Winter BBQ ideas: 11 cozy ways to enjoy alfresco dining in the cooler months

Our edit of winter BBQ ideas demonstrates how cooking outdoors can be just as fun without the sun

winter BBQ ideas- morso oven
(Image credit: Morso)

With some good winter BBQ ideas, cooking and entertaining outdoors can be just as much fun in the colder season as it is in the summer. Even if it's a little chilly outside, firing up the grill is a great way to bring loved ones together and make the most of your backyard.

Whether you're throwing a festive get-together or a casual weekend dinner with family, getting out in the fresh air is good for the soul. And with the addition of twinkling lights, cozy throws, warm drinks, and of course, deliciously barbecued food, even the simplest of meals can turn into a magical occasion. So, if you love to host and are on the lookout for winter garden ideas, we're here to get you inspired.

11 wonderful winter BBQ ideas to try at home

Already invested in one of the best BBQs or best gas BBQs? You don't have to banish it to the back of the shed throughout the cooler months. We've rounded up plenty of winter BBQ ideas to demonstrate how cooking up a storm outdoors is always a good move, whatever the time of year.

1. Cozy up with a soft sofa

Chloe Lloyd outdoor seating space with furniture from Wayfair

Chloe Lloyd's welcoming space includes furniture from Wayfair

(Image credit: Chloe Lloyd/Wayfair)

For casual dining, set your BBQ up near a cozy garden sofa – a must-have feature for any chic outdoor living space. We adore this set-up from model Chloe Lloyd, which includes soft sheepskin throws, a cluster of candles, and festoon lights strung around the nearby railings.

Elevate the scene further by adding some of the best winter plants for pots into nearby containers – a brilliant way to bring extra color and life into a space.

2. Turn a corner of your yard into a chic BBQ space

patio with outdoor seating next to a modern BBQ

The smart fence and garden furniture in this scene are painted in Sandtex 10 Year Exterior Satin Paint

(Image credit: Sandtex)

Find a sheltered corner and give it a new lease of life by creating an enticing winter BBQ spot. Fences and garden walls are a great way to give you some permanent protection from the colder weather, so you can hunker down in their shelter and enjoy the warmth from the BBQ. 

The latest wood-fired BBQ ovens can also double up as fire pits. So, even once you've finished cooking, you can still sit back and benefit from the heat of the flames. Add plenty of soft throws to your seating space to enhance the cozy vibe, while potted trees are a great way to add a splash of greenery to the scene.

3. Dress it up with lights

outdoor lighting festoons and hedge fairy lights from lights4fun with pizza oven

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

For many of us, the winter months bring darker evenings. That's why it's so important to introduce some twinkling outdoor lighting ideas into your scheme. Incorporate some laid-back festoons and lanterns, then add in one of the best fire pits for later in the evening, and you'll soon be enjoying some lovely, cozy entertaining. 

And when it comes to seating, you don't need to dust off all of the best garden furniture that's neatly stored in the shed. Simply dress up your garden bench with some comfy cushions and blankets, and bring out a couple of chairs from inside for extra seating.

4. Create a stylish station for your outdoor oven

outdoor wood-fired oven with a stack of logs underneath

The Forno outdoor oven from Morso would make a striking, contemporary addition to any outdoor space

(Image credit: Morso)

The development of outdoor ovens has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, and this means we can all enjoy being outside for longer, even when it's a little bit chilly. The latest ovens also mean you can cook far more than the average BBQ-style food so you can really up your grilling game – think juicy steaks, smoked salmon, and tasty vegetarian dishes. 

Curate a stylish station, complete with log storage, potted herbs, and ambiance-boosting string lights, and it can be the hub of your winter patio.

5. Add sparkle to your tablescape

wayfair outdoor dining tablescape

A chic table setting from Wayfair

(Image credit: Wayfair)

To make your winter BBQs feel even more special, take time to plan a beautiful tablescape with the help of the best outdoor dinnerware sets. It's a great opportunity to get creative and host guests in style.

For festive get-togethers, you could bring in some outdoor Christmas decor ideas – whether that's with jolly posies of holly and seasonal blooms in vintage jugs, delicate microlights, or baubles and glittering gold dinnerware. Don't forget some tea lights in glass holders, too, for an inviting glow once dusk settles.

6. Enjoy a winter picnic

two fire pits in a garden with festoon lights overhead

The Barrington fire pit from Garden Trading is available in two different sizes

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

If you're looking for fun garden ideas for kids to keep them entertained over the holidays, turn your winter BBQ into an outdoor picnic instead. 

If you've got a portable BBQ you could take it with you to the park or beach for a great day out, but it can be just as much fun to try this in the garden with your normal BBQ or grill. Kids will love tucking into one of the best BBQ recipes while sitting around on a picnic blanket. And if you can light the fire pit and toast some marshmallows too, then even better!

7. Serve up mulled wine

mulled wine in firepitsUK bowl

A cauldron of mulled wine can be gently warmed over a grill and then served, as in this scene from FirepitsUK

(Image credit: FirepitsUK)

All good food needs good drinks to go alongside, and when it comes to winter BBQ ideas, something warming is called for. Invest in a sturdy cauldron and you can gently heat beverages over your grill – think mulled wine, cider, or apple juice for a non-alcoholic alternative. Just be careful when you remove it to not burn your hands.

It's the perfect way to finish a feast and keep everyone feeling toasty. Plus, the fragrant spices will make the space feel even more inviting as they fill the air. If you're looking for more cozy patio ideas, our guide has plenty.

