In late 2022, Yoder Smokers sent me their Wood-Fired Oven to go with the YS640s Competition pellet grill they sent me in 2021 for review. Since then, I’ve had the chance to put it to good use.
Chances are that if you’re reading this review, you know a thing or two about Yoder Smokers and the quality they bring to the pellet grill and grilling industry as a whole. Whether you’re looking for competition-level grills or just a high-quality pellet grill for backyard use, Yoder Smokers delivers with products made in the U.S.A. Just be aware that you’ll be paying more for that high quality and craftsmanship versus a product made overseas.
Anyways, I was very excited to start testing out this wood fired oven accessory. I typically used a good quality pizza stone on my Yoder or gas grill when making pizza’s so this was a nice change. The problem with simply using a stone on a pellet grill or gas grill, is you never get the high temperatures or the top down radiant heat from an oven like this. Which means your pizza will not bake evenly. Finally I have a good quality pizza oven to test/review.
My focus in this review is with pizza, however the oven is much more capable then just pizza. Consider baking pies, or broiling anything that needs a quick shot of high heat.
Table of Contents
Yoder Smokers Overview
Little bit about the company. Yoder Smokers is headquartered in Hutchinson, Kansas and started making grills in 2007 before selling them commercially in 2009. They have offerings ranging from charcoal grills to offset smokers to pellet grills as well as competition offerings and even custom smoker trailers for serious needs. Every grill receives the same level of care and quality while being manufactured for heavy-duty steel.
Yoder Wood-Fired Oven Overview & Specifications
The Wood-Fired Oven is designed to fit both the YS640 and the YS480 pellet grills to turn them into a backyard oven. Yoder states the oven is capable of temperatures ranging from 350°F for baking bread to 900°F to replicate that wood-fired pizza experience at home. I have personally hit 700F and that is during winter months. I’ll keep updating this review with my use of other foods and summer temps.
|Specification / Feature|
|Overall Dimensions||17.75” D x 19.75” W x 6.75” H|
|Opening Dimensions||4.125” H x 14.18” W|
|Heat Diffuser Dimensions||20” D x 21” W, requires tilting to install on Yoder YS480 due to the smoker’s opening|
|Shipping Weight||45 lbs.|
|Heat Diffuser And Hood Materials||Heavy-duty steel|
|Stone Dimensions||13.5” W x 16.75” D, ¾” thick|
|Oven Opening Dimensions||14.18″ W x 3.875″ H|
|Stone Material||Kiln-fired stone|
|Temperature Range||350°-900°F at the top of the hood, up to 700°F on the stone itself|
|Portable||Comes in three pieces, hood has carrying handles|
Unboxing the Yoder Wood-Fired Oven
As with all things Yoder, the shipping packaging material was heavy duty and everything arrived in perfect condition. The kit will get you three main items.
- Oven Hood Unit
- Heat Distribution Plate
- A High Quality Stone
The items are heavy and give you the sense that they will last a long time if cared for. Instructions and pizza stone care guidelines are included as well.
Installation of the Wood Fired Oven
Overall the installation is a cinch. All you really need to do is gut the inside of your Yoder. remove the grill grates, and heat diffuser. This is a good opportunity to really clean out your grill. Vacuum up all that residual ash and make sure you cleanout the fire pot. Current Yoder owners know that the fire pot needs to be cleaned regularly or you will have ignition issues.
Once everything is out of the cook box, simply lay the heat distribution plate to the left hand side of the grill where you would normally place a grill grate. Once in place, lay the oven into the plate and make sure the tabs line up for a solid connection. Pictures below.
This is a very easy install. Now simply slide in your pizza stone. Only put the stone into a cold oven. Never fire up the grill first without the stone. You want to bring the grill/oven and stone to temperature together.
Yoder Oven Cooking/Baking Performance
Most of my experience is with pizza, however I will be doing some pies or cast iron pan cooks in the future. I’m big on homemade pizza and I have a great recipe that works well with pellet smokers. I used my dough and sauce recipe for this review, so if you follow my recipe, you can expect the same results as me.
