backyard basics Traeger vs. Yoder Buy This Smoker (2022)
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Traeger vs. Yoder: Buy This Smoker (2022)

One key distinction in comparing Traeger vs. Yoder grills is that Yoder products are made in the USA. Traeger grills are made overseas, but feature advanced technology for use in your backyard.

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Yoder vs. Traeger Pellet Grills

There are few brands that have quite the cult-like following as Traeger, but Yoder might be one of those brands. One key distinction in comparing Traeger vs. Yoder grills is that Yoder products are made in the USA. Traeger grills are designed in the USA but made overseas.

You have distinct needs, and whether you choose Yoder or Traeger likely depends on how you intend to you your new pellet smoker. Here are our recommended choices.

Traeger vs. Yoder Grills: Which Is Best?

Yoder and Traeger each stand out in their own way. If you have the money, a Yoder pellet smoker is best for competitions and commercial uses. Traeger grills are better for heavy backyard use and light competition use.

Yoder grills and smokers aren’t available online through the company’s website, which adds a little mystique to the brand. Yoder’s website offers an easy-to-use dealer locator, but unfortunately, you can’t buy a Yoder grill or Yoder smoker through their online store.

Other pellet grills are worth considering, including brands like Pit Boss, but few brands make their products in the USA. That’s definitely worth keeping in mind.

Are Yoder Pellet Grills Worth The Money?

Yoder Smokers are sturdy and American-made, which makes them worth it. Yoder makes among the highest quality pellet grills and smokers in the entire industry. They designed several of the products specifically for competitions. You will notice a heavy-duty base and wheels that make the grills perfect for transporting to and from each competition.

You will also notice that some of the Yoder smokers are significantly larger than most pellet grills made by the competition. This is the smoker for you if you like to cook for fundraisers and large groups of people.

Traeger vs. Yoder

Yoder YS480 Series

Yoder’s smallest smoker is the YS480 Series, which comes in three variations. Naturally, this series is also the most affordable of the Yoder smokers and will work perfectly for most people interested in serious competition.

Based on naming conventions that competitor brands use, you might guess that the YS480 Series features 480 square inches of cooking space. You will be surprised to learn that the cooking chamber is actually much larger than this. The YS480 Series features a whopping 800 square inches of cooking surface spread across three cooking grates.

And where many pellet grills and smokers max out at 500°F, the YS480 Series boasts a range from 150-600°F. The Yoder smokers pellet grills also feature functionality allowing you to set up your meat over directly over the flame in case you want to sear a steak.

This American Made quality is second to none. Yoder Smokers are more expensive than even comparable Traeger grills, but the enhanced quality construction is noticeable. These Yoder grills feature a 1/8-inch thick heavy gauge steel construction and a ceramic igniter.

Combined with the Yoder Smokers ACS (Adaptive Control System) and WiFi (which Yoder refers to as YFi), and these S-Series pellet grills stand tall against the competition. You can get some serious cooking done with 800 square inches of cooking space and a 20 lbs. pellet hopper capacity.

yoder-vs-traeger-pellet-grills-and-smokers

Does Yoder Have An App?

In the past, you would have never expected that a compatible app might become an essential feature for a grill, but here we are. And it makes sense. Low-and-slow cooking takes hours and hours. It’s a beautiful process, but it is truly a slow process, and you might want to go inside to get warm or watch some football.

The Yoder app makes this possible. You can control your smoker from your phone, access cooking programs, or even access recipes. It’s a solid app to go with a solid grill, and in comparing Traeger vs. Yoder, this is one consideration you don’t need to worry about before making a decision.

The app is called FireBoard, so don’t be alarmed if you search the app store and don’t see an app labeled after Yoder Smokers.

Yoder Options & Accessories

One reason you will love the Yoder Smokers brand is their add-on versatility for each grill. In comparing Yoder vs. Traeger, this is one area in that Yoder shines. For instance, consider the optional aluminum grill grate, which Yoder smokers calls GrillGrates.

Adding the aluminum grill grates to the S-Series Grills will enable you to reach searing temperatures of 700°F. One side of the aluminum grill grates features rails for the perfect sear marks. Turn the grill grates over, and you can use them as a flattop cooking surface, which is very innovative.

