We tried Weber’s smallest and cheapest BBQ - here's why it might be their best

Don’t let a tiny garden exclude you from having fun cooking al fresco this summer.

Weber BBQ
(Image credit: Future/Weber)
Ideal Home Verdict

I enjoyed barbecuing on the Weber Smokey Joe Charcoal Barbecue 37cm. It’s a great compact version of the iconic Weber kettle BBQs. It’s easy to use and ideal for small gardens, camping and caravanning. But the lack of a carry handle, or ability to seal the lid shut means it’s not one for trips to the park.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Short legs raise it off the ground

  • +

    Excellent quality

  • +

    Spacious cooking grate for its size

  • +

    Easy to assemble

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    A bit too big to be portable

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If you’ve got a small garden or an inner city size backyard, it can be a struggle to fit in one of the best BBQs. And we all know that the disposable ones are terrible. So if you want to enjoy some al fresco cooking this summer, you’ll be pleased to know there’s an inbetween option.

The Smokey Joe 37cm is Weber’s smallest and cheapest charcoal BBQ. It costs just over £80, and if you’re thinking that’s a bit steep for a compact BBQ, I’ve reviewed some of the best portable BBQs and they can be surprisingly pricey in comparison.

I tried this BBQ during a wet and windy April, but thankfully managed to dash outside during some short lived sunny spells to give it a go. And having reviewed the Weber Original Kettle last year, I’d say this small version is a good alternative for when your space is compromised.

Weber Smokey Joe Charcoal Barbecue 37cm product specs

Weber BBQ

(Image credit: Future/Weber)
  • Fuel type: charcoal
  • Materials: porcelain enamelled lid and bowl
  • Dimensions: 43 x 36 x 37cm 
  • Cooking area diameter: 35cm 
  • Weight: 4.27kg

Unboxing, setting up and first impressions

The Weber Smokey Joe 37cm comes out of the box in parts. But all you really have to do is screw the legs to the base and the handle onto the lid. I had it fully assembled in under 10 minutes.

Inside the base sits the ‘catch pan’, it collects any ash that falls through the fuel grate that sits above it. Then, at the very top is your cooking grate. A damper on the top of the lid as well as two on the sides, allow you to control air flow through the BBQ.

In the box, there was also a big plastic charcoal cup for scooping charcoal out of a bag. It feels a bit unnecessary for a small BBQ and I’m not sure I’ll be using it.

The lid has a really sturdy handle, but unlike on some of the bigger Weber BBQ’s, there’s no hook on it to attach it to the side of the BBQ. So when not in position as a lid, I found I just had to put it on the floor.

When reviewing the Weber Original Kettle last year, I barbecued a whole chicken. However, I won’t be doing that on its little sibling, because the lid isn’t domed enough to accommodate the height of a whole chicken. 

I’m impressed with the size of the cooking grate though. Given that this is essentially a compact BBQ, it looks really spacious and depending on what you’re cooking, there’s easily enough space to feed four.

It’s worth pointing out that this isn’t a BBQ I’d take to the beach or the park since there’s not a carry handle or a way of locking the lid closed for transportation.

What is it like to use?

The fuel grate is the perfect size to make use of one of those conveniently packaged instant light bags of charcoal. I like them because they’re mess free and easy to light but they often don’t cut it if you have a bigger BBQ.

Testing Weber BBQ at home

(Image credit: Future)

The first BBQ I had was a simple one of sausages and halloumi slices. I cooked up nine sausages and a whole block of halloumi sliced, and there was room to spare. Even better, I managed to cook the sausages all the way through without burning them on the outside.

Testing Weber BBQ at home

(Image credit: Future)

The cooking grate left appealing bar marks on the sausages. Overall it was a successful BBQ. Though the height of the BBQ meant I either needed to squat down at it, or sit on a camping chair.

