I put this Wi-Fi-controlled grill to the test by simultaneously smoking 7 different types of meat from my couch. Everything cooked evenly and tasted great.
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- A pellet grill is a one-stop-shop for anyone looking to smoke, grill, or even bake outside, and Camp Chef's Woodwind Wifi grill expands your options exponentially, thanks to its bevy of accessories.
- With cooking temperatures from 160 degrees Fahrenheit to 450, you can perform any task you would on a charcoal or propane grill, but with more control and less hassle — all from the comfort of your couch.
- We've been putting Camp Chef's Woodwind Wifi 24 to the test for nine months. Here's why we think it's your best option if you're in the market for an outdoor grill.
- See also: the best charcoal grills and the best gas grills
Camp Chef is in its 30th year, but the brand, best known for its camp stoves, has finally ventured into the pellet grill market with its three-in-one Woodwind, which functions as a grill, smoker, and oven. You can also buy add-on accessories like a pizza oven box, a high-powered 28,000-BTU side burner, a searing box, and more.
Suffice it to say that with this grill, your outdoor cooking endeavors are only as limited as your imagination. Yes, dear reader, that does read exactly like a shameless QVC plug, but please read on, and let us extol the virtues of this remarkable piece of wood-fired equipment.
The Camp Chef Woodwind Wifi 24 (right), and its predecessor, the Camp Chef Pro 90X (left)
The Woodwind Wifi is the brand's first foray into pellet grills. With add-on accessories galore, like the Sidekick, a 28,000-BTU side burner, you can do just about anything your imagination will allow.
The Camp Chef Pro 90X, pictured above (right) for reference, is the outdoor grill that Camp Chef cut its teeth on (this version is updated), and it's still one of the best in the game with its three 30,000-BTU burners, especially with a steel griddle and a grease cup.
The Woodwind Wifi's specs
The grill will come with everything you see above, plus four wired temperature probes. Note that if you're planning to purchase and attach the Sidekick, it's best to leave the shelf (right) off to avoid the hassle of having to detach it.
Available in 20-, 24-, and 36-inch sizes, this grill comes with a 304 stainless steel lid and firepot. Yes, the whole grill, which is lower-grade powder-coated steel, could stand to be 304, but we've found that, after nine months, it's probably unnecessary. There's still no sign of flaking or degradation of any kind, and it's survived all the harshest weather that the Northeast could muster.
We went with the middle 24-inch grill, which has just over 800 square inches of cooking space. Otherwise, these grills are all the same.
And while we've left this thing out in the open for weeks on end through summer and winter in order to stress-test it, we do recommend investing in a cover, which, if you're buying this grill already, shouldn't break the bank.
Whether or not you do decide to cover your grill (though please do!), it comes with a three-year warranty, which is the industry standard for pellet grills.
The first thing you need to do when you start this grill, after pouring pellets into the hopper, is select "FEED" on the LCD screen. This pushes pellets through the auger and into the firebox in order to prime the grill. After that, the only time you'll have to use the "FEED" function will be when your hopper runs out of pellets and you need to replenish it.
The most beautiful thing about this grill is that it's Wi-Fi-enabled and connects to your smartphone through an app.
Once you light it, and set the smoke level (1-10) everything you need to do in order to tend it can be done right from the comfort of your couch. This especially comes in handy when, as you see, it is 46 degrees Fahrenheit and raining. After feeding and lighting, this reporter found himself warm and dry for a full four hours before needing to go back out to collect pork belly, sausages, and fish — all at different times, thanks to a series of four temperature probes that keep tabs on everything for you via the Camp Chef app. You'll also be notified if, for one reason or another, the flame is extinguished.
Managing the pellet hopper
Camp Chef offers its own brand of pellets, which are 100% hardwood and additive-free, though you can buy cheaper (if more questionably sourced and made) options at your local hardware, patio, or grill purveyor.
The hopper holds 22 pounds of pellets, or more than enough to get through a long, slow smoke, and the hexagonal-shaped grate allows the pellets to flow through easily enough while still allowing you to keep your hands safely distanced from the auger.
Pro tip: Make sure to keep the pellet hopper plenty full, as running out stops cooking and requires you to refeed and restart the grill.
The firebox, which is where the wood pellets are electrically lit, is equipped with a baffle that lets you cook over more indirect heat, allowing for lower temperatures and longer smoking periods.
Conversely, if you want to smoke (or grill) with some heat, slide the baffle away and you'll reach temperatures of up to about 500 degrees Fahrenheit, give or take. The grill will maintain within about 15 degrees of whatever temperature you select between 160 and 450, which, short of a restaurant-grade salamander or overhead grill, is all you can really ask. (The Sidekick along with the Pizza Oven, though, will get you to around 700 degrees.)
Smoke level is chosen separately, and there are 10 settings. Other grills we've tested don't offer different levels of smoke.
Cooking over indirect heat
While you can't exactly cold-smoke (that's smoking food at temperatures roughly less than 80 degrees Fahrenheit), you can get pretty close. Above, we had removed the drip tray to show how the baffle works; in this image, it's fully engaged and preventing direct flame contact with the glazed-over pork belly, ribs, and shoulder. Getting meat to smoke evenly and thoroughly is a delicate process, but the Woodwind takes away much of the work.
Smoking sausage, poultry, finfish, and shellfish all at once
There are 800 square inches of cooking surface on this tiny grill, and with it, a world of possibilities. Above, we smoked striped bass, salmon, chorizo, kielbasa, blackfish, cornish game hen, and a pile of oysters on the half shell. Because everything required different cooking times, and we wanted some things closer to a cold smoke ( less than 80 degrees Fahrenheit), we arranged the space accordingly. Thanks to the four temperature probes, nothing ended up too terribly over- or undercooked.
Thorough and even smoking each and every time
If you've ever used a charcoal smoker, you'll know that smoking, in its most primitive form, is an art form, and evenly smoked meats are something of a holy grail. With a pellet grill, it all becomes shockingly effortless, and you end up with a perfectly even level of heat and smoke throughout. Every. Single. Time.
A medium-rare rack of lamb
One of my favorite things to do with the Woodwind Wifi is grill larger cuts of meat using the set-it-and-forget-it approach. I'll set it to about 250 degrees Fahrenheit — usually using a temperature probe — and I always come out with an immaculately medium-rare hunk of meat.
And sure, an oven might do this easily enough, but not with the smoke, which, I might add, is everything.
Grilling and reverse-searing with the Sidekick
If you're going to be grilling a lot of steaks, or larger cuts of meat like this venison backstrap (above), a fun and relatively affordable addition is the 28,000-BTU Sidekick. A BTU, or British Thermal Unit, is the exact amount of heat required to bring one pound (about a pint) of water up to one degree Fahrenheit at sea level. Most gas grills are equipped with 10,000-15,000-BTU burners. One this powerful is fit for a full-on seafood boil (which we have successfully conducted with the Woodwind). The flattop isn't included, but if you are looking to sear your steaks outside, it's sort of a must.
Endless precision from the Woodwind Wifi
Were this done by my own two hands and nothing more than wood and heat, I might be handing in my two weeks' notice here. Alas, a machine delivered this masterful work of art to me, and I am not the least bit upset about it.
In this case of man versus pellet grill, only an all-star pitmaster could keep up with the Woodwind Wifi — and they'd have their work cut out for them.
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