Camp Chef and Traeger now offer a side accessory flattop grill, but Yoder Smokers offers one of the few options to directly turn your grill grates into a flattop that will reach a cooking temperature as high as 700°F. All pellet grills offer indirect heat, but few give you the option to cook with direct heat.

You can also choose a full set of stainless steel cooking grates, a purpose-built cooking griddle, stainless steel shelves, or dual-door thermometers on the Yoder YS640S. The only downside is that Yoder Smokers get pricey quickly, but they may be the best pellet grills for the competitive pitmaster. Few pellet grills can match the competition quality.

Yoder YS640 Series

The YS480 Series pellet smokers are serious, but the YS640 Series features more than 1000 square inches of cooking space and takes things to the next level. The YS640 does quite hit the commercial size of some of Yoder’s trailers, so you can still use a YS640 in the backyard. Still, don’t be surprised if you see more than one on the competition circuit.

Of course, we recommend choosing an S Series pellet grill if you plan to hit the competition circuit. The S model, such as the Yoder YS640S, has a world-recognized custom cart and stainless steel prep shelves. The custom cart is known for its distinct look, but that is hardly the only reason to get the custom cart.

The cart makes the Yoder pellet smoker more maneuverable. It also features built-in tie-downs so that you can secure your pride and joy smoker in transit to your next competition.

Yoder grills, including the YS640 Series, feature a taller cooking chamber than you will usually find on the pellet grill market. It’s a simple distinction but one that is practical for pellet smokers. This Yoder smokers offers plenty of room in the cooking chamber to throw on a brisket or pork butt and maybe a few chickens too.

In comparing Traeger vs. Yoder, one big advantage for Yoder is the ability to flame grill on the same cooker. You can set up your Yoder pellet grills for direct flame grilling. You can’t easily do that on a Traeger smoker.

Similar to the YS480 Series, the pellet hopper capacity for a YS640 is 20lbs. This Yoder pellet smoker is also made from a durable 1/8-inch steel construction for the cooking body.

yoder-ys640s

Yoder Smokers YS480 vs. YS640

The two most popular Yoder Smokers models are very similar regarding their features. The biggest difference is size. The YS480 features 480 sq inches of space on its main grates (20” by 24”), while the YS640 features 640 sq inches of surface on the main grates (20” by 32”). Both Yoder models feature additional space on an optional second shelf in the cooking chamber.

Yoder CimarronS Series

Traeger pellet grills are great, but no Traeger matches the size of a Yoder Cimarron Series pellet smoker. The Yoder Cimmaron features more than

2000 square inches of cooking space and a massive 40 pounds pellet hopper capacity. Inside the cooking chamber, you will find two lower cooking grates and a second-level slide-out shelf.

In comparing Yoder vs. Traeger, you are comparing two different types of smokers, which is nowhere more evident than when looking at a Cimarron S Pellet smoker. The Cimarron is so big that the competition stand has an integrated steering axle, and the stand sits on 10-inch pneumatic tires. While Traeger grills may be industry-leading in some regards, they look like toys next to a Cimmaron.

Plus, this Yoder pellet smoker’s patented heat management system offers enhanced temperature control. Other features include a tall exhaust vent that is better than a conventional chimney (usually very short) and an integrated probe port. You will also find folding font shelves made from sturdy stainless steel, a grease drain, and a pellet dump to change out old or wet pellets.

This Yoder grill is fully customizable too. It’s a shame you can’t order the customizations online, but it is worth making a call to Yoder when the result is a customized smoker.

yoder-cimarrons-competition

Trailers, Grills & Other Products

Of course, there is serious competition, and then there is serious competition. Yoder Smokers makes some of the best trailer grills manufactured anywhere on the planet. Pull your Yoder pellet smoker with a trailer hitch, and you won’t need to worry about rolling it up into a truck bed.

There are reasonable uses beyond competition, too, because some of us just enjoy a good barbecue. The Yoder trailer grills work perfectly for tailgating, cooking at church gatherings and fundraising events, and so forth. The options are nearly limitless. Heck, you might even start a restaurant or catering business.

