An Expert Guide to Weber Kettle Grills

Grill Expert David Wilson walks us through Weber kettle grills, one of the oldest and most well-known names in charcoal grills!

A spatula flipping a burger on a grill.

Photo by Maude Frédérique Lavoie

For nearly 75 years, the Weber Kettle grill has been providing backyards and patios with the best charcoal-grilled food around. Over the years, Weber has taken one of the best charcoal grill designs from good to great through continuous innovation. It doesn't matter if you are looking for a portable charcoal grill or a high-end, restaurant-quality grill, Weber has the perfect charcoal grill to suit your needs.

Grab a beverage, put your feet up, and let's take a walk through the world of Weber charcoal kettle grills...I'm sure you'll discover the perfect grill for you and your patio!

Weber Smokey Joe 14"

The Weber Smokey Joe 14" Grill.

Let me introduce you to the original portable Weber, the Smokey Joe 14". This little grill is a powerhouse for all the tailgaters out there. One of my favorite things about this grill is that it has the same high-quality components as its larger grill siblings but in a much more compact package.

Like other Weber kettles, the Smokey Joe has a porcelain-enameled lid and bowl which helps increase heat retention. The lid has an easy-to-use rotating vent that allows for precise airflow and temperature control. There really is nothing better than seeing smoke rolling out of these round vents!

While the 14" diameter grate may seem small, it still has enough room to fit six burgers on the plated steel cooking grates. The aluminum ash catcher is easy to clean and sits neatly inside the legs of the grill support legs.

Pros

  1. Incredibly light and easy to move
  2. Great heat retention for a small tailgating grill

Cons

  1. It’s pretty small!
  2. For just a little more money, you can get the Jumbo Joe

Weber Jumbo Joe 18”

The Weber Jumbo Joe 18” Grill.

The Jumbo Joe is the big brother to the Smokey Joe and lets you take your tailgating or campground grilling to the next level. I know I am going to sound like a broken record, but the Jumbo Joe has all of the typical Weber kettle features including a porcelain-enameled lid and bowl for heat retention and easy-to-use vents for airflow control. But, the Jumbo Joe also adds a locking lid to make transportation easier.

The Jumbo has an 18” diameter grate which means you’ll be able to cook up to nine burgers over 240in2 of cooking space on this portable grill. That should easily accommodate most tailgate cookouts! One thing I really like about this model over the smaller tailgate grill is how easy it is to remove and clean the ash catcher. Good job, Weber!

While still on the smaller side, the Jumbo Joe has the same level of quality as the larger Weber siblings and would be a great grill to have at the campsite or at a tailgate event.

Pros

  1. A surface area equal to larger grills
  2. Locking lid for easy transportation
  3. Easy to remove and clean ash catcher

Cons

  1. Not great if the crowd is large
  2. Ash catcher isn’t enclosed and can be messy

Weber Original Kettle 18”

The Weber Original Kettle 18” Grill.

If you're looking at this list, you likely were looking for this grill, because, frankly, it's a classic and you have probably seen a thousand of them. This kettle grill is an icon of the traditional backyard barbecue.

As with all the other Weber kettles we've talked about, the Original Kettle has a porcelain-enameled lid and bowl which enhances heat retention for high-temperature meat, searing for steaks, and even indirect heat for more sensitive meats like chicken and fish. In terms of space, the 240in2 cooking surface can accommodate nine burgers!

One of my favorite additions to this grill in recent years is the heat shield on the handle which keeps you from melting your knuckle hair off when lifting the lid during a high-temperature cook. The Original Kettle also has Weber's One-Touch cleaning system which pulls ash from the bottom of the kettle and into the ash pan below which can easily be removed and cleaned as needed. There is also a handy hook inside the lid that allows you to hang the lid on the side of the kettle while managing the food that you're cooking. It's great to not have to hold onto the lid or place it on the ground while flipping burgers!

Pros

  1. Increased cooking capacity
  2. Removable ash pan
  3. Heat shield on the lid handle
  4. Large enough for indirect heat cooking

Cons

  1. You’ll need a chimney starter or (eek) lighter fluid
  2. Tool hooks would be nice

Weber Master Touch 22”

The Weber Master Touch 22” Grill.

