House of Q Cooking Classes at ATBBQ #TeamYoder

Our Wichita retailer All Things Barbecue hosts monthly cooking classes in their teaching kitchen. It’s a fantastic set-up with an indoor demo kitchen that features overhead cameras so students can see what the chef’s is doing from all angles and a big outdoor patio with a fleet of smokers and grills to cook on, many of which are Yoder Smokers. ATBBQ’s House Chef Tom Jackson, who creates the recipes for their blog The Sauce leads classes with the help of friends like pitmaster Andy Groneman of Smoke on Wheels BBQ and occasional guest instructors.

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We’ve been lucky enough to have BBQ Brian Misko from Vancouver’s House of Q to preside over classes at ATBBQ twice now and it is always a lot of fun. Brian uses a Yoder Smokers YS1500 in BBQ competitions, taking top calls at such prestigious events as the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue and the World Food Championships. He released his first cookbook, Grilling With House of Q, last year and it quickly became a bestseller in his native Canada. ATBBQ is the exclusive US distributor of House of Q’s popular BBQ sauces and rubs.

Brian Misko of House of Q at All Things BBQ

Brian Misko at ATBBQ YS640

There are certain folks we expect to see at All Things BBQ classes. Steve Hamous, for example, is always there to lend a hand with the Yoder Smokers:

Steve Hamous at ATBBQ Cooking Classes

And Kim’s smiling face is always front and center at classes:

Brian Misko and Kim Rosen at ATBBQ Cooking Classes

Sometimes there are new faces in the room, mostly people from the Wichita area or greater Kansas, often from neighboring states like Oklahoma, Missouri, or Nebraska. But this last class of Brian’s brought visitors who flew in from almost as far away as he did! Randy and Chris came in from Billings, Montana and took the time to drive out and see the factory in Hutchinson where their Yoder Smokers pellet grills were made. They found out about Yoders via social media and learned about the classes through subscribing to ATBBQ’s newsletter and The Sauce’s YouTube channel. Elaine flew in from Nashville, where she cooks on a Loaded Wichita. She enjoyed Brian’s Grilling With House of Q and wanted to meet the guy who could come up with a recipe called “Cockroach Chicken.”

Brian Misko Cooking Classes at ATBBQ

What did Elaine think of her trip?

OMG! It was worth every cent to meet Brian and attend his classes. I learned so much and have already tested my learning. I smoked the best brisket that I have ever eaten! Thank you Brian Misko! My ribs were so good that my next door neighbors deemed them: “out of the park” as in that good! I love my Yoder Loaded Wichita and she is such a pleasure to smoke and grill on. My favorite is “Cockroach Chicken.” Brian’s secret brine is awesome. ATBBQ is such a friendly and warm place to shop and come to classes.

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Here’s Brian’s Cranked Up Meatloaf recipe from ATBBQ’s The Sauce YouTube Channel:

If you’re a Yoder Smokers owner or contemplating becoming one, ATBBQ is a great place to see a wide selection of our cookers all in one place and there is usually something cooking on their patio. Check out their upcoming cooking classes and see if there is anything that piques your interest. And let us know if you’re coming!

Competition Cart Upgrade? Try This YS640 Cart DIY

You don’t hear much buyer’s remorse among Yoder Smokers owners in regards to cooking performance. One regret we DO hear a lot, though, is owners wishing they had gone ahead and ordered the competition cart option instead of trying to scrimp and save a little cash by ordering their pellet cooker mounted on a standard cart. They are thrilled to discover you can always upgrade to the competition cart for your YS480 or YS640 whenever you’re ready. But then you’re left with an empty cart on wheels… what do you do with the perfectly good, durable steel Yoder Smokers cart that’s left behind?

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Owner Randy shared his reuse idea on the Team Yoder Facebook Group. He bolted an old tool box onto the YS640 cart, turning it into the perfect accessory caddy/prep station to sit alongside his cooker. Simple but ingenious, much like the Yoder Smokers YS640 pellet cooker itself!

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A Yoder Smokers Birthday Surprise

Aaron and his wife recently traveled from Ohio to North Carolina to visit his parents and celebrate “Thanksmas” – Thanksgiving, his 30th birthday, and a shower for their first baby, due in March. He had no idea they were planning a special surprise just for him!

