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Weber Smokey Joe Premium BBQ review: A compact, lightweight, portable charcoal BBQ

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £100
inc VAT

For travellers looking for a portable BBQ that will last, the Smokey Joe Premium is a solid option


  • Compact
  • Good heat retention
  • Easy to build


  • Expensive
  • Bulky legs can’t be folded down
  • Food occasionally sticks

Weber’s Smokey Joe Premium is a compact, portable BBQ with a classic kettle design. Despite its small stature, it’s an incredibly effective on-the-go BBQ, with a handful of interesting features that elevate it above your bog-standard kettle. These include a “tuck and carry” lid handle, a lid holder, rust-resistant dampeners for temperature control and a porcelain-enamelled lid and bowl for additional protection against cracks, scrapes and extreme temperatures.

While it’s one of Weber’s most affordable BBQs, it’s certainly not inexpensive. However, the Smokey Joe is worth splashing out on if you’re an avid camper looking for a high-quality portable option that won’t need replacing a year or two down the line.

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Weber Smokey Joe Premium BBQ review: What do you get for the money?

The Smokey Joe Premium is a 37cm lidded BBQ, which will set you back a reasonably substantial £100 at full price. There are no additional accessories in the box and you’ll need to assemble everything yourself. However, this is fairly straightforward and can be done solo in around 30 minutes.

The Smokey Joe’s design is similar to what you might expect of any kettle-style BBQ, with a lid on top and three small curved legs on the bottom. There are three aluminium dampeners on the lid, which allow you to increase and decrease airflow to the BBQ, as well as a sturdy plastic handle. There’s also a secondary metal loop attached to the body, which clips onto the lid handle allowing you to easily transport and store the BBQ. This secondary loop also acts as a lid holder when the BBQ is in use, so you don’t have to place it on the floor.

Unlike many basic portable BBQs, the Smokey Joe is available in a wide range of colours, including slate blue, smoke (light grey), spring green, black and crimson, making it ideal for style-conscious travellers. It’s also one of the most compact portable BBQs we’ve tested, measuring 36 x 42 x 43cm (WDH). However, it’s worth noting the lid and legs don’t fold away, meaning it can still be a little space-hungry in small car boots. The Joe is light, however, at just 5.48kg, meaning it’s easy to carry from car to campsite.

As well as the Smokey Joe Premium, you can also get your hands on the slightly cheaper original Smokey Joe (£90), which has a similar shape, size and weight. The original only has two dampeners and no lockable lid, however, meaning the lid and base have to be carried separately. The cheaper model also only comes in one colour, black.

READ NEXT: Our pick of the best portable BBQs

Weber Smokey Joe Premium BBQ review: What’s good about it?

The most notable thing about the Smokey Joe Premium is that it’s well designed for outdoor, on-the-go use. Not only is it lightweight, but it’s also easy to carry thanks to its lockable handle, which doubles as a lid rest. We can vouch for its longevity as well, as our very own Head of Reviews, Jonathan Bray, still uses one of the original Smokey Joes he purchased almost two decades ago.

Its fuel grate is particularly sturdy and doesn’t budge or shift during use. This makes it easy to distribute coal right up to the edges of the bowl, ensuring the grill heats up quickly and evenly. In testing, it also held its heat well while cooking despite its small size, and I was able to cook four burgers in around 10-15 minutes. The three dampeners also made it easy to quickly bring down the internal temperature once I was done cooking, although it was still a few hours before the grill was cool enough to handle without gloves.

The Smokey Joe is also surprisingly spacious. I found it big enough to comfortably cook four burgers or three medium-sized chicken breasts. I was also able to fit five small skewers on the grill without too much trouble. Weber states you can fit up to six burgers at once and, while this is possible, I wouldn’t recommend overloading it, as this can lead to uneven cooking.

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Weber Smokey Joe Premium BBQ review: What could be better?

One small issue I came across when testing the Smokey Joe is that some foods would stick to the grill if it wasn’t kept well oiled before and during use. This can be a tad frustrating if you’re out and about without an oiling brush, and did make the grill fairly tricky to clean off afterwards.

Another, albeit small, gripe I had with this BBQ was with the dampeners. In general, I found the Smokey Joe to be a robust BBQ, but the dampener mechanism felt a tad flimsy and awkward to use. While this certainly isn’t a deal breaker, it’s a little disappointing given its price. And speaking of price, there’s no denying this is expensive for what is, on the surface, a basic kettle BBQ.

You may also want to think twice about the Smokey Joe if you have a small car. While it is compact, there’s an awkward bulkiness to it, as the legs and handle are fixed in place and not easily removable or foldable.

READ NEXT: Our full roundup of the best BBQs available

Weber Smokey Joe Premium BBQ review: Should you buy it?

All in all, the Smokey Joe Premium is a decent portable BBQ. Its robust design and useful features mean it’s certainly a step up from the majority of cheap and cheerful kettle BBQs, and these extras go some way to justifying its high price. You could save yourself a tenner and opt for the original Smokey Joe, but the lockable lid on its own makes it well worth spending extra on the Premium model.

It’s also easy to carry and lightweight, making it the perfect travel companion for most people. The flimsy damper mechanism, occasional food-sticking and fixed legs and handle are a tad frustrating, but are ultimately small issues with what is otherwise a really good portable BBQ.

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