posted September 29, 2022
Woodwind Pro Review
Backyard BBQ Heroes! Today, I have a special treat for you. We’re taking a look at the brand new Woodwind Pro from Camp Chef! The Woodwind Pro is aiming to change the pellet grill game forever. How well does it work? Is it just a gimmick? Well, once again, we’re here to find out. Let’s hop right in.
Camp Chef sent us this grill for testing and review purposes; however, all opinions are our own.
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Purchase directly from Camp Chef here.
Camp Chef Woodwind Pro Features
Check out the great features of the Camp Chef Woodwind Pro pellet grill:
- Smoke Box for added flavor
- WiFi connected Gen 2 PID controller with a full-color screen
- Customizable Smoke Levels on the controller
- Fan Only mode
- 22lb Hopper
- Down and Out Ventilation system
- 160°F – 500°F Temperature Range
- Pellet Hopper Cleanout
- Stainless Steel Components
- Ash Cleanout system
The Woodwind Pro
Have you ever wished your pellet grill put just a bit more smoke flavor into your BBQ? That is exactly the situation Camp Chef is seeking to remedy with this redesigned version of their Woodwind 24″ pellet grill.
The Woodwind Pro keeps a ton of the DNA from Papa Woodwind. The 22lb hopper, Wi-Fi PID controller with adjustable smoke levels, the ash clean out system, pellet hopper clean out system, bottle opener, and the classic Woodwind barrel shape are here to stay. The Sidekick and all of the 14″ accessories still fit as well. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
While the Woodwind was offered in 24, 30, and 36 inch varieties, Camp Chef is only offering the Woodwind Pro in 24″ and 36″ lengths. This is somewhat of a bummer to me, as I felt like that 30″ size was perfect for the average family that cooks for friends on the weekends and was my model of choice.
Click here to read our review on the original Woodwind! That is where the similarities end though, and we have a few key differences to discuss.
First and foremost, let’s start with the exterior differences. Camp Chef has redesigned the leg system on the Woodwind Pro, and I couldn’t be any happier about it. The new legs and bottom shelf gives this grill a level of stability the old Woodwind just didn’t quite have. It’s hard to see in the photo above, but Camp Chef also included four locking casters that make this grill super easy to roll around your patio. Overall, this grill has a higher build quality than the previous Woodwind models.
Moving slightly upward you’ll see one difference I consider a major one. Camp Chef has moved away from the powder coated steel body of the classic Woodwind and built the new Woodwind Pro barrel out of stainless steel. It makes the grill look and feel much more premium over the older model.
I know there’s more. The eagle-eyed reader has definitely noticed that odd lever and drawer smack dab in the middle of the stainless steel body, but just hang tight. We’ll talk about that more in a bit.
Around the back side of the grill is honestly one of the most interesting improvements Camp Chef has made. In lieu of a chimney, the Pro features two adjustable exhaust dampers to go with their Down and Out exhaust system. If it’s really hot outside, open these bad boys up to keep that air moving. Cold? Close them down to help hold in that heat.
Alright, here we are! Time to talk about the real meat ‘n potatoes of the Woodwind Pro. In the photo above, you can see the same standard rack setup made its way over from the Woodwind, but that’s about it.
Look closely at the edges of the barrel. You see it? Camp Chef has finally included a lid gasket! This makes the lid seal much nicer than before and helps keep all of that valuable brisket weather on the inside, not the outside. Along with that, the lid has been upgraded as well. The Woodwind Pro now features an insulated, double-walled lid! Unfortunately, they didn’t double-wall the entire cook chamber, but I don’t really think that’s necessary. Camp Chef’s controller is robust enough to make up for differences in outside temperature and will keep a steady temperature in really cold weather, you’ll just run through a bit more fuel to do it. With the lid and gasket, you’ll still burn through less fuel with the Woodwind Pro than in a similar situation on the standard Woodwind.
It’s hard to see, but the drip tray is now one solid piece, a welcome change to many users of the older Woodwind. Gone are the days of the Slide and Grill feature on the Woodwind Pro. This may disappoint some, but in my experience, Slide and Grill caused more grease fires than it was worth and I’d end up covering the louvers in the drip tray with foil for easy cleanup anyway.
The Woodwind Pro Smoke Box
Admit it. The real reason you’re here is to check out the smoke box. I’ve heard a lot of people say it’s an incredible addition to the grill; an absolute game-changer, and a few people call it a “gimmick machine.”
I’ll just come right out and say it. There are no gimmicks here, folks.
This right here is Camp Chef’s answer to the most common pellet grill complaint. “I love the convenience of my pellet grill, but I wish there was more smoke flavor.”
How it Works
The smoke box on the Woodwind Pro absolutely delivers on all of it’s promises. Let’s go over how it works.
- Start the Grill – Flip the controller on, set your temperature and smoke level, and the grill will do the rest.
- Open the Smoke Box and Add Your Flavor – With the damper handle in the vertical position, pull out the smoke box and add your chunks, chips, charcoal etc.
- Ignite that Smoke Box – Close the drawer, twist the damper handle to the horizontal position, and wait about 5 to 10 minutes for your flavor to start burning.
- Let the Flavor Shine – After about 10 minutes, twist the damper back into the vertical position and you’re off!
- Refills – In my experience, the fuel in the smoke box lasts somewhere between 1 and 2 hours depending on what is used and how full the box was filled. To add more, just repeat from step 2. Be careful though, that smoke box gets HOT.
