Revisiting the Classic Weber Kettle Grill

The Weber Kettle Grill is a timeless piece of equipment that has been made by the same company since 1902. In this article, we will take an in-depth look at how it was developed and how you can buy one today

The “briquette grill” is a type of barbecue grill that uses charcoal briquettes to cook food. The briquette grill is a classic Weber kettle grill, but the design has been updated to include a new lid and burner system.

This is not a paid advertisement. Weber Grill is not affiliated with us. This is merely a sentimental piece from a middle-aged guy reminiscing about childhood summer cookouts when a Weber Kettle Grill was the star. 

It’s summer, which means it’s time for cookouts.

During the ten years that I’ve lived in this home, I’ve only used a gas barbecue for barbecuing. It’s quite practical. Simply crank the knob to turn on the grill. Bam. Fire. 

It’s really simple to make a three-zone fire on my gas barbecue. With a few twists of the knobs, I can quickly choose between a high-heat zone, a medium-heat zone, and a low-heat zone. 

While I appreciate the simplicity of cooking on a gas grill, it lacks the allure that I connected with outside cooking as a kid. My family, like many other American families, owned a charcoal-fueled Weber Kettle Grill in the backyard. This famous, spherical cooking equipment was a staple of my suburban boyhood, with its black, porcelain-enameled top and bowl. It was like an ancient ceremony to get that baby lighted and running. 

Starting a Weber charcoal barbecue had existential importance in my youthful thinking. Because my father was in control of it in my house, as I’m sure he is in many houses throughout America, it seemed significant and macho. It all began around an hour before dinner. Pops would first roll the barbecue out to the lawn. He’d then dump the old ashes into a brown paper bag and give me the cooking grate to wash in the washing room. He’d add a large mound of charcoal into the Weber’s gleaming black basin when I returned. Of course, it’s the Kingsford brand. Then came the lighter fluid spray, followed by the striking and throw of a match.

WHOOSH!!!

We’d stand around the grill after relishing the sound of a freshly born charcoal fire, watching the flame progressively shrink and the charcoal get whiter and whiter. 

Dad would judge when the charcoal was ready for cooking at a specific point. The grate would be placed on top, and a variety of burger patties, hot dogs, and sausages would be placed on this gastronomic shrine. 

The victuals were eagerly put into soft Wonder Bread buns, coated with ketchup and all the other fixings, and consumed with pleasure once they were hot and sizzling. Each mouthful was infused with the smoky flavor produced by the charcoal. Each mouthful had a distinct flavour of summer. That’s how I remember it, at least. 

I began waxing sentimental over these Weber Grill-related recollections the other day when I was preparing burgers on my gas grill in a considerably more sterile manner. I decided to try my hand at cooking on one to see whether it was as nice as I remembered. 

What Is a Weber Kettle Grill and How Do I Use It?

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To familiarize myself with the Weber Kettle Grill as an adult, I first went to my local Home Depot and purchased the original model. I spent $120 on the grill. Not bad for something that will last for years. 

 

Then I phoned Karl Engel, AoM’s resident meat-cooking guru, and asked him to teach me the ropes on how to cook with it. Here are some of the things he taught me.

Fill your charcoal briquettes (you won’t need as much as you think)

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Choose your favorite charcoal. The basic Kingsford briquettes are a sure thing. Karl dislikes the Match Light version, which comes with the briquettes already coated in lighter fluid; he believes they don’t burn as well, and he prefers to be able to regulate how much lighter fluid he puts on his charcoal when he uses it (which is when he doesn’t have a charcoal starter). 

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Karl pointed out that one mistake parents made while cooking with charcoal in the 1970s and 1980s was using too much. “My father would simply throw half the bag into the kettle and make a huge mound,” he said. Every other father I knew when I was a kid did the same thing. I’m sure your father did the same thing.”

Yes, he did. 

