This Weber Ranch kettle review is a post I have wanted to put together for quite a while and I am excited to finally be able to share this with everyone!
For years I have been obsessed with the monstrous Weber Ranch Kettle. The Ranch is Weber’s largest kettle grill with over 1100 square inches of grilling area.
The Ranch is absolutely beautiful. It is also very expensive ($1200) and way bigger than anything I will ever need.
I can’t imagine I will ever own one of these beauties but I still love looking at the Ranch and talking to folks that use them.
This post is a group interview with a bunch of great guys that do own and use the Weber Ranch kettle. I asked them a bunch of questions about the Ranch to try to figure out what is awesome about this grill and what are the pitfalls.
The fine folks who contributed to this article are:
Thom Emory: Thom is based in Southern California and uses the Weber Ranch kettle for his catering operations. You can learn more about Thom at his website, BBQThom, and book him to cater for your next party!
Joe Turner: Joe is a Twitter buddy out of Tennessee who scored the deal of a lifetime when he picked up his Weber Ranch kettle for $250 at a garage sale. If you are a user of Twitter head on over and follow Joe @Joturn33 !
Paul Haight: Paul runs the most excellent website, No Excuses BBQ, and features his Weber Ranch kettle (lovingly renamed as The Mothership) in many of his posts. Paul was kind enough to share some pictures of The Mothership in action.
David Van Way: David is out of New Jersey and uses the Weber Ranch for the Packanack Lake BBQ Club, a non-profit organization promoting the love of bbq. David shared a great picture showing how the club modified the wheels on the Ranch to make it a little more user friendly. You can catch up with this group on their Facebook page or on Twitter (@PackanackBBQ)
I am extremely grateful for the input and insights from these folks. If you enjoy the post please visit them online and say thanks! Without further delay, here is what these folks think about their Weber Ranch kettles.
The Weber Ranch Kettle Review
Why did you need a grill the size of the Weber Ranch kettle?
DVW We are a non-profit BBQ club that loves our community and authentic bbq. We share ideas about grilling hot and fast and smoking low and slow. We cook many events around the community throughout the year and for large crowds. The Ranch Kettle allows us to grill a large amount and get the food right in the trays and out to be served.
TE I used it in catering but now have a 2×6 foot Santa Maria added to my smoker trailer
JT I was lucky and purchased mine at a yard sale and paid $250.00 it was like new.
PH I was tired of cooking meals for family and friend get togethers and holidays on 2-3 other grills. It wasn’t unusual for me to fire up two 22 1/2” Weber Kettles and one or two of my smaller grills when it came time to cook for 25-30 people. The Mothership (Ranch Kettle) solved this problem for me and makes it easy to cook entire holiday meals for a large number of people on a single grill.
I have always thought that buying two Weber 26.75 inch kettles would be more practical than buying the Weber Ranch kettle. Why did you buy one massive grill instead of two large grills?
PH At the time I bought the Mothership Weber wasn’t selling the 26.75 inch kettles. Also, it was a more than a bit of a PITA to fire up two kettles and manage two (and once, four) fires all at once. Too much time was spent tending fires rather than focusing on the cooking.
DVW To be honest, not much thought went into our purchase of the Ranch Kettle. It was an impulse buy. One of our members found one new on Ebay from a place in Connecticut at a very attractive price. He couldn’t pass it up and we used our club funds to reimburse him.
TE Catering is about the show almost as much as the food
What made you decide to purchase a Weber Ranch Kettle instead of another brand or style of cooker?
PH At the time I bought the Mothership it was the largest charcoal grill I could find (short of something mounted on a trailer) and I had been cooking on Weber products for years with great satisfaction (and results). It seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
DVW Simply put, it’s a Weber. They are the best made charcoal grills in the world.
TE We have 22 cookers it’s just another thing we wanted to try
How long have you owned the Weber Ranch kettle and how is it holding up? Have there been any corrosion issues with the legs or support system? Have you had to replace the charcoal grate or cooking grate?
DVW We purchased the Ranch Kettle last summer and it is still like new. When not in use, we store it in our trailer. We made a slight modification and replaced the wheels with large inflatable tires in the back and larger caster wheels in the front. I’ve attached a picture of it. We nicknamed the grill “Big Foot”. It is used on the beach here in the community and the factory wheels just wouldn’t hold up. We are actually surprised that Weber put the classic plastic wheels on this large unit.
TE 5 years it’s fine
JT Had it 5yrs. it’s doing great.
PH I’ve owned mine for more than 6 years (don’t know exactly when I bought it, but have email talking about it back that far) and it is still in great shape. There isn’t any rust in spite of being outdoors all year round in the Pacific Northwest. It lives under a covered patio now, but that wasn’t always the case, so it has held up to the elements well. There are no visible signs of corrosion other than the lower grate (which is to be expected) and the only damage is to one vent tabs (the inside tab stop broke off and now you have to look close to see if it is closed). I haven’t replaced either of the grates, and don’t expect to for several years to come as they are both holding up well (although as I mentioned, the fire grate is showing some signs of rust and wear).
How does the Ranch perform as a “low and slow” smoker?
DVW We have not used the Ranch Kettle as a smoker yet. We have cooked indirect when cooking steaks for our club meetings and to keep covered trays of food warm. I feel it works just as well as any Weber charcoal grill while cooking indirect.
TE No, never tried it. Dale Ginos has competed with his Ranch sisters.
PH I don’t use the Ranch this way except in times of dire need as I have a plethora of smokers (WSMs, Bubba/Big Steel Keg, and soon a couple of mini WSMs) sitting around. I have used it on occasion for ribs, and use it for indirect cooking of turkeys, game hens, and chickens, but don’t usually keep the temps all that low. You can do it, but it does require a lot of attention as the low temps are pretty hard to manage in this style of cooker.
