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Yep, It’s Still One of the Best: A Weber Kettle Grill Review

This classic charcoal grill has been a mainstay in backyards for decades. I tested its cooking capabilities to find out why.
Tony Carrick Avatar
The Weber Original Kettle Premium charcoal grill set up for use in a yard
Photo: Tony Carrick for Bob Vila

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While the basic design of the Weber kettle grill may not have changed that much in the more than 70 years since its debut, it’s still one of the most popular charcoal grills on the market, and for good reason.

The Premium version of the brand’s classic kettle grill takes the original design that made Weber famous and makes improvements that count. The most notable is an ash collection system that eliminates much of the mess and toil that comes with cleaning a charcoal grill. Couple those improvements with its rock-solid construction, and you have one of the best all- around charcoal grills on the market.

I tested Weber’s Premium kettle grill to see for myself whether it lives up to its pedigree. I found this improved version of a design that dates back to the 1950s is still one of the best, if not the best, all-around charcoal grills you can buy.

Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill: At a Glance

The Weber Original Kettle Premium charcoal grill set up for use in a yard
Photo: Tony Carrick for Bob Vila

Rating: 9.4/10

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 39.5 inches tall by 22.5 inches wide by 27 inches deep
  • Weight: 32.3 pounds
  • Primary cooking surface: 363 square inches

PROS

  • Innovative ash collection system makes post-barbecue cleanup easy
  • Durably built with heavy-gauge sheet metal and thick enamel paint
  • Well-designed vent system that works well for controlling grill temperature

CONS

  • Small wheels on the base make it awkward to move around
  • More expensive than most other charcoal grills on the market

Get the Weber charcoal grill at:

What is the Weber Premium charcoal grill?

The Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill is characterized by the bulbous shape of its cook box and lid. The kettle sits on top of a base equipped with two wheels for maneuvering the grill short distances around a deck, patio, or yard.

Inside the kettle is a 22-inch-diameter cooking grate that gives you 363 square inches of cooking surface, representing the mid-range size of Weber’s kettle grills, which also includes 14-, 18-, 26-, and 37-inch models. My Weber Premium came in classic Weber black, but you can also find them in copper and green.

A vent on the lid and another at the base of the cook box allow you to control airflow through the grill, regulating how hot the charcoal burns and hence the level of heat inside the grill cooking chamber.

There are several features you’ll find on the Weber Premium that aren’t present on Weber’s other kettle grills, the most notable of which is the large removable ash-catching system located at the base of the cook box. Other features you’ll find only on the 22- and 26-inch Premium include a heat shield for the lid handle and a built-in thermometer.

Assembly

Unless you purchase the Weber Kettle grill prebuilt from a big-box store, you’ll need to put it together. As grills go, assembly is fairly easy. Weber uses the third-party Bilt app, which gives you animated, 3D, step-by-step instructions.

I found that the app made assembly easier and faster than using traditional paper instructions. I had the whole thing together in about 30 minutes. While I strongly recommend using Bilt for assembly, if you’re more comfortable with old-school paper instructions, those are included as well.

Lighting and Heating Up

As with most grills, there is a learning curve when grilling with the Weber Premium. I made the mistake of putting too much charcoal in the kettle on my first cooking attempt and ended up with more heat than I—or the food–could handle. The grill became so hot that I could hardly bear getting close enough to flip my burger patties.

Weber only recommends loading the Premium with 40 briquettes for cooking with direct heat (burgers and steaks) and just 20 briquettes for cooking with indirect heat (chicken and thicker pieces of meat). While those amounts may not look like much when you’re loading them into the kettle, I found they are indeed the optimal amount for grilling.

After the grill is loaded with charcoal, lighting it isn’t difficult. Weber recommends using a chimney-style starter, which is a great accessory to have. However, you can also use a fire starter or even lighter fluid if you don’t have a chimney starter. Once the grill is lit and its bottom vent open, the grill only takes about 15 to 20 minutes to preheat.

The Weber Original Kettle Premium charcoal grill in use grilling meat in a yard
Photo: Tony Carrick for Bob Vila

Cooking Performance

The Weber Premium performs very well. It heats the cooking surface evenly and allows you to control just how hot the charcoal burns by adjusting the vents located on the lid and base.

During my testing, I cooked burgers, steaks, and boneless skinless chicken breasts. I had no problem getting the grill surface hot enough to sear a good crust on my burgers and steaks while keeping the meat inside nice and juicy. I had similar success with chicken after setting up the grill for indirect heating. And, of course, since this is a charcoal grill, the food came out with plenty of smoky flavor.

