Review – Weber One Touch Premium:
Way back in May 2013 we went to Grillstock festival in Bristol and were introduced to a whole new world of cooking over live fire. The weather wasn’t great over the weekend so we took shelter in the Weber marquee over both days and saw all the different demos they were putting on. My mind was blown with the vast range of dishes you could cook on a BBQ, so as soon as we got home I ordered a Weber Kettle and a Weber Smokey Mountain. After five years and hundreds of cooks in every kind of weather condition known to man, I feel the Weber Kettle has had a sufficient road test in order to write this blog post: Review – Weber One Touch Premium.
The original Weber Kettle was developed in 1951 by George Stephen Sr. who was part owner of a sheet metal shop in Chicago called Weber Brothers. Looking to improve the brazier he had at home he took a buoy made in the factory, cut it and put the two half spheres together to make “George’s Barbecue Kettle”. The grill was so popular that by the late 50’s Stephen bought out the barbecue division from the Weber Brothers factory and changed the company name to Weber-Stephen Products Co.
Why pay £100 – £200 on a BBQ when Argos, B&Q and Homebase have them for £30 upwards? As with most things in life you tend to get what you pay for. The Weber gear is well made, resilient to the weather, the metal is thick enough where it will retain enough of the heat to cook on and there is a vast range of accessories for the Weber grills. Some of the cheaper grills don’t have vents in both the bottom of the grill and in the lid, like the Weber, which makes it harder to control the temperature when cooking.
I have owned cheaper grills in the past and they don’t tend to last too long. My Weber kettle lived outside for the first couple of years and has had quite a hard life with the amount of cooks I have done on it, especially since I started my blog! My advice to folk when they ask what to buy is to buy a Weber kettle, they aren’t cheap but they should last a long time and the build quality, features and accessories make it easy to learn on and also easy to cook some fantastic meals.
The Weber Kettle Range:
Weber produce quite a large range of gas and charcoal fuelled grills, smokers and the Summit which is both a grill and a smoker. As this review is based on my 57cm Weber One Touch Premium, I will focus on the 57cm charcoal grills in that range.
By default, everything in the range has a Porcelain-Enamelled bowl and lid. The use of enamel makes them weather proof, durable and easy to clean but they can also be easy to chip especially if dropped.The lids have an angled hook so you can hang the lid off the side of the bowl.
All the grills have a chrome triple-plated cooking grate with the Premium having a hinged grate and the Master-Touch having both a hinged grate and the Gourmet BBQ System (GBS).
Weather proof handles with heat shields fitted, rust proof aluminum lid/bowl vents, weatherproof wheels and a charcoal measuring cup also come as standard across the range.
1: The 57cm Compact
The Compact is a bit of a strange beast. The bowl is shorter than the rest of the range but the total height of the unit is only 2cm shorter than the Original so it must have longer legs. I don’t think I have seen one of these in the flesh but I am guessing the smaller height brings the material cost down which in turn reduces the selling price to an RRP of £129.99 and that makes it the cheapest in the range.
Due to the shorter bowl, this grill isn’t ideal for indirect cooking and for the same reason the GBS grill isn’t recommended in the compact.
If you usually buy a cheap BBQ from Argos, B&Q or Homebase each year and it disintegrates around Autumn time, you don’t plan on cooking too often or if your budget is limited, this is probably the one for you, but I would try and stretch to the Original if possible as being able to cook indirectly is a game changer to avoid burning your food.
2: The 57cm Original Kettle
The traditional Weber Kettle shape that most people will be familiar with. This one has the standard sized cooking bowl but also has a lid mounted thermometer which isn’t included on the Compact. With the deeper bowl you can cook direct and/or indirect which is handy.
The Original also comes with charcoal dividers which I got with my grill. To be honest, I never used them as the charcoal baskets (I bought these separately) are a lot easier because you can move them around during the cook.
The Original introduces the Aluminium One Touch Cleaning System which is handy for scraping used charcoal out the bottom of the grill after the cook is finished (and the ash is cold!) but the downside is that it drops onto a plate below. With the vents open during cooking, hot charcoal will drop down and could fall off that plate (not ideal if cooking in a wooden shack!) and it can make a mess when cleaning up after.