The Frontiersman III weighs as much as 4,650 lbs. and offers as much as 4,500 sq. inches of cooking area. That’s more cooking capacity than Traeger or any other major pellet grill brand offers. and if you are seriously interested in starting a restaurant or catering service, it’s about more than simply cooking food. You want that authentic smoke flavor at scale, which is where Yoder smokers deliver.

Beyond pellet grills, offsets, and trailers, Yoder makes among the highest-quality flat-top grills you will find. They, too, are extremely pricey. Still, for those of you for which price may not be an option, Yoder flat tops are the best. The high cooking temperatures are perfect for burgers, steaks, and even fried rice.

yoder-trailers

More About Yoder Smokers

Not convinced? Yoder Smokers are among the highest-quality American-made grills available. Still, spending that kind of money is a big decision, and we understand you may have questions. We are big believers that Yoder Smokers are the premium smoker on the competition circuit. There may be no better choice for those who want to turn up their game.

Where Are Yoder Pellet Grills Made?

Yoder Smokers is headquartered in Hutchinson, Kansas, and the brand designs, tests, and manufactures all of its pits in the USA. Yoder pellet grills are expensive, and Yoder’s high-quality, American-made construction is the brand’s biggest selling point.

The smaller Yoder Smokers, including the YS480 and YS640 smokers, are shipped in a box. You will need to finalize the assembly once you receive the shipment. Other models are shipped on a palate and delivered to your door, assuming there’s sufficient space for delivery.

Do Yoder Smokers Ever Go On Sale?

Yoder pellet smokers are among the highest-quality cooking devices don’t the planet, but they don’t usually go on sale. Instead, remember that you are paying for the highest-quality craftsmanship made in America. Yoder offered a discount on a grill and pellet bundle in years past, but the smoker itself wasn’t really discounted. They just threw in some wood pellets.

What Is A Variable Displacement Damper (VDD)?

The variable displacement damper (VDD) on the YS640 model enables the grill master to adjust the temperature inside the smoker locally. In other words, when you push the damper in completely, the left half of the grill gets hotter, and the right stays at a lower temperature. The control system can also be set for even cooking or a hotter temperature on the right side of the smoker.

Can You Grill On A Yoder?

Yoder offers an optional direct grate system, which matches grill capabilities more known for gas or charcoal grills. Grill on the direct grate system will enable faster cooking times and the perfect grill marks.

Low-and-slow smoking is about gradually raising your barbecue’s internal temperature to maintain moisture content and maximize tenderness. Still, you can make an awesome burger and steak by raising the temperature and searing on the direct grate system.

Can You Buy Direct From Yoder Website?

Yoder Smokers are among the highest-quality smoke pits on the planet; however, they are expensive, and you can’t buy them online through Yoder’s website. These are the two biggest downsides to considering a Yoder pellet smoker. Instead, you can purchase a Yoder model through a dealer or by calling to place an order.

You can buy from Yoder’s exclusive online reatailer, All Things Barbecue. For a customized smoker, you will likely still need to call Yoder directly, but most people will be happy with the Smokers offered through All Things Barbecue.

Is Yoder Worth It?

Yoder grills tend to be much more expensive than competitor grills and smokers, but Yoder smokers are American-made from the highest quality construction. Yoder models are worth it for the serious grill master that enjoys competition because they offer unmatched size and portability.

When it comes down to it,

Yoder smoker pits are second to none. This is especially true when it comes to trailers and commercial-scale equipment.

Traeger Grills and Smokers

While Yoder is a staple on the competition circuit, Traeger is an original. Traeger and Yoder have unique selling points, but it is hard to argue against Traeger pellet grills is a step beyond the rest regarding grilling tech.

The brand is no longer owned by Joe Traeger and his family; however, the benefit is that the new owners invested money in even more research and development. Features like advanced temperature control, which may be new technology for other brands, are footnotes for the Traeger brand. This investment has further driven Traeger grills to the front of the pack.

traeger-pellet-grills

Timberline Pellet Grills

The Traeger Timberline Grill Series is the most advanced pellet grill available on the market. It is also more expensive than most other grills of the same size. Still, it offers everything you might need for outdoor cooking, and users can even use the Timberline as a built-in grill. Yoder is one of the few brands with smokers more expensive than Traeger pellet grills, but Yoder grills are American-made.

