The weather is warming up and we’re coming into primetime outdoor cooking season. If you haven’t been grilling or smoking throughout the winter, you’re probably itching to fire up your grill.
But, just like the fact that there are some things to do to prep your grill for winter storage, there are also some important things to do when it comes to bringing it back out and getting your grill ready for summer.
In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know when it comes to how to get a grill ready for summer cooking the right way.
Making Sure Your Grill is Ready to Go:
After being stored away for several months, properly getting your grill ready involves a little more than just knocking some dust off. Here are the steps to ensure your grill is ready to go:
Visually Inspect Your Cooker
The first place to start is to do a thorough once-over and look at every part of your cooker. Check for any rust or corrosion that may have built up while it wasn’t being used. If you do find some, it should be addressed before cooking again.
If your grill was covered while being stored away, you also want to look for any pests or critters that may have snuck in. Make sure to check the regulator hose/gas line opening on a propane grill and the hopper and auger on a pellet grill, as these are favorite hiding places for small insects and rodents.
Decide On Its Location for the Season
Before you get too far into taking apart your cooker, you want to decide where it is going to stay for the summer. Of course, you want to keep it away from your home or any other enclosed structures while you are cooking.
If it is going to be staying outside and not under a covered porch etc, it is a good idea to invest in a good grill cover to keep it protected. Direct sunlight can quickly wear on the exterior and components.
Make Sure It’s Clean
Source: Oklahoma Joe’s
Ideally, before you stored your grill or smoker away for the winter you did a thorough deep cleaning. Either way, it is important to make sure it is totally clean before firing it up again.
You want to start from the inside and work your way out. It is best to take out any removable parts and clean them to ensure everything is good to go. For example, the grates, flame tamers and burner tubes (on gas grills), grease pan, ash catcher (on charcoal grills), etc.
It’s important to always keep your grease pan(s) clean to prevent any dangerous flare-ups and grease fires.
Once the interior components are all clean, make sure to clean and wipe down the interior of the cooking chamber as much as possible also. Then, wipe down the exterior of the cooker as well. Soapy water is the safest cleaning solution for most types of grill exteriors. Finally, make sure everything is thoroughly dried to avoid any rust.
Check out our article on properly deep cleaning a grill for more info.
Replace Parts as Necessary & Test the Grill
During your visual inspection, you should also be making note of any parts that may have gone bad (due to corrosion, rust, etc.). Oftentimes rust can be cleaned off but if a part is crumbling, it needs to be replaced.
The last thing you want to do is take the time deep cleaning your grill, putting it all back together, and firing it up just to find out a component has gone bad. Replacement parts are going to be a lot cheaper than getting a whole new grill.
Once you’ve cleaned your cooker and fully reassembled it, you’re ready to test it and start it up.
If you have a gas grill, check the state of the fuel lines. Look for any cracks and test them with the soap test. Hook up the gas lines and brush soapy water on the lines and the connections. If there is a loose connection or break in the line, a bunch of bubbles will start forming.
Once you get the grill or smoker fired up, let it run for about 15 minutes to burn off anything else that wasn’t completely removed during the cleaning process. Make sure to also test any electrical components to ensure everything is working properly.
Season Your Grill
Source: SABER Grills
An important part of getting a grill ready for summer is seasoning it. This will help keep grill grates protected from moisture (which causes rust) and premature wear, make cleaning easier moving forward, and help prevent food from sticking.
To season, use a high-heat-resistant cooking oil like canola oil to coat the grates and interior of the grill. Then, fire up your cooker and get it to high-heat and let it run for about 30 minutes.
Check Your Grilling Tools & Upgrade/Replace As Needed
There’s probably a good chance that if you haven’t used your grill or smoker in a while, your grilling tools and accessories haven’t been used either. Some of them may have even been stored with your cooker. So, go through everything you have and get rid of anything that has severely rusted or come apart. Clean everything up that you will be keeping to ensure it’s fresh and ready to go.
This is also a good opportunity to upgrade your tool selection with new things you may need or want to try, like cedar planks or a rotisserie rod attachment for example. At the very least, make sure you’ve got all the essentials you’ll need to cook.
Stock Up On Fuel
Source: Tyrus, Komodo Kamado Forum
The last thing to do to ensure your grill is ready for the summer is to make sure you’ve got plenty of your fuel on hand. Whatever type of grilling fuel source that might be. Check how much you currently have.
If you have a propane grill, you want to always have one tank connected to your grill and one backup on hand at a minimum. If you have a charcoal or wood-burning grill or smoker, you want to have enough fuel on hand for two cooks.
You never want to run into a situation where you run out of your heat source mid-cook.
Pro-tip for propane tanks: If your propane grill doesn’t have a fuel gauge, just pour a glass of warm water down the side of the propane tank. Your fuel level is wherever the water starts to feel cool on the outside of the tank.
Be Ready To Fire Up Your Grill
If you have followed all of the steps above, your grill or smoker should be in good shape now and ready to perform. Remember, a little maintenance along the way goes far. Burn off excess food residue after every cook and deep clean your grill every few months to help extend its life. Plus, then you won’t have to work so hard the next time you bring the grill out for the start of the outdoor cooking season.
Did you recently get your cooker out for your first cook in the warmer weather? Do you know of another tip when it comes to how to get your grill ready for summer? Let us know below. We want to hear from you!
When you’ve got your grill cleaned up and ready to go, make sure to check out the step-by-step online video classes with top Grillmasters and Pitmasters here at BBQ Champs Academy. You can learn how to master the art of grilling and smoking everything from the perfect steak to a full packer brisket!
Also, make sure to check out and subscribe to the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel for all the latest from the world of competition BBQ and insider secrets from the pros.