A miniature Yoder Smokers Cheyenne Offset Cooker

It was a complete surprise, I have not ever told mom and dad I wanted a new smoker before. I have been cooking on a Weber bullet for 5 or 6 years now and had told my wife I wanted to upgrade one day to something that had more surface area for when I host, not to mention to move away from charcoal heat. They didn’t even ask my wife which I liked… They did their own research and also saw some post from YS that I’ve “liked” in the past on Facebook.”

Since the cooker wasn’t scheduled to be delivered for a few more weeks, Aaron’s mom made a miniature Cheyenne to give him, crafted from paper towel rolls, straws, styrofoam, and black spray paint… right down to the “Yoder” plate on the main chamber. Pretty impressive DIY skills and attention to detail!

Back home in Ohio, Aaron received his Cheyenne:

Yoder Smokers Cheyenne Offset Cooker and its mini-me

“I was/am very excited for their choice… Even figured out all the bells and whistles I wanted with it. Very thankful.

Aaron put the Cheyenne to the test, with a classic chicken and ribs combo for his first cook:

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Thank you to Aaron’s wife and parents for such a great #TeamYoder story! We know your family will have a lifetime of cookout stories gathered around the Cheyenne.

 

Yoder Smokers Cheyenne Offset Cooker A miniature Yoder Smokers Cheyenne Offset Cooker

Central Texas Brisket on the YS640

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Yoder owners are THE BEST. Hands-down.

Need proof? Check out our Official Forum, a place where current and future owners come together to share tips, tricks, and mouthwatering photos from their barbecue arsenals. Central Texas brisket has been a hot topic for a while, due in no small part to that Beard Award-winning fella down in Austin and the recent shortage of what used to be a cheap and abundant cut of beef. The story and photos below were posted by forum user Scott, who was on a mission to replicate Texan brisket bark in Western Michigan using his YS640. Looks like he nailed it!

Central Texas Style Brisket on the Yoder Smokers YS640 pellet grill

Central Texas Barbecue is my favorite style, bar none, and it’s what I always go for with my brisket. I’ve smoked quite a few briskets on my YS640 since purchasing, but this one ended up being the best so far… a success on every level. Well, almost every level. I wrote down some notes and took photos along the way and figured maybe this might be of some interest to my fellow pitmasters.

The Meat
A 15 lb Choice packer. I live in West Michigan and packers have alway been an expensive proposition – around $8.50lb; often for just select grade!! However, in a most bizarre and awesome turn of events, this summer nearly every butcher shop in the area has started carrying packers of choice grade at a much more reasonable $4.50/lb. Still more than what you’d pay in Texas to be sure, but much more affordable for us West Michigan Yankees. This new found brisket bonanza actually corresponds with something of a barbecue renaissance in this area – with no less than 3 barbecue joints opening up in downtown Grand Rapids just this summer! Even more shocking is that they are all offering some pretty serious brisket, and sell all meat by the pound. NICE.
Packer Brisket for the Yoder Smokers YS640

The Trim
I lost probably about 3lb or so of inedible fat and browned meat edges. This was a really great cut, with nice marbling and a deckle that wasn’t out of control, haha. I also trimmed off every bit of silver skin on the back side. I hate the stuff with a passion and getting all of it off with ensure that the rub sticks like glue when you go to pull and then slice.
Trimming Brisket for the Yoder Smokers YS640

The Rub
Nothing but Texas Rub, baby! That is to say, kosher salt and coarse black pepper. Absolutely, positively nothing else. No sugar, no cayenne, no olive oil before the rub, no mustard bath before the rub…nothing. It’s taken me awhile to finally adobt the purity of what Franklin Barbecue, Blacks, Cranky Franks, and other classic Central Texas barbecue joints use and I will never go back. Ever. It’s not that I’m against a savory blend of other spices for the rub. Those can be really good. It’s just that Aaron Franklin and others are right on the money when they stress, like gospel, that salt and pepper is all the meat needs. If you’ve never tried it; if you have doubts….give it a go just once. Don’t do mustard or any other base. A nice choice grade of meat with good marbling will not need it. You will be amazed at the purity and flavor.
Simple Brisket Rub for the Yoder Smokers YS640

The Cook
(Yoder set to 250° for the entire cook Damper set to slightly, maybe an inch or so, to the left of dead center so that I’d get a bit more heat on the point – which is always positioned closest to the heat grate). At the very start of my Yoder experience I took everything out before seasoning, set the damper so that it’s exactly dead center in the pit, then marked that location with a sharpie pen on the stainless rack above the damper handle. I can then see instantly where I need to set my damper to start for an even cook, or adjust accordingly depending on my needs

I put a small stainless steel bowl full of water on the top rack. While the bottom rack is best, this still helps keep the meat moist.

