A compact porcelain smoker and high quality charcoal grill in one
While the Kamado Joe has been my favorite since I bought it about 6 years ago, the Junior was a welcome addition to my backyard. I personally don’t mind waiting on charcoal for cooking a steak and always have my propane grill at the ready whenever I am too short on time.
However, I was intrigued with the idea of a more compact version since it can be a nuisance sometimes to spark up the Joe when I am just throwing on a couple of small steaks for my wife and I. My assumption with the smaller Joe Jr was that I would require less charcoal and possibly even have a quicker fire. And I was proven right.
I purchased mine in 2019 and this grill/smoker has turned out to be not only versatile, but convenient as well. Of course it takes up less space and uses less fuel. But I did not realize I could get a smoker of this quality at such a small size.
One of the biggest benefits to me is that I now have an overflow. Sometimes I am smoking a pork Butt on the bigger Kamado but still want to grill wings for an appetizer for midday. This gives me alternatives in planning for a cook out. Having both the Jr and regular may seem like overkill to some, but it works perfect for me.
What you should know before buying a Joe Jr
I have seen lots of people out there talking about the features of this small grill and while most I agree with, let me point out some things to consider. These are not negatives. I just thin a well informed purchase is the best people can ask for.
I see videos and recommendations of using this as a travelling grill. Kamado Joe’s are known for being heavy and even though the Joe is light enough and can be carried, it is still a struggle. Two people can manage fairly easily. My issue is with travel. This is a porcelain grill and susceptible to vibrations.
I do not recommend regularly travelling and carting it around. But a rare occasion wouldn’t be out of the question. Just be sure that you have it firmly secured in your vehicle and sitting on something soft, at least a blanket, to keep vibration and jarring movement down to a minimum.
While I would say you can smoke anything on the Kamado Joe Jr, your limitation becomes size. A full brisket just won’t fit. There is enough height for a Boston Butt, but you can run out of room very quickly for many cuts of meat such as racks of ribs. Again, great grill and smoker, but not if you are serving a larger group or family.
The smaller size also means there is less room for fuel. You can get a decently long smoke out of it, but for an extended cook like the think end of the brisket, you may find yourself about 7 hours in having to remove the meat, rack, deflector plates and drip pan if you use one to add more charcoal. I have done it, but I would not recommend it. Since I have the luxury of the larger Joe, I do not attempt a cook like that on the Jr. But if this is your only smoker, just be mindful of this.