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Grilling In The Rain – Best Tips & Guide to Battling the Elements

Down where I live we experience random showers throughout the entire year – so it’s not exactly easy to always avoid rain at dinnertime.  I’ve never been one to let the weather get in the way of my grilling fun, and neither should you!

As it turns out, grilling in the rain is actually pretty easy with a little bit of planning and preparation.  So I thought it would be helpful to create a little guide for grilling in the rain!

In this post, I’ll share all of my tips, tricks, and methods for success when it comes to grilling in the rain.  Hopefully, this will help to set you up for success even when the weather isn’t quite cooperating.

How Bad Is The Rain?

I should probably begin with the caveat that the type of rain matters quite a bit in terms of what you’ll need to do to prepare.  I live near to the gulf coast where light rain is common – but so are intense storms and hurricanes.

Just from a general safety perspective, you shouldn’t be grilling in a hurricane (duh) but from time to time you might need to in some heavier rain and/or gusty winds.  It’s still possible to do it safely, it just takes a little bit of planning.

The point is, you need to know what the forecast looks like a day or so in advance so you can get your set up ready to go.  Light rain or drizzle might only require a patio umbrella.  Heavier rain and wind will probably require a more heavy duty set up.

Things You’ll Need

There are a few things that will make life a whole lot easier when it comes to grilling in the rain.  The idea here is to enhance your set up and environment so that you can a) spend minimal time in the actual rain and b) minimize the impact of the rain on your grilling.

Regardless of how hardcore your setup is, it’s a good idea to at least have the following equipment:

  • A raincoat.  It might sound super obvious, but you want a raincoat to keep your body dry and comfortable.  If you don’t have some sort of rain repellent outer layer on, you’ll get your clothes damp which can be extremely uncomfortable.
  • Non-slip shoes.  Be sure to have a pair of shoes on with some good grip that can handle slick surfaces.  Keep in mind, you’ll be walking around with grilling tools and food in your hand throughout the process.  The last thing you need is to slip and fall on a wet surface while trying to balance things in your hand or while walking through a door.
  • Use a grill caddy Personally, I don’t use them when the weather is dry but I think they’re a necessity for the rain.  It just makes life a little easier and helps for you to stay organized.

Quick Solutions To Keep Rain Off Of Your Grill

Use a Patio Umbrella

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Probably the easiest and best solution for light rain is to get a patio umbrella.  They’re fairly affordable and also make a great addition to any back yard or patio just in general!

A couple of things to keep in mind though.  You’ll need to be sure to get a heavy base or to anchor the umbrella with weights if you are dealing with any wind.  Also, make sure that your umbrella is aligned in such a way that it’s blocking rain from your grill but not getting directly hit with smoke.  You don’t want constant smoke to damage your umbrella!

Grill Gazebo For The Win

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The next step up from an umbrella is to use a grill gazebo.  I should point out that most grill gazebo’s are not technically waterproof, BUT most hold up very nicely to light/medium rain.  However, they should not be relied upon for use in heavy rain.

What makes a grill gazebo so great is that they are designed with features meant specifically for grilling.  Most notably, there are ventilation systems built into the roof that helps smoke escape while still protecting from light rain and UV rays.  Many of them are also kitted with shelf space and hooks for storing accessories.

Use a Tarp

Tarping takes a little bit of elbow grease and know how, but when set up properly, they work great at repelling rain.

It’s super important that you use a fire retardant tarp in your set up.  Anything that isn’t flame repellent could melt or get destroyed by the smoke and heat coming off of your grill.

You should also hang the tarp a minimum of 6 feet above your grill so that it’s not too close to the heat.

Long Term Solutions For Grilling In The Rain

Permanent Covering

It might sound obvious, but permanent covering for your outdoor cooking space is a good idea for a lot of reasons.  It’s not just useful for grilling in the rain either!  During sunny summer months, permanent covering will help keep harmful rays off of you and also to keep the temperature more comfortable.

Now, this is by far the most expensive solution for grilling in the rain.  That’s partially because you’ll likely need the help of a designer and a contractor to get the job done.  But if you own your property it could also be a nice value add that you make your money back on in the long term.

Retractable Awning

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Retractable awnings are also pretty expensive, but they work great for repelling rain and can also keep your patio shady in the summertime.

Nowadays, many motorized awnings are designed such that you can install them yourself.  But, you should most definitely consult a designer or local installer if you have any questions about the process.

Top Tips for Grilling In The Rain

Here are some tips to help you make delicious food while it rains during the actual grilling process.

Try To Minimize The Wind’s Impact

Wind is a gigantic pain for grilling and unfortunately, rain storms are often accompanied with wind.

