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.
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:
“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.