December 14, 2018
After going nearly a year and a half without a grill, I began looking around for a replacement. A grill or a smoker? Maybe both? Pricing seem to be a bit on the higher end for pellet grills, so I began reading up on them. My concern was not only that pellet grills can be pricey, but that I would probably spend a lot on pellets alone. So much to think about.
Let’s begin with what are pellets and what is a pellet grill? A pellet grill has a pellet hopper that requires you to dump pellets into it. The hopper is electric powered and dispenses the wooden pellets out to a fire pot where an ignitor will light them. Some hoppers will have an electronic temperature control and one or two meat probes. So, when using a pellet grill, you will need a power source nearby. Pellets are very versatile and allow you to smoke, grill or roast. Depending on the grill you purchase, pellet usage is comparable to charcoal. Pellets usually come in 20-pound bags. I have used my grill to smoke four times and grill three times and I still had a little over a third of a bag left.
After some research I settled on the new Camp Chef Woodwind SG grill. This is a versatile grill in that it will smoke, grill and roast. I also bought the searing grill as well. I received the grill, searing box and optional shelf surprisingly in less than a week. Assembling the grill was easy and only took about 45 minutes. Camp Chef does recommend burning any oils off the grill. So, when you initially light your grill it will smoke for a bit. After the grill was set up, I went to the store to purchase pellets and was overwhelmed by how many options there were. Mesquite, cherry, apple, charcoal, Jack Daniels and the list goes on. I recommend reading about pellets prior to purchasing them so you can make an informed decision.
We know the Woodwind SG smokes, but you ask, how does it grill? Well the new SG model has the new Slide & Grill Technology. This technology lets you pull a lever to slide the plate off the fire pot for access to the direct flame. You can also set your temperature to 300 degrees or above for a similar technique. The temp range on this grill is from 160 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows you to low and high smoke, grill and even bake. Yes, you can even bake a pie in your Camp Chef Woodwind SG Pellet grill. Smoking does not occur at high temps, so you do not get a smoke flavor. Smoking occurs at 250 degrees and below. You can learn more about this on their website. I tested the temps with a good oven temperature gauge and found that if you set the grill to 300 it will hold pretty good right at 300. Opening the grill cover will cause the thermometer to drop and make the grill work harder to retain your ideal temperature. Camp Chef does offer a blanket for the smoker/grill for cold temps.
Now you ask, what about clean up? That must be a mess. It isn’t. Camp Chef has made it very easy. When you are done simply pull the lever to dump the ash into the included small bucket and occasionally dump it into your garden or flower pot. Then after a few cooks simply vacuum the grill out. Cleaning the grease slide and racks are recommended and turning the grill up high to bake it off works as well.
The SG has two large wheels and two casters which makes moving the grill very easy. The heavy-duty grill cover is optional, but recommended. It helps protect your grill from the elements and maximize its longevity. This is not a cheap grill, retailing at $999 on the website. With that said they currently give you free shipping, cover and bonus pellets. The grill comes in all black or with a stainless-steel grill door and handle. I find the 24-inch grill to be the perfect size for family and guests. If you have a large family or host parties, than the 36-inch may be a better choice for you.
- Includes 2 meat probes
- Includes removable 2-piece enameled steel lower rack
- Includes removable 2-piece nickel plated upper rack
- Smart Smoke Technology
- Pellet Hopper Cleanout/Purge
- Slide and Grill Technology
- Ash Cleanout System
- Cord Management System
- Grease Management System
- Large capacity hopper
- Electronic auto-start ignition
- Dual LED temperature display: internal cooking temps and internal food temps
- Simple temperature selection system
- 160 to 500 degree temperature range for slow smoking to grilling
- Automatic auger dispenses pellets as needed for improved smoker efficiency
- Bottle opener
- Clear hopper window
- High temperature paint with matte finish
- Upper Rack Area: 382 sq. in.
- Lower Rack Area: 429 sq. in.
- Total Rack Surface Area: 811 sq. in.
- Chamber Capacity: 4,850 cubic in.
- Hopper Capacity: 22 lbs. of pellets
- Overall Height: 42 in.
- Overall Weight: 150 lbs.
I decided to order the Searing Box because it would allow me to grill when there isn't any power. It uses propane and can reverse sear any meat, locking in juices and making great grill marks. The searing box is a 16,000 BTU stainless-steel burner and reaches a temperature of 900 degrees. This unit works great, and you can use your old propane tank with it. The tank hangs on a hook that mounts to the back of the grill. When assembling the grill, I was concerned about hanging a large propane tank on the back, but once I hung it I realized how secure it was. The cover also accommodates the tank. The searing box was very easy to install and weighs 34 pounds. Total surface area is 184-square inches.
I have enjoyed smoking and grilling more than ever. I did have an electric smoker and it required so much of my time to put in wood chips. Now with the auger it dispenses pellets as needed and makes my smoking more effective. I haven’t baked in it yet, but I will try it on a pork loin soon.
When comparing to Camp Chef's closest competitors, the Camp Chef Woodwind SG Pellet Grill came out ahead. Sometimes it's the little things that make a difference like wheels on all four legs, the can opener feature and two meat probes. They also have great customer service and an easy to navigate website with a plethora of information for both beginner and more advanced grillers.
Note: One thing I do want to bring to your attention – and this goes for ANY pellet grill ... do not keep your pellets in the hopper for extended periods of time. I found that if the pellets are moist the ignitor may not light them and will feed more in and soon you have a potential issue on hand as I did. The pot filled up and began to smoke big time and when I opened the grill cover moments later a flame shot out once oxygen hit the smoking pellets. So, it is recommended to dump the pellets out and that is very easy with the Woodwind by pulling the hopper lever. Also, store the pellets in a dry place. Humidity/moisture is your worst. Otherwise, grilling and smoking on a pellet grill is fun.
For more information, please visit www.campchef.com.
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