Weber Kettle 22" Review
Weber Kettle 22" Review
February 19, 2020
The relationship I have with my Weber Kettle goes back longer than any other grill in my fleet today. I hold it single handedly responsible for my obsession with BBQ and that’s why you’ll find its silhouette in our logo. Rewind the tapes over a decade and I was exclusively a gas griller but that all changed over the Christmas holidays that year. One of my good friends smoked a tomahawk steak indirect on his Weber Kettle and the next morning we had home cured bacon that had been smoked on the kettle. The richness of the smokey charcoal flavors in both cooks instantly opened my eyes to what real BBQ was… and I was hooked all thanks to the kettle.
The best part of this grill are the memories we have created from bringing friends and family around the table to enjoying food lovingly prepared off the kettle. If you are considering buying a kettle as a Father’s Day, Birthday or Christmas present then just keep this in mind - I promise you it’s an investment in memories. There also aren’t many grills that I would have zero hesitation on recommending to nearly anyone, but the Weber Kettle falls into that category. If you only have a gas grill today and are thinking about expanding your BBQ horizons, I would strongly suggest considering the kettle. The only scenario under which I wouldn’t recommend this grill is if you live in a condo.
- 22” circular grill top that gives you just over 360 square inches of grilling space. Loads of space if you’re grilling for your family or a small party.
- The base and lid are made out of a really durable porcelain-enamel that hasn’t faded a day since we got our first one over a decade ago.
- Air vent on the lid and base to control airflow through the grill. These are the two means of controlling the temperature of your cooks
- Two wheels for easy maneuverability around your deck or backyard. In fact, the grill is so light you could even pop it in the back of your truck easily to take it camping or tailgating.
- Tray beneath the grill to catch all of the ash that falls out the bottom.
- The higher end models of the kettle have an automatic charcoal igniter which is a nice touch but not a necessity.
What we like about the Weber Kettle 22"
Here’s what we think makes the Weber Kettle such an icon and the best selling charcoal grill in the United States.
- The Weber Kettle is insanely good value. You can get the Original Weber Kettle “22 for $109. Considering we have spent nearly that much on four 1.5” thick NY Strip steaks, it’s incredible you can get a whole grill for that price. You’re not going to find better value.
- It’s the perfect entry point to get into traditional BBQ. When we bought our first kettle, it was our second grill. Up until that point we were only using a gas grill and the Weber Kettle was the perfect way for us to test the waters and see how much we enjoyed traditional charcoal barbecuing. It’s versatility allowed us to try searing, grilling or low and slow smoking in a low cost way before we got really serious and bought more specialized grills and smokers.
- The flavors of charcoal grilling, in my opinion, are totally worth the additional effort. The light smoky flavour enhances any protein you put on the grill. As the fat renders off of your protein, hits the charcoal and vaporizes, it results in some of the best food we have barbecued.
- In the base models of the Weber Kettle don’t have any electronics. There is something to be said about not needing electricity or having to worry about getting your iPhone connected to your app to work your grill. This grill works every time. In fact, it’s even bailed us out of a few cooks we were doing on our pellet grill when the power cut out. We had to switch the proteins over to the kettle to finish it off.
Drawbacks to the Weber Kettle 22"
While the kettle is arguably the best selling charcoal grill of all times, there are a few drawbacks or shortcomings you should be aware of.
- Charcoal grilling is not as convenient as a gas grill. This isn’t something unique to the Weber Kettle, it’s just a fact of life with charcoal grilling. You have to light your coals and let your grill warm up which can take 20-30 minutes. In order for this extra step not to add time to our overall cooking process, we simply changed the way we prepare for a meal. We light the charcoal and THEN start prepping the food so by the time we’re ready to start grilling, the charcoal is hot and ready to go.
- You need to refill charcoal multiple times if you’re doing long duration cooks. Unlike a Kamado grill, a load of charcoal on the kettle will last about 2-4 hours depending on a few variables like ambient temperature outside or the size and quality of the charcoal you’re using. That’s more than enough time for most cooks like steaks or burgers but you’ll probably have to reload your charcoal for longer cooks like brisket or pork butts. The only real drawback to this is you have to check in on the grill more regularly to make sure your charcoal is still giving off the right amount of heat.
- Weber used a relatively thin gauge of porcelain-enamel for the base and lid, the kettle isn’t great for low and slow grilling in the winter months. It’s still perfectly fine for shorter cooks, but I wouldn’t recommend trying cooks longer than 2 hours when the temperatures drop below 30˚F (0˚C)
Different Kinds of Models
Because of its popularity, over the years Weber has come out with different models of the kettle to build upon the success of the original. Here’s a high level description of what you’re going to get with each of the models along with some personal commentary from us to help you decide which one is right for you.
Original Weber Kettle 22”
This is the bare bones model and the one that we started our BBQ journey with. If you’re on a budget it will suit you just fine, but keep in mind you’ll most likely want to purchase a few of the accessories we mention in the next section of this review.
