If you’re still on the fence about the 14” Weber Smokey Joe, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, I will go through all the details about this wonderful grill (or a mini Weber Kettle on the go as I call it). Everything from design, build quality to cleaning and ease of use. Also the reasons why I think it’s one of the best portable charcoal grills out there.
So to start off this Weber Smokey Joe review, let’s unbox it first.
Weber Smokey Joe 14” Unboxing
George Stephen’s company, Weber, is a well-established brand in the grilling industry. They’ve done it all, from gas to charcoal to now pellet smoker.
One of the grills that made the company famous is the Weber kettle, a classic American icon. It’s known for quality, durability, and versatility. Everything you could ask for in a charcoal grill.
Now, wouldn’t it be cool to have a mini version of the Weber kettle grill? That way, you can still cook delicious food while on the go.
Introducing the Weber Smokey Joe.
This grill is light and portable, making it an excellent choice for camping, tailgating, or any social outings.
It’s also good for cooking small and quick meals for 1 – 3 people, from singles, empty nesters to small families. Furthermore, the Smokey Joe is a great secondary grill if your main grill’s cooking grate is fully occupied. Not to mention an ideal place to light your charcoal chimney.
Two Versions Of The Weber Smokey Joe
The Weber Smokey Joe has two versions, Regular and Premium. Keep in mind that the Regular used to be the Silver model while the Premium as the Gold one.
There isn’t any qualitative difference between these two versions. It’s about the distinct features that each one has.
The Regular/Silver Joe has a bottom vents in the middle of the grill bowl (similar to the standard, bigger Weber kettle). Also, underneath that bottom vents is an aluminium ash catcher. This is the one that I have.
The Premium/Gold Joe doesn’t have any ash pan. Its bottom vents are instead on the sides of the grill bowl.
The Premium features a Tuck n Carry, which is a convenient handle that locks the lid during transport or for easy storage. It can also act as a lid holder during cooking. Because of this, the Premium costs a bit extra than the Regular.
Besides these differences, the two models share many similarities. They both have a 14.2” diameter plated steel cooking grate. The lid and bowl are porcelain-coated steel, which is what the classic Weber kettle has.
Both versions weigh around 9.5 lbs. All the vents are made from rust-resistant aluminium. And the handle is glass-reinforced nylon.
Note: Both versions of the Weber Smokey Joe don’t have a heat shield underneath their handle (for North America). The UK models, however, do have one. The Premium is available in 6 colors, including black, while the Regular is only available in black.
Two Versions Comparison Table
Here’s a comparison table between the two versions of the Weber Smokey Joe
|Lid & Bowl
|Tuck n Carry Lid Lock
|14.2” diameter plated steel
|14.2” diameter plated steel
|Heavy gauge steel
|Heavy gauge steel
- Quality – made from the same material as the standard Weber Kettle but at a fraction of the price.
- Portability – small and lightweight. You can bring the Weber Smokey Joe to any outdoors activities or anywhere you want.
- Versatility – it can be a secondary grill in your backyard or a place for the chimney starter. Despite its smaller size, you can still sear or set up a two zone indirect heat fire. And with some creativity, you can even use it for low n slow smoking.
- Quick assembly – there aren’t many moving parts with this grill. It takes less than 20 minutes to put everything together.
- Tuck n Carry – if you buy the Premium version, you can take advantage of this convenient handle. Great for transport, storage, and a lid holder during cooking. It’ll cost you a bit extra though.
- Ash catcher – this comes in handy when you buy the Regular version.
- No side handles – Both versions don’t have side handles. This is a minus, especially when you have to move the grill when it’s still hot.
- Size – Even though it’s versatile, the size can be a limiting factor. The Smokey Joe can’t handle any large gathering or cookout. As long as you keep it down to 1 – 3 people, you’ll be fine.
- No inside hook for lid – the Premium version has a lid holder whereas you have nowhere to hang the lid for the Regular one during cooking. It’ll be nice to have an inside hook similar to the 18” Weber kettle. That way, you don’t have to place the lid on the ground.
- No thermometer – there is no built-in thermometer for both versions. Though this could be fixed by buying a decent standalone thermometer.
- No heat deflector for the vents – The vents on both versions get hot during cooking. For the Regular Smokey Joe, the bottom vent is also short that it feels dangerous to reach under the hot fire inside the bowl.
For the Regular/Silver, click here for more information on Amazon.
