Can You Barbecue in the Rain? Tips for Grilling Success

Can you barbecue in the rain? This question pops up frequently when an unexpected shower threatens to dampen outdoor cooking plans. Rainy weather doesn’t have to put a damper on your barbecue, but it’s important to consider some key tips and precautions to keep your grill session both enjoyable and safe.

Can You Barbecue in the Rain? Tips for Grilling Success

Grilling in the rain has some surprising advantages. The humidity in the air helps to reduce evaporation, which keeps your food moist and juicy for a longer time. Additionally, many people opt to cook with the grill cover closed to shield food from the rain and wind, resulting in extra smoke that adds flavor to your meal. However, there are crucial factors to take into account, such as protecting your grill and cooking area from water damage and ensuring safety while handling a hot grill in wet conditions.

In this article, we’ll offer helpful advice and recommendations on how to successfully barbecue in the rain without sacrificing taste, safety, or the enjoyment of the experience.

Grilling in the Rain Basics

Safety Measures

When grilling in the rain, safety should be a top priority. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Light rain or mist is safe, but stay away from the grill during heavy downpours, high winds, or lightning.
  • Make sure the grill is on stable and level ground to prevent it from slipping or tipping over on the wet ground.
  • Keep electrical cords and devices away from water to avoid electrical hazards.
  • Use long grilling tools and heat-resistant gloves to prevent burns.


Grilling in the rain requires some adjustment to your equipment setup. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Use a grill with a lid or purchase a grill cover to protect the food and grill from water exposure.
  • Consider a weatherproof thermometer for accurate temperature readings.
  • Set up a kind of shelter or canopy over the grill to shield yourself and the grill from rain. Ensure that the shelter is high enough to allow for proper ventilation and avoid trapping smoke.
  • A waterproof apron can help keep you dry and comfortable.


Proper preparation is crucial to ensure successful grilling in the rain. Below are some steps to take before you head out to grill:

  • Check the weather forecast and plan accordingly. If heavy rain is predicted, it might be better to postpone your BBQ plans.
  • Keep your fuel, food, and cooking utensils nearby to minimize the need for running back and forth in the rain.
  • Preheat the grill with the lid closed to maintain a consistent cooking temperature, especially if it’s windy or chilly outside.
  • Dry any excess moisture from your food before placing it on the grill. This reduces the chances of flare-ups and ensures proper sear marks.
  • Be prepared for longer cooking times, as the rain might lower the temperature inside the grill. Keep an eye on the thermometer and adjust the heat as necessary.

By following the above safety measures, using suitable equipment, and preparing adequately, grilling in the rain can be an enjoyable experience with tasty results.

Types of Grills

In this section, we’ll discuss the different types of grills and how suitable they are for barbecuing in the rain.

Charcoal Grills

Charcoal grills are known for their smoky, wood-fired flavor which many barbecue enthusiasts love. They usually can withstand small amounts of moisture, but larger amounts may cause them to rust. When grilling in the rain, it is best to use a covered area to protect the grill and ensure successful cooking.

  • Pros:
    • Provides authentic smoky flavor
    • Can be relatively inexpensive
  • Cons:
    • Can be sensitive to moisture
    • Takes time to heat up and cool down

Gas Grills

Gas grills, including propane and natural gas grills, are popular due to their convenience and ease of use. They typically work well in rain, as long as they are kept under a covered area such as a patio or garage. Since they heat up quickly, your cookout won’t be too affected by the rain.

  • Pros:
    • Quick heating
    • Easy temperature control
  • Cons:
    • Can lack the smoky flavor of charcoal grills
    • May need a stable fuel supply

Electric Grills

Electric grills are the least suitable for outdoor use, particularly in the rain, as they require an electrical connection and can be a hazard in wet conditions. If you plan to grill in the rain, it is better to avoid using an electric grill unless you have a well-protected and dry area to set up.

  • Pros:
    • Compact and portable
    • Easy to clean
  • Cons:
    • Requires electricity
    • Not suitable for outdoor use in wet conditions

Pellet Grills

Pellet grills use wood pellets as their heat source and provide a unique flavor to your barbecue. However, they are not ideal for grilling in the rain. As an electrical device, pellet grills should be kept away from water sources, and potential corrosion (rust) can occur if exposed to moisture. Manufacturers often recommend avoiding the use of pellet grills in wet conditions.