How to Approach the Yoder Wood-Fired Oven
You have three different approaches to this wood fired oven.
- High Heat Fast Baking 600F + (Pizzas)
- Regular Temp Baking (350F-400F)
- Cast Iron Pan Cooktop
1. High Heat Baking
As I mentioned, this is where I’ve spent most of my time on the oven. I love going to wood fired pizza oven restaurants. There is a unique flavor/finish to wood fired pizzas. Now that so many of us have pellet grills, we can finally try to make these at home without too much effort. That’s why I was very interested in testing this oven out.
Yoder states that you can get the stone over 700F and the top of the oven will reach 900F. I can verify that the stone temps can hit this temp. I typically push the variable displacement damper all the way in (closest to the firepot) when I’m using the oven. This lets the heat focus on the oven and not wasting the heat through the entire cooking chamber.
Yoder states that you can get the oven up to full temp while leaving the door open. As I was testing this during a cold Canadian winter day, I could not get the temperature past 350F with the door open. I had to keep the door closed for the stone to get to the high heats I desired. When summer comes to Canada (sadly months away), I’ll update this section testing with the door open again.
In approximately 35 minutes (with the door closed) and the Yoder cranked to 550F, I was able to get 700F’ish temperatures on the stone. I measured this with my Thermapen Infrared (super nice to have by the way). Pic below. Again, this was during winter time.
Once the stone was hot, I threw on one of my 12″ pizzas. Things I was looking for to compare to using a pellet or gas grill with a stone vs. this oven.
- How evenly will the pizza bake?
- Will the cheese get golden on top before the bottom of the pizza burns?
- How fast will the pizza bake?
Regarding my question about baking evenness, I can say the pizza baked quite evenly. You do have to rotate the pizza (just like real wood fired pizza ovens), as there is more heat in the back and left hand side of the oven. This makes sense because the Yoder YS640S fire pot is mounted on the left side of the grill, and the back of the oven does not have an opening so temperatures are greater in that area.
Did the cheese get golden in time? Yes it did as you can see from my pics. The bottom was not burnt either.
The pizzas were completing in about 5-7 minutes. Do not leave the grill once you get the pizza in the oven. These bake quickly and need to be rotated a couple times. I like how fast we are finishing pizzas in this oven. This will allow small caterers that have a Yoder to turn a pizza in short time. Only downfall is you can only do one pizza at a time, but most pizza ovens of this nature are only one pizza at a time.
Pizza Stone Thoughts
I was quite happy with the stone as it was very thick and easily large enough for the 12″ pizza’s that I always make. If you’re into making pizza’s larger than 12″, the largest this will accommodate is 13.5″ wide. So try to keep your dough size in that 12″ range and you’ll be fine.
2. Regular Temperature Baking
I have to test this out more but Yoder is stating the oven will hold temps at 350-450F consistently. The trick will be to determine what actual temperature setting you put into your Yoder pellet grill. From my experience, when you remove the heat diffuser on the grill the temps in the cook chamber vs. your setting on the grill will be much higher.
Take your time to get your temps right before you throw any baking into the oven. Start the grill at a lower temp then what you want the oven to be at. This is where I recommend you get yourself the Thermapen IR to really measure that oven temp. Pic and link below.
3. Cast Iron Pan Cooktop
Yoder also states that you can simply use the oven top as a cooktop for pan cooking. I haven’t tried this yet and I’m not sure I want to. If I put my cast iron pan on top of the oven, it might scratch and scuff the surface of the oven. I like my stuff staying in good condition.
That being said, it is still another feature the oven provides you. I’ll be trying it out with my 14″ cast iron pan cautiously and I’ll report how it handles a heavy pan like this.
If you want to have a stove top cooking surface with your Yoder, I suggest buying their GrillGrate accessory and using your cast iron pan on top of those. They distribute heat evenly, are made of aluminum and will not degrade easily.
