It’s no secret that barbecue lovers love smoked meat all year long! It is almost impossible to maintain the right cooking temperature while smoking in winter if you do not address these challenges correctly. If the weather isn’t crashing hot and you feel like a smoked meal, what do you do?
To your surprise, you can even smoke in cold weather as you do in summers! Is it tough? Yes. Is it time-consuming? Yes! But everything outweighs the juicy smoked flavor of the meat you get afterward. All you need is a little knowledge and practice about using smokers in bad weather conditions!
What is the Ideal temperature for smoking meat?
Smoking meat is the test of patience. It requires slow and consistent cooking. The ideal temperature which is said to work best for the purpose is 225 degree Fahrenheit to 250 degree Fahrenheit. But mostly meats are cooked at a temperature of 145-165 to be safe, but for a tender barbecue, the temperature should be around 180 degree Fahrenheit.
How do you smoke in cold weather?
Smoking in bad weather can be quite a task. The first thing to consider is the difference in the smoker’s internal temperature and outside temperature. On regular days, it is found that the internal temperature ranges at 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If the desired temperature is 225, then the temperature must be increased by 125 degrees. But on cold days it is found that the internal temperature is low, at 35 degrees or so.
In those cases, it needs to be increased to reach the desired temperature and, as a result, will require more fuel. The wind is another crucial factor. You need to keep a close eye on the smoker during bad weather. The air enters through the firebox and then moves across the cooking chamber. If the wind is blowing in the same direction, it will facilitate the faster burning of fuels. During cold weather, keep the smoker in the same direction as the wind. If it begins to rain or snow, open the vents to raise the temperature to offset the heat loss.
Tips for smoking or Barbecuing in Cold Weather
Create your own smoker insulation
Other alternatives are available if you don’t want to spend too much on a smoker jacket. You can also DIY them as per your need. The considerations are safety, airflow, and effectiveness. The other options are welding blankets and furnace insulation. A welders blanket protects against snow and chilly winds and is advantageous as they don’t catch fire. Double foil insulation is also a good alternative.
Keep the lid shut
Lifting the lid frequently when there is cold air flowing. It gets difficult and time-consuming for the smoker to return to its original temperature. It is essential to check the temperatures to know when to refuel, and an easy way to do that without lifting the lid is using a thermometer.
Stock up the fuel
It is known that cooking in cold weather requires a huge amount of fuel. More fuel is required because the internal temperature is too low in winters, and more heat is needed to reach the desired temperature. So it is always advisable to stock up on fuel beforehand if you plan to cook or smoke in cold weather.
Place your smoker in a sheltered spot
Have a look at your surroundings so that the smoker is kept in a sheltered area. For example, it has a tinned roof at one end of your backyard to protect the appliance from snow and hail storms. Do not keep the cold smoker in a closed area, especially the garages. A confined space has the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Use a cold weather jacket
Like humans, smokers also have a jacket to protect themselves from extreme conditions. The main aim of putting on a cold weather jacket is to hold in the heat that it has already generated. But always be careful to purchase such a one that facilitates airflow and has fire resistance.
Use a good meat thermometer
A good meat thermometer is undoubtedly a great thing to have when cooking in cold times. A meat thermometer measures the internal temperature of meats and other food-containing proteins. It helps to check whether or not the meat has been well cooked. It is something of use not only in the cold weather, but also you can use it during regular days to check the status of your meat.
Have extra pellets in hand
Needles to say, there might be times when the cold winds will continuously blow the fire off and cooking may be hampered. So it is always advisable to keep a few bags of extra pellets in hand in these chilly times!
It is no doubt challenging to use a smoker in the cold weather with the cold winds and snow throughout the day. But this is not a barrier as smokers can be definitely used these days just with some additional arrangements.
You would obviously need more wood and charcoal, as the temperature is cold and it takes more time and fuel to heat. What happens generally is that during the winters, the need to constantly refuel is more and if you have the things ready, the temperature would remain stable. Also, keep the smoker in the direction of the wind so that high temperatures are maintained.
Whether you can or you cannot use a smoker to smoke meat in the cold weather is just not enough. Another important thing is to keep the smoker warm from the inside. Also, many smokers face the problem of not getting up to the temperature as the cold chilly wind overpowers them.
A smoker jacket or blanket is one of the solutions to look for that maintains the cooking temperature. Many brands have custom-fit jackets, but if yours doesn’t, you can easily opt for a universal brand. It can keep the smoker warm and not get super chilly when not in use.
Yes, you can use your regular electric smokers during the cold weather. There are a few conditions to make it work perfectly.
Avoid the door opening frequently – Opening the door more often can disrupt the temperatures and the temperatures in winters take a long time to adjust.
Insulate your smokers – This is the best thing that you can probably do in order to keep the smoker warm. There are various types of smoker jackets available in the markets which are super helpful in controlling the smokers’ temperatures.
It is no big deal to cook a brisket during cold weather. All you have to do is take care of the charcoal and fuel as you will require a lot of those, especially in the cold weather. Also, a suggestion would be to just keep your woods chopped and in place so that not much change in temperature is there when replacing.
Insulating your smoker is very important in order to cook well in the winters. There are jackets and blankets available which cover your smoker when not in use and thus insulate them. The jackets or blankets which are to be used should not be flammable. Also, apart from jackets, you can also use other options like furnace insulation.
Smoking meat requires a temperature of about 225 degrees Fahrenheit. But you can cook at lower temperatures such as 180 degrees. After all, smoking is just about slow and persistent cooking. It tests low patience and requires slow cooking at low temperatures to perfectly infuse the smoke into the meat.
Smoking at a moderate temperature is fine but smoking at too low temperatures is not suitable for cooking meat. During the extremely chilly winters, the internal temperature of the smoker can get as low as 40 degrees, and that is a temperature in which cooking or smoking is practically not possible. When the internal temperature is too low, the external heat which needs to be supplied in order to reach the desired heat level will be much more.
Smoking in cold and harsh conditions is challenging. Cold weather can sometimes ruin the most But if you have the correct knowledge and tips about how you can achieve the perfect piece of meat even in the winters, smoking is a cakewalk! In this article we have tried to provide you with all the necessary information and have answered the most frequently asked questions which people have in mind about smoking meat in cold weather.