At no point did I mist. Misting is the enemy of great bark. Unless you’ve got a massive propane tank cooker that can hold 4 or 5 briskets, misting a brisket on a Yoder is completely unnecessary and will only serve to dampen your bark. I’m not saying don’t do it because for a lot of pitmasters the misting is an important part of the process and taste they are after. If you desire Central Texas style like I do, then don’t mist.

FAT SIDE UP. No self respecting Texan – or a Yankee like me who fancies himself a self respecting Texan – is going to smoke a brisket fat side down.

I decided to mix it up a bit for this cook. Normally I cook for 7 hours and then wrap in butcher paper for another 3 or so until I hit an internal at the flat of 210° and 200° for the point. Then I’ll rest for anywhere from an hour to four hours in the oven (still wrapped in the paper, of course) on a warm setting. I’ve found that there’s very little difference from a 2 hour rest to a 4 hour rest in terms of juiciness. At the one hour mark it’s fine, but I go at least 2.

For this cook, however, I went completely unwrapped the entire cook. I got the thing on at 10:45pm and pulled it the next morning at 8:07am. 9hrs and 20min total time. The internals were: Point = 202°, Flat = 210°. You honestly do not want the flat to go any higher than that and, in fact, I should have pulled it at 205° or so.

I honestly thought I’d be cooking longer, but I always forget how efficient the Yoder is as compared to a stick burner. Those temp variations are so small! I set my alarm to go off every 90min so that I could wake up and check the pellet hopper and make sure everything was going smoothly. All temptations to peek were resisted! LOL.

I never inject my brisket. Ever. Doing so is criminal. If you cook your brisket right – with a nice choice grade – there’s zero need to inject.
Brisket Bark on a Yoder Smokers YS640

The Rest
After the brisket was pulled, I wrapped it in butcher paper and tossed it into my regular oven on the warm setting. I have no idea the temp…it just says ‘warm.’ This was a very long rest: 7 hours!! I normally don’t rest that long but things got going around the house and we didn’t slice until much later than expected. No worries. As I mentioned earlier, there’s no difference I can ever tell between that 2 hour rest to a 4 hour rest… or a 7 hour rest. I read all this stuff that people insist on at least a 5 hour rest or whatever. I don’t agree. I also never do the whole ‘wrap in towels and rest in a cooler or cambro’ thing. I find dragging out my cooler for storing brisket to be highly annoying and it always needs cleaning so… oven it is!

Now, let’s get down to the heart of this thing: I long ago stopped using foil for my brisket cooks and resting because FOIL IS THE ENEMY. As mentioned above, I usually wrap with butcher paper at the 7 hour mark, but used it here for just the rest. Here’s why: Resting in the butcher paper will absolutely retain your moisture and heat but, even if you overwrap, the meat can still breath inside. Even after becoming saturated with the wonderful juice and oils, it still breathes. Foil never breathes. It simply steams your meat and makes the bark into a soggy mess.

If you haven’t made the switch to butcher paper, give it a try. You used to have to order it from obscure online restaurant supply houses but now Amazon has it for a great price and very fast delivery!
Brisket Resting In Paper

The Result
This was the best brisket I’ve smoked yet. Getting to what the great barbecue writer and blogger Daniel Vaughn calls that ‘sugar cookie’ bark is so rewarding and a blessing!!

That’s not to say there weren’t some niggling problems. The bottom of the brisket was very nearly burned. I mean, just barely shy of that point. Close. Very close. It was a bit crunchy, but thankfully not burned. I should have wrapped at about the 7.5 to 8hr mark. Just looking at the thing I can tell that the last hour is when the crunch was probably formed. Even sticking to my original process of the 7 hour mark would be fine but… this brisket had the best bark I’ve done and that was my mission on this cook.