Overall Fit and Finish
Just like everything Yoder makes, the wood-fired oven is solidly built. The heat diffuser and the hood are both made out of heavy-duty steel. The hood is coated with a powder coating rated to withstand temperatures up to 1200°F. This is handy both for the fact that the oven can reach temperatures of 900°F at the top of the oven interior as well as the ability to use the top of the hood as a cooking surface. You can consider using cast iron skillets or carbon steel cookware on the top of the oven for any number of applications, including heating up sauces (perfect for chicken wings!)
The pizza stone is ¾ of an inch thick and made from kiln-fired stone. It can reach 700°F without suffering damage, making it ideal for crispy wood-fired pizza. You can also bake bread or other dishes on the stone for whatever you want to cook.
The oven does not come with an included thermometer, so for precise temperature controls, you’ll want to use an infrared thermometer (as I mentioned above) for checking the temperature of the stone and of the hood. This will ensure that you’re baking bread at 350°F not scorching and ruining it at 500°F.
Wood Fired Oven Capabilities
One of the biggest selling points of this oven is that you can heat it up to anywhere between 350°F and 900°F. This allows you to use the oven for getting an extra touch of wood smoke on homemade bread or char on the surface of baked mac and cheese. You can also cook chicken wings like at a wood-fired pizza joint. This wide range of cooking temperatures allows you to cook just about anything you would bake in an oven while also giving it a touch of fire and wood smoke.
It may seem like such a simple thing, but moving a 45 pound oven can be tricky when it is nestled tight into a pellet grill. Yoder included two grab handles at the top of the oven dome. They are easy to grab and are located in a position that does not hinder any cooking procedure.
Unique Heat Diffuser Design
When we think of a heat diffuser in a pellet grill, we think of a solid piece of metal that forces the heat and smoke to circulate throughout the entire cooking chamber. For this oven, Yoder took a solid piece of metal and drilled holes through it that gradually get larger the further away from the left edge it goes. The diffuser not only helps promote even heating of the oven’s cooking chamber, it allows fire from the fire pot to get into the oven for that extra wood-fired flavor and char like in a standalone pizza oven.
The final piece of the oven is the pizza stone itself. It’s ¾ of an inch thick, giving it plenty of heft and heat retention. The thickness and stone construction distributes heat evenly over the cooking surface while also retaining plenty of heat so you can cook pizza after pizza without waiting for the stone to get back up to temperature.
Overall I’m very happy with the oven. I’m going to expand my horizons with it this summer and not just focus on pizza, but I’m assuming most people here are looking at it for pizza.
I have one small complaint and it isn’t really the ovens fault. When you remove the main heat diffuser on Yoder pellet grills, and have the temperature set to 550F +, you’ll notice ash flying around in the cook box. I don’t think this is avoidable with any pellet grill because they all come with fans to help control the combustion and temperature management. The ash will get blown onto your pizza. It isn’t a large amount and you’ll notice in my finished pizza pictures, that you don’t really see it, but it is there.
Would We Recommend the Yoder Wood-Fired Oven?
If you already own a Yoder YS480s or YS640s grill, then you are someone serious about cooking. The price of this unit won’t phase you because you buy into the idea of paying for quality and understand these cooking devices will probably outlive us.
I do recommend this wood fired oven for current Yoder pellet grill owners. This could help you get out of a rut, and get you baking things you normally would not. It helps convert your Yoder into a cooking/baking device that can completely replace your in house oven/range.
If you’re a pizza nut, go for it. These will be your best pizza’s yet, especially if you currently do not own a dedicated pizza oven.
What We Like…
- Overall build quality. All components and materials are made with quality in mind.
- High Temperature Baking. You can bake pizzas like restaurants.
- Even Temperatures. There’s a bit more heat at the back and left hand side, but easily manageable with a couple turns during the bake.
What Makes Us Angry…
- Ash. Yes you’ll get some ash on the pizza. Not a lot, but some. I don’t think it’s avoidable.
- Only made for Yoder Pellet Grills. These will not fit on Traeger, Camp Chef or other pellet grills.
I’m a fan through and through. I’m always excited to see what Yoder comes out with next because it’s usually well thought out, built to last and is unique in some way. They also make their gear look amazing. Yet another outdoor grilling tool and accessory that will make your buddies and neighbors jealous. Thumbs Up!