While the Traeger Timberline is not American-made, it is innovative. Some of the innovations that drive the Traeger Timberline forward are small adjustments, while other features are game-changing. For instance, these Traeger grills feature an easy-to-use touchscreen display. It’s a technology we use every day elsewhere, but few brands were willing to add the expense to the cost of making a grill.

On the other hand, the Traeger Induction cooktop is more game-changing for Traeger loyalists. The induction cooktop sits as a side attachment on a Timberline Traeger grill. It enables more diversified cooking techniques, including frying, sauteing, and searing. You can place a sauce pot on the cooktop and whip up your favorite sauces as you make your dinner.

There are other features that drive the cost of a Timberline up, but that truly contribute toward Traeger’s reputation as a preeminent grill. For instance, the cooking chamber features double-wall construction, which enables a more efficient and consistent burn. Temperature fluctuations cause chaos, but the dual-wall construction reduces these fluctuations.

Traeger’s Smart Combustion temperature control system further enhances temperature control, enabling a consistent temperature range.

Of course, there are other practical features. The Timberline boasts an EZ-Clean grease and ash keg that makes cleaning up a breeze, the MEATER wireless meat thermometer system, and WiFi communication to an app on your phone. Grillmasters also love the Super Smoke mode.

The Traeger Timberline comes in two sizes. the smaller size features almost 900 sq in of cooking space, while the Timberline XL features more than 1300 sq in of cooking space. At 22 lbs, the pellet hopper size is sufficient for long and slow cooks or amping the grill temperature up for faster burgers and hot dogs.

The Traeger Timberline grill series is exceedingly versatile. Whereas most grills have two cooking racks, the Timberline is so large it boasts three cooking racks. For the serious grillmaster, there may be no better option.

traeger-timberline

Ironwood Pellet Grills

Traeger Ironwood grills are more down to earth and more closely aligned to what you might expect to see from a wood pellet grill. That’s not to say that a Traeger Ironwood is disappointing in any way. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It is the most impressive mid-tier wood pellet grill on the market.

The Traeger Ironwood Series features Downdraft Exhaust and Super Smoke Mode, both of which are designed to provide maximum flavor. An Ironwood will also have other practical features, like rugged all-terrain wheels and a pellet sensor system that alerts you when the pellet hopper starts to get a little low.

Quality is the name of the game with Traeger. That’s why all Ironwood grills feature some level of insulated construction designed to maximize heat retention. The Traeger Timberline series might represent the most advanced grill on the planet, but the Ironwood Series is more practical and within reach for most people.

And the Traeger Ironwood still has functional standard features, like a pellet cleaning hatch that makes it very easy to clean out old pellets and pellet ash. The pellet cleaning hatch may not be the sexiest feature, but not every pellet smoker has a clean-out hatch.

Most people buy their first pellet grill because they want to make barbecue at home, but Traeger smokers cook food from baked goods to pizza. Cooking with wood pellets is so convenient that you may find a few meals each week on your Traeger that you may have previously cooked in an indoor oven.

traeger-ironwood

Traeger Pro Pellet Grills

The Traeger Pro Series grill is designed as a more affordable grill compared to the Traeger Ironwood or Timberline series. The Traeger Pro Series still features many of the advanced features that other pellet grill brands claim.

The Pro Series connects to your phone via the WiFIRE app and comes with built-in meat probes, so you don’t have to open the lid and let the smoke out of the chamber. You can also control the temperature with dials similar to what you would find in an oven.

Even that’s not all. The pellet hopper cleanout system is a trapdoor that allows you to easily clean the hopper. This also helps you switch out the flavors if you want to experiment with flavor mixing.

The Pro Series grills and smokers are a little smaller than the Ironwood Series. Still, even the smaller Pro 575 is big enough for 24 burgers or 5 racks of rib. The Traeger Pro Series grills are more affordable largely because they are smaller. Even so, they are the perfect size for a couple or a small family.

If you are in the market for a pellet smoker but don’t want to break the bank, a Traeger Pro Series grill should be at the top of your list.