The flat – even the end of the flat – was moist. The juice was everywhere, in every slice and nugget. Long after the slicing, every remaining piece was juicy. The burnt ends and bulk end of the point were swimming in juice; even the remnants an hour after slicing were still juicy. Love that!
Central TX Brisket on the Yoder YS640 Pellet Cooker

Well, that’s it! Sorry for the long post but I love talking about this stuff! I’ve still got so much to learn, but really enjoyed those posts where folks go into serious detail. They’ve been such a help, and hopefully this post will do the same for someone just starting out. I love my Yoder!!!

Juicy Texas-style brisket cooked on a Yoder Smokers YS640

 

 

A Visit to the Yoder Smokers Factory

Have you ever wondered where your Yoder Smoker was born? Wonder no further! Here are some highlights from a recent visit to our factory in Hutchinson, Kansas where raw steel is sheared, shaped and welded to become the world’s finest barbecue pits.

Meet Southern Krunk – #WhyIYoder

Southern Krunk Cooks on Yoder Smokers The Southern Krunk BBQ Society is a competition team based in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Pitmasters Andy Allen and Randy Hill have a convivial approach to cooking that masterfully blends smoke, fire, and whole lot of tomfoolery to result in lip-smacking food and, more importantly, friends from coast to coast. Their larger-than-life personalities have gotten them featured on shows like Pitmasters and BBQ Crawl.

The team’s third leg, so to speak, is Juanita, a custom made Yoder Smokers Frontiersman. We asked Randy to tell us a little bit about Southern Krunk’s secret charm: “Well, right after we bought her, we took her to a KCBS cook off in Anthony, Kansas and got 3rd in pork without even seasoning the pit. We also lost our wheel on the way home. I have pulled her from Hot Springs to Chicago, Salisbury Maryland, Oklahoma City, and Hammond LA and many places in between. I’ve been to over 40 different cities with Juanita. I cooked with her up on a jack in Marshall, TX after getting a flat tire. She’s been to The Jack and The Royal, in the middle of a field in Delight, AR (after getting stuck in a ditch with her), on the banks of Lake Degray outside Hot Springs, on the infield of Oaklawn where triple crown winner American Pharaoh ran, outside soldier field in Chicago, in many an asphalt paring lot form Lexington KY to Shreveport LA; on the banks of the Mississippi in Greenville MS, to the banks of the Yazoo in Greenwood MS. She’s cooked fundraisers on Bathhouse row in Hot Springs National Park, AR and at my sons’ high school (Hot Springs, home of the Trojans!) But my favorite place I’ve ever cooked with Juanita? At the Case d’ Krunk in Hot Springs!”

Check out some photos of Southern Krunk and Juanita in action:

Randy notes that Southern Krunk has won an IBCA comp on Juanita, as well as quite a few local cooks. He also mentioned that his favorite thing to cook on Juanita is lamb.

What surprises Southern Krunk the most about Yoder Smokers, and how would they improve on them?

The incredible value you get in [Yoder Smokers], the service after the sale is second to none– Just ask Joe. Future Yoders need some bling! I’ve got LED lights on Juanita’s undersides… We need a Juanita numero dos… I would trick that mutha out!

Visit Southern Krunk on Facebook and Instagram.

If you cook on Yoder Smokers and would like to be featured here on our blog, let us know.

Choosing The Right Pellet Grill

Yoder Smokers might not have been the first to come up with the concept of a smoker that runs on compressed wood pellets, but we put our experience building high quality offset pit smokers from heavy gauge steel into manufacturing the very best pellet cooker on the market. We’ve put more time and money into research and development than marketing swag and celebrity endorsements, and it’s paid off with a solid range of American-made pellet grills that are durable, dependable, and quite literally award-winning for the folks who cook on them.

Yoder Smokers Pellet Cookers

The YS Pellet Cooker Series is made up of three models: the YS480, the YS640, and the YS1500. The number in each model’s name corresponds to the area of cooking surface it offers, in square inches. Each one offers indirect and direct cooking, offering incredible versatility and ease of use for anything from barbecue to baking. (Note: the YS480 and YS640 are also available with competition cart bases like the one shown on the YS1500 for added mobility.)

