Insulated Blankets: The Secret to Saving Fuel and Serving Up Juicy Meat! (Do you know what makes them different from BBQ covers?)
When winter draws near, there are always people wondering whether they should put a cover on their BBQ.
What people don’t necessarily think about is that they can also put an “insulated blanket” on their unit.
Now, you probably noticed the quotation marks. Yes, I put “insulated blanket” in quotation marks because, while it’s technically a blanket, we’re so used to thinking that what goes on top of a BBQ is called a cover that it’s often the first word that pops into our heads 😅. This kind of cover doesn’t cover the entire BBQ, which is why it earns the classification of “blanket” in English.
In a nutshell, insulated blankets are great, but are often overlooked in favor of cover—or at the very least, people don’t talk about them as much. So, in the interest of giving them the attention they deserve (especially at this chilly time of year!), I thought I’d give them a little shout-out.
What is an insulated blanket and what does it do?
An insulated blanket’s main purpose is to reduce the amount of fuel the grill burns by helping the unit’s combustion chamber to retain as much heat as possible inside. In fact, as I mentioned, an insulated blanket doesn’t cover the entire grill; it only covers the combustion chamber. To put it simply, it’s exactly the same as wearing a technical t-shirt, a thin insulating garment that wicks away some of the moisture from the body, but in this case, it’s insulated fiberglass that you drape over your BBQ to retain more heat.
In any case, an insulated blanket is a cost-effective tool, because it allows the grill to burn less fuel to reach a given temperature.
What makes a cover different from an insulated blanket?
A cover is really made to protect the BBQ from the elements: sun, water, dust, bugs… Something you can put on your BBQ 365 days a year, but that you take off when you want to use your fine piece of machinery.
An insulated blanket, on the other hand, “protects” the BBQ from the cold, but it doesn’t cover it completely. It also stays on the BBQ when it’s hot (though it’s best not to leave it there all year long—I’ll talk more about that below), and it allows it to cook food more efficiently. Basically, instead of needing more fuel to heat up the grill, it needs less because the heat is retained, so there’s less air circulation inside the grill and the meat comes out less dry and juicier.
In just a few words, an insulated blanket is cost-effective, environmentally friendly and efficient to make your cooking successful. 👌
What kind of grill can you use with an insulated blanket?
Only a few brands of pellet grills carry this option—the reason being that the materials used to make these blankets aren’t designed to be used at very high temperatures. (They’re generally designed to be used when cooking at about 375 °F, max [always check the maximum temperature listed on your blanket before using it because it may differ].) Given that, it’s easy to see why insulated blankets aren’t very useful for gas or charcoal grills, which can heat up to super high temperatures.
What’s nice, though, is that insulated blankets are magnetic, so they literally take seconds to install. They also already have a vent hole for the BBQ’s chimney, so they’re actually a breeze to set up.
What should you look for in an insulated blanket?
Unlike a regular cover, insulted covers don’t have a bunch of features that can sway you in your decision-making. Basically, each blanket is designed for a specific BBQ (no such thing as “one size fits all”), and there aren’t 3–4 different blankets for the same BBQ—just 1. So, your options are pretty much limited to the one that fits over your grill. There are models for Camp Chef and Yoder BBQs of various sizes (24″, 36″, XXL, competition model, etc.).
One piece of advice I’ll give you, though, is that if you know you want to grill in the winter, make sure there’s an insulated blanket for the particular unit you want. If you’re trying to save money, it’s definitely worth it. Even super heavy-duty BBQs, like the Yoder, can have insulated blankets, which may be surprising to some.
When should you cover your BBQ with an insulated blanket?
I quickly touched on this earlier, but I recommend not leaving the insulated blanket on the BBQ year-round. The simple reason is that when it’s hot, like in the summer, it gets too hot in the grill with the blanket on, so the fuel chokes and the unit shuts down. Another reason why I’m telling you this is because, since there’s less air flowing through a BBQ in the summer and there’s almost no smoke coming out of it, if you put the blanket over it, the meat gets steamed and doesn’t have a nice smoke ring or a nice smoky flavor (I don’t know anyone who leaves their blanket draped over their grill in the summer).
So … back to the question: When should you use an insulated blanket? I’d say you can put it on as soon as the outdoor temperature drops below 10 °C, then leave it on your BBQ until it starts to get chilly and not cold. In other words, leaving it on from September to April/May is ideal.
When it rains or snows, it’s also especially effective because it insulates the BBQ’s sheet metal from the cold elements (water droplets or snowflakes) and allows it to better retain heat.
Other than that, it’s a blanket designed more for low and slow cooking. If you’re grilling and put your insulated blanket on your BBQ, it can get damaged (like I said before, these blankets can withstand max temperatures of about 375 °F). So, you need to consider the outdoor temperature when cooking and the type of cooking you want to do before installing your insulated blanket.
Oh, and just so you know, there’s nothing wrong with having an insulated blanket AND a cover on your BBQ when you’re not using it. Just make sure the BBQ has cooled down before you put your cover on it.
How do you maintain an insulated blanket?
There isn’t that much maintenance required for this type of blanket. Personally, I hose it down every once in a while to get the dust off of and… That’s it.
There you go, simple as that. 😉
I think I’ve told you everything you need to know about insulated blankets. I hope I’ve taught you a few things. 😊
Happy grilling, everyone! 🔥