Winter Pleasure with Your Barbecue

Even in the midst of winter, it’s possible to hold proper barbecue parties. Wind, snow and cold weather lose their terror when pitted against know-how, good preparation and the proper clothing. DEKRA expert Werner Leistner explains what grill masters need to pay attention to when handling their equipment.

Grillen im Winter liegt offenbar voll im Trend. Foto: Fotolia - Monkey Business

Barbecuing in winter is currently trending.  Foto: Fotolia – Monkey Business

When ice crystals twinkle on bobble hats and woolen scarfs, when a thick pair of socks warms the feet and a hot mulled wine heats the fingers and soul, it’s the perfect time to fire up the barbecue for a hearty bratwurst. Barbecuing in winter is currently trending. A recent study on German consumers’ barbecuing habits, conducted by the Fürth market research consultancy Mafowerk, confirms this. According to the study, 41% of approximately 1,000 interviewed people stated that they barbecue regularly in winter. To be sure, heat sources like radiant heaters, fire baskets and woolen blankets are necessary to stop the cold from driving the grill masters back into the house prematurely during the cold season. The proper technique to getting burgers, potatoes, knuckles of lamb and baked apples onto plates while hot and crispy is also fashionable. Other than that, winter pleasure with charcoal or gas grill follows the same rules as barbecuing in summer. At both times, the guests’ safety is the highest priority.

It ist important to set the equipment up in a safe distance from flammable materials

To ensure that barbecues in back yards or on terraces proceed without incident, a little planning goes a long way. “The barbecue should stand on flat and solid ground so it can’t tip over. If there’s snow on the barbecue area, it needs to be cleared first,” Werner Leistner, from DEKRA product testing, explains. The expert advises to set the equipment up in a safe distance from flammable materials. The barbecue area itself shouldn’t offer the wind a large contact surface for resistance. Keep a weather eye on flying sparks. A single spark is enough to burn ugly holes into clothing, especially into winter jackets made from artificial fibers. Winter grill masters should definitely allow for more time at the grill. With low temperatures, it takes longer until the charcoal or briquettes are smoldering all the way through. It’s a bad idea to try to speed up the process with a splash of spririts or gasoline. “That can lead to a jet of flame or deflagration. The consequence would be severe burns,” DEKRA expert Leistner warns.

Gas grills are also suitable for use in winter. Unlike charcoal grills, this system is immediately ready for use. Gas grills also reach the desired operating temperature considerably sooner. The crucial question for gas grill masters is which gas is best suited for freezing cold temperatures. Butane gas certainly isn’t an ideal fuel. It has the characteristic of liquefying just below the freezing point. Running the grill with butane in this temperature range is therefore no longer possible. Grill masters play it safe when fueling the grill with propane gas, which maintains its state of aggregation down to about minus 40 degrees. Check the gas hoses before using the barbecue. If there are holes or porous spots, a new hose is the better choice. Incidentally, the gas grill should only be lighted while the lid is open. Otherwise, too much escaping gas can lead to an explosion.

Wer im Winter nicht im Garten grillen möchte, dem bleibt der Elektro-Grill als Alternative. Foto: Fotolia - BlueOrange Design

This equipment must absolutely stay outside. Foto: Fotolia – BlueOrange Design

If the Siberian cold should strike the grill master and his guests despite all preparation, they can make themselves comfortable in the warm home. In this case, the equipment must absolutely stay outside. “Never take the charcoal or gas grill inside. That would be life threatening,” Werner Leistner explains. The DEKRA expert also immediately gives us the reason for the warning. “Charcoal and propane gas are both carbon-based. If there’s too little oxygen in the room while barbecuing, the carbon doesn’t fully burn up, which leads to the creation of carbon monoxide. This is a colorless and noxious gas which can’t be tasted or scented. In a closed room, carbon monoxide can lead to fatal poisoning.”

If you don’t want to forego the pleasure of barbecuing in winter, but shy away from being outside in the yard because of the cold, you really have only one alternative: an electric grill. Just place the equipment underneath the cooker hood, plug it in and off you go. Whether this version is as romantic as barbecuing with charcoal or gas, everybody will have to determine for themselves.


Tips from the DEKRA expert: Barbecuing in winter


  • Never operate charcoal grills in closed rooms: mortal danger!
  • Pay attention to the quality and stability of your barbecue
  • Don’t roast your food directly over the open flame
  • With charcoal grills, wait until embers have formed
  • Never use liquid firelighters like spirits or gasoline
  • Set up the barbecue in a flat, stable location sheltered from the wind
  • Keep flammable materials at a distance
  • Always keep a watch on the barbecue
  • Always keep an eye on children and pets
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