Yoder Smokers are one of those products where you can instantly feel the quality and craftsmanship that went into building it. The S-Series grills only enhance the legacy of Yoder Smokers with the addition of the Adaptive Control System, Wi-Fi connectivity, ceramic igniter rod, and more. Made in the USA out of 10-gauge steel, the YS640s will last a lifetime.
Retailing for $1,799, the Yoder Smokers YS640s is not for the budget-conscious backyard chef but for the discerning pitmaster who is looking for one of the best pellet grills his or her money can buy. The cooking chamber is made out of 10-gauge steel while the hopper and cart are made out of 14-gauge steel. The 10-gauge steel is a heavy-duty material that is great for heat retention. The steel is then painted black with a 1,200-degree silicone-based paint to get that signature smoker look.
The cooking chamber has two levels, the main level has a 32” x 20” cooking surface, broken up into four removable grates. The second level is slide-out and easily removable and measures 15.5” x 28”. The total cooking area on both levels ends up being 1,070 square inches. The wood pellet hopper has an approx. 20-pound capacity, though I found I could fit more than one 20-pound bag of pellets in it, closer to maybe 22 pounds. The overall measurements of the grill is 61” long, including side shelf, 54” high, and 36.24” deep including the front shelf. The YS640s weighs a whopping 335 pounds!
The new Adaptive Control System (ACS) controller is a huge leap for Yoder as it was built to learn and adjust to its environment in order to anticipate and control the fuel needed to maintain the optimum temperature. It knows how to react to temperature swings after opening the lid or putting cold meat on the grill and can even react to differing burn rates of the wood pellets you’re using. One of the most fully-featured controllers on the market today, the ACS controller features intuitive navigation, a bright, backlit, and easily readable LCD, integrated food probe ports, pit calibration, and component testing capabilities. It’s by far the best, most easy-to-use controller I’ve had experience with.
Yoder partnered with Fireboard Labs to bring Wi-Fi connectivity to the S-Series pellet grills by integrating Fireboard’s temperature monitoring technology into the ACS controller. This feature brings not only Wi-Fi but also Bluetooth connectivity to your mobile phone. You can monitor or change temperatures, set and receive temperature alerts, create custom recipes for future cooks, and even set the grill to automatically change temperatures once the internal temperature of your food hits a limit you set. The only thing I wish you could do is to turn the grill on via the Fireboard app, but Yoder states that this option is not available due to safety concerns, which is valid. You can, however, shut down the grill via the app.
The new ceramic igniter, while not the first of its kind in pellet grills, is a huge improvement over their previous igniters. The new igniter heats up twice as fast as the previous generation and virtually eliminates failed ignitions. The lifespan of these ceramic igniters is also 5 times longer than standard lighting systems.
Other S-Series enhancements include:
- A new burn grate that increases the rigidity to maintain its shape and create the perfect airflow.
- Upgraded 3-inch heavy-duty locking casters in Yoder’s signature orange color to help improve mobility.
- Bumpers on the lid counterweight that protect the grill from accidental paint damage.
- A thermocouple guard that protects the thermocouple wire and prevents failure from damage.
Standard features that carry over from the previous generation of pellet grills include:
- Yoder’s Variable Displacement Damper that allows you to manage the heat distribution in your pit between the firepot and the chimney end. You can push the VDD all the way in to concentrate the heat at the firepot, pull it out all the way to evenly distribute the heat across the pit, or push it in about halfway to create a hotter zone on the left and a cooler zone on the right.
- A slide-out 2nd shelf, perfect for easily placing a large brisket without bending too far over the cooker.
- Stay cool handles that not only look neat but also help ensure you don’t burn your hands while opening and closing the grill.
- A heavy-duty diffuser plate that also acts as a grease drain that leads to a branded Yoder Smokers grease bucket.
- Removable front and side shelves that are made from 7/16” hard chrome-plated round bar steel.
- Probe port to allow your probes to reach your food without propping the grill open and losing heat.