For the Premium/Gold, click here for more information on Amazon.
The Weber Smokey Joe Review
Design & Build Quality
Similar to the classic Weber kettle grill, the Weber Smokey Joe comes with durable and high-quality parts that will last you for years to come.
Both versions have porcelain-enameled steel lid and bowl. As long as you keep the exterior clean and free of cracks, it isn’t going to wear or rust away but continues to maintain its sheen over time.
The vents, whether on the Regular or Premium, are aluminium. The same for the stand and the ash catcher. That means they’re not only resistant to rust but also reducing the overall weight of the grill.
Made from glass-reinforced nylon, the lid handle is sturdy and lightweight at the same time. It’s also thick enough that lifting the lid feels easy and comfortable. Another good thing is that it doesn’t get hot during cooking.
With about 147 square inches cooking real estate, you can easily fit 6 burgers or 3 steaks in one go. Although the grates aren’t made from stainless steel, the plated steel material is still tough enough to last through dinner after dinner for a long time.
Both versions feature a three-legged stand. Though a bit thin, they do provide a stable foundation for the whole grill.
The legs are long enough to maintain a safe distance between the fire inside the bowl and the surface the grill is on. They also give enough room to lean down and adjust the bottom vent if you put the grill on the ground (for the Regular version). It works great on a tabletop as well.
The Premium Smokey Joe features a Tuck n Carry lid lock. The way it works is that there is a thin wire over the lid of the grill. Then there is a groove on top of the lid handle that keeps the thin wire in place. As a result, the whole system secures the lid, making it easy for you to lift the whole grill and carry it around safely (even with hot coals inside).
Now, there is also another metal upright that keeps the thin wire to the side. You can then rest your lid on it during cooking. That makes it convenient and eliminates the need to put your lid on the ground.
Furthermore, your lid can act as a windshield while on that resting position. A great way to block any incoming wind if you use the Premium Smokey Joe to light your charcoal chimney.
Ease Of Cleaning
The Premium Smokey Joe has no bottom vent, therefore ash can accumulate without blocking the airflow. There is also no ash flying around during cooking. However, cleaning up is more time-consuming because you can’t clean the ash until the cooking and charcoal grate are removed and the hot coals die down.
Unlike the Premium version, the Regular one has an ash catcher along with the intake vent underneath the charcoal bowl. One caveat is that this ash catcher isn’t removable.
That means you have to scoop up the ash with a spoon, which might be inconvenient for some. Or leave it there throughout the cook. But then the ash can fly around which can get into your food.
If you ask me, I generally don’t mind this at all. It’s supposed to get a bit messy. This is outdoor cooking after all.
Now, another flaw of this cleaning system is that ash can clog up the vent. This requires you to constantly poke the vent to ensure a smooth airflow. I also find that if you let greases mix with the ash, it will form a sticky substance that restricts the rotation of the vent. Another reason why we should place aluminium foil on top of the charcoal grate every time we cook.
That said, the Regular Smokey Joe’s intake/bottom vent (similar to a standard Weber kettle) is far more superior than the Premium when it comes to temp control.
By placing it underneath the charcoal bowl, you get direct air intake to the coals, providing ample supply of oxygen when you need to crank up the heat. With the same token, you can also easily achieve lower temperature by shutting down the vent slightly.
The intake vents are on the sides of the charcoal bowl on the Premium version. That’s not great in terms of temp control because of the reduced and sideways airflow. You’ll often struggle to hit your target temp fast and the grill isn’t responsive to changes on the vents.
Now, the top vent for both Smokey Joe versions is the typical daisy wheel you see on the bigger kettle model. It’s easy to rotate although the handle tab gets hot during cooking. The same for the intake vents on both versions.
For the Regular, the handle tab on its intake vent is also short that’s sometimes dangerous to reach your hand under a roaring hot charcoal bowl. I actually burned my fingers a couple of times. When in doubt, wear a good pair of BBQ gloves.
The Weber Smokey Joe doesn’t have many parts so assembling it is quick and painless. It took me roughly 15 minutes to put everything together. And the only tool I used was a Philips screwdriver.
Both versions will cover all of your grilling needs. Things like burgers, brats, steaks, fish, vegetables and seafood. Despite its smaller cooking surface, you can still set up a two zone indirect heat fire. If you’re looking to sear at high heat, the Regular version is a better choice due to its bottom vent position.
