google.com, pub-3283090343984743, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 Camp Chef Woodwind 2023 Facelift Pellet Grill Review
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Camp Chef Woodwind 2023 Facelift Pellet Grill Review

The Camp Chef Woodwind has been one of our most recommended pellet grills over the years so we were excited when they launched the Woodwind Pro.

In our Woodwind Pro review we loved the addition of the Smoke Box, and beefed-up construction quality, but were worried that the asking price would put the Pro out of reach for many.

So we were happy when Camp Chef announced a new facelift of the original Woodwind, with some nice improvements.

I’ve been cooking on the new Woodwind over the last few months and in this review, I’ll be sharing what’s new, if it’s worth buying or if you should just upgrade to the pro.

Camp Chef sent me this grill for free in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Camp Chef Woodwind overview & first impressions

The Woodwind is available in two sizes. You can get the mid-sized 24″ model, which comes with a combined 811 square inches of cooking surface, or spend a little extra and get the 36″ model, which will give you 1236 square inches to play with.

For this review, we went with the 24, which I think will be the model most people will go for.

Both models get a facelift with a black lid and all stainless-steel body.

The digital PID controller on the Woodwind is one of the best out of any pellet grill we’ve tested. Setting your grill temperature is easy, but the more interesting feature is the option to set your smoke level.


Smoke Box

Let’s get the main specs out of the way, run through my first impressions, and then get stuck into my experience cooking on the Woodwind.

Camp Chef Woodwind 24 Specifications

Cooking Area811 sq in (429 lower rack + 382 upper rack)
Pellet Hopper Capacity22 lbs
Temp Range160º F – 500ºF (up to 650° with direct flame grilling)
Shelves & StorageTwo side shelves, one front shelf
Temp ProbesFour meat probes
ControlerColor screen PID controller
WiFi/AppYes
ConstructionStainless steel
Warranty3 years
PriceCheck latest price

The Woodwind uses a slide and grill technology that is similar to what Pit Boss offers with their pellet grills.

This lets you create a high heat sear zone by exposing the direct flame.

I measured 650-700°F with the grill set on high and using direct flame mode.

This worked better than I expected, but I was much more excited by the promised searing capabilities of the SideKick attachment.

I’ll go through all my experiences using that attachment later in the review, but for now, I’ll just say I highly recommend getting it.

When you opt for the sidekick attachment, you do have to give up some prep area. I’ll make that trade every time, but I did want to point that out. You can get an optional front shelf attachment, which is easy to install and adds some much-needed prep area.

What I like:

  • Ash Cleanout System – By far the easiest pellet grill to clean out of the many I’ve tested.
  • Smoke Level Adjustability – You can adjust the level of smoke which is great when smoking low and slow
  • Cooking Surface – the cooking surface was deeper than I’m used to and allowed plenty of room for smoking. Briskets and pork shoulders had plenty of room.
  • Accessory options – You can add some great functionality to this grill including the sidekick and front shelf.
  • Direct Flame Slider Rod – Gives you decent searing capability if you decide not to get the sidekick add-on.
  • Temp Probes – This is the only pellet grill I’ve seen that comes with 4 temp probes. Most grills only give you 1 or 2 temp probes.

What I don’t like:

  • No cabinet door – You get a storage shelf, but there’s no door to keep things protected from the elements.
  • Prep area – If you go for the SideKick, there is hardly any prep area unless you purchase the front shelf.f While I don’t prep at the grill, having some space for moving things on/off the grill is helpful.
Camp Chef Woodwind 24
4.6
The Camp Chef Woodwind is a feature-packed pellet grill and smoker. The design makes it easy to adjust the smoke level, easy to manage your cook with the versatile upper rack system, and easy to clean up after the cooking is done.
Pros:
  • Adjustable smoke levels
  • Sidekick adds versatility
  • Ash cleanout system
Cons:
  • No cabinet door
CHECK CAMP CHEF PRICE CHECK AMAZON PRICE

Unboxing and setup

The Woodwind grill was packaged very tightly using plenty of cardboard, styrofoam, and clear plastic. You can scroll through the photos I took to see what the assembly process is like.

All bare metal was coated well with an anti-corrosion coating. All parts appeared to be protected quite well.

I completed the entire assembly in about 45 minutes using mostly hand tools and, occasionally, a cordless drill with a Phillips bit. (This probably would have taken 30 minutes, but, I accidentally put the legs on backward and had to fix that.

Pro tip: the shorter legs go opposite of the firebox and is where you attach the wheels.

Camp Chef also include a recipe guide and Woodwind booklet.

Build Quality

All painted parts have thorough and smooth coatings.

Overall, the Woodwind proved to be good quality. My only issue when installing the grill, was one of the screws to attach the side shelf didn’t screw in flush and it’s not as secure as it should be. It’s fine but, I will eventually replace that screw so the shelf is firm.

