About 60 years ago, in a time when grilling meat was twice as much work as it is today, George Stephen and a couple of others from today’s Weber-Stephen decided to make a little charcoal grill named after their favorite bartender, Joe. They called it the Weber Smokey Joe Portable Charcoal Grill14 inch.

This smallest charcoal grill has evolved over nearly 30 years to become the Weber Smokey Joe series we all know and love.

Be Mindful: In any case, you are only looking for charcoal smokers — We have covered an in-depth article of Weber’s compact smoker: Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker (14″, 18″, 22-inch Smoker)

However, today, we’re going to give you a Weber Smokey Joe Review so that you can decide whether this classic is still worth your cash and meet nearly 30 years down the line.

Smokey Joe Grills Comparison

Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch (Standard)

Original
  • weight: 9.5 Pounds
  • Ash Catcher— YES | Lid lock— NO
  • 2 Rust-resistant aluminum dampers
  • Dimensions at closed lid- 17″H x 14.2″W x 14.5″D

Weber 40020 Smokey Joe Premium 14-Inch (Premium)

Premium
  • weight: 9.8 Pounds
  • Ash Catcher— NO | Lid lock— YES
  • 3 Rust-resistant Aluminum dampers
  • Dimensions at closed lid- 17″H x 14.2″W x 16.5″D

What to Choose: Standard or Premium?

On the Weber’s amazon official page, we have the Weber Smokey Joe Original and the Weber Smokey Joe Premium. Over the years, there have been several reviews to decide which of the two cooks better. However, there’ve been mixed replies, and there aren’t any clear winners yet. 

One reason for this might be because the two charcoal grills are basically two peas in a pod. Except for a couple of not-too-obvious details, both the Original and Premium Smokey Joes are extremely alike. 

However, it’s because of these differences that there are so many arguments between these two.

There are only four key features that can be marked as differences between these two models. The Original Smokey Joe has one feature that the Premium version doesn’t have. It’s called the aluminum ash catcher. 

The Aluminum Ash Catcher: This feature helps catch the ash that might skip out of the vents situated at the bottom of the grill. In this way, it saves you a bit of time and work when cleaning up.

The Premium Weber Smokey Joe has three features that aren’t commonly seen amongst charcoal grills.

Side Vents: Yes, you read that right. Some of the vents for the Premium Smokey Joe are actually on the sides of the grill. This debunks the half-myth that you need to have ventilation from the grill bottom to generate enough heat in your coals. We’ll tell what the implications of this feature are in a little bit.

The Tuck N’ Carry Lid: This lid is what makes this Weber Smokey Joe as portable as it is. The Premium Smokey Joe has a bar across its lid that serves as a lid holder and a carry handle. It makes moving the whole grill easier, faster, and safer. More on this later.

Okay, so that’s that for the differences between the Original and Premium Smokey Joes. We hope that you’re now clear on what makes them stand out. For the rest of the article, we’ll focus on doing a comprehensive Review of Weber Smokey Joe Premium

However, because of the similarities between the two, a large part of this review can also be used to judge the Original Weber Smokey Joe (Standard).

What Comes Inside the Box?

⇒ Assembly guide
⇒ All materials needed for assembly including
⇒ Nickel-plated steel cooking grate
⇒ Steel charcoal grate
⇒ Porcelain-enameled lid and bowl
⇒ Glass-reinforced nylon handles
⇒ Aluminum stand, and
⇒ 3 Rust-resistant aluminum dampers.

Key Features of Weber Smokey Joe Premium

The Premium Weber Smokey Joe doesn’t have a lot of features. It’s one of the smallest and most portable charcoal grills available, though, so it doesn’t need all that hardware to cook some good BBQ. Six features are worth noting. 

Nickel-Plated Steel Cooking Grate

The advantage of these grates is the size of their bars. Each bar is quite thin, making it ideal for searing because it stays out of the heat. Plus, they’re extremely cheap and easy to replace. Once it starts warping, you can get a new one on the Weber website for a few bucks.

Rust-Resistant Aluminum Dampers

If you’re new to the grill scene, you might not yet know that dampers are another word for vents. The Premium Weber Smokey Joe has three dampers, two holes at each side of the grill, and four holes right on the grill cover, making it ideal for low n’ slow cooking with the grill closed. The dampers are on the sides, which helps keep the ash in and stops it from flying around and into food. 

But, because the dampers are on the side, it does pose a challenge to cooks who want a fast and hot meal. The side vents don’t allow for a rapid increase in temperature that bottom vents do. On the bright side, meat does turn out more tender and juicier when it’s done because of the lower temperature.

Glass-Reinforced Nylon Handles

The handles are reinforced with glass to ensure that they stay on the grill and won’t snap off without a fight. 

Porcelain-Enameled Bowl and Lid

You probably already know this but lining grill bowls with porcelain stops them from rusting quickly. 

Tuck-n-Carry Lid Lock 

This feature is basically the highlight of this Premium Weber Smokey Joe review. The addition of a steel bar across the top of the grill makes it easy to carry the grill while making sure that the lid stays closed and keeping your hands and skin relatively safe. 

It makes it easy to take the grill out to campsites and other areas where other grills can’t because you cannot touch a handle-less grill right after cooking on it unless it’s the Premium Weber Smokey Joe.

