Camp Chef Woodwind Classic Wood Pellet Grill With Sear Box Review
One of the biggest complaints about wood pellet grills is the inability to sear the meat over direct flame. Some manufacturers try to get around this by installing a removable broiler plate, which gives you access to a modest amount of flame. The problem here is that it then compromises the cooking characteristics of the primary smoking chamber.
Camp Chef is one of the more trusted names in the grilling industry. They attempt to address this problem in a different way by offering their highly popular Woodwind Classic wood pellet grill with a propane-fired sear box built into the side shelf.
Of course, you do lose some of the functionality of the shelf, in that the sear box lid is curved on top. However, the propane flame in the sear box is capable of reaching up to 900-degrees Fahrenheit, which is perfect for perfectly searing steaks and chops. All the while you can let the primary smoking chamber continue to do its thing.
The Woodwind classic has an analog control knob with 25-degree increments. As you turn it up the internal auger speeds up it’s delivery of the wood pellets to the internal firepot. There’s also a meat probe included to help you closely monitor the temperature.
The upper rack measures in at 429 square inches and the upper “Warming Rack” offers another 141 square inches for a total of 570 square inches of cooking space.
Camp Chef was very mindful about cleanup with the Woodwind classic. There is an efficient grease management system, which diverts drippings to a reusable metal cup. There is also a pellet purge feature which makes it easy to empty the 18-pound capacity hopper after you are done grilling.
Construction & Ease of Assembly
The Camp Chef Woodwind Classic Wood Pellet Grill is very well designed with a lot of thoughtful features and quality material selection. This includes thick gauge steel, sturdy fasteners, quality welds and a stable cart that can sit firmly in place.
Yet you can also wheel it around it need be. This lets you conveniently store this wood pellet grill in a garage or storage shed when not in use. Just remember that the wood pellet grill does need a standard AC outlet to run the internal auger and fan. The sear box also needs to be connected to a propane tank, and will not run safely on natural gas.
As you can imagine, a grill this sophisticated will take some time to assemble. It’s also a very heavy wood pellet grill weighing in at 146-pounds. With another person to help you, the Camp Chef Woodwind Classic should take you between 60 to 90 minutes to put together.
With this wood pellet grill, you have to take into account it’s performance as a wood pellet smoker, a wood pellet grill, and the propane grill “Sear Box.”
As a smoker, the Camp Chef Woodwind Classic can be dialed all the way down to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, which rides the line of “Cold Smoking” for homemade fresh sausage, shellfish, and fish fillets.
Yet you can also dial up as high as 500 for times when you want to bake or even braise. Within this temperature range, you can adjust it in the neighborhood of 350-degrees for things like bone-in cuts of chicken.
Just like most wood pellet grills, there is no direct flame exposure. So even though it will do things like crisp the skin on a chicken breast, you aren’t going to get the deep sear marks that you might see on a traditional charcoal or gas grill.
If you want to make a Steak, chops or hamburgers, you could just as easily fire up the 16,000 BTU propane sear box. It really is just like a small additional gas grill included in the purchase. It has its own independent regulator and controls, with a maximum temperature of up to 900-degrees. Though you can certainly dial it down a little lower.
You could also use it as a form of hybrid grilling. Let’s say that you want to make some chicken thighs. You could start by smoking them slow and low at 225 degrees inside the Camp Chef Woodwind Classic’s primary cooking chamber. When they reach an internal temperature of 165-degrees, you can fire up the sear box. Once it’s properly preheated you can lay the chicken thighs skin-side down over the direct flame to mark them off and finish crisping the skin.
This is a process that you can do with just about any bone-in piece of meat. Including smoky buffalo chicken wings and leg of lamb.
The lower rack of the Camp Chef Woodwind Classic measures in at 429 square inches. The upper warming rack offers an additional 141 square inches of cooking space. This gives you a combined total of 570 square inches inside the primary cooking chamber.
The 16,000 BTU sear box also offers an additional 180 square inches of grilling space.
The 16,000 BTU propane-fired sear box is the first “Special Feature” that stands out with this Camp Chef Woodwind Classic bundle.
The ash cleanout system is also very nice as it spares you the worry of using a shop vac. Along with the reusable drippings cup, and grease management system it makes this wood pellet grill very easy to clean.
The wood pellet hopper purge is also a nice feature that prevents wood fiber jams from pellets left too long in the hopper.
Ease to Clean
The Camp Chef Woodwind Classic is one of the easiest wood pellet grills to clean. The ash cleanout system is especially nice. With a lot of wood pellet grills, you have to take your shop vac out to suck up the spent ash. More than once there’s been unforeseen stray coal that damaged a shop vac this way.
With the Camp Chef Woodwind Classic, you simply pull a lever and the ash is expelled from the burning chamber.
From there you pour out the reusable metal drippings cup and scrape down the grill grates. If there are any wood pellets left in the hopper, you should also use the pellet purge to take them out. If they are left for more than a day or two in high humidity the lignin binding the individual pellets can break down and jam the internal auger.
The Camp Chef Woodwind Classic comes with a 3-year warranty. This is a little bit less than some of the competitors who offer 4 and 5-year warranties for wood pellet grills around this same price point.
If you love smoking and cooking on a wood pellet grill, but you also want to be able to sear off steaks and chops, then the Camp Chef Woodwind Classic with sear box might just be the perfect solution for you. It has innovative cleanup features, as well as a very wide temperature range. The 16,000 BTU sear box can also get up to nearly 900-degrees.
- Temperature range from 160 to 500
- 16,000 BTU propane sear box
- Pellet purge and ash cleanout systems
- Only a 3-year warranty instead of 5-years
- Analog controls
- 25-degree heating increments
- No wireless features of apps