The iconic Weber kettle charcoal grill gets a new twist with the Performer, which includes a small gas burner to get the charcoal heated up quickly. But this grill didn't perform that well in our testing, with widely varying temperatures and cooking times across the grate.
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The was a very speedy grill to heat up: in our tests, it was ready to start grilling at our low fire temperature (325°F) in just 4 minutes and 20 seconds, and at the high fire setting (approx 625°F) in 8 minutes and 28 seconds. The gas ignition definitely helps to get the fire stoked and smoldering by making the ignition process much smoother.
To test the cooking performance of a grill, we cook several meat patties (6 in total for this grill) for 5 minutes on each side, and then measure the temperature of the inside of the patty. From this temperature, we figure out how long each patty would take to cook, and how wide this range of cooking times is. For this grill on the low fire, the time to cook ranged from just under 9 minutes for the patty in the center of the grill to between 15 and 18 minutes for the ones on the outside. Since each burger will be done at a different time, this means more work for anyone who wants to cook multiple burgers.
We also look at the uniformity of the heating by measuring the temperature just above the cooking grate using nine thermocouples. Here we found that, as expected, the temperature was highest at the center of the grate, with the temperature towards the edges falling by up to 150 degrees. A creative cook could use this temperature range to their advantage, but we prefer to see more even temperature.
The cooking temperature did vary over time somewhat, but the variation was somewhat less than most propane grills, because of the more constant output of charcoal.
Cooking at a high fire, we found that this grill had similar problems to the low fire test, with the patty in the center getting cooked in just over 8 minutes, while the ones on the outside took about 13 minutes. Again, a creative cook could make the best of this by using the middle only for burgers requested well done, for example.
The temperature of the cooking grate was also somewhat uneven at the high fire setting, with the center of the grate being much hotter than the edges. This could cause uneven cooking if you are trying to cook multiple items of the same thing, although a creative cook could work around this issue.
We found that the heat from the when running at full blast was quite even, with relatively low variations in temperature over time.
The is a small grill, so it is perhaps not surprising that we found that the cover got rather hot. We measured the temperature of the case at a toasty 228°F. Perhaps more worrying was the temperature of the handle, which rose to 282°F while the charcoal was heating up. Once the charcoal had started to smoulder, it fell to around 125°F, but that is still somewhat hotter than we like to see, and oven mitts should definitely be used when removing the lid.
The image below was taken with an infrared camera to show the heat levels of the lid. The numbers at the bottom indicate the temperature scale.
Because this is a charcoal grill, we don't measure the BTU output of the grill or estimate the lifespan of the fuel supply.
There are really only two controls on this grill, in the form of two air vents on the bottom and top of the grill body. These are used to regulate the temperature. Opening the vents allows in more air and increases the temperature.
The is powered by charcoal, but starting the fire is easier with an additional kick from the propane gas lighter.
This lighter is rather unusual: it is a small gas burner that sits underneath the charcoal fuel and helps to get it lit. It is run from a small propane gas bottle that fits under the work surface, with the starter and control dial under a fold-out panel to stop you accidentally leaning against them. If you run out of propane, you can still use a manual lighter.
The has a circular stainless steel cooking grate with a surface area of about 476 square inches. This makes it somewhat larger than the Primo Kamado.
Alongside the cooking area is a large preparation area for food. There is no secondary burner or other cooking area, but there is a plastic bin under the work surface that can be used to store a bag of charcoal.
The large cooking grate is in one piece, which is on the large side, and can't be put into a dishwasher or bucket for cleaning. It doesn't weight a lot, though, so it is not difficult to lift off for a good scraping or hosing down. Charcoal grills can be a pain to clean out, but the offers an interesting approach in the form of a lift-out ash can. The ash naturally falls into the can when the charcoal is burnt out, and you can then just remove the ash can and throw the ash straight into the trash.
These two charcoal grills are both simple, straightforward models that get the job done, but the Primo Kamado is the better grill, with better overall performance. The Weber does offer more cooking space, but this comes at the cost of more variable cooking times and temperatures. You are paying more for the performance of the Kamado, though: the Weber might be a good pick for the casual griller, while the Primo will appeal to the serious griller.
The Weber is the cheaper of the two grills, but the Kenmore has a lot of extra features to justify the cost. Leaving aside the major issue of charcoal versus propane, the Kenmore offers a bigger cooking area with better performance, a side burner, a warming rack and lights for late-night grilling.
The Weber costs less than the Char-Broil, but the Char-Broil has some extra features that might justify the extra cost. Setting aside the charcoal versus propane argument, the propane grill is bigger, has more even performance, includes a side burner and a warming rack. All of these could be especially useful if you are planning a large cookout or party.
We found disappointing performance overall from this grill, with varying temperatures and cooking performance across the cooking surface. You do not get as much control over the temperature with this grill as you do with a propane one, though, so cooking some foods will require some practice and planning.
The Weber Performer is a simple grill, which makes it simple to use. The addition of the propane lighter and the work surface from the standard design does make it easier to use, though, although it does increase the size and storage space required. But for most grillers, the upsides of having more space to put things will outweigh the downsides.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.