Pellet Grills: Camp Chef vs Yoder Smokers
Pellet grills have become a major trend in the past few years.
Why are so many people so crazy about them? Because they’re efficient and reliable, and they let people slow-cook and smoke food (I’m thinking, among other things, of large cuts of meat, like briskets and pork shoulders, which turn out incredible on a pellet grill), without having to do a thing. What I mean by that is, you connect a pellet grill to the WiFi and access the cooking data on your phone. All you do is start it up, put your food on it, and you’re done—you don’t even need to even stand next to it. Now that’s the good life. 😉
Another aspect that may explain why people love this kind of grill is that pellets, unlike logs, don’t vary from bag to bag. The moisture content, size, the wood species—everything is controlled and reproduced identically for each pellet. So, you can’t go wrong with it.
Anyhow, let me get to the point. At House of BBQ Experts, we have several pellet grill models available from different brands, so I thought it’d be a good idea to give you a little comparison. The pellet grill brands we sell at House of BBQ Experts are Camp Chef and Yoder Smokers.
Camp Chef Grills
Camp Chef grills are exceptional. What’s remarkable about this brand is that it changed the pellet grill game by tweaking the number of pellets required to “feed” the grill and the grill speed, ultimately allowing folks to control the amount of smoke the grill produces. So, if you like your food super smoky, you can choose 10 as the smoke level, and if you don’t fancy particularly smoky food, choose level 1.
With the PID system on these grills as well, you’ll have “nothing to do” because it controls the amount of pellets burning according to the temperature setting and so on.
Other than that, these grills last a long, long time. And what I like the most is that, for me, they provide the best bang for your buck. What I mean is, they come at a ridiculously low entry-level price and they’re really fantastic.
Getting down to the nitty-gritty, Camp Chef grills are made in China from relatively thin steel (what I call sheet metal). These grills are not designed to trap heat so much as heat up quickly. When you lift the grill lid, a ton of heat escapes, which is why it’s important to refrain from lifting the lid all the way up when cooking. As my brother JP says, we’re better off bending our knees and opening the lid just a crack to get a look inside.
If you want to grill your food at a really high temperature, however, some models have Slide and Grill technology—a system I love. Just pull the handle on the side of your appliance, and you can grill directly with flames. It yields really great results.
However, if you want to help your grill retain heat, you can also cover it with an insulated blanket. This will protect the appliance from the cold and make it easier to cook food. You’ll save on pellets in the process. 😎 (Ideally, you want to cover your appliance from September to April/May, when the weather is cool and not too hot).
Alternatively, another way to cook with Camp Chef is to use an accessory like the Sidekick. It’s both powerful and sturdy. However, it must be purchased separately.
Yoder Smokers Grills
Yoder Smokers’ grills are more in the high-end category. They’re fairly expensive but well worth the price.
First of all, they’re hand-built and assembled in the U.S., using 1/8-inch-thick steel, which partly explains the high price and proves that these are premium devices. In fact, even the Yoder Smokers’ PID system is proprietary; it was developed by the company itself.
In the same vein, recent Yoder Smokers models also feature a Fireboard WiFi thermometer, which is highly accurate and fast, and also made in the U.S.
The thick steel construction of these grills means they retain their heat; there’s no loss, even when the lid is open. The temperature is therefore very stable, and pellet consumption is lower (and if you want to further bring out these features, you can even throw an insulated blanket over your Yoder). They then, of course, take more time to preheat, but once they’re ready, they’re ready. 😜
These grills are really solid. In 50 years, yours will still be in greT shape. The only “flaw” it’s likely to rust. But you just have to sandblast it and repaint your grill, and it’s good to go. It won’t rust so badly that you can stick a screwdriver, for example, through it.
Otherwise, one thing I like about the Yoders is that, underneath their 304 stainless steel grates, the new models have a heat diffusion tray with a hatch you can open to then grill directly over the flames. It’s so handy.
Also, instead of having an endless screw about 10 to 12 inches long, as quite a few pellet barbecues have, Yoder Smokers have one only about 1 to 1 ½ inches long. Yoder Smokers’ is therefore stronger and more accurate, giving you better temperature control.
Moreover, the element with ceramic bellows that ignites the pellets is super fast and powerful; the pellets catch fire almost instantly with it.
Otherwise, some models, such as the YS640s, have a system that diffuses heat and creates two cooking zones with different temperatures. If you need to cook different foods to different degrees, then this is perfect.
And if you’re someone who competes in grilling competitions, a Yoder Smokers grill is a real winner. Plus, the great thing about Yoder Smokers is that you can actually customize your unit. That’s right, you can have the cart painted any color you like and even add a design if you so choose!
To Sum Up
No matter what type of grill you choose, you’re sure to have a blast with a pellet grill. The important thing to know, however, is that you need to read your unit’s instruction manual from cover to cover because this type of grill is like a cross between a grill and a computer. If you want to use it properly, you need to be prepared.
Also, a little tip: if you don’t have any other grill with which to sear your food, I highly recommend installing Grill Grate cooking panels in your unit. The results they’ll give you will be impressive.
And lastly, if you’re not sure which grill model to choose, be sure to talk to one of our representatives on our website. They’ll be able to recommend the best models for your needs. 😊
Happy grilling, everyone!