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Weber Summit Kamado E6 and S6 Charcoal Grill Review

Weber Summit Kamado E6 Charcoal Grill

Introduced in 2016, the Weber Summit Charcoal Grills were the first major departure from George Stephen’s original charcoal kettle design in decades. They were bigger, badder and more versatile: super kettles with price tags to match. These premium, high-end cookers were the first charcoal burners to carry the Summit name that adorns Weber’s top of the line gas grills. They were at once superb high temp searing grills, even better than the original kettles, and effective dedicated low and slow indirect heat smokers reminiscent of kamados. We struggled for a category label. Were they kamados? Kamettles? Kettlelados? Here was our 2016 test model beside a classic red 22 inch Weber Kettle. That big box on the side of the Summit Charcoal Grill is a gas ignition so you can start your charcoal with flames.

Weber Summit Charcoal Grill with Kettle Grill

Grillers throughout the land quickly split into two passionate groups: those who absolutely loved these big black beauties and those who were appalled by the price, which was dramatically higher than any kettle they’d seen. The three legged model that we tested had an MSRP of $1,699.

Weber Summit Charcoal Grill

The cart model was $2,299.

Weber Summit Charcoal Grilling Center

It was a tale of the haves and have nots in more ways than one. Those who had ’em loved ’em. Pretty much the only complaints we’ve heard about the Summit Charcoal Grills, even to this day, were about price, and those came from people who didn’t own one, and often had never even seen one.

Weber listened. In 2020 they rolled out new versions retitled Summit Kamados with way lower prices. The new three legged Summit E6 Kamado is $1,049 and the cart mounted Summit S6 Kamado is $1,799, knocking about one third off the original price tags! That’s pretty amazing because the new models are essentially the same with some minor changes.

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What stayed the same

The new Summit Kamados, like their predecessors, are big steel kamados/grills. They are double walled and air insulated. Most kamados are heavy ceramic ovens with thick walls that hold temps steady for long durations, a blessing if you nail the desired temp, a curse if you overshoot because they take forever to cool down. With air insulation between the outer and inner walls, Summits hold temps well and they can switch gears much faster than ceramic or fiberglass insulated kamados, providing both agility and forgiveness when temperature changes are necessary.

Summit’s outer body is Weber’s signature black porcelain-enamel coated steel that has proven its durability for more than 60 years. The inner lining of the lower bowl is also black porcelain-enameled steel. It terminates, open-ended, at the lower coal grate position allowing hot air to be trapped between the outer and inner walls. The inner wall of the lid is aluminum and there is also an air gap between it and the outer wall. A gasket made of thin stainless steel thread woven into a braid runs along the lip of the lid and seals the top and bottom halves.

Weber Summit Kamado Lid
Weber Summit Kamado Lid

Though considerably lighter than a ceramic dome, Summit still employs a heavy duty spring assisted hinge making it easy to open and leave open.

Weber Summit Kamado Hinge

We love the movable charcoal grate. It can sit at the bottom directly above the air intake dampers for low and medium temperature cooking.

Weber Summit Kamado Charcoal Grate Low

Or be raised to four inches below the cook surface for super hot grilling.

Weber Summit Kamado Charcoal Grate High

With a couple of layers of briquets, you can have scorching infrared heat within 2 inches or less of your steak. We’ve long wished for Weber to provide a way of bringing the coal closer to the cook surface for improved searing in their kettle grills.

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A 24 inch diameter hinged stainless steel cooking grate allows you to easily add more charcoal and features Weber’s Original Gourmet Barbecue System which has a removable round center that can be replaced with various inserts like a pizza stone, griddle or wok.

Weber Summit Kamado Cooking Grate

Click here to learn why we love thin stainless steel rod grates better than any other, even cast iron.

An optional extender grate is available to increase capacity.

Weber Summit Kamado Extender Grate

A slick “Rapidfire” damper crests the dome. It functions like a standard Weber disc-shaped damper but it is on a hinge and can be flipped up and out of the way for maximum exhaust to increase temps rapidly in conjunction with the lower intake vents.

