If you are looking to bring the great taste of charcoal grilling with you to a campsite, on a hike, or to a tailgate, the Jumbo Joe is the grill for you. Without question, the Weber Jumbo Joe is the best portable charcoal grill available.
There is so much more to the Jumbo than meets the eye. Stick with me and I’ll show you why I really love this little grill!
The Jumbo Joe has an 18 inch cooking grate which makes it the largest portable charcoal grill Weber offers. The size, and other features, of this grill make Weber’s other portable charcoal grills, the Smokey Joe and GoAnywhere, irrelevant.
Here is a nice video walkthrough of the grill.
Jumbo Joe Specifications and Dimensions
To get a better idea of this grill’s identity, let’s take a look at some numbers.
- Grilling Area: 240 inches of primary cooking area
- Grates: Plated steel cooking grate, heavy-gauge steel charcoal grate
- Dampers: Two rust-resistant aluminum dampers
- Materials: Porcelain-enameled bowl and lid
- Heat Source: Charcoal
- Dimensions (with lid closed):7”H x 19.7”W x 20.5”D, Diameter: 18”
- Color Availability: Black
- Warranty: 10 years on bowl and lid, 5 years on one touch cleaning system and plastic components, and 2 years on remaining parts
On Weber’s website (as of April, 2021) there were 346 customer reviews with over 94% of owners providing either a 5 or 4 Star rating. The reviews are plotted below.
With compliments on easy temperature control, excellent portability and a large cooking surface, the reviews on the Jumbo Joe are almost all positive.
What Makes the Jumbo Joe Great
When this grill first came out I loved it so much I developed a fan site dedicated exclusively towards its use.
There are three key aspects about this grill that make it amazing.
- Air Control
The Jumbo has an 18 inch cooking grate which gives it a ton of cooking room.
There is enough room on this grill to let you easily roast a whole chicken in the center of the grill.
If you take the cooking grate out and get creative with your charcoal arrangement then you can even cook a Beer Can Chicken!
There is just enough room under the lid to fit a six pound pork butt.
I am unaware of any other portable charcoal grill that offers this much grilling space.
The Jumbo weighs in at 22 pounds and has an ash catcher underneath the bottom air vent and a locking lid mechanism.
You can easily pick up and carry the Jumbo with one hand. You can also put it in the back of your vehicle and it will stay in one piece as you travel.
There is nothing awkward about this grill when it comes to moving it from “Point A” to “Point B”.
By the way, the lid latch serves double duty as a lid holder when it is in the “down” position.
The precision air control of the Jumbo took me by surprise.
This grill has a single air inlet located at the base of the grill and a single air outlet vent on the dome.
You can light the charcoal, set the vents and then use the lid lock to seal the edges of the grill shut. When you have both vents at 50% open you can run the grill at Low and Slow barbecue temperatures for hours on end.
The Down Side
The absolutely ONLY thing wrong with the Jumbo is the design of the cooking grate.
The grate that comes with the Jumbo is a single piece system. Once you figure out how to use the Jumbo for Low and Slow barbecue you are going to want to upgrade to the grate with the hinged sides.
The upgraded hinged grate makes adding charcoal during a 8-10 hour cook simple and easy.
Versus the Original Kettle 22”
The Jumbo Joe’s look is based on the look of the Original Kettle charcoal grill, but there are some key differences. First, the Jumbo Joe is made for portability, where the Original Kettle is built to be your go-to home charcoal grill.
The Kettle is portable if you want to bring it to a BBQ or tailgate party, but it would be best suited for a permanent campsite or moving only as often as you swap apartments.
The other big differences are the size of the grates and clearance under the lid. The Kettle also has a one-touch cleaning system that is lacking in the Joe.
Overall, if you are looking for a great portable grill, I would still recommend the Jumbo Joe. However, if you would like a charcoal grill for mainly home use, the Original Kettle is the way to go.
Versus the Go Anywhere
The Go Anywhere charcoal grill is a great option for portability but is quite a bit smaller than the Jumbo Joe. It is also a different shape, featuring a rectangular body. Because of the Go Anywhere grill’s size, it is slightly lighter than the Jumbo Joe and features more handles for more comfortable travel.
I can’t say that there is a lot wrong with the Go Anywhere grill. It is simply smaller and thinner than the Jumbo Joe. Unfortunately, that does leave a bit to be desired in terms of effortless cooking of things other than burgers and hotdogs.
The closeness of the coals on the Go Anywhere is not as desirable as the space you get with the Joe. The distance to the coals makes a large difference when cooking to get an even doneness, so the Jumbo Joe is a better option for cooking things like steaks and burgers.
Overall the cooking surface size, as well as the even cooking of the Jumbo Joe are well worth the extra ten to fifteen dollars you will spend over the Go Anywhere.
The Go Anywhere grill is lighter and a nice shape for packing during travel, but the Jumbo Joe will accommodate much more food, and is still worth any small hassle it may cause based on shape alone.
Versus the Smokey Joe Premium 14”
The Smokey Joe Premium is more or less a smaller version of the Jumbo Joe. It has the same body style in a more compact size and weight. It even features the same tuck-n-carry lid style that the Jumbo Joe has, so the products are incredibly similar.
The reason that the Smokey Joe is a great portable grill is the same reason that I don’t recommend it: the size.
If you are concerned about how much room you have in your trunk or on the picnic table at the beach, it might be worth the size downgrade. In most cases you could efficiently use the Jumbo Joe in the same situations as the Smokey Joe, while cooking a more significant quantity of food at a time.
The Smokey Joe features only 147 square inches of cooking space versus the Jumbo Joe’s 240. Nearly 100 fewer square inches is a big difference, especially if you’re grilling for a crowd.
There is nothing wrong with the Smokey Joe. It is a solid grill. Both it and the Jumbo Joe feature the iconic Original Kettle shape, so people will know you opted for the consistency and legacy of the Weber name. The Jumbo Joe is a simply a better value for the size and will work for you in more instances than the smaller Smokey Joe.