The Weber Smokey Joe isn’t made for smoking low n slow. However, with some creativity and time, you can actually turn it into a mini Weber Smokey Mountain. Check the video below.
Warranty & Support
Besides its quality, Weber is also known for its support. Their customer service is available 7 days a week. If you have any questions regarding your order, you can call a toll-free number or send email.
In terms of warranty for your Weber Smokey Joe:
- 10 years for the bowl and lid with no rust or burn through.
- 5 years for the ash cleaning system with, again, no rust or burn through.
- 5 years for all the plastic components and that doesn’t include any fading or discoloration.
- 2 years for all remaining components.
I really appreciate the quality of the Weber Smokey Joe. The way I see it, I get the same quality porcelain-coated steel from the standard Weber kettle grill but in a smaller size and at a lower price tag.
I also like the fact that Weber put some thoughts into choosing the other materials. Things like aluminium or glass-reinforced nylon. These not only last but are also lightweight which reduces the overall weight of the whole grill.
Because of this, the grill is easy to carry around. Combined with its compact size, the Weber Smokey Joe is an excellent choice for camping, tailgating, boating or even an apartment balcony.
The Premium version has a handy Tuck n Carry lock which makes it more convenient to transport. The Regular doesn’t have that feature but you can always buy a carrying case for it. The case has a shoulder trap so you just throw it on your back and off you go (with the grill inside of course).
Any Future Improvements?
I would like to see a heat shield on top and bottom vents for both versions of the Smokey Joe. Because those get hot during cooking.
Secondly, Weber should attach side handles to the charcoal bowl. That way, it will be easier to move the grill when it’s hot. Imagine you forget your gloves at home and you have to carry your roaring hot Smokey Joe. It’s no good.
Lastly, I wish the Regular could have an inside hook (similar to the 18” Weber kettle grill). There is nowhere to hang the lid so the only place is the ground. Inconvenient sometimes!
Weber Jumbo Joe 18”
Although the Smokey Joe is a decent portable charcoal grill, both of its versions still have their drawbacks. That’s why Weber came out with the Jumbo Joe 18”. This grill combines the best of the Smokey Joe Regular and Premium into one place.
The Jumbo Joe features a Tuck n Carry lid lock AND an ash catcher. This time, the ash catcher is actually removable. It has a heat shield on the lid handle as well.
It also has the same quality parts as other Weber products. Things like porcelain-coated lid and bowl and rust-resistant aluminium components. Plus a similar warranty like the Smokey Joe.
That said, the Jumbo Joe still doesn’t have side handles to pick the grill up. Despite its larger size, it’s still on the three-legged stand, which is questionable in terms of stability.
Now, this grill has an 18” diameter cooking rack, which is the same as the 18” Original Weber kettle. It definitely offers more space but the line between portable and stationary kettle grill is really blurred here.
However, the rack has handles so you can spin it around when searing without lifting the food. A feature that the Smokey Joe doesn’t have.
Weber Go Anywhere
The next alternative to the Smokey Joe is the Weber Go Anywhere. The one thing that makes this grill stand out is its rectangular shape. Because of this, it actually offers more cooking space than the Weber Smokey Joe (160 vs 147 square inches).
This grill has two top vents on either side of the lid. Similar to the Premium Smokey Joe, the Go Anywhere has its bottom vents to the front and back side of the charcoal bowl. It also features a lid holder so you can hang the lid to one side of the grill.
Unlike the Smokey Joe, this grill actually has side handles.
It also doesn’t have a three-legged stand. Instead, it has two legs that fold up to lock the lid in place for easy transport. When you fold them down, they act as a stand for the grill. There is a clip that holds the two legs, making a stable base altogether.
Should You Buy The Weber Smokey Joe 14”?
Hopefully, you make up your mind about the Weber Smokey Joe by now. If you still need a little reassurance, let me say that I’d highly recommend this grill (especially the Regular version).
It’s small and compact that you can carry it anywhere, from tailgating to camping. It can cook for 1 – 3 people. It’s a good secondary grill if your main one is completely full. You can also use it to light a charcoal chimney. Above all, it’s made from the same quality material as the classic Original Weber kettle grill but at a fraction of the price.
The Smokey Joe is indeed a mini Weber Kettle on the go.
If you find my 14” Weber Smokey Joe review helpful, please don’t hesitate to share it to your friends and family. I’d really appreciate it.
Thank you and have a good one.