) 355-0779 for help with your outdoor cooking questions. We carry everything you need to cook outdoors, but more importantly, we have personal experience in smoking and grilling and are happy to help you overcome your cooking challenges free of charge.

Cooking in the Rain

  • A light rain won't hurt most charcoal smokers when in use, but some smokers with electronics, such as pellet smokers, must be kept dry at all times.
  • A Big Green Egg is well-insulated and the optional rain cap keeps rainwater out of the grill even when the top vent is open.
  • Rain (and snow) evaporates as it drops on your smoker, pulling heat from your smoker. It may take extra fuel to compensate for that.
  • If you don’t have a well-ventilated covered patio or pavilion for cooking, consider investing in a pop-up canopy to keep your cooker, meat, and tools dry when cooking in the rain.
  • If you're cooking with charcoal or wood, some days you'll need to use more fuel or give the fire more air to compensate for atmospheric conditions.

Remember to keep your smoker or grill covered between uses to protect it from moisture and sunlight. If you own a Meadow Creek, Big Green Egg, Yoder, or Green Mountain grill and don't have a cover, ask us about purchasing one to extend the life of your grill.

Cooking in the Wind

  • Wind blowing through the intake vent of your smoker can fan the fire and spike the temperature. This may require you to reduce the opening of the intake vent facing the wind.
  • On a gas grill, wind can extinguish the fire or make it hard to maintain temperature because of the gaps around the lid.
  • In cold weather, wind can pull heat out of your smoker. This is especially a concern with a small thin-walled smoker. Heavy duty smokers, such as the Meadow Creek TS250 or PR60, have a large mass of steel to retain and radiate heat, so they usually do an awesome job in typical Pennsylvania winter conditions.
  • It may be advisable to position your smoker behind a wind break or to create a movable wind barrier. If you are handy with wood, a plywood wind shield would work. Use a 2x4 frame and hinges to support the plywood and create a folding, free-standing barrier. You may need to secure it with concrete blocks or stakes.

Cooking in the Cold

If you're having trouble maintaining temperature in cold weather, there are a variety of options available.

  • Lay a welding blanket over the cooking chamber of your smoker, securing it with wire if necessary. Keep the blanket off of the firebox in case it gets too hot.
  • If you're the DIY type, double foil insulation may work for your smoker. Check out these photos from a SmokingMeatForums.com member who wrapped his propane smoker in it. The foil may melt though, so only wrap it around the cooking chamber of your smoker and not the firebox.
  • YouTuber T-ROY Cooks recommends wrapping a Weber Smoky Mountain Smoker with furnace insulation, a high heat insulation for stoves and furnaces.
  • If you're cooking on a small backyard smoker, such as a Masterbuilt electric, you can cut foil-backed foam insulation into four pieces and duct tape it in the corners to make a four-sided free-standing "cage" around your smoker. Leave the one corner open so you can access the smoker door. Leave enough margin around the smoker so that it doesn't overheat your wind shield. A more permanent "shelter" with three sides and a roof would do the job too.
  • Browse examples of DIY smoker insulators and shelters on AmazingRibs.com.
  • We carry fitted, insulated blankets for Yoder and Green Mountain pellet grills. These blankets are easy to use and make a big difference in the amount of pellets it takes to cook in cold weather. Ask us about getting a fitted blanket for your pellet grill.

Important: Always make sure your insulator doesn't restrict the airflow of your smoker and don't do anything risky that could start a fire.

More Tips for Cooking in Adverse Weather

  • Use a well insulated smoker. Some smokers and grills are easier to run in adverse weather. These include the Big Green Egg which is heavily insulated, the Meadow Creek BX smokers, and handmade smokers such as the Meadow Creek tank smokers.
  • Stock up on plenty of fuel in case it takes more than you anticipate. We carry a variety of charcoals, pellets, and smoking woods.
  • Keep the lid shut as much as possible. We know, it's hard not to peek, but it's best not to let too much air escape from the smoker.
  • Always maintain proper distance between your smoker or grill and flammable structures or objects.

Still have questions? Visit our store at 140 W Main Street in New Holland, PA or call us at (717) 355-0779 for help with your outdoor cooking questions. We carry everything you need to cook outdoors, but more importantly, we have personal experience in smoking and grilling and are happy to help you overcome your cooking challenges free of charge.

About the author: Lavern Gingerich is the digital marketing manager for Meadow Creek Barbecue Supply.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *