When it comes to barbecues, charcoal is usually the cheapest method and the most practical. However, it’s not necessarily the easiest fuel to work with unless your barbecue comes with a lid, like these two models: the evergreen Weber Master-Touch GBS E-5755 and popular budget upstart, the Texas Franklin Charcoal BBQ.
Before we start, and to prevent any confusion, the Texas Franklin Charcoal BBQ is identical to the Tepro Toronto Click that features in our best barbecue guide. It is also the same as the Outsunny Charcoal Grill, the BBQ Florian and I’m sure quite a few other clones I haven’t located online yet.
While Amazon awaits stock of the Tepro-branded version, we’ll focus on the Texas Franklin in this comparison battle because it’s readily available online at Homebase, like now!
So, without further ado, let’s unleash these beasts and see which one is best for your hard earned.
Weber Master-Touch GBS E-5755 vs Texas Franklin Charcoal BBQ: design
Normally when someone asks me what brand of charcoal barbecue they should buy, I just say Weber. This is partly because its kettle system is second to none when it comes to consistency and ease of use. But mostly it’s because Webers are built to last – for years, sometimes decades, even without having a cover over them. This is because Weber uses high-quality materials throughout, from the weatherproof porcelain enamel coating of the bowl and lid to the rust-resistant aluminium legs. Of course, you could buy a much cheaper kettle BBQ with a similar dome-shaped lid but chances are it will be made from tin foil and last no longer than two seasons before it rusts away.
The Weber Master-Touch GBS E-5755 is the entry level model and the one that most people opt for because a) it’s not too expensive; b) it has a large 57cm stainless steel grill grate and c) it comes with a removable dome-shaped lid for both convection and direct grilling. It’s a shame you need to store the lid in a holder at the back of the grill’s bowl because I’ve seen other models from companies like Napoleon that ship their similarly-styled kettle BBQs with a hinged lid for added convenience. That said, the lid holder on the Weber does serve as a wind break of sorts so I’ll stop complaining right here.
The Master-Touch also features Weber’s excellent Gourmet BBQ System. Simply remove the grate’s centre section and drop in the sear grate, pizza stone, Dutch oven or poultry roaster for a variety of imaginative cooking scenarios.
Aside from a full gamut of great design flourishes like the easy-to-use air intake vent, lid vent, ash release system and removable ash box, this newly uprated version also features a smoke setting on the bowl for even greater heat control when smoking and roasting. Although it’s only supported on three aluminium legs, the Weber Master-Touch is surprisingly sturdy and its two large wheels make it easy to push around.
The Texas Franklin also supports indirect convection grilling but it goes a huge step further by featuring an adjustable height charcoal grate. Simply wind the handle on the right in a clockwise direction and the whole charcoal section moves up to within 6cm (2.3 inches) of the grilling grate. Wind it down and it stops at around 22cm (8.6 inches). This is a hugely helpful addition to have on any barbecue because there are often times when the coals are nearing the end of their life and you still have the kebabs to grill. Or perhaps you’re starting with steaks and you need to sear them at high temperature. With this barbecue you can simply raise or lower the charcoal grate an infinite number of positions to suit the situation. The main grate, meanwhile, measures 48cm x 36 cm, which is a large enough surface area to accommodate a feast for up to eight hungry guests.
Another thing this BBQ has is a charcoal feeder that’s operated by a lever on the front. Personally I would avoid tipping unburnt charcoal onto burning coals because they’ll just smoke a lot and make the food taste funny. The Texas Franklin is topped off with a warming rack above the main grill grate, a handy side shelf, an ash-collecting drawer, a charcoal storage rack on the bottom and a bottle opener for those who like opening bottles while they grill. So, lots of stuff for your money with this one.
Build quality of the Texas Franklin falls short of the Weber. It’s not bad in any way but some of the panels have been reported as being a bit warped so assembly can sometimes be a bit of a chore. The materials, too, are quite thin so you should buy a cover for it or rust is likely to invade items like screws and some joinery over the course of winter.
Weber Master-Touch GBS E-5755 vs Texas Franklin Charcoal BBQ: performance
Both of these barbecues excel in their duties. The Weber Master-Touch’s circular shape certainly aids convection – the heat literally swirls around inside the bowl and lid to evenly cook from the top as well as the bottom. However, it’s essential that you leave the lid on as much as possible to keep the heat in. Simply follow the cardinal rule of convection grilling – ‘if you’re lookin’, it ain’t cookin’ – and the food should come off the grill perfectly cooked with chicken skin just the right side of crispy and sausages nicely browned with sear marks.
The Texas Franklin’s lidded design also encourages convection grilling but the heat inside its rectangularly shaped body isn’t as well distributed as in the Weber. But on the plus side – a huge plus it must said – the raisable charcoal bed solves a lot of common barbecuing issues, especially for beginners.
Weber Master-Touch GBS E-5755 vs Texas Franklin Charcoal BBQ: verdict
I still maintain that Webers are among the most efficient and longest lasting charcoal barbecues money can buy, but they are quite a bit more expensive than the competition. Nevertheless, if money’s no object and you’d rather not keep buying new barbecues every two or three years then the Master-Touch is the obvious choice. But if you’re on a tight budget or a beginner who always gets the charcoal balance wrong then the Texas Franklin will be your saviour.
Need a portable BBQ? Then check out T3's best portable barbecue guide