Weber Summit Kamado RapidFire Damper

Both models have Weber’s One-Touch Cleaning System with a snap on/off cup at the bottom that collects ash for easy removal. Metal sweeps inside the bottom bowl push ash through the lower air intake vents into the removable cup by moving a handle sideways from left to right.

Weber Summit Kamado One-Touch System

The sweeps double as air intake dampers and regulate oxygen to the charcoal fire by opening or covering the intake vents. This makes them an important tool for temperature control. Click here to master the art of using vents to control temperature.

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Controller port

A nice related feature that didn’t change and is still included on both the new E6 and S6 Kamados is a temperature controller port located at the bottom of the bowl right above the One-Touch System.

Weber Summit Kamado Controller Port

Temperature controllers like the popular BBQGuru allow you to select and control cooking temperature for charcoal and wood burning grills and smokers. They become your smoke babysitter for long cooks and are especially useful for ones that go overnight. On Summits you place a probe near the meat and close all the air intake vents with the One-Touch damper system. Pop out that small metal disc in the picture and insert a controller fan. Both the probe and fan are connected to a small control box. The probe talks to the controller which turns the fan on and off to regulate the oxygen supply to the coals as needed to maintain your set temp. They work great and are popular with kamado users.

Smoke to sear, Summit’s got you covered

Summit’s ability to move the fire farther from or closer to the cook surface is another important feature for temp control. With the charcoal grate in the lower position, Summit Kamados excel at smoking meats low and slow at 225°F. Check out this beauty we did overnight on our test model.

Weber Summit Charcoal Grill Pork Butt

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Open up the dampers a bit to get in the roasting range of around 350°F and Summit is similar to grilling with a standard Weber Kettle. Grilling with the charcoal grate in the upper position is also similar, only a lot hotter because the charcoal is much closer to the food.

The 24 inch wide cooking surface provides a surprising increase in capacity, and makes 2 zone setups really easy. In a 2 zone setup, you have one side of the grill that is hot and producing direct radiant heat, and the other side is producing no heat. Food on that side cooks by indirect convection heat. Click here to learn how these different cooking methods work.

Summits come with Weber’s Char-Baskets that isolate fuel to either side to create an indirect zone in the center.

Weber Summit Kamado Char-Baskets

We consider 2 zone cooking a crucial technique for outdoor chefs. Most round kamados are not well suited for 2 zone setups because their cooking surface is small and the charcoal is far from the food. Summit Kamados do it with the greatest of ease. Click here to learn more about the importance of 2 zone cooking. 

Reverse searing steak is one of our favorite 2 zone tests. With reverse sear you bring the internal meat temp up slowly over moderate convection heat, then finish it off over red hot radiant heat. Click here to learn how to make steakhouse quality steaks with reverse searing.

With the Summit charcoal grate up high, we piled charcoal on one side for hot direct radiant heat and left the opposite side empty for a warm indirect zone. We slowly cooked our 2 inch thick strip steaks to about 110°F internal temp over indirect heat, then seared the snot out of them over the red hot coal on the opposite side, flipping often to create an even dark brown crust. As eagerly anticipated, the blazing fire just 2 to 3 inches beneath the meat browned the steaks beautifully.

Weber Summit Kamado Steaks

That delicious brown crust is caused by the magical Maillard reaction. Click here to learn why brown is beautiful.

What changed

Kamado cookers typically use a ceramic disc between the charcoal and the cook surface to block direct radiant heat and even out temps for low and slow cooking, especially smoking. Weber opted to use stainless steel instead of ceramic and the new Summit Kamados are different from the previous models. The old Summit Charcoal grills had a double walled hinged stainless steel disc. The hinged sides allowed easy access to tend the fire and add charcoal.

Weber Summit Charcoal Grill Diffuser

The new, lower cost version is a one layer, one piece stainless steel disc with holes around the perimeter.

Weber Summit Kamado Diffuser

Weber says their surveys showed some owners didn’t like the hinges because greasy food drippings gunked them up and most didn’t use them anyway. Indeed, even kamado owners of modest skill quickly learn how to run low and slow smoking sessions overnight with little effort and a large kamado like Summit can already hold a good amount of fuel.