Premium Weber Kettle
This is the same as the Original but comes with a few upgrades. Namely, you get a thermometer built into the grill lid, you get a high quality set of grill grates and an ash basket at the bottom to more easily clean the ash out of your grill.
MasterTouch Weber Kettle
It has everything the Premium model has plus it comes with the charcoal baskets and a lid holder. If I were to do it all over again, I would buy this one because I’d view the thermometer, charcoal baskets and the upgraded grill grates as a necessary purchase. Plus the lid holder helps to free up both hands without having to put the hot grill lid down on your patio/lawn.
Performer Weber Kettle
It has everything the MasterTouch does but it comes built into a small cart that has a foldable side table. Personally, I think the side table is too small to be useful so if that’s something important to you, I’d recommend looking at either the Performer Premium or Performer Deluxe.
It has everything the MasterTouch has but it’s also built into a cart that has a large side table that is about 24” by 30” so you have some real room to work or set things down on. Underneath the side table it also has a large basket where you can store your charcoal and keep it nice and dry. There is also a built in electric timer but you’re unlikely to use that if you have a good thermometer system anyway
It has everything the Performer Premium has but it also has an automatic gas ignition system to light your charcoal. That’s a pretty awesome feature to be honest and it saves you the hassle of trying to crumple up newspaper in the bottom of your charcoal chimney and find matches to get your BBQ lit.
If you’re one of those guys that just has to have the best of everything, then this beast is for you. It’s like the Original Weber Kettle, but with a 37.5” diameter grill grate so you get an incredible 1,104 square inches of grilling space. That puts it up there with some of the largest grills on the market - you could feed a small village with this thing.
With most grills, the accessories are optional but in my opinion the Weber Kettle is a little different. Some of these come with the Weber Kettle depending on the model you buy, but if you get one of the lower end models, you’re going to want to seriously consider getting all of these. In many ways, these are essential to using your kettle.
- Charcoal chimney. You’ll need one of these to ignite your charcoal. We usually scrunch up a bunch of newspaper, stick that underneath the chimney and fill up the basket with charcoal. Then light the newspaper and your charcoal should be ready to dump into the Weber Kettle in 10-15 minutes.
- Charcoal Baskets. These baskets help hold your charcoal in position while your grilling and make it a little easier to ensure you’re getting the direct or indirect heat you’re looking for on your cook. Note, if you’re getting the MasterTouch model or higher, this is already included.
- Grill grate with foldable sides. If you are considering using your Weber Kettle for longer cooks then this is a must in order to reload your charcoal. The sides of the grate have a hinge system that allow you to access your charcoal baskets below without having to take the entire grate off the grill. Note, if you’re getting the Premium Kettle model or higher, this is already included.
- Grill Thermometer. Like all good pitmasters know, knowing the temperature of your grill is essential to making good barbecue. If you get the Weber Kettle Original, it doesn’t come with a thermometer built into the lid so you can get one that sits on the grill grates. Note, if you’re getting the Premium Kettle model or higher, this is already included.
- Lump charcoal. I would highly suggest using all natural lump charcoal as opposed to briquettes. They make for a cleaner smoke, generate heat for longer and they don’t contain any chemicals or additives like some briquette brands do.
Now, the great thing about owning a grill that is so incredibly popular, is there are tons of non-essential accessories for you to consider once you’ve played around with the grill, gotten comfortable with it and are looking to expand the functionality of the grill. Here are some just to name a few
- Rib Rack. While it’s not necessary to use a rack to make ribs, without it on the 22” you’re going to be limited to 2 racks at a time. This little gadget more than doubles the rib capacity of your Weber Kettle to 5 racks.
- Slow and Sear. One of the most talked about accessories on the market. It’s a charcoal basket that also has a reservoir you can pour water into. This helps to moderate the temperature of your weber kettle for low and slow cooks, but it also helps keep the moisture up so your proteins turn out really juicy.
- Pizza Oven. This piece of kit just sits between the base of the kettle and the lid and has a little opening that allows you to slide your pizza in and out of the the grill without losing all of its heat. Pair this with a pizza stone and a pizza peel and you’re all set to throw a pizza party for the kids.
- Rotisserie. Similar to the Pizza oven, it’s a piece of kit that sits between the base of the kettle and the lid. It has an electric powered rotisserie motor on the side and is perfect if you’re thinking of doing a prime rib or rotisserie chicken on the kettle.
- Arteflame Griddle Insert. Want to cook breakfast on a griddle like a boss? This grill insert will let you crush out bacon, eggs, hashbrowns and pancake like you’re using a traditional griddle. Also, it’s perfect for smash burgers if that’s your thing.
- Vortex. Wings are one of my favorite things to grill over charcoal and this vortex is like the charcoal baskets, except it holds the charcoal in the middle of the kettle as opposed to the sides. This lets you put your wings in a perfect circle around the outside of the grill grates and get an even cook on your wings and let’s you avoid any flare ups when chicken fat renders down.
- Cover. This is something you’ll want to consider if you’re not storing your grill in an enclosed area where it’s exposed to the elements.