What’s better than a classic Weber Kettle BBQ? The higher level incarnation of the Weber Kettle, the Weber MasterTouch. We get one into the garden.

Our original classic Weber BBQ has literally weathered many a storm, including when the Beast From The East chucked it clear across the garden. After all of its many misadventures it’s as solid today as when we bought it over ten years ago, albeit with a few dents. That’s it on the left in the main picture.

Good design and quality build never age. That doesn’t mean nothing can be improved on however. The trick is to always make things better and not add new features for no real point. 

The original Weber Kettle, the iconic BBQ, was created in 1952 by George Stephen who, took home two halves of the steel sea buoys his company made, drilled some holes in each, stuck some legs on one half, fitted in a grill, put a handle on other half to make a lid, and a legend was born.

In the USA a real BBQ always has a lid and the cooking is mostly done indirectly, meaning the charcoal off to one side with a lid on top to contain the heat and smoky aromas with nothing drying out.

This is the Weber BBQ’s forte, the iconic Sputnik shape lets the heat circulate around perfectly for superb results. That’s why the original Classic Kettle is still such a sought after BBQ.

Nowadays the Weber Kettle comes in three flavours – the affordable Weber Classic, the slightly more expensive Weber Premium and, at the top of their BBQ tree, the Weber MasterTouch. The original only comes in Classic Black but the others come in Black, Crimson, Smoke or Spring Green. 

All boast the same Weber build, which means high quality steel, non-rusting aluminium and a thick layer of almost bullet -proof porcelain enamelled coating. You won’t need Weber’s included10-year guarantee, but it’s nice to have anyway.

Get it together

The new 57cm Mastertouch is fairly easy to set up, although the international instructions –  all diagrams in the IKEA style – did occasionally cause me some head scratching and false starts. You will need a decent adjustable spanner for a couple of the bolts plus a screwdriver.

So what are the subtle and not so subtle MasterTouch improvements on the original?

The Lid

Classic Webers have a small hook inside the lid, the idea is that you hang the lid off the side of the BBQ when working on the grill. In practice it’s always been hard to do, the lid tends to regularly fall off making a heck of noise on a tiled patio. Most people end up simply putting it down on the ground, which isn’t perfect when all you want to is check the food.

The MasterTouch now has a cradle at the rear that you slot the lid into. This holds the lid at an angle over the grill. We found this very easy to use and a great improvement.

The lid now also has a built-in temperature gauge, very useful, while the main handle is taller and has a heat shield under it; the old handle could get too hot to touch.

The old lid’s aluminium air vent/heat controller also used to get far too hot to handle, you had to adjust it with tongs which was fiddly. Now it has a plastic CoolTouch knob that remains, well you guessed it, cool to the touch.

And, as a subtle  but smart feature, the front handle now has little notches so that you can hang tools off it. Very good design.


The standard 57 cm supplied cooking grate is now the Weber Gourmet Grate which used to be an upgrade item on Classics. This grate has hinged flaps on each side so that you can easily slide more lit charcoal into the BBQ during cooking without having to lift off the whole grate. Very important when doing a low slow cook of brisket or ribs over many hours.

In the centre is a 30cm insert grate. This can be taken out so you can easily add any of the Gourmet BBQ System accessories that make the Weber such a versatile cooking tool.

These include a wok, sear grate, griddle, pizza stone or poultry roaster. These are all sold separately and over the years I’ve acquired most of them. The poultry roaster is particularly brilliant for a summer Sunday roast without heating up the kitchen

The grate is made from thicker heavy-duty steel than the original, and finished in high-quality, triple-plated chrome. This is not going to rust away anytime soon. Our Gourmet Grate that we bought many years ago, as an upgrade, is still fine after years of heavy use.

Zone out

Zone cooking is a vital part of the Weber Way. You don’t cover the base with charcoal, except when you have a lot to grill. Instead you put the charcoal to the sides, and maybe add some aromatic wood chips too, and place the food in the centre, this way it cooks indirectly, i.e. off the flame.

As standard you still have to hold the charcoal back with the supplied ‘fences’, these are tricky to fit, and also tend to get lost in the shed over the winter. Better to splash out some extra cash on two shaped baskets that hold the coals perfectly and can be moved about even when lit. And as a bonus they’re much harder to lose.


Very noticeable is the ash catcher. On the Classic Weber the ash simply fell onto a tray. It worked, kind of, but it was easy to spill and it would blow everywhere when dry. When ash gets wet though it’s the opposite, it sets like concrete. This new system is far cleaner and more convenient.

The ash catcher has a handle that works the underneath vent covers making it easy to adjust the ‘draw’ and so the heat. When you’ve finished cooking those covers can be worked back and forth to scrape the ash down into the catcher so you don’t have to get your hands dirty. The so-called One-Touch Cleaning System.

There is also a diagram which indicates how open/closed the vents are.  You have to get underneath the Classic Weber like a car mechanic to see what’s going on.

The wheels themselves are now noticeably larger. This makes it easier to trundle the Weber MasterTouch over rough surfaces and also makes it now slightly higher off the ground, before it could be a little bit low for tall people.

Let’s cook.

The only prep the Mastertouch needs before use is a pre-burn. Using a Chimney Starter (absolutely a Must Buy) you tip the hot charcoal in, put the grill grate on top, add the lid but No Food!

This step is vital for burning off any remaining manufacturing oils and grease which will taint your food. Let the Weber get really hot for at least fifteen minutes and  that should be enough to clear it.

Then you’re off. Weber produce a range of dedicated cookbooks to really help you get the most from your BBQ. Particularly good is the Weber BBQ Bible

Jamie’s choice

This year Jamie Oliver is a Weber Brand Ambassador. Check here for his and other recipes, useful tips and lots of recommendations.


There are lots of BBQs on the market vying for your attention this Spring, but none have the heritage of Weber. The Classic is still a great affordable buy, and you won’t be disappointed, but if you can spring for the MasterTouch you’ll have made an even more solid investment for all of your summers ahead. Right now selected models also come with a free thermometer and chicken roaster.

StopPress. For 2024 Weber have launched a 67cm version of the MasterTouch for people who seriously entertain. It’s not just larger, the grill now features the 30cm inset and a surrounding rectangular insert that takes a range of accessories such as a bread stone.