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Help in Choosing small, cheap Charcoal grill for testing

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    Help in Choosing small, cheap Charcoal grill for testing

    Waaay back when I first started grilling, it was always with a charcoal grill of some kind. The, for reasons lost in antiquity, I switched to gassers. Added pellet smokers and flat top griddles. Now I hanker to give charcoal a whirl, but I need to get an almost-throwaway to see if we (I mean SWMBO) like the flavor. I am leery because we tried a barrel cooker awhile ago and found that it produced a creosote taste, or maybe acrid taste, that was just unpalatable to us.

    I am browsed the Weber Smokey Joe and Smokey Joe Premium, the former at $34 and the latter at $59. I don't quite get the difference in the ash handling. The regular Joe has a tray underneath and the bottom vents at the bottom of the kettle, while the Premium has them where the handles attach with no bottom vents for ash.

    Are these two a good choice for my experiment with charcoal cooking? My MCS wants to get a WSCG, but the taste of the product from charcoal is the first hurtle before the "controls" are loosened for a new grill.

    Are there better options for well under $100? Thxs!!

    UPDATE: I found and ordered a Jumbo Joe instead of the Smokey Joe. I had a discount coupon plus veterans discount from Lowes. Figured 18” is better than 14” - a guy thing, I know. Thanks all for your help!
    Last edited by GolfGeezer; September 8, 2020, 05:14 PM.

    #2
    The Smokey Joe regular (used to be called the Silver) is fine. I’ve had a couple of them, they perform like Webers should. Ashes aren’t a problem, because you don’t load a whole lot of charcoal into it.

    Comment


    • GolfGeezer
      GolfGeezer commented
      Editing a comment
      Mosca Thanks! Looks like mini-MCS will strike soon.

    #3
    The Smokey Joe regular is the way to go. At $34 you can’t beat it. The Premium doesn’t work too well because of where the vents are located. My son has one and stopped using it because managing any sort of fire is nearly impossible.

    Comment


      #4
      I’ve seen very cheap charcoal grills, almost throwaway, for around $20-25 at my local HEB or at Wally World.

      Comment


        #5
        You might see if you can find a used 22" Weber kettle for $30 to $50 dollars. This way you can see how it is to cook on a full size charcoal grill. I've seen a few used kettles in pretty good shape for under $50.

        Comment


        • Jfrosty27
          Jfrosty27 commented
          Editing a comment
          That’s a good idea. I should have thought of that. Check letgo.com. I see these there all the time in my area.

        • Mosca
          Mosca commented
          Editing a comment
          I was thinking of suggesting this as well. But the small charcoal grill has its place, even when you have a larger grill. If you’re doing a couple hot dogs or burgers or steaks, it’s nice to have. If you’re taking a grill tailgating, it’s nice to have. A good solution is to eventually have both!

        • Steve R.
          Steve R. commented
          Editing a comment
          I agree, Mosca. My Smokey Joe is my go-to when I just need to grill 4 or 5 burgers. It only takes about half a chimney lighter of charcoal to do that, and I can just reuse those and not have to add any fresh ones the next time.

        #6
        I have the Smokey Joe Premium and it works fine for grilling. The only reason I went with the premium is that I don't like the idea of ashes falling freely out of the bottom in case of wind. But I'm sure either would be fine.

        Comment


          #7
          I found a 22” kettle grill at Home Depot 4-5 years ago, bought it on a whim because I wanted to cook paella over coals/fire. It was $30-40 and for the money, it was great! I still have it down at the lake and use it every time I go for grilling and such. I think it’s a MasterBuilt, I don’t see them at Home Depot anymore, as they have something else that’s similar but maybe a tad more $. I even had the SnS in it for the first couple of years until HD had $60 Weber Kettles available.....

          But, if you want cheap and functional, something like that should work for you.

          Comment


            #8
            You can also check HD, Target, Walmart for 18 or 22” kettles, they sometimes clearance them after Labor Day. If you found a clearance model, you might be able to recoup most of your cost next spring on it.
            Last edited by glitchy; September 8, 2020, 12:28 PM.

            Comment


              #9
              I'm on my third WSJ in over 25 years. You can't go wrong with this little guy.

              Before putting it together swap out the plated steel hardware with stainless. Usually, the first thing to fail is the aluminum ash catcher due to corrosion after years of being outside.

              Hot ashes falling into the catcher and blowing around is a non-issue. If you use quality fuel like Kingsford only some dead ash will come out.

              You'll want to replace the grates with aftermarket stainless eventually, but I'd really recommend adding a set of GrillGrates. There, I just made you spend more money.

              Originally posted by GolfGeezer View Post
              the taste of the product from charcoal is the first hurtle before the "controls" are loosened for a new grill.
              The charcoal taste comes from cooking with fuel that has not completely ashed over. Use a compact Weber chimney starter and don't dump it until the top coals have started to turn white and then give it about 5-10 minutes to heat up the grate and burn off any residual grease from the last cook.

              Comment


              • GolfGeezer
                GolfGeezer commented
                Editing a comment
                N227GB I am hoping that the problem we had with the barrel cooker's food taste was due to that design's method of only partially lighting the coals and then hanging the meat over the light/unlit coals. With the kettle design, a fully light stack for direct or indirect will, I hope, produce a very good taste profile for us. Thxs for your thoughts!

              #10
              Thanks for all the input. The reason for the small footprint is because we have very limited space. If the small cooks I want to do to "test" the flavors pass the SWMBO's acceptance review, I'll then be looking at the WSCG. That will mean letting go/finding a home for one of the 3 cookers I already have. Given the WSCG's low-n-slow and grill capabilities, the MAK may be on the chopping block (she won't eat anything off the MAK). That is unless I can whine, beg, plead, cry, whine some more, and any other steps necessary to allow a 4th cooker on the patio....

              Comment


              • glitchy
                glitchy commented
                Editing a comment
                Sorry, just realized your 'old' Camp Chef as in you probably don't have it anymore.

              • GolfGeezer
                GolfGeezer commented
                Editing a comment
                glitchy I do many outside cooks on my Hestan gasser which has a strong infrared burner for searing - chicken, steaks, burgers, dogs, etc. I'm not very enamored with the Hestan design, but at the price I paid, it is going to be around awhile. as for pellets, I've done a number of smokes with 100% cherry, 100% apple, CookinPellets perfect mix, 100% oak, sugar maple, wine barrel oak, etc. She just doesn't like the food taste from smoked products. Sigh.

              • glitchy
                glitchy commented
                Editing a comment
                GolfGeezer I had never heard of Hestan, so had to look it up. That's a bummer that you don't love it for that class of grill. Hopefully, she likes the charcoal. I'd probably try a couple brands of briquettes first if she doesn't like smoke that much before venturing into lump.

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