“When you grill, you don’t need that much charcoal,” Karl said. “You don’t need as much as you believe you need.” “Perhaps a quarter of the bag.”

Note: Empty the ashes from the last grilling session before loading fresh charcoal into the kettle. It’s simple: just turn the lever that opens and closes the bottom vents back and forth, and the ashes will fall into the ash collector underneath (the pie pan looking thing). Remove the ash collector and empty the contents into a paper bag. Done.

Start your charcoal fire.

Karl like using charcoal starters. Please read our post on how to utilize them for more information.

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We didn’t have any charcoal starter on hand this time, so we used Hasty-firestarter Bake’s gel. It’s fantastic. It does not evaporate as rapidly as standard lighter fluid and does not provide a noxious lighter fluid flavor to your meat. 

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Karl loves to put all of his charcoal to one side of the kettle while he’s lighting it. It’s a lot simpler to light now. Once the briquettes have turned into hot coals, you may spread them out around the bottom. 

Check to see whether your bottom vents are open.

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You can adjust the airflow into your grill using the vents in the bowl and lid. The more air you add to your fire, the hotter it will get. You want a hot fire for grilling, so make sure there’s plenty of air coming in. Make sure the bottom vents are open.

Before you start cooking, wait until the charcoal is gray/white.

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The briquettes will become gray/white after around 30 minutes, indicating that they are ready to cook your meal. Shoot the wind or play cornhole while you wait for the charcoal to reach that stage. 

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Karl likes to distribute the charcoal around the kettle so that it covers roughly half of it. Gives you a handful of different heat zones to choose from.

 

Place the food and the lid (or not) on top.

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You don’t need to cover the grill while cooking hot dogs and hamburgers. 

“You don’t need to use the cover since grilling is all about high heat and utilizing direct heat to cook each side of the meat.” If I were grilling steaks, I may utilize the cover to create an oven-like effect while the meat is cooking. “In such situation, I’d close the top and open the vents,” Karl said. 

The Result

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So, how did cooking on a Weber Kettle Grill in 2021 compare to what I remembered from 1988? 

While putting the grill together, I noted that the materials appeared chintzier and flimsier than those on the Weber Kettle Grill my father had. (Weber grills are still made in the United States, although with some foreign parts.) The legs’ metal seems to flex very readily. The most noticeable change, in my opinion, is that the new versions’ handles are entirely made of plastic rather than wood. The wood on the 1970s and 1980s variants added a lot of elegance. But, oh well. That’s how you define “progress.” 

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Aside from it, everything else remained the same. The whooshing sound of the flames. The aroma of blazing charcoal and cooking flesh 

I have to admit, charcoal makes your burgers taste a lot better than gas. That smoky taste is fantastic. Our kids gave their charcoal-cooked burgers a perfect score of ten out of ten. 

Cooking on a Weber Kettle Grill requires a lot more time and effort than cooking on a gas grill. But, as with everything else in life, that effort makes the work more of an adventure. I’ll keep using my gas grill for weekday meals, but I’ll switch to the Weber for gatherings that I want to feel more like a party. Hopefully, my children will acquire the same Dad-infused, charcoal-infused summers recollections that linger in one’s mind for a lifetime.

 

 

The “how to use grilling planks” is a recipe that uses the Weber Kettle Grill. The recipe includes instructions on how to use grilling planks.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you season a Weber kettle grill?

A: To season a Weber grill, you need to use the crumb tray and remove the old seasoning. You can then brush or spray with new oils before cooking your food on it.

How do you close a Weber charcoal grill?

A: Some people prefer to close the lid of their Weber grill by flipping it over and resting on top. This is not advisable for charcoal grills as there are many parts with hot surfaces that could cause damage if handled incorrectly.

How do you use a Weber charcoal grill for the first time?

A: Start with the coals on one side of the grill set two to three inches away from the grates. Place your food over this area and cook it for about five minutes before adding a new batch of hot coals to cover your food completely.

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