While the cooking surface on the Premium is limited to just 363 square inches, it’s large enough to feed a family of four or even for a small gathering on holidays. There’s also just enough space to split the cooking surface into two separate zones for direct heating and indirect heating.

Premium Design Features

With the exception of a few minor complaints, I found the Weber Premium to be a very well- designed charcoal grill—both for cooking and cleaning. For starters, the cooking-grate hinges open so you can add charcoal for longer barbecuing efforts, and a bracket conveniently holds the lid so you can have both hands free to tend to the food. It also includes a built-in thermometer on the lid to monitor temperature and a heat shield that prevents the lid handle from getting hot.

The Weber Premium also makes cleaning the ash out of the bottom of the grill much easier, thanks to the large metal ash collector that sits at the base of the cook box—one of the kettle grill’s most attractive features.

Here’s how it works. The same lever that opens and closes the bottom vent also moves three small metal blades on the base of the kettle. As you move the lever, the blades sweep ash through the bottom vent holes into the ash catcher. When the day’s barbecuing has concluded, simply move the lever back and forth a few times to sweep the ash into the catcher, detach the ash catcher from the base, and dump it into the trash. This simple yet effective design, which isn’t available on Weber’s smaller kettle grills, makes the Premium worth its higher price tag.

One gripe I have with the Weber Premium is its small wheels. The Premium felt unstable and top-heavy when I attempted to roll the grill across my patio. At one point, I nearly dropped the lid. I found myself wishing the Weber would fit the larger wheels that are on its 22-inch Master-Touch grill, which costs more, on the Premium to add stability.

Durability

I’ve tested dozens of charcoal grills of varying brands and have yet to find one that offers the level of durability that Weber does, and that’s also the case with its Premium grill. The entire cook box is coated in a thick porcelain-enameled coating, which Weber says it bakes on at around 1,500 degrees to ensure it can stand up to intense heat.

From what I’ve experienced, that holds true. Over years of using various Weber charcoal grills, I’ve never experienced extensive peeling or chipping paint, rust on the grill body, or rust on the stainless steel grates that Weber uses for its charcoal models. Weber also uses heavier-gauge sheet metal than other gas grills, which I found makes it less likely to warp or dent.

The Weber Original Kettle Premium charcoal grill in use grilling meat in a yard
Photo: Tony Carrick for Bob Vila

Is the Weber Premium worth the money? 

With a retail price of around $220, the Weber Premium kettle grill is among the most expensive charcoal grills on the market. Yes, there are larger barbecues out there that offer more expansive cooking surfaces than the Weber Premium for the same price or cheaper. With a Weber, though, you’re getting superior performance and durability.

The Weber Premium uses thicker metal than most other charcoal grills, and its thick coating of enamel paint offers longer rust resistance than most other charcoal grills. Add to that the aforementioned design features that make the Weber easier to use and clean, and the Premium is well worth its steeper price tag.

Should you buy the Weber Premium? 

Whether the Weber Premium is the right grill for you depends on your grilling preferences and the size of your backyard barbecues. While it’s ideal for a family of four or small parties, its 363 square inches of cooking surface may not be enough for larger cookouts. If you want a charcoal grill that can handle the cooking duties for the neighborhood 4th of July blowout bash or your next family reunion, then you’d be better served by a larger barrel-style charcoal grill, like the heavy-duty Dyna-Glo.

That said, the Weber Premium performs better than most and boasts features that make it easier to use and clean. Its exceptional build quality and resistance to rust also means it will almost undoubtedly outlast its rivals.

Where to Buy the Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill

Get the Weber charcoal grill at:

Meet the Tester

Tony Carrick is a freelance writer specializing in home improvement, landscaping, technology, home security, and design. His articles have been featured on such sites as Popular Mechanics, Futurism, Field & Stream, 360 Reviews by U.S. News & World Report, Domino, and more. Carrick has conducted rigorous product testing on everything from power tools to home security systems to backyard grills. With each review, his goal is to help readers determine whether a product meets their needs and if it is or isn’t worth its price tag.

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Tony Carrick

Contributing Writer

Tony Carrick is a freelance writer who has contributed to BobVila.com since 2020. He writes how-to articles and product reviews in the areas of lawn and garden, home maintenance, home improvement, auto maintenance, housewares, and technology.

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