The Master Touch is a special kettle in Weber’s lineup of charcoal grills. On the surface a Master Touch looks like a standard 22 inch kettle but there are a few features that make this grill a true upgrade.
The Master Touch has more features than the standard kettle and fewer than a Performer. Because it is in the middle it struggles to establish itself as a viable product in the Weber catalog. Most people are either budget minded and buy the cheaper standard kettle or want the best kettle that they can get and buy the Performer. As a result, Weber’s production of this grill is sporadic with this version having been relaunched in 2015.
In this review, we will go over some numbers and specs to get you more acquainted with the grill, talk about some pros and cons, and then move on to comparisons of the Master Touch and other similar Weber charcoal grill options
Specifications and Dimensions
To get a better idea of this grill’s identity, let’s take a look at some numbers.
- Grilling Area: 363 square inches of primary cooking space with an additional 80 inches in the form of a warming rack for a total of 443 square inches
- Grates: Gourmet BBQ system plated steel hinged cooking grate, heavy-gauge steel charcoal grate
- Dampers: 1 rust-resistant aluminum damper
- Materials: Porcelain-enameled bowl and lid, lid handle with heat shield, and aluminum ash catcher
- Dimensions (with lid on): 42”H x 24”W x 29.5”D
- Color Availability: Black
- Warranty: 10 years no rust through or burn through on bowl and lid, 5 years no rust through or burn through on one-touch cleaning system, 5 years excluding fading or discoloration on plastic components, and 2 years on remaining parts
At the time of this writing the Master-Touch had received 73 reviews with 94% being 5 or 4 stars and only .03% being 1 or 2 stars on Weber’s website.
The negative reviews on this grill are few and far between, and all seem to be focused less on the grill itself and more on shipping and handling. Unfortunately, it’s hard to control how well a box is handled in transit, but the comments back from the Weber team appear to give excellent assistance to fix the problems.
Why you should consider the Master Touch
This grill has an ease of use and versatility that grillers will love. It is a great middle ground between the Original Kettle and the Performer series. The Master Touch comes complete with a built-in lid thermometer, a large ash catcher with Weber’s One-Touch cleaning system, and high-quality parts that will last for a long time.
It can be confusing to figure out the details of what makes the Master Touch different from the other 22.5 inch Weber kettles. Here is a great video that shows the differences in detail.
Let’s look at the Master Touch upgrades in detail:
Built In Lid Holder: This is the primary reason that people buy this grill as an upgrade from the standard kettles. Being able to slide the lid off to the side while you are grilling is a simple but glorious upgrade.
Gourmet BBQ Grate System: This is a nice upgrade but not as big of a deal as Weber makes it to be. Weber calls this hinged grate an upgrade do to the removable center insert that can be replaced with a bunch of cool accessories like a wok, cast iron sear station, pizza stone, etc. These accessories are sold separately and, honestly, you wont use them very much. What IS nice about the grate is that the rods are substantially thicker than a regular grate and it should last 3-4 years instead of the 1-2 years you get with the standard grate.
Elevated Warming Rack: The Warming Rack is a cute idea that, in theory, gives you an extra 80 square inches of grilling space. In reality it is something that is going to get in your way. I really like the idea of this extra space but I have never found a way to make it practical.
Charcoal Baskets: Charcoal baskets let you precisely arrange your coals and can be used to make Low and Slow smoking or High Heat searing much easier. The baskets from Weber are not very high quality and will only last a year or two but you will love them.
Top Vent Handle: The top air vent has a rubber handle that slips over the tap you use to open and close the vent. This is a small but highly appreciated feature that helps prevent burning your fingers.
8 Inch Wheels: This isn’t as much of an upgrade as it is a fun design feature. The larger wheels on the Master Touch makes it a couple of inches taller than a standard kettle. It is a subtle detail that lets it you visually realize that the grill is a little different, a little better.
The only thing wrong with the Master Touch is that it is only partially upgraded.
The only two real problems with the standard Weber kettle are:
- No place to put the lid.
- No side table for work space.
The Master Touch only solves one of these problems. The Performer series solves both problems.
Sure, the extra upgrades on the Master Touch are nice but, other than the lid holder, I don’t get too excited about them.
Versus the Original Kettle
I need to be clear here…when I am talking about the Original kettle or a Standard kettle I am referring to a 22.5 inch grill that has removable, high capacity ash catcher. Do not ever buy a kettle that does not have the high capacity ash catcher…it is essential equipment that makes ash management EASY.
So, why would you buy the Original kettle instead of the Master Touch?
Money: The most important upgrade on the Master Touch is the lid holder. You can buy a “Slide-A-Side” lid holder accessory for your Original kettle for about $25 and get the same functionality. If you are excited about all of the other upgrades then go ahead and buy the Master Touch. If all you want is a lid holder then buy an Original kettle and a Slide A Side.
If you are on the fence about all of the other upgrades then no worries, you can always get them later and add them to your original kettle.
Color: This might seem trivial but the Original kettle is available in black and some beautiful colors (Copper, Green) while the Master Touch is only available in black. The reality is that you are going to spend more time looking at your kettle than cooking on it. You might just want to buy a prettier kettle 🙂
Versus the Performer 22” Charcoal Grill
For a slightly higher price, you could trade your Master Touch up for a Performer model. There are three models within the Performer series, Standard, Deluxe and Premium.
The primary cooking area on all the grills is the same. They have the same easy to use and remove lid design, and the same high-end features like the one-touch cleaning system and the Gourmet BBQ System grates.
After you get past these features, though, the grills start to look a bit different. Most importantly, the Performer also features a side-table to add a prep space to your grilling station. The side table is a MASSIVE upgrade that cannot be ignored.
The size of the side table varies between the Performers and, if you go with the Deluxe model, can come with a propane ignition system to light your charcoal.
Without question, any of the Performer grills are nicer than a Master Touch. The question is, are you willing to spend the extra cash?
Versus the Summit 24” Charcoal Grill
If we’re talking about bells and whistles, there is no way we can ignore the Summit series. This grill can be easily converted from grill to smoker to create the perfect meal for the moment. Also, its gas-ignition system means you won’t have to fuss with matches and starter fluid ever again.
The Summit has just under 100 more square inches of cooking space when compared to the Master Touch. Although it still sits on three legs, the addition of the castor on the third leg means more stability as you use and move this grill.
It includes an air insulated, double walled, porcelain-enameled lid and bowl to help keep the heat in. It also has all of the high-quality features of the Master Touch and then some, making it a top-of-the-line product.
The downside to the Summit grill is its price. At over $1000, it far exceeds the price tag of the Master Touch and even the Performer series grills. The price reflects your purchase of a two-in-one machine but is still a bit over the top considering you can buy the simple chimney to turn your Master Touch into a smoker as well.
Overall I think the Master Touch is going to give you the best value for your dollar. The Summit should be something you only buy if you are looking to be the envy of the neighborhood and for all of the bells and whistles Weber has to offer.