When it comes to home grilling, the most common options are gas grills or charcoal grills. Gas grills offer convenience but slightly compromise on flavor, while charcoal grills provide better taste at the cost of being a bit more demanding to manage. I recently purchased a Weber charcoal grill, and I’d like to share my experience with all of you. Weber is the most popular brand for charcoal grills in the United States, having invented the iconic “kettle style” dome-shaped charcoal grill, which remains an economical, practical, and long-lasting choice since it’s introduced in the 1950s.
Now, let’s address the question of how different the taste of gas grilling versus charcoal grilling really is, and whether one can distinguish between them. This has been a subject of debate. Pitmaster X conducted a “double-blind” experiment where two individuals blindfolded themselves and tasted burgers, sausages, and steaks cooked on both gas and charcoal grills. Surprisingly, they were able to accurately identify the source of each dish every time. Of course, if you’re not overly particular about taste or if “convenience” is more important to you, then gas grills or even electric grills can still be a good choice.
|If you’re ready to dive into the world of charcoal grilling but have a limited budget, the Original Series is a great starting point. With options like the 18″ model priced at $119* and the 22″ model at $139, these grills may lack some fancy features but can still deliver fantastic barbecues.|
|For most people, the Original Premium Series is the top choice, available in black for $219 and copper/green for $239. These grills offer incredible value with features like an ash catcher, temperature gauge, and hinged cooking grate that opens on both sides. If you frequently host gatherings, there’s even a massive 26″ model available, but it comes with a hefty price tag of $429.|
|If you have a more generous budget or simply love vibrant colors, the Master-Touch Series is worth considering. With six color options, the black model costs $275, while the other colors are priced at $299. It’s also about 2.5″ taller than the above models, sparing you from constantly bending over while cooking if you’re on the taller side.|
|The Performer Series priced at $349 is essentially a combination of the Master-Touch Series with a fold-down table. If you desire a dedicated workspace for food preparation but also value compactness and easy storage, this model is perfect for you.|
|For those seeking a larger workspace or a built-in timer, the Performer Premium Edition priced at $499 is an ideal choice. It boasts a dedicated table that is bigger (it’s not foldable), along with a charcoal bin and a timer to keep track of your grilling perfection.|
|If you’re a fan of the smoky flavor of charcoal grilling but find starting the fire a hassle, the Performer Deluxe Edition is the ultimate solution. Available in black for $549 and copper/green for $579, this grill comes equipped with a Touch-N-Go gas ignition system, making the fire-starting process a breeze.|
*All prices are at the time of writing
Comparison of 3 Weber Charcoal Kettle Grills
Weber, a renowned American brand with a rich BBQ grilling heritage, achieved great success in 1952 with the invention of the iconic “kettle style” grill. Their product lineup includes charcoal grills, gas grills, electric ovens, smokers, and more. Among them, the charcoal grills are the stars of the show, known for their thoughtful design, excellent value for money, and timeless appeal. The classic Weber Original Kettle, with an astounding 55,000 positive reviews and a rating of 4.8 on Amazon, has been the best-selling charcoal grill for many years. Now let’s dive into the three most common series of Weber charcoal grills.
|From $119||From $219||$275/$299|
|18″, 22″||22″, 26″||22″|
|240/363 sqi||363 / 508 sqi||363 sqi|
|9/13 burgers||13/19 burgers||13 burgers|
|36″ / 39.5″ tall||39.5″ / 42.9″||42″|
|Precision heat control with metal handle||Precision heat control with metal handle||Heat shielded handle|
|Hang your lid on the side||Hang your lid on the side*||Dedicated lid placement|
|One-touch cleaning with ash tray||One-touch cleaning with removable ash catcher and indicator for vent status||One-touch cleaning with removable ash catcher and indicator for vent status|
|“l” shaped air intake vent||“P” shaped air intake vent, easier to make small and precise adjustment||“P” shaped air intake vent, easier to make small and precise adjustment|
|Standard grates, relatively thinner||Upgraded grates with hinges that open on both sides and make it easier to add fuel while grilling; it’s also thicker||Hinged grates with removable circular insert that adds more grilling options; also thicker|
|Built-in lid thermometer||Built-in lid thermometer|
|Extra warming rack, more cooking space|
|Two charcoal baskets, very useful for indirect grilling|
* The 26″ model comes with dedicated lid placement
Weber Original Series
The Original Series is available in two models: 18″ and 22″, both in black.
|18″ Model||22″ Model|
|Diameter||18″ / 46cm||22″ / 56cm|
|Grill Area||240 Sqi||363 Sqi|
|Capacity||9 burgers||13 burgers|
|Height of lid||5″||7.5″|
|Price on Amazon||$117.21||$139.00|
The product height is measured from the ground to the top of the lid. The actual height of the cooking grate is lower when the lid is removed — it’s 31″ for the 18″ model, and 32″ for the 22″ model. As a point of comparison, the standard countertop height in American kitchens is 36″, which is the height at which you typically chop and cook. Even the tallest model in the Weber grill lineup, the Master-Touch, only has a cooking grate height of 34.5″. Only the Performer series with a table attachment offers a cooking grate height of 36″. If you are taller in stature, it’s worth considering a model with a higher cooking grate height so you don’t have to bend all the time.