We know we’re not the only pellet grill on the block. But we think the difference is obvious, especially when you see one in person. Check our Dealer Locator to see if there is a retailer near you. Yoder Smokers pellet cookers are made from heavy gauge steel, with an attention to detail you just don’t find in pits made outside of the USA. We put a lot of pride into what we put out into the world, so much so that our warranty is the best among our peers: 10 years on the body of the cooker, 3 years on the electronics, and one year on the igniter.

There are plenty of places to find information online about our pellet cookers and those manufactured by our competitors. If you’re looking for a place to ask specific questions about how Yoder Smokers match up to other brands, from pitmasters who have considered and/or cooked on a variety of makes and models, our Community Forum is a good place to start. Facebook groups like Team Yoder Smokers and Yoder Smokers Australia & NZ  are also a great resource.

Take a look around and let us know if you have any questions. We’re always happy to help. We want you to make the right decision for your needs, and we hope it’s a Yoder Smoker.

 

Noah’s Customized YS640 Comp Cart

Noah's Customized Yoder Smokers YS640 Comp Cart

We see a lot of aftermarket customization on Yoder Smokers. It’s pretty great to see how people make them their own, usually with a custom cut logo or decal on the cart. We’ve got to say this old school hot rod pinstriping on Noah Davis’ cooker looks awfully sweet! Pollock Joe did a fantastic job and we love that fiery red on Yoder orange. No word yet on how it affects the food that comes off of it but we suspect it adds a little swagger to whatever Noah is cooking up!

Noah's Customized Yoder Smokers YS640 Comp Cart Noah's Customized Yoder Smokers YS640 Comp Cart
Noah's Customized Yoder Smokers YS640 Comp Cart Noah's Customized Yoder Smokers YS640 Comp Cart


See video of Pollock Joe in action on our Facebook page and check out his website at http://pollockspinstriping.com/.

BBQ Brian from House of Q

Doing a bit of cooking today…. 14 pork butts slammed into my YS1500. #whyiyoder

A video posted by Brian Misko (@house_of_q) on

Brian Misko, a.k.a. BBQ Brian, is the pitmaster for House of Q. The Langley, British Columbia-based team has been cooking competitively since 2005, racking up a slew of top calls from contests all across North America over the past decade. In the last few months of 2014 alone, they were named Canadian BBQ Society Team of the Year, took the top international pork call at the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue, and also nabbed first place in ribs at the World Food Championships – no small feat!

Brian Misko House of Q World Food Champion in Ribs

House of Q introduced their eponymous line of barbecue sauces and rubs to the retail market in 2007, garnering rave reviews from consumers and competition judges alike. Their popular Slow Smoke Gold BBQ Sauce and Slather took second place honors two years running at the prestigious American Royal World Series of Barbecue. Brian’s first cookbook, Grilling With House of Q, was just released on April 11th. It’s absolutely beautiful to look at and will teach even seasoned pitmasters a new trick or two.

BBQ Brian Misko Grilling With House of Q Cookbook

So when did House of Q join #TeamYoder? According to BBQ Brian’s blog, they added the Yoder Smokers YS1500 pellet cooker to their arsenal in the Spring of 2014, as their primary competition cooker for brisket and pork. He also recently got the chance to cook on our Cimarron for a charity event in Saskatchewan. We think it looks like true love!

Yoder Smokers Cimarron Competition BBQ Cooker

Brian told me he first read about Yoders in a magazine and liked their look but didn’t get a chance to get up close and personal to one until he saw them at the American Royal in 2012. “I like my competition long cooks on my Yoder,” he says. “They get amazing crust, great smoke ring, and they turn out fantastic.”

What’s the most popular recipe Brian has created on his YS1500?

I would have to say “Bacon Bites” which is featured in my new cookbook Grilling with House of Q. It really is a simple recipe however rather easy to screw up too!

Bob’s YS1500 Pellet Grill

One of the best ways to learn about Yoder Smokers is to join our Community Forum. It’s an incredible resource, with Yoder owners putting our cookers to the test, troubleshooting, and sharing insights and helpful hints with each other. Competition pitmasters and backyard grilling newbies assemble on even ground, to discuss the ins and outs of barbecue and how to get the most out of your Yoder. We peer in and try to answer questions and generally be helpful, but Yoder owners are an independent breed and tend to make their own decisions!

