The beauty of BBQing is that is can be so simple.
Although I love to BBQ, I can barely boil water in the kitchen so I stick to BBQing. J
As I have mentioned in the past, the key to BBQing is to be able to maintain a constant temperature in your grill.
First thing you need to do with any grill no matter if it's gas, charcoal, electric or wood pellet is see how the grill keeps its temperature. You can do that be placing a thermometer inside the grill and running your grill at various temps. Colorado BBQ Outfitters has all the necessary equipment to do this! Thermometers can range from the remote digital probe types to the less expensive analog type. I must caution that the analog thermometers have been known to fluctuate anywhere from 30 to 50 degrees F off depending on the type you have. I would most definitely recommend a digital thermometer for accuracy.
Let the temperature sit at least 15 minutes when checking it. I suggest checking all settings on your grill: low, medium, and high. Some grills offer a smoke setting as well. Write down your findings of each test. I also recommend doing this test in both warm and cold weather as weather temp has a huge impact on your grill temp.
Once you run your test you are ready to work with your grill more accurately. If your grill can carry a CONSTANT temperature of 180 to 225 degrees F, you are able to smoke anything with that grill. This applies more so to gas grills. Charcoal can be controlled by simply not adding more fuel (charcoal). Electric smokers tend to hold temps much better. Wood pellet grills are just a matter of knowing which temp you get from which setting on your dial.
Gas grills will get very hot if on high so no need to be concerned about how hot they will get. Same with charcoal as you control the fuel and therefore the heat. Wood pellet grills will range on high anywhere from 450 to over 700 degrees F. You only need that type of heat to sear meat or cook a pizza. Otherwise, that high is not necessary.
If you grill will not stay at a constant temp or you cannot get your temperature high as you would like, here are a few things you can do:
1. Leave the lid closed. This seems like common sense but many people like to see their food as it cooks. Don't.
2. Check your grill for too much air flow. Cracks, welds that have come apart, holes, etc. are what you want to stay away from. Anything that will cause cold air to get in and effect the grill temperature. If you have a charcoal grill they will come with vents. Wide open for hotter and closed for lower temps is the rule.
3. If you have looked for holes, etc and cannot find any then you have a grill design issue. One way to alleviate this is to insulate your grill with a cover. You can spend upwards of $200 to $300 for custom fit insulated grill covers OR you can simply purchase a welders blanket. They are much, much cheaper and work fantastic. They aren't the prettiest but you just bungee cord it on and you are good to go. The are perfect for winter months.
4. Buy a new grill! :)
Winter months are great for smoking food on the grill. It is very easy!