JT The room makes it great for low slow and indirect smoking and grilling.
Is the Ranch practical for routine use? If you wanted to grill for four people would you use the Ranch or a smaller kettle?
DVW I would have to say no. It’s just not practical for small groups, unless you’re the type of person who likes to buy things you don’t really need only to show off what you have.
TE No, I use a Weber performer for that.
JT I use it all the time; again the space makes it very versatile.
PH I have used the ranch on occasion for four-person cooking, usually when I am grilling the entire meal at once and have lots items that take up a lot of space. It does require a bit more charcoal than using a smaller kettle; you have more area to keep hot and as much as I like Weber kettles they aren’t anywhere near as efficient as my Bubba/Big Steel Kegs or a ceramic kamodo-style cooker. The bigger ones have more space to lose heat and require more fuel as a result.
What is the most fun cook you have performed with the Weber Ranch kettle?
DVW We cooked for an event last year and were BBQing chicken thighs. We did about 300 thighs but smoked them first in a butter bath on one of our smokers, then seared them on the Ranch Kettle to finish them off. The coals were real hot and we crisped up the skins and made amazing grill marks. Besides the other items we were cooking that day (20 pork butts and a bunch of smoked brats), the 300 thighs all went and were also first to go.
TE Benefit cook for a elementary school Lots of hot dogs
JT That’s a tough one because if I’m grilling I’m chilling. It allows me to show off my grilling skills.
PH The Pizza Experiment was fun:
PH As was the Flight of the Mothership (where large quantities of pulled chicken were cooked for about 50 people at the end of the truck ride):
PH But the Mothership Surf & Turf ranks right up there as one of the family favorites.
PH I’ve also done several Thanksgiving and Christmas meals on these, so it is really hard to pick a favorite.
What do you use for a cover?
DVW We keep our Ranch Kettle in our covered trailer.
TE Don’t have one.
JT I have a friend in the upholstery business and he made me a marine grade cover.
PH Air. And at one time or another, snow:
Can you share any tricks for cleaning such a large grill? How often do you clean it and how long does it take?
DVW We don’t clean it often because we don’t use it as often as we use our smaller kettles and smokers. However, before every cook, we always bring it up to temp and wire brush the cooking grate.
PH Clean it while it is hot, and after every use with a large wire grill brush. It also gets pressure-washed once a year in the spring, especially after a cold, wet winter outdoors. The regular cleanings don’t take but a few minutes, and the pressure wash takes longer to hook up the pressure washer than it does to clean the grill.
TE Just take it to the truck stop truck wash.
JT I use a dust pan and whisk broom for the coals and clean it like any other for the rest.
Are you glad you bought the Weber Ranch kettle?
DVW Absolutely, it’s great for our events when we’re cooking for fundraisers that draw as many as 500 people. Even for our smaller events that are for 50-100 people.
JT Yes, I got a great deal and it is an awesome grill. You can cook anything on it large or small. I wouldn’t have paid $1200 for it then but I would now knowing what I know.
PH Yep. If nothing else, it is a great conversation piece.
What is the worst thing about the Ranch?
DVW Our only complaint was about the wheels and we fixed that by putting on the tires and large casters. Now we can easily roll it around and onto the beach where we host some of our parties.
PH I have a gravel driveway and it is tough to move it around. The wheels have held up well, but they aren’t the best, especially when rolling over the gravel or loading on the truck. The other complaint I would have is the lack of a thermometer (I fixed that with a quick mod) and the degree of difficulty in getting the fire grate out (my fingers are too big to put between the grates). Which brings up my biggest complaint; it’s a PITA to get the ashes out from previous cooks. I finally settled on a small dustpan and whisk broom. Which you don’t want to use when the ashes are still hot (trust me on this one).
TE Cooking grill is too large; I wish it was two pieces.
JT Cleaning out the coals, but I have that well under control.
What did you learn about the Ranch that you didn’t know when you bought it?
PH I have no idea as I don’t remember that far back. I’ve learned so much since I bought it about outdoor cooking (grilling, indirect cooking, smoking, etc.) that I wouldn’t know where to begin.
DVW I can’t say that there were any surprises. It’s just a much larger version of Weber’s kettles. We operate it in the same manner as our smaller models.
TE Too big
JT How versatile it is because of the size. direct, indirect. low slow, hot fast, and meat and veggies, smoking is great on it. Butts, ribs, chicken, brisket. It handles it all with ease because of the size. I can also do two chicken breasts no problem, actually better because of the size.
Is there anything else that folks should know about this grill?
DVW I’ll repeat, unless you have a need to cook for 10 plus on a regular basis or for large events like us, you don’t need the Ranch Kettle. But if you are in this group and are in the market for a large charcoal grill, this is the one to get.
TE It’s a show stopper people love to touch it
JT If you are thinking about it buy one, you won’t regret it.
PH It isn’t cheap, and it isn’t for those without lots of space. Unless you have a huge family or entertain a lot, you won’t use it as often as you might like, especially if you aren’t a 4-season griller. Having said that, it is a quality cooker and great for big cooks, large-scale grilling, and as I mentioned before, a conversation piece. Even though the Big Steel Keg is my everyday cooker, the Mothership is a great addition to my arsenal of cookers, especially when it comes time to cook for the masses.
I want to close with a great big THANK YOU to Paul, Thom, David and Joe! These guys were very generous with their time and very patient with me as I put this post together. One of the best things about the world of barbecue is all of the wonderful people you meet.
If you want to learn more about the Weber Ranch kettle then here is the link over to the Charcoal Grill section of the Virtual Weber Bullet. There are a few more owners over there who would be glad to talk with you.
Thanks for dropping by and I hope you enjoyed reading the Weber Ranch Kettle Review!!