An RRP of £169.99 and definitely a step up from the Compact but the downside for me on this one is the lack of a proper ash catcher. Move up to the Premium if funds allow as the integrated ash catcher makes things a lot easier.
3: The 57cm Original Kettle Premium
This is the same as mine. The big change from the Original is the integrated ash catcher you can see under the bowl. This is really handy as small bits of hot charcoal drop through the open vents and are caught in the ash catcher. When the ash has cooled down you can move the One Touch Cleaning System from side to side to scrape the burnt charcoal into the ash catcher and then remove it and dispose of the ash.
The grill surface on the Premium is different to the Original as it has hinged sides allowing you to add more fuel or wood chunks/chips during the cook. I have found this really handy over the years.
The only other changes I can see are that the side handles have integrated tool holders and the Premium is 9cm taller than the Original which I think is just down to longer legs rather than a bigger bowl.
All three grills discussed so far are only available in black.
The RRP of the Premium is £229.99. Looking on my receipt, in June 2013 I paid £257 which included the Cover (£26), Briquettes (£24), Chimney Starter (£17) and Chicken Roaster (£31) so £159 for the grill and £98 of extras.
4: The 57cm Master-Touch GBS
The Master-Touch (MT) is the top of the range model in this line and includes the Chrome Triple-Plated Hinged GBS Cooking Grate. This has the same hinged sides as the grill in the Premium but also has a removable central part which can be replaced with items from the GBS range including: Sear Grate, Pizza Stone, Dutch Oven, Waffle/Sandwich Iron, Poultry Roaster, Wok and Griddle. Quite a range of different cooking equipment available offering the ability to cook almost any meal on your grill which is impressive. My only criticism of the GBS system is that the items are quite expensive compared to similar non-GBS items from 3rd parties with the range costing from £49.99 to £99.99. However, a few birthdays and Christmases would soon have you fully stocked!
Another really handy extra on the MT is the tuck away lid holder which allows you to take the lid off and store it against the kettle bowl. When I cook on the Premium I end up with the lid on the floor quite often and it gets in the way, but is also a hazard when hot if the kids are running around. This is much safer and handier but also reduces the risk of damaging the enamel.
Good point from ChrisABBQ the lids have an angled hook inside so you can hang them off the bowl to avoid putting them on the floor. I used to do that, not sure how or why I got out of the habit!
The last major difference with the MT is that it’s available in different colours: black (of course!), slate blue, spring green, crimson red and smoke grey.
RRP on the MT is £269 which is a £40 premium over the Premium. For the lid holder and GBS cooking grate it’s probably worth the difference.
Some deals can usually be found on the MT out of season. Last year Homebase had the smoke grey MT for £122 and this year B&Q had the same colour to clear at £149. If you are lucky enough to get one at these sort of prices it’s an awesome deal!
|One Touch Cleaning System||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Riverside (July 2018)||£116.99||£152||£170||£209|
Back when I bought mine, all Weber grills were built in America. Some Weber gas grills are now made out in China, whilst the Premium charcoal grills are still made in America but now feature globally sourced components. I don’t see a problem with this as the build quality of the Weber Grills is hard to match. Customer service is also really good with Weber so if you do find a build issue or damage from transit they normally ship replacement parts.
The most important part! I bought my grill as a complete novice and learnt all the basic skills of lighting a fire, managing the fire, cooking with different heat zones and learnt how to cook a large range of different meats and cuts. The Weber Kettle really is fantastic as it’s simple to get ready to cook on and easy to cook with. It’s very easy to produce simple meals quickly, but also large meals for groups and also some seriously impressive dishes.
The bowl and lid vents allow you to easily change the cooking temperature and the lid allows you to reduce air flow to stop flare ups but also retains the heat and deflects it back down on the food to help with the cooking process.
The grill surface on all four grills in the range are listed as having a surface area of 2552cm² – that doesn’t really translate into much for me but it’s certainly big enough to run two heat zones and cook a spatchcocked chicken or a butterflied leg of lamb in either heat zone. It’s also big enough to cook a joint of meat and a couple of side dishes too.
