Does it have to be summertime to smoke?

No. (Boy, that was the easiest blog post ever.)

OK, we should probably write more than that. But contrary to what you might think, it doesn’t have to be nice and sunny outside to fire up the smoker.

Sure, it might be more enjoyable when the weather is perfect, and you’ve got a cold beer in your hand, but you can smoke throughout the year. (You can have a cold beer in your hand anytime throughout the year, too. Just saying.)

But when it’s not nice outside, you might have to do things a little differently, because cold weather and wind can make smoking a little more difficult. And a lot more time-consuming.

That’s fine, though, because you already knew that great barbecue requires patience, right?

Why the temperature matters

Smoking is all about maintaining the right temperature inside your grill or smoker—and when the temperature is colder outside, it can be harder to keep your temps up. Not only does it take longer to get up to temp, it takes more fuel as well.

It’s best to preheat your cooker until it’s quite hot on the outside, because the cool weather is going to keep conspiring to cool that metal off. The fire inside pulls in oxygen, meaning it is pulling in cold air. The moisture from the meat condenses, cooling things down as well. This is particularly problematic with metal smokers—ceramic cookers are better at maintaining the temp once you get it where you want it, but that still will take longer.

Keeping things warm

There are a couple of ways to combat this. Some people like to put bricks in the smoker, because they capture and then radiate some of the heat. Others wrap their smoker in insulation or a welder’s blanket. We’ve even seen die-hards that have built structures to contain their smoker and help them retain heat. (It is worth mentioning that you should never operate a smoker indoors, even your garage, because deadly carbon monoxide will build up.)

Whatever you do, if you love smoking, you’ll love it year-round. And if it takes a little more effort in the colder months, well, the results will be that much sweeter.

Ryan McCormack