Testing Weber BBQ

(Image credit: Future)

I checked the grass afterwards and it wasn’t scorched, so if you have an old table that you’re comfortable to place it on, then it shouldn’t get burnt. Although I would urge caution, it’s probably safest to use it on the ground, and that’s what I did for the next two BBQ’s.

Next time, I barbecued four chicken thighs alongside a couple of corn on the cobs. To make sure the chicken cooked all the way through and to lock in that deep smokey flavour, I tried to cook with the lid on this time. Plus, it was a tad blustery, so keeping the lid on helped to keep the heat contained.

I played around with the two side dampers, but they got hot, so I twisted them using my BBQ tongs. Getting the side dampers and the one on the lid in the correct position can maximise the heat inside, without the coals going out.

I wouldn’t say I mastered it, the wind made it unpredictable. Nevertheless, it held the heat well and the chicken thighs cooked nicely as did the corn, neither became over cooked or burnt before the inside was done, so that’s a win in my book.

Finally, I barbecued spicy beef skewers and some asparagus spears. I placed the asparagus at right angles to the bars on the grate, but when I was clumsily turning them, a couple slipped down between the bars. Luckily the bars are quite close together, so the fattest part of the asparagus didn’t slip through, and I was able to rescue them.

The skewers cooked nicely and yet again I was surprised at how much space there was on the grill. When I first put the BBQ together I wondered if the thin legs would be supportive enough. But I’m pleased to report that the BBQ always felt sturdy including on an uneven lawn.


To say I cleaned it would be a lie, does anyone really clean a charcoal BBQ? I just allowed the heat from the BBQ to burn off the food residues left on the grill from the previous BBQ.

The fuel grate that holds the charcoal has quite small gaps, so only tiny pieces of coal and the ash make their way through to the ash area below. Anything that didn’t drop through, I left on the grate as extra fuel for the next BBQ.

Unlike many of the bigger Weber BBQ’s there are no holes in the base to allow the ash to drop out. Instead you have to lift out the fuel grate to access the ash. This can be a bit messy but I found I didn’t need to empty the ash every time.

The ash collects on a ‘catch pan’ that presumably you’re supposed to be able to lift out, but I struggled to get it out and ended up upending the BBQ instead. The BBQ is thankfully small enough to do this without it being a hassle.

How does it compare to other BBQs?

If you want a compact BBQ that’s more portable, the George Foreman On-The-Go Portable Charcoal BBQ is currently top of our best portable BBQs list. Not only does the design make it perfect for trips to the park or the beach, but it’s also really affordable. It has a spacious cooking grill and is a great all-rounder.

For those looking for a tall BBQ you can stand at, the Weber Original Kettle is worth considering. It’s a bit bigger than the compact Smokey Joe in this review, but it’s not massive and will still suit small-to-medium size gardens. There’s ample space to cook for four people, or even BBQ a whole chicken.

Should you buy the Weber Smokey Joe Charcoal Barbecue 37cm?

If you want a well built BBQ that can feed up to four people and doesn’t require its own shed over winter, then this could be the one for you. It’s made with the same great quality materials as a bigger Weber BBQ, but it’s just a neat and compact alternative.

I had great success cooking on this BBQ. It’s the ideal size to make the most out of an instant light bag of charcoal. And the cooking grate is surprisingly spacious, plenty big enough to cook burgers and bangers for four people.

Thanks to the legs, any hot parts are off the ground, so it’ll satisfy campsites who want to avoid scorched grass, making it a great choice for camping and caravanning. What’s more, it’s the ideal height for leisurely cooking from the comfort of a camping chair. But it’s not the kind of portable BBQ you can take to the park or beach, because there’s no way to keep the lid locked shut to cleanly and safely transport it back home.

Helen McCue
Freelance Reviewer

 After completing a Home Economics degree, Helen went on to work for the Good Housekeeping Institute and has been reviewing home appliances ever since. She lives in a small village in Buckinghamshire in the UK.