Choosing A Weber Kettle: Original, Premium, or Master Touch?

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If you’re wondering which 22-inch Weber kettle you should buy, you’re in luck! I bought all three (Original, Premium, and Master Touch).

I’ve been running them for months now, and I have some thoughts on which Weber Kettle to buy.

Master Touch vs Premium: What Are The Differences?

These kettles range in price from $120 for the Original, $175 for the Premium, or $230 dollars for the Weber Master Touch. 

You might wonder if the differences and upgrades are worth it. So, let’s chat about all three models and where each shines along with what the downsides are. 

One noticeable difference right off the bat is with the colors. The Original comes in any color you want as long as it’s black. 

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Alternatively, the higher models, the Premium and the Master Touch come in a variety of colors that tends to change from year to year.

If you’re looking for a specific color, your best bet is to look online in a place like Amazon because they’re much more readily available. 

The Premium and  Master touch models both have thermometers on their lids. 

So that gives you a sense of how hot you’re cooking which is a factor that’s really handy once you start getting serious about your backyard meals. 

Whereas the original, you’re going blind or you have to use your own thermometer which can be annoying and you need to store it when you are done. 

The Weber Master Touch comes with this plastic cool-touch handle on the top vent, which is a nice feature.

Because it allows you to adjust the vents and airflow settings, and thus, the temperature without having to wear gloves or using tongs.

However, the lower models don’t come with those handles and you have to be just a little bit more careful when you’ve got to change the temperature.  

Another nice feature to have is the lid as it allows you to take the lid and put it on the backside of the kettle grill in the cradle and it’ll be in the perfect spot every time you need it. 

On the Weber Original and Premium, they have a little hook that you hang over the edge of the kettle.

If you’re a little bit clumsy like me, getting the lid on that hook each time can be a little bit of a challenge. 

Both the Premium and the Master Touch kettle have tool hooks on the handle on the side of the kettle which is really convenient.

Because that’s where you can put your barbecue utensils or you can even hang your grill grates on them.  

Fortunately, the original also makes up for this and they have their grill grates with handles that are slightly bent so you can put them on the side of the kettle too. 

Grill Grates and Overall Construction

One of the most tangible differences between the kettles that you’ll notice is the grill grates and the Original.

It comes with the least expensive ones that won’t last quite as long because they’re made out of a thinner gauge metal.

Keep in mind, they’re pretty inexpensive to replace if you ever need to. 

Both the Premium and Master Touch both have hinge grates which are really convenient if you want to add some charcoal in the middle of a cook. 

They also have a thicker gauge metal and the Master Touch model has the thickest of all which really helps with heat retention.

Also, the gourmet grilling system, allows you to remove the center section and you can put different accessories in there like a cast-iron searing plate (otherwise known as a Griddle Plate!). 

The best thing about Weber Grills and the Kettle series, is these grill grates are extra thick. You know they’re going to last a really long time, more so than most grills in this price range. 

One of the disadvantages of the gourmet grilling system on the Master Touch is that the center section is removable and if you ever take your grill grates and put them up vertically, there’s a good chance that that piece is going to fall out.

But, if you’re doing something like chicken and you have it go around the outside, you can put your fire in the middle without fear of burning up your grates (or your wings). 

As far as venting and the Weber Premium vs Master touch debate, The premium and Master Touch models both have updated vents that are p-shaped.

What that allows you to do is make some real fine-tuned adjustments to your airflow especially when you’re doing low and slow temperatures. 

With the oval bottom vents, a small change in the dampers can make a big change in airflow and thus the temperature.

So you have to be very careful and make very small changes if you want to dial it in to the perfect temperature.

There’s one feature that makes going from the Original to the Premium 100 percent worth it and that is the good ol’ ash catcher.

It works a lot better than just the plain old pan especially if you live in a place that’s windy. 

One of the things that I’ve noticed is that when it rains, that pan can collect water.

weber kettle cooking

If you’ve got your ash in there, it gets pretty hard to remove whereas with this one you can take it out, dump it, and then you’re good to go. 

Weber also added some indicators on the ash catcher that allow you to see where the vents are starting to close, where they’re mostly closed, and where they’re completely closed.

And that avoids any guessing and having to look underneath the kettle to see where you’re at. 

You may not think that the size of the wheels matters much, but when you see the two kettles side by side, the Master Touch stands three or four inches taller than the rest. 

That’s really convenient if you’re tall because it makes it easier to carry as well as navigate over rougher terrain. 

Accessories and Upgrades Included

The Master Touch comes with some accessories that the others don’t, and one of those accessories is the warming rack which gives you a little bit more space to cook on. 

It also comes with the most common Weber accessory, which is the charcoal basket. 

It comes with two of these which makes it really easy to set things up for low and slow or hot and fast. 

This holds the charcoal in one place that way you have a little bit more control over your indirect grilling. 

So let’s talk about the kind of people that would want each kind of kettle. 

Who Would Benefit From The Weber Kettle Original?

The Original is really great for people who are budget conscious, may not grill all the time, or maybe you’re just trying to upgrade your grilling game at a relative’s house. 

If you find yourself in that category, you might consider looking for local classifieds because you might be able to find another kettle that’s in pretty good condition or just gently used for a pretty significant discount. 

Who Would Benefit From The Weber Kettle Premium?

The Weber Kettle Premium is the middle of the pack but is the one that I recommend for most people. 

That ash catcher really makes it worthwhile and is a significant upgrade over the original. 

Who Would Benefit From The Weber Kettle Master Touch?

The top-of-the-line Weber Kettle Master Touch is nice to have, but if you’re tall I would put it in the must-have category because it’s a lot more comfortable to grill on.

And I really like the lid bale feature. It keeps it off the ground. 

Final Word

That said the cooking experience is about the same on all the Weber Kettles, and you can make great food on any of them. 

Now if you’ve bought your kettle, you’re probably going to have some questions on how to use it that’s why I created the beginner’s guide to charcoal grills.

I’ve also got a playlist here that shows you all the things you need to know to get started.