I started this blog back at in January 2017 and in that time have cooked 134 dishes (as of 23/07/2018) on the Weber Kettle with some really fantastic meals and loads of memorable dishes in that time, including Christmas dinner for the last three years. I have learnt so much cooking on the Weber kettle and have gone from a novice cook to quite a confident cook, but have also enjoyed cooking on the grill.
You can also cook low and slow on the Weber Kettle, I haven’t really done that as I bought a Weber Smoky Mountain at the same time and I do most of my low and slow on that. For hints and tips on how to cook on the Weber Kettle and to see how to do low and slow on it have a look at the “BBQ Know How” series on YouTube by Barbechoo – they are fantastic videos:
The full range of my Weber Kettle cooks can be seen here: http://kungfubbq.co.uk/category/kit/grills/weber-kettle.
Hard to pick favourites without filling this page up, but here are four memorable cooks:
There are so many accessories are available from Weber that there are too many to list. Whatever you can think of, they most likely sell it! If, like me, people say you are hard to buy gifts for then the Weber accessory range will make things much easier for people! Third parties also produce a vast amount of accessories for the Weber Kettle too.
The rotisserie is probably my favourite accessory for the Weber Kettle and I have cooked some of my favourite dishes on that including our turkey at Christmas. Folk laugh at that, but imagine the best tasting and most juicy turkey you have ever eaten – that’s what you can cook on the rotisserie! Also, think about the space released in your kitchen oven without a turkey in it. Game changer!
My rotisserie cooks can be seen here: http://kungfubbq.co.uk/category/kit/accessories/rotisserie.
Some of my favourites include:
Where to Buy:
Loads of places sell Weber grills and the accessories, but I would recommend buying from Riverside Garden Centre. They have made a big investment in the space available for stocking the Weber equipment and carry vast amounts of stock. The staff are well trained in all things Weber (and BBQ related) so know what they are talking about, but they are also friendly and helpful. Customer service from Riverside is top notch too. If you live nearby, they have classes and events on which look really good, I wish I lived closer!
If you order from Riverside online they offer free delivery when you spend £50 or more and the goods are shipped with DPD who are one of the most reliable couriers in my opinion.
The full Weber range can be seen at Riverside Garden Centre here: https://www.riversidegardencentre.co.uk/weber-bbq.html.
The porcelain enamelled bowl and lid are really easy to clean with minimal elbow grease required to get them gleaming again. The grill is a different beast and I am not sure it’s possible to keep them looking new or get them back to looking shiny. They are chrome plated and quite quickly they darken up from the food and fire, it’s pretty easy to clean debris off them but you can’t get them back to being bright. My Kamado Joe grates are easy to clean and get the silver back, but they are stainless steel rather than chrome plated which must be the difference. If shiny grates are important to you, there are stainless steel grates available from 3rd parties for the Weber grills. I am on my second set of Weber grates as for a few years my grill lived outside and the first set got a bit rusty. It was about £35 for a replacement hinged grate and it’s held up well under cover.
Up until recently I thought the Weber grills came with a 10 year warranty, but I have learnt the hard way that only the bowl, lid and centre ring are covered for 10 years (no rust through/burn through) and everything else is covered for less time.
The warranty details for the UK can be found here: https://www.weber.com/GB/en/support/warranty-information/nav55.html but summarised as:
- One-Touch Cleaning System – 5 years no rust through/burn through
- Bowl, lid, and centre ring – 10 years no rust through/burn through
- Plastic components – 5 years, excludes fading or discoloration
- All remaining parts – 2 years
A few months back my ash catcher dropped off mid cook. I tried to force it back in but the guide rail under the bowl bent. I was pretty keen to get the ash catcher back in as it was a high heat cook and hot ash was dropping out the bottom and resting near the base of my wooden BBQ shack! A few days later I managed to bend the guide rail back into shape and put the ash catcher in, but it’s not easy to get it in and out now. I contacted Weber and that’s when I learnt about the different warranty durations on each of the different parts of the grill, as the ash catcher is only covered for two years and a replacement ash catcher is £43.
