I designed this page to be a “one-stop resource” for anyone wanting to learn about the Weber Jumbo Joe. Bookmark this page and check back every now and then. I will be adding to this guide as I complete more cooks and learn more tips and techniques to get the most out of this great little grill.
Why I Love The Jumbo Joe
I love the Jumbo because it is the perfect balance between being big enough to do some serious cooking but small and well designed enough to be portable. It also offers a level of precision temperature control that is amazing.
It Is Just Big Enough
The Jumbo has an 18 inch cooking grate which, while smaller than the 22 inch grate you get on a Performer or MasterTouch, I consider to be massive for a portable grill.
You can easily roast a whole chicken on this grill. One way to roast the bird is to place it in the middle of the grate with a drip pan underneath and banked charcoal on either side of the drip pan..
A second way to cook the bird is “Beer Can Chicken” style. For this technique you need to remove the cooking grate and place the bird into the drip pan with the obligatory can of beer inside the base of the bird. I bank coals around all four side of the drip pan for even roasting. You have to have the bird in the drip pan on the charcoal grate in order for the lid to close.
You can fit three large ribeyes on the grill if you use GrillGrates to manage flare ups.
The Jumbo is just the right size for a portable charcoal grill. It is large enough to be a serious grill while still being small enough to easily transport.
Precision Air Control
When I first got this grill I was doing a lot of “High Heat” grilling for things like these shrimp skewers and Flanken style beef ribs.
One day, just for laughs, I decided to see how this grill would perform as a smoker. It turns out that the performance of the Jumbo as a smoker is amazing!
The Jumbo has a metal lid lock which is designed to make transporting the grill easier. The lid lock has the added benefit of sealing the lid to the kettle extremely tight. The Jumbo also has a single air intake vent on the bottom of the grill and a single outlet vent on the top.
Because the lid is so tightly sealed, and because there are only two vents to adjust, it is incredibly easy to adjust the air flow and get set up for some serious “Low and Slow” barbecue.
You can cut a slab of baby back ribs in half, smoke them for five hours, and only have to add a few unlit charcoal briquettes every few hours. These ribs were just as good as any that I have cooked on my full sized kettle.
Heck, there is even enough room under the lid to smoke a whole pork butt for some incredible pulled pork!
Seriously, this is a highly portable grill that does double duty as a serious smoker!
Jumbo Joe vs Smokey Joe
Another reason I love the Jumbo is that it fixes everything that was wrong about Weber’s other portable charcoal grill, the Smokey Joe.
There are two versions of the Smokey Joe grills, Silver and Gold. The Silver is designed to be a table top grill and isn’t meant for portability. The Gold, pictured below beside the Jumbo, is designed for portability but it has two problems.
The most obvious problem with the Smokey Joe Gold is that, with a 14 inch cooking grate, it really is too small to be useful. The Gold is cute and good for cooking up a pack of hot dogs but just doesn’t have the size to handle a whole chicken or a slab of ribs.
The less obvious problem with the Gold are the inlet air vents. The Gold has two inlet air vents on opposite sides of the grill which are located ABOVE the charcoal grate. The placement of the air vents above the charcoal is a safety feature to prevent and stray embers from dropping through the grate and catching a campsite on fire. While this a a nice safety feature that does work, it makes controlling the temperature inside the grill challenging.
On every other Weber kettle the inlet air vent is on the bottom of the grill and air has to flow through the charcoal bed. On the Gold, with the vents on the side of the grill, air flow across the charcoal bed. The sideways air flow on the Gold makes it the most difficult Weber kettle to use.
The Jumbo is great straight out of the box but there are quite a few upgrades you can purchase to make the grill even better.
I strongly suggest getting a set of charcoal baskets (although you only need one) and a hinged grate. There are a ton of other great items like a specially designed table, GrillGrate panels, tool sets and even a rotisserie!
Here is a list of great Weber Jumbo Joe Accessories