Grilling in the Rain: How to Grill When It’s Raining

When it rains, you cook. Here’s how to grill no matter what.

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It may have been a cloudy day or a beautiful clear blue sky when you lit the pit, but suddenly out of nowhere, here comes the rain to make outdoor grilling a challenge.

The first thing is never to panic, but you still have to move quicker than usual to save the food for you and your guests. A quick and easy fix would be to put the pit under an open carport or porch, but not everyone has this.

Yes, you can still grill in the rain with a raincoat for yourself and an umbrella for the food. You will also need a volunteer to help hold the umbrella while cooking and moving the food from the pit to indoors. If possible, gather an overhead cover like a tarp with four poles for the pit while it’s still hot.

It will take extra work, but you will have to cut back on the grilling time and control the heat while it is raining.

Everyone will be hungry, so the guests would be kind enough (and predisposed!) to help you any way they can. We have some helpful tips that should help get you through the weather, rain, or shine.

Safety Before Anything Else

Before we go too deep into grilling in the rain and the special tips, we want you to stay safe at all times.

Even though a bit of pouring down rain has never killed anyone, electrical storms and severe weather has caused injuries and death. If there is severe weather with lightning and thunder along with strong wind gusts and possible tornadoes, we strongly advise grilling another day.

If the only problem you have is a passing shower or a washout with no severe weather, we can help you keep the pit rolling. However, you need to be aware of hazards in this particular situation.

They are as follows:

  • Do not grill indoors or in an enclosed area. Inhaling harmful fumes and smoke inhalation can be deadly;
  • Be cautious when moving around, especially when carrying hot food. You do not want to slip and fall;
  • If you are cooking on a gas grill, make sure the flame stays lit. Should it goes out, it is still releasing the propane or gas through the burners, which can cause an explosion, even in the rain;
  • Remember, just because the rain may be cold and showering the outside of the grill, the pit is still hot.

Cooking with a Gas Grill in the Rain

Cooking with a gas grill in the rain can be a fun and challenging experience. By following these tips, you can ensure that your cookout is a success.

The Do’s

  • Make sure that the grill is in a covered area, if possible. This will help to keep the rain from interfering with your cooking;
  • Keep the grill dry as much as possible. Carefully wipe it down with a towel if it gets too wet. Of course, if there is no cover, you cannot do much for this process;
  • Cover the grill with a tarp or an umbrella if the rain starts to come down hard;
  • Keep a close eye on the grill, especially if it is raining hard. The rain can make the grill more difficult to use and may lead to dangerous situations.

The Don’ts

  • Don’t start cooking if the grill is already drenched. This will cause the gas to build up and lead to an explosion;
  • Don’t leave the grill unattended, especially if it is raining hard. There is a greater risk of something going wrong when you walk away;
  • Don’t cook in an open area if it is raining too hard or a chance of severe weather. This can be dangerous, as the rain could put out the fire or cause the grill to become slippery, and it only takes less than a second for lightning to strike.

The Practicalities

There are a few other things that you can do to make cooking with a gas grill in the rain easier. For example, you can:

  • Cook smaller items, like hot dogs or hamburgers. This will help keep the cooking time shorter and minimize the risk of something going wrong;
  • Bring a grill topper. This accessory will help keep the rain from interfering with your cooking and make it easier to cook smaller items;
  • Use a gas grill that has an attached hood. It will provide extra protection against the rain and reduce grease flare-ups;
  • Precook the food in the oven and finish it on the gas grill to give it a good, smoky sear, lessening the time to cook it in the rain.

Cooking with a Charcoal Grill in the Rain

Grilling with charcoal is different from using gas, but the fight to keep the flame and temperature going in the rain is the same.

These are some tips that will help keep the pit hot while you are dancing in the rain:

The Do’s

  • Protect the charcoal from getting wet. While wet charcoal can be salvaged, it shouldn’t be cooked over and has to be dried out on a sunny day;
  • Keep your coals in a shallow layer for easy access to more coals when needed. It will take more coals to keep the grill hotter due to the cooler temperature of the rain;
  • Light the fluid at both ends of the grill. This will allow easier access when adding more fluid during cooking, and it allows for better airflow when you are trying to keep up with the temperature;
  • If you have a chimney starter, use it. It will help you get your coals going without using lighter fluid, which can add an unwanted taste to your food;
  • Keep a spray bottle of water nearby to help put out any flare-ups that may occur while cooking;
  • It is best to have a cover for your grill if it is not raining when you start and catches you off guard later in the process;
  • Have a place in mind by your house or in your backyard where you can set up a grill that is covered from the rain;
  • Like the gas grill, precook all your food in the oven, then finish it on the grill to get out of the rain quicker.

The Don’ts

  • Let your coals burn down to the point of no return before adding more fuel. You will risk ruining your food with the lighter fluid;
  • Don’t leave coals unattended; they can cause fire quickly and spread if left on their own for too long. A fire can still spread in light rain or mist;
  • Light the coals in an area covered in the pit if it is raining or looks like rain while cooking. This will help prevent possible flare-ups or heavy smoke that may occur if water drips on the coals, both of which affect the smell and taste of your food.

The Aftermath of Grilling in the Rain

Now that the grill has been used, it is essential to clean it properly to avoid any harmful bacteria growth.

Make sure to dry the grill entirely. After cleaning your grill, it is vital to protect it from rust and corrosion by applying cooking oil or grease, especially after cooking in the rain. A thin coat is all you need.

The only thing better than a clean grill is a clean grill with no rust on it! Take extra care to properly maintain your grill so that you can have years of outdoor barbecuing ahead of you.

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