The direct competitor to Weber in this space is Napoleon who are a Canadian company formed in 1976. The Napoleon charcoal grills look very similar to the Weber grills as they are kettle shaped and include many similar features to the Weber kit:
- Porcelain enamelled lid and bowl
- Cast aluminium air vents
- Removable ash catcher
- Lid based temperature gauge
- 57cm cooking surface
I haven’t seen one of these in the flesh but Napoleon seem to be raising their profile in the UK so I think we will start seeing more folk cooking on these grills soon.
The warranty is fairly similar to the Weber warranty but with a discount scheme covering the out of warranty years up to year 10 which is good:
|Porcelain enamel lid and bowl||10 Years|
|Air control system||5 years full coverage, plus 50% off until the 10th year|
|Porcelain-enameled cast iron cooking grids||5 years full coverage, plus 50% off until the 10th year|
|Chrome plated cooking grids||3 years full coverage, plus 50% off until the 10th year|
|All other parts||2 years|
Looking at the specifications, I like that it comes with a hinged lid but also you get a hinged, cast iron grill which retails separately for £100 alone. From the pictures it looks like a serious bit of kit:
Another big difference on the Napoleon grill to the Weber Kettle is on the Napoleon the grill can be set to three different heights which is a big help and a great feature.
Cost wise the Pro has an RRP of £299.99 but can currently be found for £269.99. The Pro would be a direct competitor for the Weber MT and although it’s more expensive, that cast iron grill is a valuable addition to the up front purchase cost.
Napoleon also have a vast range of accessories available for their grill covering everything you can think of and, most importantly, they sell a rotisserie attachment too!
Below is a picture of my 57cm Weber One Touch Premium and the Weber Smokey Mountain when they were both brand new and lived outside, exposed to the elements.
I think bacon cheese burgers was the first cook I did on the Kettle. It looks so clean!
After a while the weather was making it hard to cook through the darker, wetter months so I built a little shelter which helped a lot:
As this new hobby started to take over, I had a proper shack built which has been a total game changer:
The pontoon lights span the patio, really cool on a dark night.
This is how my kit is currently lined up:
I went off on a bit of a tangent there, but wanted to show the Weber Kettle has lived outside, uncovered then under a small shelter before moving indoors so is built to last.
I can’t recommend the Weber One Touch Premium highly enough. Looking back over what I have cooked and eaten in five years makes the £159 purchase price seem like a bargain now. I have learnt so much in those five years cooking on this grill and cooked some fantastic dishes, but also entertained for large groups of family and friends which has been great.
They are more expensive than the cheap grills you see elsewhere but it’s an investment as it should last a long time. Mine has a few issues at the moment but it’s probably had a lot more use than most people would dish out to their grill so it’s aged faster!
If it was just £43 for the ash catcher to get my grill back cooking I would pay it, but the One Touch Cleaning System is a bit bent and could also do with being replaced (£34.99), the lower charcoal grate is warped which I think was from using the vortex at incredibly hot temperatures and could also do with being replaced as the charcoal baskets don’t sit flat on it (£22.49) and the cooking grate looks like it could do with being replaced again. If I went for the GBS grate this time it’s £44.98, otherwise £34.19 for the standard hinged grate. All in all, if I buy all four items to fix up my grill it’s £145 which is a lot as Riverside have the Premium currently available for £170 but also B&Q had new MT grills on sale for £149 a couple of months ago. I will probably keep plodding along and keep an eye out for a bargain MT in the off season instead, I am tempted by that Napoleon Pro though so will keep an eye on deals for that also.
The grill isn’t dead at the moment and I can keep using it. The £159 purchase price spread over the five years of ownership comes out at 61 pence per week which seems like a bargain!
If you are looking to start cooking more outdoors and learn more about grilling then I definitely recommend this grill. Similarly, if you are already an accomplished cook and need a new grill then I would also recommend this as you can cook some fantastic dishes on it. If budget allows, stretch to the Master-Touch to get the lid holder and GBS system.
Whatever grill you buy, I definitely recommend buying a Thermapen to help make sure you cook your food perfectly as it helps take the guesswork out of cooking:
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