The grill comes with rubberized wheels, similar to what you would find on rollerblades, but only on one side. The grill did feel a bit heavy, so I wouldn’t recommend moving it a ton but, if you need to, the wheels make a big difference.


Camp Chef Woodwind Pro

Most of the grill is made of painted steel. The legs and barrel of the grill are a little thicker steel and provide a sturdy foundation.

The pellet hopper lid is a thin steel, as expected, and as is common with most pellet grills. There’s also a narrow window on the front side of the hopper so you can keep an eye on your pellet level without opening the lid.

Cooking on the Camp Chef Woodwind

Before writing this review, I put the Woodwind through a couple of cooks to really test it out. Here are my observations after a few months of regular use.

I love it! When I first put the grill together I was worried that it might be too small because it didn’t seem very wide and I felt like I would run into space issues when smoking a brisket or cooking multiple items at once.

Upon opening the lid and especially after my first few cooks, there is plenty of grill space. The grill has more depth to it than I’ve experienced on any other grill and it really comes in handy.

On some of the other smokers I own, two pork butts would have been the max I could fit.


pellet grills

On the Woodwind, I could easily fit 3-4 pork butts on the lower rack and still have the upper rack to use. Spacing is obviously important, especially when cooking for a large crowd or cooking large meats and the Camp Chef Woodwin had plenty.

I also enjoyed playing with the ‘Smoke Level’ capability. Running on levels 1-10 this allows you to add more smoke to your cook if desired. One knock that pellet grills typically get is that they don’t have as strong of a smoke flavor

While I don’t think the ‘Smoke Level’ bridges that gap completely, it certainly took a big step forward.

For my pulled pork, I ran a smoke level of 7 for the first 3 hours before dialing it down as I finished the cook. Running a higher smoke level, temp swings can occur but, with that, the amount of smoke increases more. A lower smoke level = steady temps.

Running a high smoke level at the beginning gave me a chance to add smoke flavor while the bark was developing and then see out the rest of the cook at a steady temp. It was one of the best pulled porks I’ve ever made.

Another feature I really loved, is the ash clean out system. With the slide of the rod that empties the ash right into a “coffee cup” cleaning a pellet grill has never been easier. Normally when running a longer cook like pulled pork, you need to remove the innards of the grill and use a shop vac to clean out all the ash. With the ash clean out system, you can directly empty the ash into the “coffee can” and empty it.

I would still recommend a shop vac for deeper cleaning but, you will need to do this less frequently than a traditional pellet smoker, and that is a win in my book.

Ease of operation

This is the reason why you buy a pellet grill to begin with, and I’m pleased to say the Camp Chef Woodwind did not disappoint.

Just turn it on, set the temp using the dial, set the “smoke level”, and the grill will do the rest.


pellet grills

I found the temp probe design simple but effective. It allows the probes to be used without smoke and heat escaping from a large gap in the lid and closes off the hole when not in use)

Best of all, the phone app will notify you when the grill reaches the set desired temperature.

The slider rods and locking plates for the pellet chute, ash cleanout, and direct flame grilling are well designed.

The slider rod on the pellet chute opens a slot located in the bottom of the hopper. When you pull the rod, the slot opens and allows pellets to drop if you want to swap wood type or remove them for storage.


Camp Chef Woodwind Pro

The ash cleanout feature is innovative making it the easiest to clean pellet grill I have tested to date. The slider rod attaches to the a flat plate below the burn pot. When the slider rod is pulled, it moves the plate and drops burnt pot ash into the cleanout cup. The locking plates prevent the slider rods from moving accidentally while the grill is in use.

The versatile upper rack system is also grilling gold. The two half-rack systems can be placed side by side to be used as a full rack or one rack can be slid under the other to open up access to more of the grilling area. I found this to be very useful.

The grill controller also has a feed function that I found to be very useful. The feed function allows the user to feed pellets without the igniter element being activated. This is great for not only feeding pellets initially through the auger system but also for clearing remaining pellets from the auger to prevent them from swelling and causing an auger jam.

Overall grilling performance

Getting the result you desire is easy on the Woodwind. You can set the grill temp with the turn of a knob.

And you can go from indirect flame mode to direct flame grilling with just the pull of a handle. I tested the grill using both methods and yielded pleasant results.

The steaks cooked below were done without using the direct flame. The grill was hot enough to get sear marks, but I would recommend using the slide system for searing.


Camp Chef Woodwind Pro

Overall smoking performance

I was extremely pleased with the smoking ability of the Woodwind. Camp Chef takes it to the next level with the flexibility to adjust the smoke level from 1-10.

So, you can really dial in the level of smoke you prefer.