Here are the key features and design highlights of the Classic Series. Of course, being the most affordable models, they also have some drawbacks.
|The temperature control vent allows for temperature adjustments without having to open the lid. However, the handle is made of metal and can get hot, so caution is required.|
|There’s a hook on the lid that can be used to hang it on the side of the grill. On the other hand, the Master-Touch series comes with a dedicated storage shelf for added convenience.|
|The advanced models come with a versatile ash catcher, while the Original Series has this basic one. It’s not detachable and doesn’t have any covering, which means that if it gets windy, dust might blow around, and if it rains, cleaning it up can be a bit of a hassle. Moreover, it doesn’t show the status of the air intake; If you’re curious about how much air is flowing in, you’ll need to bend down and check from the bottom.|
|The air intake on the bottom of the Original Series has a slender “l” shape. It can be a bit tricky to control if you want to set it to a very low level. On the other hand, the Premium and Master-Touch models have a “p” shaped design, which allows for easier control by adjusting the protruding part to achieve a lower airflow.|
|The Original Series features a standard grate without any openings on the sides. If you need to add more charcoal during grilling, you’ll have to lift the entire grate, which can be a bit inconvenient.|
One more thing to note is that the original Series doesn’t come with a built-in temperature gauge. So, if you want precise temperature control while grilling, you may want to consider purchasing an additional thermometer.
Weber Premium Series
The Premium Series offers two models: 22″ and 26″. The 22″ model comes in three color options. The black one is the most affordable at $219, while the copper and green versions are priced at $239. On the other hand, the 26″ model is only available in black and comes at a much higher price point of $429.
Weber Premium Series 22″ Charcoal Grill
|22″ Model||26″ Model|
|Diameter||22″ / 56cm||26″ / 66cm|
|Grill Area||363 Sqi||508 Sqi|
|Capacity||13 burgers||19 burgers|
|Height of lid||7.5″||8.5″|
|MSRP||$219 / $239||$429|
|Amazon||$219.00 / $239.00||$680.07|
Now, let’s talk about the upgrades that the Premium Series brings compared to the Classic Series. In addition to offering a larger 26″ option and introducing copper and green color choices for the 22″ model, there are four key enhancements that set the Premium Series apart.
|Firstly, the control panel now includes a built-in temperature gauge, allowing you to monitor the internal temperature of the grill in real-time. This feature ensures precision and helps you achieve perfect grilling results every time.|
|Secondly, the ash catcher has been upgraded to a multi-functional design. It is now detachable, making it incredibly convenient to dispose of ash by simply removing it and emptying it into the trash. Plus, it displays the status of the air intake, eliminating the need to squat down and check the opening size like in the Original Series.|
|The air intake design has also been improved. The “l” shape in an Original model has been replaced with a “p” shape, which makes it much easier to control and fine-tune the airflow, ensuring optimal grilling conditions.|
|Lastly, the cooking grate of the Premium Series adds hinged openings on both sides. Unlike the Original Series, where the entire grate needs to be lifted to add charcoal, the Premium Series allows you to conveniently add charcoal without disturbing the entire grilling surface.|
Weber Master-Touch Series
One of the standout features of the Master-Touch Series is its elevated design, which makes it easier if you are tall in stature. It also comes in a wide range of stunning colors to suit your personal style. Choose from black, white, smoke gray, spring green, slate blue, and deep ocean blue – a total of six vibrant options to make a statement.
Now, let’s talk about the fantastic upgrades that set the Master-Touch Series apart from the Premium Series.
|Firstly, the exhaust vent has been upgraded with a heat-resistant design, featuring a plastic handle for added safety and convenience. This ensures a comfortable grip even when adjusting the vent during hot grilling sessions.|
|Secondly, the Master-Touch Series features a dedicated lid holder, making it incredibly convenient to park the lid safely and securely when not in use. Unlike the Original and Premium Series, where you rely on a small hook to keep the lid in place (which can easily slip off accidentally), the Master-Touch Series takes lid storage to the next level.|
|Now, let’s talk about the innovative cooking grate. Not only does it have openings on both sides for easy charcoal addition, but it also features a removable circular center section known as the Gourmet BBQ System. This unique design allows for effortless charcoal placement from the center, giving you greater control over your grilling experience. Additionally, the Gourmet BBQ System is compatible with various accessories like griddle inserts, pizza stones, and more, allowing you to explore endless culinary possibilities.|
|One fantastic addition is the inclusion of a warming rack, perfect for keeping your buns and bread toasty while you focus on grilling. It’s a thoughtful touch that adds versatility to your outdoor cooking experience.|
|Lastly, the Master-Touch Series comes with two charcoal baskets, allowing you to control the heat distribution. You can place them in the center for concentrated high-heat grilling, or position them on the sides for indirect grilling, perfect for smoking and slow-cooking.|
Weber Performer Series (3 More Models)
The Performer Series can be seen as an upgraded version of the Master-Touch, with the added convenience of a foldable or dedicated table for food preparation and serving. It combines all the fantastic features of the Master-Touch, except for one difference: the air intake design. While the Master-Touch features the efficient “p” shape, the Performer Series retains the “l” shape intake design.
|363 Sqi||363 Sqi||363 Sqi|
|$349||$499||$549 / $579|
|Touch-N-Go gas ignition system|
|Charcoal bucket||Charcoal bucket|
|Removable ash catcher||Removable ash catcher||Removable ash catcher|
|Gourmet BBQ System||Gourmet BBQ System||Gourmet BBQ System|
|Dedicated lid holder||Dedicated lid holder||Dedicated lid holder|
|Charcoal baskets||Charcoal baskets||Charcoal baskets|
|“l” shaped air intake vent||“l” shaped air intake vent||“l” shaped air intake vent|
The following video showcases the main advantages of the Deluxe version in the Weber Performer Series.
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