Grilling in the Rain

We’ve all been there – we make special plans to spend time in the great outdoors and cook some amazing food on the grill only for a lovely thunderstorm to pop up. Don’t let that rain ruin your grilling adventures. You see, I’m the type of person that believes you can grill all year long, regardless of the weather (unless it’s a major blizzard or category 4-5 hurricane with strong winds, then I recommend you spend some quality time inside).

I know what many of you may be thinking – the writers going to tell me to just use an umbrella …wrong. Picture this – someone standing outside in the rain with a spatula in one hand while trying to hold an umbrella in the other – he/she could easily lose balance and drop the food. Sure, you could also wear a raincoat if the rain isn’t too heavy and it’s not too windy, then you may be fine.

Think about the type of rain you normally get in your area. You want to plan your grilling adventures for the normal weather you get, not for the occasional hurricane. If it simply rains straight down or drizzles, you may be able to get away with an umbrella or raincoat. However, in my experience, I get gusty winds with the rain, and if this sounds like you, you will need a solution that is more permanent.

Grill Shelters

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Patio Umbrella

The first solution for when there’s wet weather and you want to grill would be a patio umbrella – this is actually one of the cheapest solutions for you. For this, just make sure you are able to tie it down so that it doesn’t blow away during those strong wind gusts. If I were to use this option, I’d choose to use a bucket of sand to use for anchors.

A Retractable Awning

Retractable awnings look pretty cool on a patio or deck. They come in handy for keeping the rain as well as the snow off of the grill, and when the weather isn’t rain, a retractable awning can be used to provide shade during those hot days.

Permanent Covered Grilling Area

For those individuals that enjoy cooking outside, having a covered grilling station that is permanent is the ultimate cure for grilling in the rain. Mind you, this is one of the most expensive solutions to be able to grill in the rain, but it can actually add value to your home as long as you do it right. This is something that you may not want to do yourself unless you have experience in this area, so I would recommend consulting with a professional designer and also an installer for this job.

Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and Stay Safe

Regardless of the solution, you pick it is important that you avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Grills can cause monoxide poisoning – both gas and charcoal grills – if you are using them in a closed or partially closed area. When using a grill in an area that doesn’t have adequate ventilation, the monoxide can build up to a dangerous level. Symptoms of monoxide poisoning include headaches, breathlessness, dizziness, nausea, loss of consciousness and collapse. So by all means, when using a grill, please take precautions because it could hurt you as well as everyone else around you.

Also, you need to make sure there is a gap between the roof and the grill – the gap should be at least 6 feet (the higher the gap, the better). When you’re cooking on a grill, the heat and also flare-ups could start a fire if the roof is close to the grill. This is why I don’t recommend you using certain structures, such as snow shelters that you would normally use for cars because they have a cover that is made of polyethylene and most sheds you’d use in your backyard are small as well, causing them to quickly fill with smoke.

Then, you can’t forget that when there’s rain, there’s going to be the potential to slip and fall. Windy conditions and low temperatures can have an impact on the cooking time, grill heat, and how your food turns out.

That Wind

Oh yes, that wind – it can be your best friend, but at the same time, when you’re trying to grill, it can be your X-best friend. If that wind is flipping those steaks for you, then it’s time to do something about it – you can make a nice little windbreak. Patio umbrellas aren’t going to do you any good if you have strong winds. Even covered grilling stations aren’t going to do good if the wind is blowing in the wrong direction.

You can set up your own wind block using a sheet of plywood or build a basic wall – just make sure it’s stable enough so that it isn’t going to fall over with the next big gust of wind.

Pre-Cook the Food

If you have access to the kitchen, you can pre-cook your food. Let’s say you’re cooking steaks – take the steaks and put them in the oven on low (the temperature should reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit), and then take them out to the grill and finish searing them. This is a great way to get that amazing grill taste and honesty, no one is going to tell the difference.

Advantages of Grilling in the Rain


Grilling in the rain, believe it or not, also has some advantages attached to it, whether you’re using a charcoal grill or propane. When it’s rainy outside, this means it’s also humid. Humidity reduces evaporation, and do you know what this means? This means that the food you grill will stay juicy for longer. Also, when it’s raining, you use a cover to keep the grill from getting wet, and this will add an extra smoke flavor to the food.

So, contrary to what some may believe, grilling in the rain isn’t all that bad. In fact, if you ever get the opportunity to grill in the rain, I’d say go for it. Of course, grilling in the rain can be a bit challenging, and there can be some safety hazards, so just make sure you take it easy and be careful.

Here’s What You Need to Avoid

If you plan to grill in the rain, it is important that you take precautions or things can get pretty ugly quickly. Please avoid grilling inside your garage. Yes, you have a beautiful garage, but you shouldn’t grill in it. The garage can fill up with smoke and this will leak into the home. As I previously mentioned, smoke contains carbon monoxide and this is fatal. Also, think about this – you’d have a fire burning inside of your garage …the same garage that probably holds a lawnmower, gas, and all of that fun stuff. One spark from the charcoal grill and this could completely ruin everything you had going on.

Also, you’ll want to avoid having the rainfall directly on the food or charcoal. If this were to happen, it will push ash up into your food, and no one wants to eat food that has ash scattered all over it.

Easy to Follow Tips for Grilling in the Rain

  • Naturally, the fire is going to take longer for it to get hot. For this reason, you’ll want to start the fire earlier and if you’re using charcoal to cook, you’ll want to use a bit more charcoal than you would normally use if it weren’t raining.
  • Try to keep the grill lid closed as much as you can.
  • Use some type of shelter and make sure the roof is at least 6 feet from the grill.
  • So that you don’t have to spend time standing in the rain while grilling, use a remote thermometer while cooking.
  • If you’re cooking on a propane grill, you’ll want to keep your eyes on the gas burner because sometimes they will go out.
  • Wrap your vegetables in aluminum foil and grill them while you’re grilling the meat. By doing this, it will retain both heat and moisture.

If you don’t have a shelter to grill in, then you can revert back to using an umbrella. I know, in the beginning, I explained to you that it wouldn’t be very helpful for you unless the rain was super light. However, if you have a good old friend that doesn’t mind standing at the grill with you holding an umbrella while you cook, then why not use this option – this could be a great bonding moment for the two of you.


If you choose to grill outside in the rain, then good for you – this means you are willing to take on an adventure that not many would do. Cooking/grilling in the rain can be an experience within itself, whether it’s on charcoal or propane. So, regardless of the type of weather you’re having (unless it’s a hurricane like I already explained), you can keep your plans. Just make sure the grill gets hot and maintains its heat and occasionally, you’ll have to poke the fire to keep it going. If you’re never thought of grilling in the rain before, you are now armed with all the tips you need!

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Steve Page
.....With a love of the great outdoors be it in the backyard, hiking or fishing
Steve loves to share his tips on how to get the best from your patio, yard or
garden, rain or shine. Researching the best products from garden furniture to smokers and Generators. Steve will keep you up to date with the latest gear to make your outdoor space the best it can be.