Camp Chef Woodwind Pro Quick-Take Review
Camp Chef spent the first three-quarters of 2022 working hard to change the pellet grill industry. In June, the company launched the Apex series of pellet grills aimed at addressing issues with getting a high-quality sear thanks to the included propane burners in the main cooking chamber. You can check out our full review here. In early September, Camp Chef began teasing another revolution in pellet grills that…
Camp Chef spent the first three-quarters of 2022 working hard to change the pellet grill industry. In June, the company launched the Apex series of pellet grills aimed at addressing issues with getting a high-quality sear thanks to the included propane burners in the main cooking chamber. You can check out our full review here.
In early September, Camp Chef began teasing another revolution in pellet grills that was officially announced as the Woodwind Pro. This time, the company attacked the complaint that pellet grills may be the most convenient way to smoke meat but they don’t offer as much wood smoke flavor as a traditional offset smoker.
So Camp Chef upgraded the Woodwind series, a favorite of ours here at Angry BBQ with the 24” model getting the nod as our favorite pellet grill under $1000. In order to answer the question of “How do I get my Camp Chef pellet grill to smoke more” beyond even the Smoke Number feature, the company added a smoke box that sits over the fire pot and can be filled with a pitmaster’s favorite wood or charcoal to add more flavor.
However, that’s not the only feature that differentiates the Woodwind Pro from the original Woodwind. Read on for a breakdown of all the new features and our thoughts on this new pellet grill.
|Camp Chef Woodwind Pro 24
|Camp Chef Woodwind Pro 36
Pursuing The Best Smoke Flavor On A Pellet Grill
Pellet grills are the most convenient way to smoke meat, especially with more and more technological improvements from WiFi to PID controllers. However, one of the most important areas that people have complained about is the smoke flavor. For people who have eaten barbecue smoked on traditional offset smokers that burn wood logs or splits, pellet smokers just don’t pack the same punch of wood flavor.
So Camp Chef made the Woodwind Pro so pitmasters could have unmatched wood smoke flavor with the convenience of a pellet grill. The designers made that happen with three main upgrades.
The biggest upgrade Camp Chef made to give pitmasters true wood flavor on the Woodwind Pro is the Smoke Box. The Smoke Box slides out of the grill in the front for easy access and can be loaded with wood chunks, wood chips, more wood pellets, or charcoal. It sits right above the fire pot in the grill with a butterfly valve to expose the wood to the open fire pot.
The user will open the butterfly valve to get the wood or charcoal smoldering then close the valve to let the wood slowly burn, releasing all that smoke flavor throughout the chamber. The box can be slid out at any point to quickly and easily refill with wood.
With the addition of the Smoke Box, Camp Chef added some new features to the Woodwind Pro to take advantage of the extra smoke. Backyard pitmasters can now cold smoke on the Woodwind Pro without any additional equipment thanks to the new Fan Only Mode on the controller to help circulate the smoke without adding extra heat.
Just What Is Cold Smoking Anyways?
Typically when we think of smoking meat, we think of low and slow, somewhere between 225°-275°F. While it certainly isn’t hot and fast, it sure isn’t cold either. Cold smoking is a process by which certain foods are smoked without any real heat source. It’s usually done at temperatures under 90°F. So I’m not going to accomplish this in the midst of a North Carolina summer.
The main types of food that are cold-smoked are hard and semi-hard cheeses as well as fish, typically salmon but sometimes black cod, herring, haddock, cod, and trout. You can technically even do this with eel too. If you’re curious about the process and perhaps even making your own smoked cheese (so you can get that delicious applewood cheddar without paying exorbitant prices,) check out our guide to cold-smoking cheese!
Camp Chef also tweaked the lid and ventilation designs to help improve the smoking performance of the Woodwind Pro. The lid is sealed with a gasket to help prevent any smoke and heat from escaping around the lid.
Also, the smoke stack is gone and replaced with down-and-out ventilation on the rear of the grill, similar to the new Apex pellet grills from earlier in 2022. However, rather than the downward-oriented vents of the Apex grills, the Woodwind Pro grills have two adjustable dampers on the back of the cooking chamber to help control airflow. This improves smoke circulation throughout the cooking chamber, ensuring whatever is getting smoked gets a full smoke bath before any smoke escapes out the vents.
To go with all the focus on upgrading the smoking ability of the new Woodwind Pro, both models boast a pellet hopper capacity of 22 lbs. Plus, Camp Chef includes four stainless steel meat probes with the Woodwind Pro so you can monitor multiple cuts of meat at the same time.
Camp Chef also tweaked the lid and ventilation designs to help improve the smoking performance on the Woodwind Pro. The lid is fully gasketed to help prevent any smoke and heat from escaping around the lid.
Also, the smoke stack is gone and replaced with down-and-out rear ventilation, similar to the new Apex pellet grills from earlier in 2022. This improves smoke circulation throughout the cooking chamber, ensuring whatever is getting smoked gets a full smoke bath before any smoke escapes out the vents.
Stainless Steel Construction
Camp Chef built the new Woodwind Pro with longevity in mind. Both the interior and exterior are made from stainless steel. That includes the grill grates, the butterfly valve, and even the gasket. With proper care, the Woodwind Pro won’t succumb to rust and damage.
