For those who want a portable grill for tailgating or camping, reviewers say you can't go wrong with the Weber 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. In addition to the Gold, there is a Smokey Joe Silver (Est. $30) that is a slightly different design, and a Jumbo Joe (Est. $60) that is larger at 240 square inches and has a few more features.
As good as a full-size Weber. Most reviewers say the Weber 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 a few say it's too small for 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 Weber Smokey Joe Gold's 147-square-inch 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 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 Weber 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 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. The Smokey Joe comes in three sizes -- the Gold, the Silver (Est. $30) and the Jumbo Joe (Est. $60).
Inexpensive, with "rock-solid" construction. The combination of an extremely affordable price and a build that one reviewer calls "rock-solid" makes the Weber 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.
Derrick Riches, the About.com guide to barbeques & grilling, gives the Weber Smokey Joe Gold a thorough review and rates it 4 stars out of a possible 5. He says it's basically a scaled-down version of the iconic Weber kettle grill and performs well for a small grill, but it's flimsy and has poor airflow.
Review: Weber Smokey Joe Gold, Derrick Riches, Not Dated
The Weber Smokey Joe Gold receives about 150 reviews on Amazon.com, with an average rating of 4.4 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 April 2014
In about 30 reviews, the Weber Smokey Joe Gold earns an average rating of 4.8 stars out of 5. Owners say it's great for tailgating, and it's easy to use and transport. Many also like it for apartment living and other small spaces.
Review: Weber Smokey Joe Gold Portable Charcoal Grill, Contributors to HomeDepot.com, As of April 2014
The Smokey Joe Gold rates 89 points (out of 100) on Viewpoints, based on about 90 reviews. Owners say it's easy to use and surprisingly roomy. A few complain that it's hard to clean.
Review: Weber Smokey Joe Gold Portable Charcoal Grill Reviews, Contributors to Viewpoints.com, As of April 2014
5. 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 Weber Smokey Joe Gold is among the tested models. This is an older review, but the Smokey Joe is still the same design.
Review: Portable Charcoal Grills, Editors of Cook's Country, June 1, 2011