For those who want a portable grill for tailgating or camping, reviewers say you can't go wrong with the Smokey Joe Gold. Many also agree this portable version works as well as Weber's highly rated, full-sized charcoal models. We found a few complaints about design, but most say this model is solidly built and cooks dependably -- exactly what a portable grill should be.
As good as a full-size Weber. Most reviewers say the Smokey Joe Gold performs as well as full-size Weber grills. Owners report using the model with great success to cook a range of foods, from burgers and hot dogs to venison, steaks, chicken, vegetables and marshmallows. Some also say it does a fine job with indirect cooking, although one user says it's not suited to this method. Moreover, in one professional, comparative test the Smokey Joe Gold's cooking performance earns a top rating.
Sturdy and roomy. Reviewers say the Smokey Joe Gold's cooking surface is roomy, and its domed lid allows for roasting something as large as a butterflied chicken. In addition, users say it is sturdy, with one noting that it remained undamaged even when bumped around. Many also find that it catches ashes effectively and is easy to clean, and some say the lid lock keeps the unit secure during transport. However, some users fault the air vents, which are located above the coals, because they say this causes the fire to go out during cooking if the lid is shut.
Few safety worries. We found only two safety-related complaints about the Smokey Joe Gold: One comes from a user who says it produces a lot of smoke; and the other comes from a user who complains that the legs are not that secure and need to be regularly tightened, since you don't want one to come loose when the grill is hot. Other than that, safety is not a big concern in reviews. The grill's safety instructions are identical to those for all Weber charcoal grills, and include keeping the grill clear of flammable liquids and extinguishing charcoal after cooking.
Inexpensive, with "rock-solid" construction. The combination of an extremely affordable price and a build that one reviewer calls "rock-solid" makes the Smokey Joe Gold a great value, reviewers say. The unit gets a top rating for durability in one professional test, and one home griller writes, "The quality and gauge of metal used in this product tells me I will have it for many years to come, if I take care of it." The grill comes with a 10-year warranty on the bowl, lid and nylon handle, and a two-year warranty on the grates and remaining components.
1. Cook's Country
Editors from this sister publication of Cook's Illustrated evaluate six portable charcoal grills on the basis of portability, durability, design and performance. The Smokey Joe Gold is among the tested models. The specific testing methodology is not described, but the article includes a discussion of factors to consider before purchasing.
Review: Portable Charcoal Grills, Editors of Cook's Country, June/July 2011
The Smokey Joe Gold receives about 115 posts on Amazon.com, with an average rating of 4.2 stars out of 5. Most users say it is extremely durable and performs very well, although some complain that because air vents are above the coals, the fire tends to go out.
Review: Weber 40020 Smokey Joe Gold Charcoal Grill, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of July 2013
Jude Stewart and pals test seven portable grills for taste, convenience and performance. They ultimately select the Smokey Joe Gold as their top-rated model, thanks to its "rock-solid" construction and design that keeps the food "the right distance" from the heat.
Review: Fired Up: Which Portable Grill Cranks Up the Heat?, Jude Stewart, June 5, 2007
The Smokey Joe Gold rates 90 points (out of 100) on Viewpoints, based on more than 70 reviews. Users say it's easy to use and surprisingly roomy, although one cautions that if you don't dump the charcoal after use, the grill can tip and spill ashes in your car.
Review: Weber Smokey Joe Gold Portable Charcoal Grill 40020 Reviews, Contributors to Viewpoints.com, As of July 2013