You’ll need to set something up to block the wind if you have lots of it blowing by your grill.  This could simply be a piece of wood or a tarp, but you’ll need to make sure your grill isn’t getting smoked by wind.  Make sure it’s secure enough that it won’t blow onto the grill.

As all of you experienced grillers know, wind makes things considerably harder.  Inconsistent temperatures and uneven heat distribution result from too much wind, which we’d obviously like to avoid.  Blocking the wind from your grill will help tremendously for grilling in the rain.

Closely Monitor Your Temperature

On a similar note, there are a few things you can do to help set you up for success in the rain and wind.

If you’re grilling on a gas grill, pay attention to your burners as they might blow out from strong gusts.  If they do blow out, turn off your gas and open the lid for a minute to make sure gas escapes for attempting to re light your grill.  Check frequently to ensure that a ton of time doesn’t go by with all of your burners not burning properly.

Charcoal absorbs moisture so you’ll want to do everything you can to light your coals quickly before they get rained on too much.  Otherwise it will be an uphill battle!  You’ll also probably need to plan on using more coals than you normally would to maintain consistent temperature in the rain.

Check Your Vents

Check your grill’s vents to make sure rain isn’t directly entering through any of them.  If rain is dumping through a vent, it could mess with your food or flame.

If this is happening, you can simply close the individual problem vent or turn your grill to a different angle.

Use a Remote Thermometer

A remote grill thermometer is a great accessory to utilize for grilling in the rain.  They allow you to monitor your grill’s cooking chamber temperature as well as your food’s internal temperature while you stay dry.

If you’re searing on high heats, we’d still recommend checking your food frequently in person.  But for longer cooks on low or medium temperatures, definitely utilize a remote grill thermometer to make your life easier.

Pre Cook Your Food (Reverse Sear)

Where possible, you should try to pre cook your food to minimize the amount of time you spend grilling in the rain.  The reverse sear method of grilling is one I use even when it’s not raining, but it’s a perfect technique to use in the rain.

Basically, you take your food (best with burgers and steaks) and cook them in an oven until they are just below your desired internal temperature.  I take steaks out of the oven at 120 degrees Fahrenheit and burgers out at 128 degrees Fahrenheit.

From there, you take the pre cooked food to your grill which is pre heated to high temperatures.  Place the food on the grill and sear to achieve those beautiful grill marks and crispy crust we all love.

Just like that, you have deliciously cooked meats with a traditional sear where you spent minimum time outside battling the rain.

For veggies, wrap in foil and cook low and slow on the grill.  This is also not a bad method to use even when it’s not raining, as the foil retains heat really well and also leads to incredibly flavorful results.

Are There Advantages To Grilling In The Rain?

As it turns out, there are actually a couple of benefits that can come from grilling in the rain!

I’m constantly fighting the temptation to lift the lid and look at my food to check on it.  In reality, each time you open the lid of your grill you let valuable heat and smoke escape.  In the rain you’re kind of forced to leave the lid shut, which is a blessing in disguise.  Your grill will retain more heat (if it’s not too windy) and more smoke which will in turn add more delicious flavor to your food.

The humidity of a rainy day is also beneficial for your food in the sense that your food is more likely to retain moisture.  Moisture in your food will lead to more juciness and a delectable consistency to your grilled food.

So as crazy as it might sound, the food you grill might actually turn out better in the rain!

Don’t Do The Following

Absolutely under no circumstances should you ever grill in your garage to avoid the rain.  Don’t do it.  It’s incredibly dangerous.  Not only can carbon monoxide kill you, but you’ll undoubtedly cause irreversible smoke damage to your walls and instantly devalue your property.

Even using an electric smoker in the garage is a bad idea, so using a grill with a flame is a terrible one.  Don’t do it.

Don’t allow rain to pour onto your food, flame, or coals.  You don’t want any chemicals that might be in rain contaminating your food, but you also don’t want rain to splash ashes and other particles from your grill all over your food.  If you aren’t able to keep rain from directly hitting your food, you should find a solution to that before grilling in the rain.

Grilling In The Rain – Wrap Up

Don’t let a little rain scare you off.  Grilling in the rain isn’t that bad – and in some cases you might even see better than normal results with your food!

All you have to do is prepare properly and make sure your grilling set up is ready to handle a little bit of rain.  From there, it’s basically just about keeping things organized and efficient during your cook.  Minimize the amount of time your food and grill is exposed to the rain.

With this guide, you should be ready to grill in the rain!

Did we miss anything?  Let us know in the comments section below.  Also let us know how your first grilling in the rain adventure went!

Check out our other grilling how to guides next!