  • Pros:
    • Unique wood-fired flavor
    • Precise temperature control
  • Cons:
    • Not suitable for grilling in the rain
    • Requires a supply of wood pellets

Proper Grill Coverage

Canopies and Awnings

One effective way to ensure your grilling experience isn’t hampered by rainfall is to install canopies or awnings. A retractable awning can be a great choice for providing adjustable coverage. This can be extended when grilling in the rain and retracted during sunny days.

Patio umbrellas offer another suitable option, providing instant protection for your grill and grilling area. They come in various styles and sizes, allowing you to choose one that fits your outdoor space. For larger events, you may consider setting up a canopy tent to provide ample coverage for both the grilling area and your guests.

Grill Covers

While grill covers are essential for protecting grills when not in use, they can also help during rainy grilling sessions. However, avoid using soaked covers, as they can trap moisture and lead to corrosion or bacterial growth. Instead, use a dry grill cover specifically designed for rainy weather.

Materials matter when it comes to grill covers, with some options being:

  • Vinyl: Durable, waterproof, and easy to clean
  • Polyester: Lightweight, weather-resistant, and available in various colors
  • Canvas: Heavy-duty and water-resistant, offering good protection from the elements

No matter which option you choose, it’s essential to ensure proper coverage during rainy grilling sessions. This will not only protect your grill but also provide a more enjoyable experience for you and your guests.

Fuel and Lighting Considerations

Charcoal and Briquettes

When grilling in the rain, expect some challenges in keeping your charcoal or briquettes burning. Rain lowers the grill’s temperature, so you might need to add more fuel to maintain a consistent temperature for cooking. Follow these tips:

  • Keep your charcoal or briquettes dry until they’re needed. Store them in a sealed container or garage to avoid moisture absorption.
  • Ignite the charcoal using a charcoal chimney starter or a reliable lighter. This will help make sure the fire starts and continues to burn steadily despite rain.
  • Add extra briquettes or charcoal during the cooking process to maintain heat. Be prepared with additional dry fuel as needed.
  • Watch for ash build-up, which could obstruct airflow and reduce the heat. Regularly clear any accumulated ash beneath the grill grate.

Propane and Gas Connections

Propane grills might also face some issues in rainy conditions. Watch for potential burner blowouts or ignition problems. Ensure the safety of your propane grill with these tips:

  • Check your hose connections and propane tank, ensuring they’re tightly secured and free from leaks.
  • Protect the burner tubes from wind and water, which can impact the flame or even extinguish it. Consider using a wind shield for extra protection.
  • Be prepared to re-ignite the grill if the burners do go out due to weather conditions.
  • Keep an eye on the grill’s temperature, adjusting the burner settings if necessary to maintain a suitable cooking temperature.

By following these fuel and lighting considerations, you can ensure a successful cookout, even when grilling in the rain.

Weather-Related Grilling Tips

Grilling During Wet Conditions

Grilling in the rain is possible but a few precautions should be taken to ensure a successful cookout. Use a patio umbrella, BBQ canopy, or a retractable awning to keep your grill dry. If you’re using a charcoal grill, adding more coals than normal will help maintain the target grilling temperature and provide added insulation. Remember to keep the lid closed as much as possible to prevent the charcoal from getting wet.

Grilling in High Humidity

High humidity can affect the grilling process, particularly the heat control and cooking time. Adjust your grill’s temperature to compensate for the humidity, and consider using a grill thermometer to monitor the cooking process. Ensure proper airflow by opening the vents to prevent excessive moisture build-up, which may cause uneven cooking or longer cooking times.

Grilling in Winter

Grilling during the winter requires a few adjustments to navigate the challenges posed by cold temperatures. Protect your grill from wind by positioning it near walls, fences, or other wind blockers. Warming up the grill takes longer in cold weather, so allow extra time for preheating. Extra fuel may be necessary to maintain the desired temperature throughout the cooking process. When selecting a grilling spot, avoid placing the grill on icy or snow-covered surfaces that may create safety issues.

Grilling in Extreme Weather

It’s essential to take safety precautions when grilling in extreme weather conditions, particularly in areas susceptible to lightning strikes or high winds.