Yoder Smokers was kind enough to send the YS640s along with a few accessories, including the direct grill grates, new cast iron griddle, and most importantly, the 2-piece heat diffuser with an access door. These accessories show off how versatile the YS640s is because the 2-piece heat diffuser allows direct access to the firepot so that you can heat up those grill grates to sear a steak beautifully or heat the cast iron skillet to cook everything from pancakes to scallops and anything in between.
The 2-piece heat diffuser is a major reason why I feel confident calling the YS640s the worlds most versatile pellet grill. Instead of taking the grill apart to remove the entire heavy diffuser, you can simply remove the access door to gain access to the firepot for direct flame grilling and searing. I’ve used the searing capabilities so often, that I’ve been leaving the grill grates in my Yoder at all times.
The YS640s works like any other pellet grill; you turn it on, set the temperature, and let it do its thing. What sets the Yoder apart from the masses of lesser pellet grills out there is the high quality materials used, the fully welded cooking chamber made from thick, heat-retaining steel, details like the variable displacement damper and large wheels, and removable side and front shelves. The versatility of the YS640s means that you can use it for quick weeknight meals or long weekend smokes, and I’ve taken advantage of both.
I’ve done a number of cooks on the Yoder YS640s; everything from a long brisket smoke to scallops, reverse-seared porterhouse steak to grilled chicken breast over the open flame from the firepot. Each time, the Yoder impressed me with different aspects of its performance. For the scallops and grilled chicken breast, I was wowed by the amount of fire coming out of the firepot that was able to heat both the Yoder cast iron skillet and the grill grates to leave amazing sear marks. For the brisket, I was impressed by the amount of smoke put out by the grill and the gorgeous smoke ring that is produced. For the reverse seared porterhouse steak, I loved being able to slow cook the steak first and then turn up the heat to sear the steak on the grillgrates over the open fire. I also cooked a bacon-wrapped meatloaf that tasted amazing thanks to the delicious smoke imparted over the approximately 1-hour cook and the great temperature control of the Yoder. Talk about versatility!
Check out the gallery below of all the cooks I’ve done on the YS640s:
Yoder offers a 10-year warranty on the grill body, 3 years on the control system, and 3 years on the igniter so you can rest easy that your investment is protected for years to come. While the flat black painted finish is attractive, I found it to be fairly fragile. The bottom storage shelf, while handy to store accessories, is painted with the same silicone-based paint and while putting taking the grill grates on and off of the shelf, I happened to scrape the paint off a corner very easily. Thankfully Yoder includes a bottle of spray paint to cover any touchups like this, but I wasn’t expecting the finish to be as fragile as it was. I plan to use Yoder’s all-weather cover going forward to ensure that it’s protected from the elements at all times when not in use. However, if I were to recommend an improvement, it would be to find a different finish for the exterior.
Check out these screenshots from the Fireboard app:
If you’re in the market for a wood pellet grill and are looking to spend on a high-quality grill that was crafted in the USA, you can’t go wrong with a Yoder YS640s or any of the S-Series pellet grills. The YS640s has proven to be the most versatile grill I’ve tested and it’s built to last a lifetime. The 2-piece diffuser is an accessory I cannot recommend enough because it makes it extremely easy to go from slow cooking to high heat grilling over the open fire. The 2-piece diffuser also helps easily vacuum the ash from out of the firepot after a long cook to ensure your grill burns hot and clean. Pair the 2-piece diffuser with the GrillGrates accessory and you’ll be in BBQ heaven. I can’t recommend the YS640s enough.
You can purchase your Yoder Smoker from any of Yoder’s dealers, which you can find at Yoder’s Dealer Locator. I’m a fan of ATBBQ out of Wichita, KS because of their great social media presence and easy to follow recipes by Chef Tom Jackson.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Built like a tank and made to last a lifetime; Heavy-duty steel that retains heat; Best controller on the market; Versatile grill that can go from slow cooking to high heat grilling in 5 minutes; Included side and front shelves.
What Needs Improvement: Pellet hopper is smaller than ideal for long cooks; Painted finish is more fragile than expected.