Our Thoughts & Test Results of Weber Smokey Joe Grill

Our Weber Smokey Joe review is coming to an end, so here are our thoughts on this model.

What We Liked: We liked that it’s lightweight, portable, and is ideal for low n’ slow cooking. The temperature is also pretty easy to control. It’s also extremely durable and pretty scratch-resistant. The lack of ash floating around is a big plus as well.

What We Disliked: It takes a pretty long time for the heat to rise if the winds are low. Plus, it takes far longer to clean than the average grill.

We judged this grill with respect to its status as a “premium product.” To explain our views quickly and comprehensively, we’ve come up with five different criteria that we believe are important for every grill. 

Test Outcome from Smokey Joe Premium

Evenness Performance: The test judges how even the temperature is across the grill. This model worked well in our evenness test, and the vents were effective at regulating the temperature. The temperature was mostly even all over the grates.

Indirect Cooking: Indirect cooking judges how well meat can be cooked when not directly placed on the grill. Maybe because of the slight problem we noticed in the temperature range test, this model excelled at indirect cooking, especially when the lid was on.

Temperature Range: While conducting this Weber Smokey Joe premium review, we noticed that this grill takes a longer time to build up to higher temperatures because of the vents’ positioning.

Convenience: This is another test that was passed beautifully. The model was judged on movability, adding and removing coals, adjusting coal trays, grates, vents, and easy lid opening. We discovered no problems when it came to cooking. Cleaning is another story.

Value for Money: The Premium Weber Smokey Joe costs only $10 more than the Original version at $44. In our first calculations, we considered that this is a portable grill that is meant to last while on the move for over ten years; we think that buyers get a lot of value for their money. 

But then we recalculated to include the cost of regular changes to other parts of the grill like the grates over the years. However, buyers still came out on top.

Technical Specifications

Dimensions with Lid Closed (inches): 17”H X 14.2”W X 16.5”D

Total Cooking Area: 147 square inches

Weight: 9.8 pounds

Few Criteria for Choosing a Weber Smokey Joe Grill

Design and Build Quality: Like most Weber grills, the Premium Weber Smokey Joe is well built and very sturdy. It’s not the type to fall apart with a little fall. 

Ease of Assembly: This model has a little over ten parts. Most people can put it together within 15 to 20 minutes. All you’ll need is a screwdriver and your manual.

Ease of Use: While scooping the ash out could be easier, putting it in and regulating the temperature is easy-peasy. Plus, it comes with a lid that can act as a windshield.

Portability: The Premium Weber Smokey Joe was literally made to be portable. Need we say more?

Cleaning and Maintenance: Because the vents are on the sides, they’re a little more difficult to clean. But with a wire brush and some patience, you can get the job done.

Upgrades, Accessories, and Attachments: The Premium Weber Smokey Joe has been around for a while, so we don’t see any upgrades in the near future. However, replacement parts are readily available on the Weber website.

Warranty Details & Available Support: This is how the warranty goes:

Bowl and Lid: 10 Years | No rust through or burn through.

One-touch Cleaning System: 5 Years | No rust through or burn through.

Plastic Components: 5 Years | excluding fading or discoloration.

All Remaining Parts: 2 Years.

Support is available in the form of FAQs, manuals, warranty terms, and an online request form.

Pit Master’s Tips

  • Add some wood chips into the coal if you want to have that woody, juicy taste to your slow-cooked meat.
  • Cut your meat into thin strips and put your grill with its side facing the wind f you want your meat to cook faster.
  • With the Premium Weber Smokey Joe, it’s best to cook meals for two twice rather than force the meat meant for four all on the grill. Cooking twice will ensure that the meat is well cooked. Forcing all the meat on leaves some parts uncooked more often than not.

Do We Recommend It?

And that’s the end of our Premium Weber Smokey Joe review. So, do we recommend this model? Yes, especially for people who often go on road trips or camping. This grill is perfect for those who stay on the move but want some good meat when they settle down.

Is Weber Smokey Joe made in the USA or China? 

They’re mostly made in the USA, but some parts are sourced globally. China may be one of those countries where parts are sourced occasionally. 

Does Smokey Joe come with the aluminum ash catcher? 

The Original Weber Smokey Joe grill does come with an aluminum ash catcher, but the Premium Smokey Joe doesn’t.

How do I deal with the ash of Smokey Joe Premium?

Close the lid and vents for two days to suffocate the fire and let them coals cool. Then, put on your BBQ heatproof gloves. Take out the racks and use a metallic spatula or trowel to remove the ash onto a sheet of aluminum foil. Wrap it up carefully and throw it away in a metal bin. We don’t want any leftover embers to start a dumpster fire. 

Can I use this on top of the plastic or wood table?

No, you cannot. While the side vents prevent ash and coals from leaking out of the grill, it’s still not safe to put a hot cooker on flammable surfaces like wood or surfaces that can melt like plastic.

Johnny Trigg
Johnny TriggView all Posts

He’s the founder of BBQchickenUSA.com and also the owner of two barbecue restaurants. He’s passionate about reviewing, providing useful tips about BBQ Smokers, and known as BBQ Pitmaster.

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