  • Ensure that all connections between the grill and fuel source (gas or propane) are secure and in no way compromised.
  • Avoid grilling on a deck that may be slippery and unstable due to wet or icy conditions.
  • Strong winds can extinguish the flame or cause uneven cooking, so consider using a wind guard or other wind protection measures.
  • If you are unsure about the safety of grilling during extreme weather conditions, postpone your cookout to avoid any potential harm.

Temperature and Cooking Techniques

Temperature Control and Monitoring

When barbecuing in the rain, maintaining a consistent temperature is crucial. Rain can impact the temperature of your grill, so it’s essential to control and monitor it closely. Here are some suggestions:

  • Use a remote thermometer that allows you to keep a close eye on the temperature without frequently opening the grill.
  • Protect your grill from the wind and rain by setting up a windshield or placing it in a covered area. However, ensure there is adequate ventilation for safety.
  • Monitor your fuel source, like lump charcoal or high-quality briquettes, and add more to maintain the temperature if needed.

Pre-Cooking Strategies

Pre-cooking some foods in your kitchen is a helpful strategy when barbecuing in the rain. Consider the following tips:

  • Advance preparation of food can save time and reduce the chances of temperature fluctuations on the grill.
  • Opt for pre-cooked food, like sausages, that can be heated on the grill to provide the desired smoky flavor without being cooked entirely.
  • Adjust recipes that involve marinating or precooking ingredients indoors before finishing them on the grill.

Reverse Searing

Reverse searing is an excellent technique to use when grilling in the rain. This method involves cooking food at a low temperature in your oven before finishing it off on the grill for that delicious barbecue flavor. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Preheat your oven to a low temperature (225-250°F) and place your meat, like steaks or burgers, on a wire rack or tray.
  2. Cook the meat in the oven until it reaches an internal temperature of about 10-15°F below your desired final temperature.
  3. Preheat your grill on high, then transfer the meat from the oven to the grill for a short, intense searing to create a delicious crust and smoky flavor.

Reverse searing helps retain moisture in the food, ensuring tender, juicy results even in rainy conditions. It’s a practical approach for adapting your cooking technique to the unpredictable weather.

Grill Maintenance and Cleaning

Inspecting Grill Components

Before using your grill in the rain, it’s important to inspect its components, as moisture can lead to rust and other damage. Here’s a list of essential components to check:

  • Handles: Ensure they’re securely attached and not damaged by rust.
  • Valves: Check for any leaks or cracks that might cause gas leaks.
  • Replaceable stainless steel components: Inspect for rust, as stainless steel tends to resist rusting.
  • Lightning system: Verify that all electrical connections are dry and functioning properly to avoid short circuits.

Cleaning Techniques

Proper cleaning techniques will help maintain your grill’s condition during rainy barbecues. Follow these tips for effective cleaning:

  • Soap solution: Mix a solution of 20% dish soap and 80% water in a spray bottle. Spray this on the grill’s interior and exterior surfaces, then wipe them down with a dry cloth.
  • Grill brush: Use a stainless steel bristle grill brush to clean grates, burners, and other components. This is especially important for removing debris and preventing rust.
  • Steel wool: For tougher cleaning jobs, like getting rid of stubborn rust, steel wool can be a helpful tool.
  • Rinse and dry: After cleaning, be sure to rinse off any residue with water, then thoroughly dry all parts of the grill, both inside and out.

In addition to these techniques, using a grill cover plays a vital role in keeping your grill safe from the rain. Consider investing in a high-quality cover that will protect it from moisture and other elements. Remember, regular maintenance and cleaning will help keep your grill performing well and extend its lifespan, even in wet conditions.


BBQ in the rain is not only possible, but it also has its advantages. The increased humidity and moist air help keep your grilled food juicy and tender for a longer period of time. Furthermore, grilling with the cover closed can enhance the smoky flavor of your food.

To successfully barbecue in the rain, ensure that your grill is properly covered to prevent charcoal or cooking wood from getting wet. A lidded grill will give you an advantage over open ones, as it retains heat and protects the burning fuel from raindrops.

Remember that rain is often accompanied by wind, which can be a fire hazard and slow down your grilling process. To counter this, consider using a wind shield, which can be bought or made at home.

In conclusion, with proper preparation and precautions, you can enjoy a delightful BBQ session, even in the rain. So don’t let a little drizzle dampen your grilling spirit – embrace the unique flavors and tender textures that rain brings to your feast!

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