Here’s a recent post from Community Forum member Bob Parrish, summing up his thoughts about his new YS1500 pellet cooker.


Yoder Smokers YS1500 Pellet Grill

My new cooker sitting on my super secret leveling device.

I took delivery of my brand spankin’ new YS1500 two weeks ago. Since then I’ve cooked four rounds of ribs, one lonely chicken and pastrami. I’ve done all the temperature measurements to learn where the hot and cool spots are and to generally find out how stable this thing is when actually cooking. The conclusion? Set your temp on the controller and quit worrying.

During the first two cooks I saw temperature swings as high as 40 degrees from set temp. These swings were always high. I’d have it set at 225º and see the grate temp go to 270º. And then I realized something; those swings were always within the first two hours of the cook. I had an “aha” moment and took Yoder_Herbs advice; when I fired it up I did so at 350º and only after I reached that temp would I put on my ribs, turn the temp down and start cooking. My thinking is that this thing is so damn big that at 225º it just takes a while to completely settle in.

When I did that, the swings essentially went away. Yeah, you still get some, but only for a few minutes and then it stabilizes again. Nothing to worry about.

I found that on my cooker there is about 5-8 degrees difference in temp from left to right on the bottom grate and about the same on the top. The top grate settles in at about 10 degrees hotter than the main surface. I think this is truly exceptional and pretty much mitigates the need to rotate meat. Lots of times the temps were identical. The only hot spot I’ve found is the upper left near the fire box on the main grate and near the stack on the top.

Clean up is a snap and is much easier than my now gone YS640. Lift out the grates and the heat management plates and you’re in clean mode. The gunk on the heat management plates scrapes right off and the inside of the cooker is easy to scrape and vacuum.

So how’s the food? In the words of Anthony Bourdain, “it does not suck.” I would say it cooks more gently than my YS640. The 640, (and my even older Traeger) tended to burn the ends of the ribs a bit unless I wrapped. The 1500 just chugs along and when those bits of pig are done, pull them off and get happy. I’d say it cooks them almost as well as my 500 gallon stick burner without any of the heat management problems of such large cooker.

Oh yeah, the bark is damn near perfect. I’m hoping that in the next 100 lbs. or so of pellets I’ll have the bark dialed in.

I cooked a chicken because my wife wanted chicken. Being the good husband and seeing that 98 cents a pound was a small price to pay for a dead bird, I obliged. I cook poultry at 275 to keep the moisture in the bird and at least for me, it works. It had beautiful color, perfectly moist and nice crispy skin. It was as good as my stick burner.

A delightful surprise was the smoke. No matter what temp I’m cooking there is always, always thin blue smoke coming out of that big fat stack. It’s a thing of beauty to watch and that wonderfulness ends up in your mouth. When the first racks of baby backs were finished I sliced one off, admired the color and texture for oh, about two seconds and took a bite.
The conversation with myself went a bit like this:

“Damn.”

“Damn.”

“This is some good sh*t.”

“This is some damn good sh*t.”

“In fact, this IS the sh*t.”

Is it worth the whopping four thousand dollars?

It depends. I’m 60 years old and have been barbecuing for 30 years. I’ve been chasing that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow trying to get my stuff to taste as good as that BBQ joint that built their pit in the ’20s. A stick burner properly managed will get you there. I don’t have the energy or desire to stay up most of the night tending the fire on long cooks and like being able to relax a bit on the shorter ones. As involving and fun as tending the fire is, it got old. This cooker gets me to 95% or maybe a tad better to what a stick burner can do. For me it was worth the price of admission.

Yoder Smokers YS1500 Pellet Grill

8 racks of baby backs. I supposed I could have used the top shelf, but I didn’t have to! I could have squeezed two more racks on the main cooking surface.

Ribs on the Yoder Smokers YS1500

Three hours in to the cook.

Ribs on the YS1500 Pellet Grill

A close up.

Yoder Smokers Pellet Grills produce thin blue smoke

Thin blue smoke. All. The. Time.

Ribs about to come off the Yoder YS1500

About to come off the cooker.

Ribs cooked on the Yoder Smokers YS1500 Pellet Grill

The finished product. They look a bit dry in the picture, but I can assure they were not!