Let me tell you folks, that smoke box is an amazing innovation in pellet grill tech. Not only can you add additional smoke flavor, you get to choose what flavor that is! You can use charcoal briquettes, lump charcoal, wood chunks, wood chips, pellets, or anything else your heart desires. Now, it doesn’t really add flavor to your food, but I like to throw a few cloves of garlic and a small chunk of onion on top of my wood chunks. It smells really good.
In addition to adding your custom flavor, you can use the damper to control exactly how you want that fuel to burn. Leave it in the closed position and it will produce thicker, smouldering smoke. Crack the damper a little bit to introduce a small amount of flame and the box will burn more cleanly, producing that thin, blue smoke we all adore.
One massive benefit this smoke box provides has ties to cooking temperature. Usually, if cooking at 300 degrees and above you won’t get very much smoke flavor from a pellet grill. Those pellets are just burning so efficiently that they’re not producing as much smoke as they do at lower temperatures.
The smoke box completely solves this. Use the fire pot to ignite the fuel in the smoke box, close down the damper, and watch that lovely smoke pour out of the vents on the back at whatever cooking temperature desired.
Cleaning the Smoke Box
Cleanup time is essentially the same as older Camp Chef models. The Woodwind Pro still features the ash cup for easy cleanup, and the smoke box ashes end up in that same cup. However, heavy use of the smoke box makes deep cleaning a slightly more frequent practice. The ash that ends up in the bottom of the grill body adds up quicker than a standard Woodwind in my experience, but that isn’t a deal breaker for me. The photo above as well as the one below is the ash accumulation from around 20 hours of use, with the smoke box utilized for about half of that time.
Low and Slow
With the removal of the Slide and Grill feature, the Woodwind Pro is really just a low and slow machine. In my opinion, it performs this function better than anything else on the pellet grill market. It really is an absolute game-changer. This pork belly was cooked just like I’d cook a brisket. Just look at the incredible color and bark produced by the Woodwind Pro and hickory chunks in the smoke box. Absolutely impressive for a pellet grill, and, no, you can’t do this same thing by adding a smoke tube to a standard pellet grill. I’ve tried.
The smoke flavor on that pork belly was outstanding! It had much more smoke flavor than I’ve had on similar cooks in the past on pellet grills.
Let me be clear, there is a ton more flavor, but it isn’t just pellet smoke flavor cranked up to 11. It’s also not the same flavor produced by an offset. It’s two completely different smoke profiles combined into one. In my mind, it’s the perfect mash-up of convenience and real, wood-fired flavor. You get the smooth pellet smoke flavor combined with the customizable punch of that real, wood-fired flavor more akin to an offset. The flavor doesn’t lean one way or the other, you just get a beautiful mix of both. Here’s an image of that same belly earlier in the cook so you can see just how well that bark developed.
Cold Smoking with the Woodwind Pro
Another useful function this grill has above most others is the ability to cold smoke. The Fan Only mode on the controller combined with the fuel in the smoke box makes this a dream! Open up those vents on the back, load up that smoke box, ignite that fuel and you’re ready to go! Ignition can be accomplished by starting the grill normally and using the damper, then switching to Fan Only mode. Alternatively, start the grill in Fan Only mode and ignite the fuel in the box with a small propane torch. That’s my method of choice. Then use the damper to adjust the airflow to the smoke box to produce the quality of smoke you’re after.
Ambient temperature is extremely important when cold smoking to help keep that cook chamber temperature as low as possible. What I’ve found is that using the built in smoke box will raise the cook chamber temp anywhere from 20-40 degrees, depending on what is burning in the box. It is easier to keep the temperatures lower using a device like a smoke tube instead, but the ability to control the fuel providing that beautiful smoke is completely lost.
What We Like
Here are some of our favorite things about the Woodwind Pro from Camp Chef:
- Extra flavor with the same pellet grill convenience – This speaks for itself. Being able to add and customize real wood-fired flavor and being able to sleep through the night while doing it is phenomenal.
- Smoke flavor no matter what the cooking temperature is
- Stainless Steel – I love stainless. It’s easy to clean and looks better longer than standard powder coated steel
- Sidekick Compatibility – Adding the Sidekick and it’s accessories to this grill help make it an all-in-one smoking machine!
What Could be Improved
Even though this is a great grill, there are a few things that could be improved with the Woodwind Pro:
- No Front Shelf Option – Current versions of the Woodwind front shelf won’t fit due to the smoke box
- Split Upper Cooking Grate – I’m not a big fan of the two-piece upper rack but I understand why Camp Chef did it. This can be easily remedied with a few stainless steel zip ties used to tie the racks together. This is what I’ve done on my personal unit.
- The Smoke Box gets HOT – Camp Chef’s engineers are working on this right now. That front plate on the smoke box gets very hot, and it’s easy to reach in there with too much excitement and burn your fingers. Ask me how I know.
Recipes for the Woodwind Pro
Do you have the Woodwind Pro in your backyard, or are you planning on buying one in the future? If so, I recommend trying these awesome recipes with your pellet grill.
Woodwind Pro Review: Final Thoughts
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The Woodwind Pro from Camp Chef is an absolutely game-changing piece of grilling gold. This grill is perfect for the seasoned pit master looking for maximum convenience while adding top-notch wood smoke flavor, however, I’d still recommend this to anybody, even the beginners looking to jump into the delicious world of BBQ. It functions exactly the same as a standard pellet grill with room to grow into more advanced features and heavier smoke flavor. I always appreciate innovation in the world of BBQ, and Camp Chef never ceases to impress.
To order yours, click here.
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