I don’t know about you, but I love to grill. I love to cook in general, be that for my family or friends, just me on my own, and whether I’m at home, camping, or on a long overlanding trip.
I got my first grill about 25 years ago, and I never looked back. Over the years, I’ve developed an affinity for Weber grills, and they’ve served me very well. But I wanted to get away from cooking with a propane grill and start using something that gives me more of a campfire cooking experience.
So, I started investigating pellet-fired grills. While I know that cooking with pellets isn’t exactly like cooking over a campfire, it’s as close as I can get.
There are tons of options out there for pellet grills, from Traeger to the Big Green Egg to Camp Chef, just to name a few. After a lot of research, I decided to go with the Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi 24 with Sidekick Sear.
In this first impressions review, I’ll explain why I chose this grill and I’ll walk you through my first cook using it – a simple baby back ribs recipe that turned out great!
Why the Camp Chef Woodwind 24 WiFi Grill?
As I alluded to earlier, I wanted to get a pellet grill because it mimics cooking over a campfire much more closely than my old Weber propane grill.
Since I enjoy camping and overlanding so much, it’s tough to beat a campfire-cooked meal. I wanted to have that same ability to get beautifully cooked and flavorful food at home, and the Woodwind 24 allows me to do that.
The Camp Chef Woodwind 24 WiFi is loaded up with specs and features that make cooking easy:
- It weighs 150 pounds
- The firebox is stainless steel (and it has heavy-duty 50mm legs to give you a really stable grilling surface)
- The lower rack offers 429 square inches of cooking space (with another 382 square inches on the upper rack)
- The hopper can hold 22 pounds of pellets
- There’s a full-color screen controller (shown in the image above) with a PID controller that helps maintain consistent temperatures between +5 and -5 degrees
- You can cook at temperatures from 160 to 500 degrees (with direct flame grilling that reaches 650 degrees)
- The grill comes with four stainless steel meat probes (and Smart Smoke Technology with adjustable smoke settings to help you get perfectly cooked and smoked meat)
- As for cleaning, there’s a cleanout/purge for the pellet hopper (as well as an ash cleanout system and a grease management system)
- It even has a companion app, which you can use to set timers, adjust the temperature, and receive notifications when your meat reaches the desired temperature.
This particular Camp Chef Woodwind 24 WiFi also has what’s called the Sidekick Sear, which is a grill attachment and a stainless steel BBQ box. It has heat diffuser plates that turn the propane flames into infrared heat that vaporizes grease drippings instantly. There’s also a True Seasoned Finish cast-iron grill grate for getting that hard-to-beat cast-iron grilled flavor on my food.
So, as you can see, this grill is bursting at the seams with awesome specs and features. But it wasn’t just the features of the Woodwind 24 that made me switch to Camp Chef – there are all sorts of other Camp Chef products that together comprise an ecosystem of grills and accessories for getting your cook on at home, while camping, or while overlanding.
And that’s really the essence of my decision to go with Camp Chef. Their product line is best suited for combining two of my favorite activities: cooking and camping. With a wide range of portable grills, cooking systems, dutch ovens, cast-iron bakeware, and so forth, you really can outfit yourself with all the gear you need to cook incredible meals at home or on the road.
A perfect example of this is the Sidekick Sear that came with my grill. This is a 14-inch attachment for the Woodwind 24 WiFi that is compatible with other Camp Chef products. So, I can take the Sidekick with me on camping trips and use it with the Camp Chef Guy’s Pro60X bundle. I love that kind of functionality and flexibility!
Setting Up the Grill
Thankfully, putting the Camp Chef Woodwind 24 WiFi together was a breeze…
I’m not much of a “read the manual” kind of guy, so I usually wing it. I know, I know…that’s not the way to do things.
So, I actually referred to the manual this time, and found that it was very well structured and laid out in a way that was easy to follow. In fact, I only needed about 35-40 minutes to unbox the grill and get everything set up.
Once the grill was ready to go, I ran it for 30 minutes at 350 degrees (per the instructions) in order to burn off the grill. This is necessary to get rid of any gunk that might have accumulated on the grill during manufacturing and transport.
Once that was done, it was time to get cooking!
The First Cook on the Camp Chef Woodwind 24 WiFi
My very first cook on this grill was some nice baby back ribs and bourbon pepper chicken for my family and I.
The ribs were incredibly flavorful and juicy (and easy to make, too). Here’s the recipe:
- If cooking on a pellet grill, choose the pellet flavor of your choice. I used a hickory, apple, and cherry blend. I also chose to cook at a smoke intensity of 5.
- Rub mustard (I used French mustard but any kind will do) all over the ribs.
- Add dry rub to the ribs (I used lemon pepper dry rub). The mustard coating helps the dry rub stick to the meat.
- Put the ribs bone side down for three hours at 225 degrees. At the three-hour mark, pull the ribs off and wrap in aluminum foil, bone side up.
5. Make the following liquid: one cup of apple cider, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 3 tbsp. butter). Add the liquid to the aluminum-wrapped ribs and place back on the grill for two hours at 250 degrees (as shown above).
6. At the two-hour mark, remove the ribs from the liquid and foil and place directly on the grill bone side up. Cook an additional hour at 225 degrees (as shown above).
I also made some bourbon pepper chicken that I added to the grill at the one-hour mark. Both meats were perfectly cooked and ready to eat!
I have to say that I was excited for the Camp Chef Woodwind 24 WiFi to arrive at my doorstep, and that my expectations for it were sky-high. It more than met the challenge of meeting my lofty expectations!
One of the best features is the fact that this is a WiFi-enabled grill, so once I got the grill started, I could sit in my living room and check or change the temperature, change the smoke level, get notifications about the readiness of the meat, and more. And unlike some apps, this one has a great user interface and is incredibly easy to use.
Another super impressive component of this grill is the Sidekick Sear option. Not only does this give me a propane attachment for searing meat, but it is part of a larger collection of 14-inch accessories that you can add to the grill to expand its functionality. I was so impressed with the grill and Sidekick Sear that I ordered the Camp Chef 14-inch Pizza Oven to go with it.
I really appreciate how accurate the Camp Chef Woodwind 24 WiFi is, too. I don’t have to worry about flare-ups or cool-downs because the PID controller maintains temperatures that are +/- 5 degrees of what you’ve dialed in. The result of that is extremely accurate cooking times and food that is cooked to perfection.
The way I would describe cooking on this grill is “easy breezy.” There’s no fuss. No mess. It’s basically an autopilot setup – just set the temperature and the amount of smoke you want, hit the start button, and it will ask you to confirm the settings. The grill then initiates a startup sequence that takes about 15 minutes. From there, it’s a matter of keeping tabs on your food using the app on your phone. It’s just a great grill with easy-to-use features that enable you to cook the best possible food. What’s not to like about that?!
I know I’ve only used this grill once, but boy did it impress. To say that I’m excited to cook on this grill again is a huge understatement!
Some of you might know that in addition to 4WDTalk, I also own a photography website called PhotographyTalk.
Running two companies makes it hard to get out and go camping as often as I like, so having the Woodwind 24 in my backyard will be a huge blessing for getting that campfire-cooked flavor right here at home. I want to bring you along on the journey as well.
The goal is to have one video and article per week with a fun new recipe that you can tackle on your own grill at home or while camping or overlanding. I want to inspire you to take your cooking and grilling to another level, that way you can enjoy awesome food at home and on the road.
To do that, I’ll share some of my favorite recipes. I’ll also share recipes from the Camp Chef cookbook that I just ordered. Although the cookbook is for beginners, and most of the recipes I’ll share are for beginners, just remember that you can take these recipes and make them your own.
I think about it like this – on PhotographyTalk, we preach the importance of making a photo your own, so when you encounter a popular scene like the Golden Gate Bridge, think about how you can make your photo different from all the other photos of the bridge. The same applies to cooking – take the recipes I share with you and figure out how to make them your own.
Of course, you can cook along with me using whatever kind of grill you already have. But if you’ve been thinking about investing in a new grill, I’d offer the advice that you will want to invest in a product that allows you to grow, experiment, expand your skills, and challenge yourself to become a better cook. Camp Chef has certainly impressed me with the Woodwind 24 WiFi, and I think you’ll be impressed with their line of products as well.
Stay tuned for MUCH more on this topic in the coming weeks!