Classic, compact design
Tried-and-true cooker makes amazing food
A cost-conscious option
Ash catcher makes cleanup a breeze
Charcoal fuel takes more effort than gas or pellets
Small to medium cooking space
Wheels are small
The Weber kettle grill has been around since the early 1950s, so chances are good you’ve eaten a burger, a hotdog, or a steak cooked on one. As a kid, our family had a gas grill, while the neighbors had a Weber. Their food was always a little bit tastier, so I made the Weber Original my first grill when I got a home of my own. Essentially just a grate sitting between two pieces of metal atop a tripod, it’s hard to imagine a simpler cooker beyond just an open fire on the ground.
The premium model adds a couple of upgrades to the nearly 70-year-old design. A built-in thermometer on the lid allows you to monitor the grill’s temperature, while a hinged grill grate makes it easy to add coal or reposition embers for enhanced fire management. And when dinner’s done, an improved ash catcher makes cleaning up the charcoal mess even easier. Read on to see how well the Weber Original Kettle Premium 22” Charcoal Grill performed under fire.
I set up the grill in under 15 minutes, and three or four of those were spent taking it out of the box. It is an absurdly simple process that requires a hammer and a Phillips-head screwdriver. In the box, you’ll find 26 pieces including a plastic wrench only used to attach the handle to the lid.
The visual instructions are easy to follow, but you will want to pay careful attention to leg positioning, as one of the three parts of the tripod the kettle sits on is different from the other two and goes on the side with the welded metal handle. One other trick to note during assembly is that you will have to apply a little bit of tension to the legs when installing the wheels. I found that just pushing the leg in a little and then tapping the wheel covers on with a hammer (ball-peen, claw, or even a rubber mallet) worked. Before your first cook, Weber recommends letting a hot fire burn for at least 30 minutes to burn off any production residue that may linger from the manufacturing process.
Design: Iconic and compact
Measuring 39.5 x 22.5 x 27 inches, this grill takes up a minimal amount of space in your backyard or on the porch while still offering a decent-sized cooking surface. It’s about waist level in height for almost everyone, so it’s quite comfortable to cook on. The 363-square-inch cooking area can easily handle a pair of whole chickens or about 10 to 12 burgers, depending on how large you make your patties. Any more than that and the grill can get overloaded, making it difficult to cook everything evenly and to flip the patties. Weber says it feeds four to six people.
I do wish they had given this premium model bigger, better wheels.
A heat shield just beneath the heat-resistant glass-reinforced nylon lid handle prevents you from burning yourself. The enclosed ash catcher below the grill body is a major upgrade in this version and makes cleanup much easier (more on that later).
The lightweight construction and wheels on two of the three legs made the Weber reasonably easy to move or reposition on pavement. While the Weber is nearly perfect in its simplicity, I do wish they had given this premium model bigger, better wheels. As is, it requires some effort to roll the grill through the grass into storage or when the kids need the yard for a soccer game or water fight. A minor complaint for sure, but I think it is an easy and obvious fix.
Performance: Simple and effective
This Weber’s plated steel cooking grate is hinged so that it’s easier to load charcoal, even while cooking, onto the heavy-gauge steel grate below. Like many, I eschew lighter fluid, so for easy fire-starting, I opted to use Weber’s Rapidfire Chimney Starter—just one of several accessories you can purchase for this grill (others include a grill cover, Char-Baskets, and a rotisserie kit). With this method, the coals take about 10 minutes to light and another 10 for the grill to get hot.
No matter what you slap on it, the Weber can cook it—hot and fast or low and slow. I’ve thrown pork, burgers, steaks, chicken, veggies, and even some pineapple on the Weber with fabulous results. Some foods call for direct heat right over the coals, but you can also position the fuel to the side to cook indirectly, something you’ll want to do if you are grilling a whole chicken or playing around with a beer can recipe. You can even use the Weber to slowly smoke more traditional barbecue by adding a little wood to the fire.