8. Invest in an outdoor kitchen

Custom outdoor kitchen by Garden House Design

Cook outside, whatever the weather, with a bespoke outdoor kitchen like this WWOO design from Garden House Design

(Image credit: Garden House Design)

If you love the idea of having a year-round outdoor entertaining space, then adding an outdoor kitchen to your garden is the way to go. Over the last few years, they have become incredibly popular, and it's easy to see why. 

Having a bespoke design with a BBQ or wood-fired oven, sink, worktop space, storage, and maybe even a fridge or wine cooler might seem like a big investment, but it's a great way to maximize the use of your space. If you don't want to splash the cash, there are plenty of budget-friendly alternatives too. Our guide on how to design an outdoor kitchen is packed with useful tips and tricks. 

9. Snuggle up for a cinema night

outdoor cinema

Get cozy outdoors with a projector

(Image credit: M_a_y_a/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

You can boost the fun factor of your winter BBQ ideas by providing show-stopping entertainment. And what could be better than snuggling down beneath the stars, a plate of barbecued goodies to hand, in front of a favorite film?

Invest in one of the best outdoor projectors and the dream can become a reality. Just be sure that there are plenty of ways to keep warm while you relax – whether that's an outdoor rug underfoot, piles of soft blankets and cushions, or even a patio heater nearby.

10. Dine by candlelight

candles in pots on outdoor table

A easy yet effective trick for upping the ambiance

(Image credit: Dominic Blackmore/Future)

The flickering flames of candles will always add a sense of romance to a scene, so they're a must when it comes to atmospheric outdoor dining ideas. Use them to illuminate your winter BBQ space and the ambiance will instantly feel a little more magical.

We love this simple trick using terracotta pots filled with sand. It's elegant yet rustic and makes the perfect centerpiece for a low-key yet high-impact evening, especially when paired with table linen in a sumptuous hue. 

If the idea of open flames feels a little unsafe, you can always opt for outdoor LED versions in pretty lanterns; these days they look just as effective as the real deal.

11. Cook up seasonal recipes

cooking food over char-broil grill

Grill up a storm with a Char-Broil BBQ

(Image credit: Char-Broil)

While summer BBQ staples might be burgers and hot dogs, you might fancy taking a slightly different approach for winter. Consider trying out a new pork belly recipe, gently flavored with spices and prunes, or a beef and vegetable stew cooked in a Dutch oven over the grill, as suggested by Weber.

If you want to go a step further, you could even learn how to BBQ a turkey for a delicious Christmas dinner with a twist.

What are the benefits of a winter BBQ?

'Grilling in the lower temperatures of winter offers some unique benefits,' reveals Dan Cooper, Head Grill Master at Weber. 'For example, with more natural moisture in the air, food can cook for longer without drying out.' Because of this, now could be a good time to do more smoking and roasting, especially with the types of foods that usually tend to dry out quickly, he continues. Think extra tender, slow-cooked joints of meat or heart-warming roasted veggies, for example.

'Winter barbecuing is also a great way to mix up your social life,' Dan adds. It's a good option if you want to stay social in winter without being confined to your indoor living room, and it's generally more affordable than going out on the town. It's also brilliant for making a special occasion even more memorable, whether you're looking for dazzling Bonfire Night ideas or activities for New Year's Eve.

people standing by outdoor BBQ in winter

Stay social throughout winter without breaking the bank by throwing a BBQ party from home

(Image credit: Maskot/Getty Images)

Do you need to BBQ differently in cold weather?

There are a few winter grilling tips to take on board before you make a start on cooking up a storm. 'Firstly, you will need to decide if you are going to cook with direct or indirect heat as these can be affected by colder weather conditions,' explains Dan from Weber. 'If you are cooking with direct heat (cooking food directly over the heat source) then there are some things you will need to adjust and consider before beginning grilling.

'The main point to keep in mind is that you will need to keep the lid down as much as possible when cooking, as heat loss occurs a lot quicker in colder temperatures,' he says.

'You may find indirect methods (cooking food adjacent to the heat source) easier in the colder months as you don't need to open your barbecue's lid as often, avoiding the main point of heat loss. You may also need to cook on a higher heat than usual to compensate for colder temperatures, and monitoring the heat through a thermometer is a good way to make sure the grill stays at roasting temperature throughout.

'Wind can be a bigger problem in winter,' Dan continues. 'When it is windy, it could be helpful to angle a gas barbecue so the wind is perpendicular to the flow of the gas through the burner tubes.

'Check through the match-light hole – which avoids any lid lifting – to ensure the flames haven't gone out. If the burners do go out while in operation, turn all gas valves off. Open the lid and wait five minutes before attempting to relight the barbecue.

'For charcoal barbecues, it may be necessary to add charcoal more often to maintain a consistent temperature when it is windy,' Dan says. 'Always keep the vents open,' and 'lift the lid slowly and to the side to prevent ashes from blowing up on the food.'

grilling food outdoors

There are a few tips to bear in mind when cooking on a BBQ in winter

(Image credit: Maskot/Getty Images)

More top tips for a winter BBQ

Hopefully, our winter BBQ ideas have filled you with inspiration for your own outdoor entertaining. However, there are a few things to remember to ensure that you stay safe and your grill remains in top condition. 

Dan shares his advice:

  • 'Remember to keep your barbecue well protected with a cover when it's not in use, so it doesn't become damaged by the elements.' Your grill isn't the only thing that will benefit from some winter protection in your garden – you can also learn how to protect plants from frost in our guide.
  • 'Don't forget that winter/snow gloves are not barbecuing gloves. Make sure you always use heat-resistant gloves when barbecuing,' Dan continues.
  • 'Never barbecue indoors or under an overhang. Although the wind break may be tempting, be sure your grill is at least three meters away from all combustible materials and in a well-ventilated area when grilling.'
Holly Crossley
Acting Deputy Editor

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion.