In my two posts on the Camp Chef SmokePro pellet grill range and the Woodwind pellet grills, I reference that on most models, you have the option of adding either the propane Sear Box or Side Kick accessory. However, I only briefly touched on why you might want to consider adding one of these propane accessories to your wood pellet grill. Furthermore, I never went into detail on what the differences are between the Sear Box and SideKick attachments. Therefore, that’s what this post is focused on. I’ll discuss what are the specific capabilities and features of both the Sear Box and SideKick. Furthermore, I’ll discuss what I think is the best option, along with some video owner reviews.
Disclaimer: Hey! By the way… any links on this page that lead to products on Amazon or other sites are affiliate links, and I earn a commission if you make a purchase.
Update: It appears Camp Chef has now decided to phase out the dedicated Sear Box to offer just the SideKick with a Sear option.
If you already own either a Camp Chef SmokePro or Woodwind pellet grill there is a good chance that your grill can be fitted with either a Sear Box or SideKick. On the Camp Chef website its states the Sear Box and SideKick will fit:
“All full-sized Camp Chef 24 and 36-inch pellet grills” – CampChef.com
Therefore that includes almost all Camp Chef pellet grills with a few exceptions. The Sear Box/Sidekick cannot be fitted to the Woodwind WiFi 20 or their portable pellet grill the Pursuit 20. They can also not be fitted to the XXL Vertical Pellet Smoker.
If you own any other Camp Chef 24 or 36-inch grill, you are good to go! You now just have to decide which will be the best option for you, the Sear Box or the SideKick? Well, hopefully, the content below will help you to make that decision.
Introduction To The Camp Chef Propane Sear Box and SideKick Attachments
Before I discuss the specific features and differences between the two I wanted to discuss their origins. Camp Chefs’ first range of pellet grills was the SmokePro in 2015.
Over the years the SmokePro range expanded with bigger grills, more advanced digital control panels and other features, such as direct-flame broiling over the pellets at 650 degrees. However, most of the SmokePro range didn’t feature flame broiling.
Furthermore, over gas flames, you can sear at up to 900 degrees. Now, I’ve been running PelHeat.com for over a decade, of all people I’m going to be singing the praises of pellets.
And while cooking/smoking with BBQ wood pellets beats propane grills on flavour, for high-temperature searing propane has its benefits. Hence, Camp Chef released the Sear Box, a bolt-on propane attachment for all 24″ and 36″ Camp Chef pellet grills.
The Sear Box was the first propane attachment launched by Camp Chef which fits any 24″ or 36″ SmokePro/Woodwind pellet grill: Image – Amazon.com
In 2017 Camp Chef launched the Woodwind pellet grill range, featuring the improved digital control panel and a stainless steel lid. Later on, the Woodwind range was updated with the PID WiFi control panels.
Woodwind pellet grill models came with the optional propane Sear Box, or you could add it at a later date. However, at the same time, Camp Chef launched another option, the propane SideKick.
A similar size to the Sear Box but with a whole range of compatible accessories specifically designed to fit the SideKick.
Camp Chef still offer both the Sear Box and SideKick propane attachments included with the purchase of a new pellet grill or to be purchased at a later date.
As both of these attachments are available through the question becomes which is best for you? Below I’ve provided some key features/videos on both options.
The Camp Chef Propane Sear Box
Before the Sear Box came long you would have to have a separate propane grill along with your pellet BBQ or take the food in and out of the house separately to sear in the flavour.
However, with the Sear Box, you have an additional 180 square inches of cooking space and 16,000 BTUs of heat from the propane burner at temperatures up to 900 degrees.
The Sear Box features a heat deflector over the propane flames, then an infrared screen and on top of that is a raised rib cast iron grate. There is also an easy to remove grease drip tray underneath the Sear Box made of the same stainless steel as the body of the Sear Box.
A handy propane tank holder is provided within the kit which you attach to your pellet grill. In the video above how to install the Sear Box onto the pellet grill is briefly covered. However, the video below shows the process in a lot more detail.
The Camp Chef Propane SideKick
The SideKick provides a larger area over the Sear Box at 231 square inches. Furthermore, it produces a higher heat output over the Sear Box with 28,000 BTUs of heat from the propane burner.
Something to be aware of is the specifications on the Camp Chef website while stating the SideKick can be fitted to any 24″ or 36″ pellet grill also state (2016 and newer).
This is not stated in the description for the Sear Box. Below is a promotional video of a Woodwind pellet grill fitted with the SideKick showing how it can be used.
The range of accessories you can fit on top of the propane SideKick includes a 14″ Flat Top Griddle, 14″ Delux Grill Box with closing lid and the 14″ Artisan Outdoor Oven (for pizza).
The video below shows how to assembly and install the SideKick on to any 24″ or 36″ Camp Chef pellet grill (after 2016). Its very straightforward, you just have to attach a couple of support brackets to the bottom of the SideKick and then screw it into the side of the pellet grill.
Sear Box vs SideKick – Which One Is Best?
Well, the Sear Box is pretty much just that, its only real purpose and utility are so you can sear your food. The Sear Box is not compatible with the range of accessories that can be fitted to the SideKick.
Namely, the griddle, grill box and artisan oven. Also, the SideKick provides a larger cooking area once fitted with the griddle/grill box compared to the Sear Box.
Furthermore, the SideKick has a much higher BTU heat output over the Sear Box. Put simply you can do a lot more things with the SideKick than you can do with the Sear Box.
When it comes to price, when purchased separately the Sear Box and SideKick are the same price on the CampChef website. So it must be a no brainer then, why would anyone still choose the Sear Box?!
Well, hold on. First of all, if you are using your pellet grill for ‘traditional BBQ cooking/smoking’ the Sear Box is going to provide you with more utility than you will find with any other pellet grill currently on the market.
For instance, a Camp Chef Woodwind with a Sear Box has abilities not even the premium/high-priced Traeger Ironwood or Timberline pellet grills can do. Secondly, while the price of the Sear Box and SideKick may appear the same, that’s not really a fair comparison.
To actually sear food on the SideKick you would need to add either the Flat Top Griddle or Delux Grill Box. Furthermore, for it to be a fair comparison it would have to be the Delux Grill Box as that has a closing lid like the Sear Box does. Well, the Delux Grill Box on its own costs an additional $120.
Therefore, in reality, if you really only want to have the option of searing your food and budget is a concern, the Sear Box is still worth considering.
Sear Box and SideKick Reviews
To finish off this post and to further help you decide if the Sear Box or SideKick is going to be the best option for your Camp Chef pellet grill I’ve included a couple of video reviews below. The best video review I found on the Sear Box was from Sports Man News.
In terms of the SideKick, the best video review I’ve found is from Tony Buddy. He purchased the SideKick along with the full accessory pack including the Delux BBQ Grill Box and Artisan Oven along with several pots and pans. Tony also gives a good little tip about using a heat diffuser plate on top of the SideKick when using it with pans.
Conclusions on the Camp Chef Sear Box vs SideKick
So what are my final thoughts on the choice between the Sear Box or SideKick? Well, if money is no object, that’s easy, go with the SideKick.
If you have the funds to purchase the SideKick along with all the accessories you have far more utility. You can cook more food at the same time and in more ways.
However, if money is tight and you don’t need features such as the Artisan Oven the Sear Box will serve you well just adding that little bit of additional functionally to your Camp Chef pellet grill. Another upgrade you may want to consider is the Gen 2 WiFi controller.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope this post has helped you to make up your mind on whether the Sear Box or SideKick is going to be the best option for you.
You can order them both and all of the SideKick accessories directly through CampChef.com. They also have finance available, so that may be worth considering if you want the SideKick but your current budget won’t stretch that far.
Back in 2007 when I first become aware of pellet grills and smokers the only brand I was really aware of was Traeger. Traeger is really where this whole concept of cooking with pellets started in the 1980s. It was a ‘slow burner’ (pardon the pun) but since the 2010s is really when pellet grills and smokers started to get mainstream awareness, discussed alongside gas and charcoal grills. There are now over 30 pellet grill/smoker brands that I’m aware of, and the link above goes to my A to Z list of brands article.
Now, you may already be aware of a few of the other brands such as Pit Boss, Camp Chef, Z Grills and I’m sure you are aware of Weber, though you may not have known they have entered the pellet grill game. However, they are now many, many more brands to look into. Some may be what are commonly referred to as ‘Traeger clones’, but many others are offering their own unique designs and features.
A pellet grill/smoker is only as good as the BBQ pellets you put into it. The type/quality of the BBQ wood pellets you use will impact temperature performance and smoke flavour. There are many pellet flavours including Apple, Hickory, Mapel, Oak and Walnut to name but a few. However, some brands are hardwood blended pellets whereas others are 100% single wood species.
In this article, I provide details on over 20 brands of BBQ wood pellets, their range of flavours, whether they are 100% single wood species or hardwood blended pellets, their typical price and where they are available. I also provide tips on how to get the best deal when buying BBQ wood pellets and how to test pellet quality. Finally, I discuss the new kid on the block, charcoal pellets and their special attributes compared to all other hardwood BBQ pellets.