Maintaining a consistent temperature is crucial, and the Weber does this better than any other in its price range.
The only real learning curve to cooking on a charcoal grill is fire management, but the built-in thermometer makes that easier. Maintaining a consistent temperature is crucial, and the Weber does this better than any other in its price range. You can thank the porcelain-enameled bowl and lid, which are heat retention pros, for that. Still, keeping an eye on the thermometer will help you determine if you need to add more coal, wood, or even adjust the airflow using the rust-resistant aluminum dampers. These vents are also useful when extinguishing the fire, as closing them cuts off oxygen.
Features: Back to basics
While the Weber is a very basic cooker, it does have a few helpful features. There’s the elevated ash catcher, which makes dumping the remnants easier than with the original model (see the Ease of Cleaning section).
Not to beat a dead burger, but the aforementioned thermometer really did help me manage my fire better. The Weber also features a hook on the inside of the lid, which you can use to hang the lid off the side of the grill. This eliminates the temptation to put the lid on the ground, which can singe a circle in your lawn. Small hooks on the grill’s side handle are ideal for hanging tongs, spatulas, or a towel.
Weber also offers a free app featuring grill guides for cooking various proteins and veggies, an explainer on how to position your fuel depending on your cook, and a timer to remind you when to check on or pull your food. To boot, the app boasts scores of recipes to keep your menu fresh and your family excited about trying new foods.
Ease of Cleaning: Hot and fast
A clean grill is essential to flavor, and cleaning the Weber is a fairly simple affair thanks to the ash catcher. Even though it is solidly attached, the catcher pops off with ease, and its deep, bowl-like shape allows you to seamlessly pour the ashes into the trash without much spilling after they have cooled. I managed to get it all in the can every time—something I can’t say about the original plate-style catcher, with which I probably lost an average of about 40 percent of the ashes to the wind.
To clean the grates, build a fire, heat up the grill, and then take a bristle-free wire brush (metal bristles can fall out and end up in your food, and you don’t want that) and scrape. Every few cooks, I like to use a Shop-Vac to remove any greasy ashes stuck in the bottom of the grill. As a preventative, you’ll want to oil the meats and veggies before they go on to prevent sticking and extra scraping.
Once you factor in price, performance, and design, the Weber is the heavy hitter in the arena of charcoal grills.
Price: Entirely reasonable
Retailing at $165, this grill is well-priced considering the upgrades from the original. It’s only $50 more, and to me, that’s money well spent considering how much easier it is to discard ashes, one of my least favorite things about operating my previous Weber. The built-in thermometer and dampers also enhance the cooking experience and justify the cost.
Additionally, the purchase is protected by Weber’s warranty of 10 years for the bowl and lid, five years for the one-touch cleaning system and plastic parts, and two years on all remaining parts (excluding rust-through, burn-through, fading, or discoloration).
Competition: A crowded field
Sure, there are many options on the market. But once you factor in price, performance, and design, the Weber is the heavy hitter in the arena of charcoal grills. A high-end ceramic kamado grill, while a superior cooker thanks to its insulation, will run you $800 minimum. Barrel-style charcoal grills, while larger, can be more difficult to manage and harder to clean. There are cheaper versions of the kettle out there, but the Weber’s quality construction (it is made in the USA from globally sourced components) makes it a valuable purchase that should last you a long time.
Yes, buy it.
What are you waiting for? If you do not have a grill, the Weber Original Kettle Premium 22” Charcoal Grill is the place to start. For those new to cooking outdoors, the Weber makes it easy to learn to grill over a flame; you’ll look like an old hand in no time. But even if you have a gas grill or a pellet smoker (as I do), sometimes the charcoal option is simply superior.
- Product Name Original Kettle Premium 22” Charcoal Grill
- Product Brand Weber
- MPN 14401001
- Price $165.00
- Weight 32.3 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 39.5 x 22.5 x 27 in.
- Diameter 22 in.
- Total Cooking Area 363 sq. in.