Now we're moving into the range of Weber kettles that have the upgraded features that most people want when buying a grill. Let me introduce to you the Master Touch 22". The Master Touch has that familiar Weber kettle look with just a few amazing changes that really bring this grill into a different class of grills.

The Master Touch introduces the hinged cooking grate which allows you to add cooking accessories, such as a wok, to your grill. It also gives you the ability to add charcoal to your barbeque while you are cooking. Imagine the ability to sear steaks on the grate while also using the wok insert to stir fry veggies! The flavors you can create with that type of flexibility are endless. The cooking grate clocks in at 363in2 and can hold 13 burgers. In addition to this innovative grate, you also have a warming rack to keep things toasty as you continue to cook.

The hits keep coming with the Master Touch, because you also get the standard porcelain-enameled lid and bowl for increased heat retention and a tuck-away lid holder that keeps the lid out of the way while working with your food, as well as Weber's One-Touch cleaning system with a larger ash catcher to keep all your ash in a tidy, easy to clean container.

If you're looking for a great grill that will easily fit where you need it, the Master Touch 22" would be a great pick.

Pros

  1. Large cook surface
  2. Grate add-ons to expand your cooking styles
  3. Great ash catcher
  4. Tuck-away lid holder is convenient
  5. Warming rack

Cons

  1. No workspace
  2. That’s it!

Weber Performer Deluxe 22”

The Weber Performer Deluxe 22” Grill.

What can I say about the Performer? Well, it’s my personal charcoal grill, and I love it. I’ve had my Performer for a few years and it was an upgrade from my original Weber kettle that I purchased around 1998! (These things last a long time, y’all.) I’ve cooked beef, chicken, goat, duck, lamb, deer, gator, fish, shrimp, lobster, and every assortment of vegetables you can dream up on this thing, and it just keeps impressing me year in and year out.

The Performer Deluxe has all the features you love about a Weber with a few add-ons that, frankly, take this grill above and beyond most of the other Weber kettles. Weber decided to mount their kettle on a rolling cart, but, let’s call it a workstation because that’s what it is. The work surface is HUGE and gives you enough space to prep food or whatever you need to do while grilling. Here’s a picture of mine below.

The Weber Performer Deluxe 22” Grill.

Photo courtesy of David Wilson

This grill really is amazing. If you use indirect heat, you can even turn it into a smoker and make things like ribs with ease. The porcelain-enameled lid and bowl are great for heat retention, there are numerous hooks to hold all of your utensils (or bottle openers…ahem), a huge ash catcher with Weber’s One-Touch ash cleaning system, a large charcoal storage container, and even an integrated timer to keep you on track while cooking. To top it off, the Performer Deluxe comes with the “Touch-and-Go” ignition system that uses propane canisters to fire up the charcoal. No chimney starters needed with the Performer Deluxe!

Pros

  1. Premium features
  2. Large workspace
  3. Touch-and-Go ignition system
  4. Hooks for all your utensils
  5. Storage for your charcoal

Cons

  1. Ash can is sometimes heavy when full
  2. The timer falls off if you bump it

It doesn’t matter if you are looking for a small, portable grill to take camping or tailgating or if you are on the hunt for a family-sized grill, Weber has something for you. Their high-quality porcelain-enameled construction will last a long time and their innovative features keep them high on the list of must-have charcoal grills. You can use any kind of charcoal that suits you and even add in chunks of wood for a more robust flavor if you’d like. The grates are incredibly easy to clean and they look good sitting on your porch or patio!

If you have any questions about the grills above or you want to browse more, chat with a Grill Expert here on Curated. Weber grills are truly amazing, and I hope you find the perfect grill for you, but most importantly, grab some meat, light your grill, and enjoy a fantastic meal.

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Written By
I'm a meat crazed grill master (my word not my wife's) who loves nothing more than to cozy up to a hot grill or smoker with a cold beverage in my hand and cook up some killer meats and veggies. Steak? Check. Chicken? Check. Kabobs? Check. Burgers? Oh please yes. I've spent years trying new meats an...

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