The Weber Master Touch is an upgraded 22 inch Weber kettle and comes in two models, Original and Premium. There are some really nice features on these grills and it can be confusing to figure out which one you should get. Another valid question is, “Are the upgrades worth the money?”
This article will help sort through the kettle confusion so you can pick the best grill at the right price for your needs.
This article is meant to help you figure out the differences between the different Master Touch charcoal grills. However, there are a few things I want to mention before we get into this guide just to let you know where I stand with these grills.
- There are ZERO affiliate links in this article.
- This review is NOT sponsored.
- I get ZERO financial benefit if you buy a grill.
In short, I want to give you the best information possible but do not care whether you buy one of these or not.
Let’s get started!
Key Features of Master Touch Grills
We are going to start by looking at the difference between a standard 22 inch kettle and the Original Master Touch. After that we will look at what is different about the Master Touch Premium.
Standard Kettle vs Original Master Touch
I have a 22 inch Weber Original Kettle and absolutely love it. There are only two problems with the base model kettle:
- The lid management system stinks.
- There is no side table.
The standard kettle has a hook inside the lid. Ideally you can use the hook to hang the lid from the side of the grill when you need to flip your burgers or add more charcoal. In reality the lid hook is a miserable option and most people end up putting the lid on the ground.
The Original Master Touch comes with a Tuck Away lid holder that lets you slide the lid to the side. The Tuck Away lid holder works GREAT.
The Tuck Away lid holder is the BIGGEST upgrade you get with the Master Touch.
Weber throws in a lot of extra features to differentiate the Master Touch that are nice, but not really important. These upgrades include:
- Gourmet Barbecue Grate System
- Secondary Warming Rack
- Charcoal Baskets
- Two Inches Taller
Gourmet Barbecue Grate System (GBS): This rods on this grate are slightly thicker than on the hinged grate on a standard kettle. The heart of the GBS is that the center portion of the grate can be removed and replaced by a variety of inserts such as a cast iron sear grate, wok, pizza stone or griddle.
All of the inserts for the GBS are sold separately and they just don’t make much sense to me. For example, I can put a griddle or pizza stone directly onto a regular grate and do not need a special insert to do so.
Secondary Warming Rack: This is a small elevated grate that provides 80 square inches of space to put stuff. This is just another piece of something that will get in your way.
Two Inches Taller: The extra height of the Master Touch is supposed to make for a better grilling experience. I guess folks were getting back strain from leaning over too far??
Charcoal Baskets: Okay, the charcoal baskets are very useful. Seriously. I really like to use charcoal baskets. You can pick up a set of charcoal baskets at Home Depot for about $25 and drop them into a standard kettle.
Is the Original Master Touch Worth It?
- The standard kettle has an MSRP of $165.
- The original Master Touch has an MSRP of $219.
- Difference = ($219-$165) = $54.
Let me start by saying that the standard kettle is absolutely worth the MSRP of $165. If we look at the original Master Touch we see that for an extra $54 you get a great lid holder and a nice set of charcoal baskets.
Yes, the extra $54 it costs to upgrade from a standard kettle to an original Master Touch is worth it.
Original Master Touch vs Premium
The Premium Master Touch is sold exclusively from the Weber website and the differences between this grill and the Original are massive. There are a couple of cosmetic differences between the grills (badging, optional colors) but the two huge differences are lid management and added functionality.
The original Master Touch has a Tuck Away lid bail on the side of the grill while the Premium Master Touch uses a stainless steel spring loaded hinge to lift and hold the lid into place.
Personally I think the Tuck Away system on the Original works just fine. The spring loaded hinge on the Premium looks cool but I am not sure it brings a lot more practicality to the party.
The Premium model also comes with a high capacity charcoal ring and heat diffuser for easy use as a low and slow smoker. You have always been able to use a kettle as a smoker but it required either constant attendance, tedious charcoal stacking or buying aftermarket accessories. This guy is ready to go Low and Slow for hours straight out of the box!
The charcoal ring has a diameter of 14 inches and is about three inches deep. The heat diffuser is heavy aluminum and has a diameter of 18 inches. With proper vent settings you should have enough fuel to run at 225 for 6-8 hours depending upon ambient conditions.
Is the Premium Master Touch Worth It?
- The Original Master Touch has an MSRP of $219.
- The Premium Master Touch has an MSRP of $319.
- Difference = ($319-$219) = $100.
The pretty hinge and built in smoking equipment are nice features but, to me personally, are not worth the extra $100.
Master Touch Grill Reviews
I pulled the reviews for both Master Touch models from the Weber website and plotted them side by side. There is a dramatic difference in the reviews.
- The Original has a 5 Star rating of 80% and a 4 Star rating of 12% for an overall satisfaction rating of 92%.
- The Premium has a 5 Star rating of 50% and a 4 Star rating of 34% for an overall satisfaction rating of 84%.
I must note that the number of reviews for the Premium is quite low compared to the Original (32 vs 1473) so this data set, current as of January 2021, is not large enough to be conclusive.
The overwhelming customer complaint about the Premium is that the hinge prevents the kettle lid from completely closing. The poor lid seal makes maintaining “Low and Slow” barbecuing temperatures extremely difficult which defeats the entire point of including a charcoal ring and heat diffuser.
People are dealing the lid issue by either detaching the hinge or applying a Lavalock sealant gasket to the rim of the kettle. Having to modify a grill that costs over $300 is making a lot of people unhappy.
I suspect Weber will come up with a solution to this problem eventually but as of January, 2021 the issue still exists.
Is a Master Touch Worth The Money
I would stay away from the Premium Master Touch until the hinge issue is fixed. However, the Tuck Away lid holder, charcoal baskets and sturdier grate make the Original Master Touch a fair value. If you buy an Original Master Touch you will be getting an excellent charcoal grill.
That being said, if I were shopping for a new kettle then I would not buy an Original Master Touch because it only solves one of the two problems that the standard kettles have. These grills do a great job of giving you someplace to put the lid but they still do not have a side table.
If I am going to spend my cash to get an upgraded Weber kettle then I want one that is FULLY upgraded like a Weber Performer that comes with a lid holder and a side table. While the Performer series can get pretty expensive, the base model, which has a lid holder and a small side table, only costs $279 and will meet all of your grilling needs.
Share Your Thoughts
Do you have any experiences, either positive or negative, about any of these grills that you would like to share?
Do you have any questions about these grills that were not answered in this article?
If so then leave a comment below so we can all learn together!