Redesigned Legs And Casters
One of the other major differences between the original Woodwind and the Woodwind Pro is the legs and wheels. The Woodwind Pro, regardless of model, sits on four legs that are at an angle for added stability. Then at the bottom of each leg are swivel casters to help make moving the Woodwind Pro around the cooking area a breeze.
Both models of the original Woodwind sat on straight legs. The original 24” model only had two large wheels and no casters, while the 36” model had two swivel casters and two large wheels.
Keeping The Best Features Of The Original
Even with all the upgrades from the original Woodwind to the Woodwind Pro, not everything has changed. Users still can connect via WiFi to the Camp Chef Connect App for real-time monitoring of the grill and whatever they’re smoking via the four probes without standing right next to the grill. The PID controller to help keep steady temperatures throughout remains as well.
The Woodwind Pro comes with a side shelf standard for extra prep space, but it is compatible with the Sidekick set of attachments. This adds the ability to cook on a small flat top grill or the ability to reverse-sear steaks thanks to the Sear Box to the pellet grill.
Camp Chef also included their fantastic ash cleanout system to cut down on the number of times the grill needs to be vacuumed.
The 24” model still has 811 square inches of cooking space which is plenty of space for most families, while the 36” model boasts 1,236 sq in for hosting parties and packing the cook chamber full of briskets, pork butts, or racks of ribs. On the 24-inch model, the lower rack measures 429 sq in and the upper rack is 382 sq in. The 36-inch model has 663 sq in of cooking space on the lower rack and 573 sq in on the upper rack.
One Notable Omission On The Woodwind Pro
While we’ve been waxing eloquently on the updates and the features that stuck around from the original Woodwind, there’s one big feature missing. On the original Woodwind pellet grills, much like a number of Camp Chef’s pellet grills, there was a knob you could pull to slide the heat deflector plate out of the way. This would reveal the firepot, giving you direct access to flame for searing steaks or other meat you would want high-quality grill marks on.
However, you will not find that functionality on either model of the Woodwind Pro. It had to be sacrificed for the Smoke Box as the Smoke Box sits directly above the firepot. That meant it would be impossible to expose the direct flame. However, with the Sidekick attachments, you can still get a quality sear with the griddle or Sear Box attachment. We think the tradeoff of the searing over an open flame for the true wood smoke flavor of wood chunks in the Smoke Box is worth it.
Final Thoughts On The New Woodwind Pro
Camp Chef took one of our favorite pellet grills and amplified the smoke flavor. The new Cap Chef Woodwind Pro also holds and circulates smoke better than its predecessor. The 24” model still has 811 sq in of cooking space which is plenty of space for most families, while the 36” model boasts 1,236 sq in for hosting parties and packing the cook chamber full of briskets, pork butts, or racks of ribs.
The Woodwind Pro promises to amplify the wood smoke flavor of pellet grills and starts at $1,199.99.
Obviously, these thoughts are just on what Camp Chef has released about the new Woodwind Pro, but it sounds promising. Here at Angry BBQ, we look forward to getting our hands on this new pellet grill so we can give readers a full in-depth review. Stay tuned and we will link to that full review when it comes!
|Camp Chef Woodwind Pro 24
|Camp Chef Woodwind Pro 36
Question: How Hot Does A Camp Chef Woodwind Pro Get?
Answer: The Woodwind Pro has a temperature range of 165°-500°F. That means it works well for low-and-slow smoking, baking, or roasting. You can even grill burgers or hot dogs just using the pellet smoker. If you’re looking for more heat so you can sear, you’ll want to make sure you get the Sidekick attachment and either the griddle or Sear Box.
Question: How Do You Cold Smoke In The Woodwind Pro?
Answer: You can start cold smoking on the Woodwind Pro in one of two ways. First, you can fire up your smoker the normal way and open the damper to ignite the wood in the Smoke Box. Then you’ll switch the controller to the new Fan Only mode, stopping the auger and the hot rod in the firepot.
The second option is simply igniting the wood in the Smoke Box with your preferred method and turning the grill to Fan Only mode. This mode keeps the Woodwind Pro from ever reaching temperatures that would cause cheeses to melt or fish to cook too fast rather than adding smoke flavor.
Question: What Is The Purpose Of Cold Smoke?
Answer: This cooking method allows us to add smoke flavor to types of food that would otherwise not be able to handle smoking at our normal temperatures for one reason or another. For instance, cheese would melt fairly quickly in even a 225°F smoker. So you can lower the temperature below the cheese’s melting point so it can absorb the smoke flavor. As for cold-smoking fish, it essentially cures the fish and adds smoke flavor without ruining the texture of the fish.
Question: Can I Use Traeger Pellet In Camp Chef Pellet Grills?
Answer: You can substitute any brand of wood pellets in this question and the answer is the same. As long as the pellets are food-grade wood pellets made for cooking, you can use them in a Camp Chef pellet grill. The company does recommend that you use Camp Chef-brand pellets, but you are by no means required to do so. Here at Angry BBQ, we use Bear Mountain BBQ wood pellets. Whether you’re smoking brisket, pork, turkey, chicken, or even cheese, Bear Mountain BBQ has a pellet flavor for you.
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