Camp Chef Woodwind Pro

pellet grills

In my testing I found that increasing the smoke level did somewhat increase the temperature

What are the storage and prep areas like?

The Woodwind does provide a little bit of prep area in the form of a shelf, but that real estate is lost if you add the SideKick or sear box.

In my case, I had the SideKick installed. So I lost this area. You can still balance a plate or chopping board on it when not in use though.


pellet grills

There is a little bit of prep area on top of the pellet hopper, but it is minimal.

This means there are also no hangers for grill utensils, which to me, is disappointing. There is a shelf underneath the grill that could be used for storing a bag of pellets.

Like I mentioned in the intro, Camp Chef does offer an add-on front shelf for the Woodwind for additional prep area.

Camp Chef Pellet Grill Front Shelf

Add a convenient front shelf to your 24" Camp Chef pellet grill for more prep area. The shelf can be folded down when not in use.

Check latest price

How good is the temp accuracy & consistency?

While smoking at low temperatures, the accuracy seems to be pretty close.

But in my tests, the Woodwind appeared to be off quite a bit as the temps increase toward grilling temperatures. On the plus side, the grill was fairly consistent once it reached its set temperature.

I’ve included more detailed testing details in a section below.

How useful is the App?

The Camp Chef App has a lot of functionality, allowing the user to change the temp and smoke level on the fly, set up to four meat probe doneness temperatures, and shut down the grill.

The probes can also be named in the App.

The App has WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities.


pellet grills

With all that said, this App is not without its issues either. I found the App randomly lost connection on a regular basis. It’s easy to get it connected again, but it is a little aggravating.

However, this seems to be a problem that many pellet grill manufacturers tend to struggle with when it comes to their Apps.

Interestingly there seems to be a big gap in performance between Apple and Android users as the Camp Chef app rates an impressive 4.3/5 on the Apple App Store and a disappointing 1.8/5 on the Google Play store.

It looks like the App was last updated on July 16th 2020, so its good to see Camp Chef are actively improving the experience.

Ease of cleaning

Here is where the Woodwind shines. The people at Camp Chef put enough forethought into their grills to come up with a far superior way to clean out the ash left in the burn pot.


Smoke Box

The quick cleanout “coffee can” and sliding rod/base plate mechanism makes it super easy to clean the grill after use. Most other pellet grills require a shop vac.


camp-chef-clean

Grill grate performance & quality

Everyone has their preference when it comes to grate material, as do I. These grates left me split down the middle.

While I was not super excited about their ability to leave grill marks, the porcelain coated finish does allow the food to release with ease.


pellet grills

I would have also preferred if the diameter of the bars been a little larger, but being fair, that still did a fine job.

Is the SideKick worth it?

All pellet grill manufacturers love to wax lyrical about how versatile their grills are.

Despite claims of “6 in 1 cooking”, the truth is most pellet grills make far better smokers than grills due to their inability to sear at high enough temperatures.

The slide and sear is one option to get around this limitation, but Camp Chef has come up with a clever attachment that goes a step further.

The Sidekick is essentially a propane burner that attaches where the prep shelf would normally be.

The Sidekick replaces the popular Sear Box attachment. While the sear box was a dedicated sear station, the Sidekick gives you more versatility:

  • Use the burner to warm sauce or boil water for vegetables or pasta.
  • Use the included steel griddle to fry bacon, onions, eggs, or anything you wouldn’t want on the main grill.
  • Add extra add-ons like the grill box

If you are going to get the Woodwind, spend the extra and opt for the Sidekick.


pellet grills

It is worth the extra! Yes, it runs off of propane and it doesn’t disappoint. It put out 30,000 BTUs of heat and IT IS NOTICEABLE.

I cooked breakfast on the included heavy duty griddle. I also tested it out by searing some steaks on it using the Searl Box. Believe me when I say this beast of a burner can be used to heat up anything, including a stock pot.

I was pleasantly surprised by the usefulness of the grill box when used with the Sidekick.

The grates are made of enamel coated cast iron and very sturdy. A little goes a long way when it comes to heat from the Sidekick.


Smoke Box

I accidentally turned it up too high and left it for only a few minutes. When I returned, the temp gauge was maxed out. I measured the temp with my IR temp gun at almost 1100°F! Needless to say, I didn’t make that mistake again.

You can purchase the Woodwind and sidekick as a package, or buy it on its own.

Camp Chef Sidekick Grill Accessory

The propane powered 28,000 BTU single burner attaches to most Camp Chef pellet grills, allowing you to griddle, grill, sear and boil.

Check Latest Price

Besides the Sidekick and Grill Box, Camp chef offer a range of other accessories.