Gas ignition

Both of the old Summit Charcoal Grills had gas ignition. Now it is only included on the S6 Kamado Cart Model. A small burner is mounted inside the bowl just below the lower charcoal grate location. It runs off a 16 ounce propane cylinder located in an enclosure under the work table.

Weber Summit Kamado Gas Ignition

The ignitor can be used to fire up charcoal in either the lower or upper charcoal grate position, although it takes longer to get the fire going when using the upper charcoal grate.

What else is different for these new 2020 models? Not a lot really. But there are a few things worth pointing out.

Summit Kamado E6 Charcoal Grill changes

When the new three legged models first appeared they had wobbly legs. We know Weber was trying to reduce the price by cutting costs, but this change raised a few eyebrows including ours. The problem was that Weber eliminated the triangular frame at the base of the legs.

Weber Summit Kamado Wobbly Legs

Early adopters were disgruntled and Weber may have sensed a social media rebellion could ensue. They quickly called in the cavalry, updated all existing inventory to include the original triangular frame, and sent new parts to all owners. We’re surprised Weber allowed this to happen but it looks like they addressed the situation. Here’s the E6 with solid legs reinstated.

Weber Summit Kamado E6

On the upside, perhaps, the original Summit Charcoal Grills only had one locking caster and two large black plastic wheels. The new models have three locking casters.

Summit Kamado S6 Charcoal Grill changes

The previous cart model had Weber’s swing out charcoal bin and a more substantial lower shelf.

Weber Summit Charcoal Grilling Center

There was a slot under the lower storage rack on the right side to store the diffuser. The new model has a lighter lower shelf with no diffuser storage slot.

Weber Summit Kamado S6

And a charcoal bag that seals shut with velcro.

Weber Charcoal Bag

Conclusion

Is it a Kamettle? Is it a Kettalado? OK let’s just call it a Kamado dag nab it! And a hell of a good one at that. Weber knew they had a great product in 2016 but too many consumers just wouldn’t accept the price. 

How could the few, peripheral downgrades for 2020 reap such a large cost reduction? Was it overpriced to begin with as some claimed? People who bought them didn’t think so. Plus they were right in line with price tags on comparable models from other top kamado brands.

The new complaint from a shrinking number of detractors is that Weber cheapened the construction to lower the price. They didn’t do themselves any favors with the wobbly leg on the first batch of E6s but they dealt with the situation quickly. Like the first Summit Charcoal Grills, these new Summit Kamados aren’t made from tin cans in distant lands. They are high quality porcelain enamel coated steel manufactured by Weber in Illinois. We won’t speculate the how and why of what transpired behind closed doors at the castle in Palatine to bring the prices down so dramatically. From where I sit, all I see is a big win for our readers.

Iconic Weber Kettles are some of the most popular and respected backyard grills in the world. Those who’ve mastered a kettle can do everything on it from grill a steak to bake a cake and these Summit Kamados are kettles on steroids. If you like your Weber Kettle, you’ll love their Kamados. We give these babies our AmazingRibs.com Best Value Platinum Medals!

Warranty

  • Bowl, lid, and center ring – 10 years, rust through/burn through
  • One-Touch cleaning system – 5 years, rust through/burn through
  • Plastic components – 5 years, excluding fading or discoloration
  • All remaining parts – 2 years
  • Model:
    Summit Kamado Charcoal Grill
  • Item Price:
    $ 1,049
  • Where to buy (buying from this supplier supports this website):
  • Made in USA:
    yes
  • Review Method:
    Cooked On It
    We have hands-on experience testing this product. We have also gathered info from the manufacturer, owners and other reliable sources.
  • Primary Function:
    Grill, Smoker, Egg or Kamado Style, Combination Grill and Smoker
  • Fuel:
    Charcoal
  • Primary Capacity:
    452 square inches

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Published On: 9/20/2021 Last Modified: 9/23/2021

  • Max Good - Max Good, AmazingRibs.com's Vice President of Product Reviews & Keeper of the Flame, is the man in charge of finding the best products for the AmazingRibs.com Equipment Reviews section. Max bottles his own barbecue sauce recipes and now sells them around the country.


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