Portable Traeger Pellet Grill

Did you know that Traeger makes a portable pellet grill? It’s true. They do. It is so compact and portable that you can take it to the campsite or even on a boat. In fact, Traeger makes two portable pellet grills. The smaller grill is called the Traeger Ranger.

The Ranger isn’t very big, but that’s by design. Still, it is a grill that will fit on a boat or that you can store in your kitchen and easily pull out onto your patio. Even at its small size, it’s still big enough for six burgers or a full rack of ribs. This isn’t just a warming rack. A fully portable pellet smoker does the job as you would expect from a Traeger grill.

Of course, if you want something a little bit bigger than that, we recommend checking out the Traeger Tailgater. The name says it all. The grill is the perfect size to fit in your truck bed and take you to the big game. It isn’t small enough to fit on a boat like the Ranger, but it is small enough to be easily portable if you have a truck.

The Tailgater has about twice the capacity of the Ranger, so choose accordingly based on your intended use.

Is Yoder Better Than Traeger?

Yoder and Traeger both make quality pellet grill smokers, but Yoder is generally higher quality. The 1/8-inch steel construction made in America is hard to argue with. Still, Traeger innovates on the technological side of pellet smoking, which is where Traeger still leads. This might not even matter if you are a purist, but Traeger is likely the better choice for the novice cook looking to master the pellet smoker.

Traeger is usually the more expensive brand compared to nearly any other brand. It’s unusual that Traeger smokers are the more affordable smokers, but when you compare Yoder vs. Traeger, Traeger is generally more affordable.

Still, Traeger smokers pack a punch of technology. Yoder smokers are better built for competition, but Traeger is perfect for the average Joe looking to cook smoke-flavored foods.

The Yoder app is on par with the Traeger app, so we will call this consideration a wash. The Traeger app features a low pellet alarm, but the Yoder app features all must-have technology. So when deciding between Traeger and Yoder, your decision likely comes down to how you intend to use the smoker.

Is A Traeger Grill Worth The Investment?

Traeger is best for your backyard, but Yoder is better for competitions and commercial-scale barbecuing. Yoder and Traeger both make excellent products but might be made for different audiences. Traegers feature technology and innovation that makes grilling easy for a newbie, while Yoder offers quality and scale for the experienced pitmaster that doesn’t need the latest technology.

Alternative Grilling Options

While Traeger and Pit Boss were the original pellet grill brands, several other brands entered the fray in recent years. The good news for you is that there is no shortage of options.

The Traeger Timberline might be the gold standard for backyards, and the Yoder YS640S Series might be among the most popular competition grills, but they are both expensive. Brands like Z Grills sell pellet grills that are much more affordable than the top-tier brands.

Even brands that traditionally make charcoal grills, like Char-Broil and Weber now make pellet grills too. Choose Weber if you want a charcoal grill, but choose Traeger or Yoder if you are looking for a pellet grill and smoker.

Pellet smokers are fantastic for everything from brisket to pizza. They enable you to add smoke flavoring to your pizza and digitally monitor your brisket as it works through the dreaded stall. If you are sold on pellet grills, starting by comparing Traeger vs. Yoder is a smart place to start.

Yoder vs. Traeger: Which Should You Buy?

Yoder and Traeger both make excellent products but they might be made for different audiences. Traegers feature technology and innovation that makes grilling easy for a newbie, while Yoder offers quality and scale for the experienced pitmaster that doesn’t need the latest technology.

Traeger, too, offers high-quality construction, such as a dual wall chamber designed for increased heat retention. Still, it’s on a scale that is great for the backyard or someone that occasionally cooks for the local church group. For those that make competitions their every-weekend hobby, or that might consider opening a restaurant or catering business, Yoder is the way to go.

The Yoder YS640S may be the most popular Yoder pellet smoker because of its moderate size, the ability to add a Variable Displacement Damper, and the moderate price compared to the larger Yoder smokers. Nonetheless, choose a Yoder smoker if you plan enter competitions, cook frequently for fundraisers, or start a catering business or restaurant.

The Traeger Timberline is our favorite grill from the brand because of its advanced tech and side induction cooker. Still, the Traeger Ironwood Series are fine grills if money is a concern. Choose Traeger if you are a backyard warrior.

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