BBQ Tool Set- These accessories, while nothing exotic or exciting, are built sturdy to last for years of grilling. If you can pick these up for a reasonable price, go for it, especially if you can use them for camping gear also.
Grill Cover- I consider a grill cover a must-have for pellet grills to protect the electronics. The Woodwind grill cover is made of a tough material that fits snugly over the grill to keep your prized possession well preserved. From the grill covers I have tested, this is one of the strong ones.

Testing the Woodwind

I used my trusty ThermoWorks Signals to test the real temperature of the Woodwind at different locations on the grill.


Camp Chef Woodwind Pro

Time to come up to temp

After initial startup, it takes about 11 minutes to reach 225°F. For grilling, it will take you a little longer, about 18-21 minutes for 450°F.

Temperature accuracy test

Grill SettingLeftMiddleRight
225°F (smoke level 1229°F233°F252°F
225°F (smoke level 10)235°F239°F258°F
450°F510°F550°F640+°F

There is a noticeable temp variance between the left, middle, and right side of the grill.


Smoke Box

These numbers aren’t the end of the world, but are helpful to know and understand as to how to use the grill. There must be a natural pull of heat toward the right side of the grill, even when smoking low and slow. It could be possible that my grill was not quite level, but I don’t believe this to be the case

  • At lower temps, actual gill temp accuracy was off by 0~8° in the middle of the grill
  • At high temps, actual gill temp accuracy range was 0~100° off in the middle of the grill

I’m a little surprised by these numbers at higher temps. I would have expected them to be a little closer. A user would need to be aware of this while grilling so they do not overcook their food.

Although the accuracy is off at times, I will note that the temperature consistency is spot on. There is very little swing in temperature once the grill gets to the set temperature.

Wood pellet usage per hour

For these tests, I used Camp Chef premium hardwood pellets but I would assume similar performance with other pellets.

The tests were conducted on an 80°F day.


Smoke Box
  • Average consumption rate at 225°F: ~¾ lb per hour
  • Average consumption rate at 500°F: ~1¾ – 2 lb per hour

I’m happy with these results, although you should expect worse efficiency with the larger Woodwind or if cooking in cold weather.

Alternatives to consider

The $800-$1000 pellet grill price range is crowded with competition. Check out our full guide to pellet grills for a comprehensive list, and here are a few of the main Woodwind alternatives worth considering.

Weber SmokeFire


Weber SmokeFire Pellet Grill Review

We hoped Weber‘s first entry into the competitive pellet grill market would be a hit.

The SmokeFire is available in two sizes. The EX4, which offers 672 square inches, and the EX6 which comes with 1008 square inches of cooking space.

That puts the Woodwind 24 right in the middle.

The famous grill manufacturer promised some innovations to allow for a better grilling experience.

A rushed release led to a number of problems and a flood of bad early reviews.

Weber has managed to address most of the big issues, and all the food we cooked tasted excellent.

Oklahoma Joe’s Rider 1200 DLX

[TAG50]

If WiFi isn’t important to you, but you still want a pellet grill that can sear like a champ, you should look at the Rider 1200 DLX from Oklahoma Joe’s

We reviewed the second generation of the Rider, which comes with an improved PID controller and dual temperature sensors in the cooking chamber. Something we don’t often see.

The sear plate on this grill is one of the best we’ve seen, getting hot enough for a really good sear.


Oklahoma Joe's Rider DLX 1200 searing zone with tri tip steak
The searing zone on the Rider 1200 DLX pellet grill

While you don’t get WiFi, you do have some nice quality of life features like an ash catcher, two grease drain buckets, plenty of shelf space and great wheels.

Should you buy the Camp Chef Woodwind?

By now it should be clear that I like the Woodwind.

Yes, the temp accuracy of the grill is a bit off and the temp variation can be high from one side of the grill to the other, but the more pellet grills I test, the more I am seeing similar results.

I cooked chicken quarters, wings, chuck roast, Boston Butt, New York Strips, pork chops, and cheeseburgers without overcooking or drying anything out. Everything turned out juicy with a nice smoky flavor.


Camp Chef Woodwind Pro

If you are looking for a pellet grill/smoker that is easy to use, easy to clean and maintain, and is going to last for years then you should give this grill a hard look.

You’ll be able to cook great food with minimal effort with the base model.

The Woodwind really comes into its own when you combine it with the SideKick attachment

Camp Chef offers a large range of accessories and options for the Woodwind line.

If the temperature accuracy and variance concern you greatly, I would look toward a different option.

Camp Chef Woodwind 24
4.6
Pros:
  • Adjustable smoke levels
  • Sidekick adds versatility
  • Ash cleanout system
Cons:
  • No cabinet door
CHECK CAMP CHEF PRICE CHECK AMAZON PRICE

As always, feel free to ask questions in the comment form below if there’s something that you want to know about this grill. Reader feedback is always welcome too!


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https://manstuffnews.com/backyard-grilling/beef-shank