Pellet grills/smokers are just like charcoal/gas grills in the sense there is a range of products to suit different needs and budgets. For instance, many people may be happy with a budget/economy pellet grill for occasionally cooking/smoking in the backyard for friends and family. For those who consider outdoor cooking a true hobby, they may be looking for a more sophisticated pellet grill with superior build quality, a more accurate temperature controller and additional capabilities such as flame broiling. Well, what if you take your outdoor grilling/smoking very seriously? What if you want the absolute best in terms of build quality, materials and features. Well, then you’re in the market for a luxury pellet grill/smoker. That’s exactly what Memphis grills focus on, purely high-end/luxury pellet grills. With this post, I’m going to run through the key reasons Memphis can claim to be producing true luxury pellet grills and why if you take your outdoor grilling seriously, and have the coin, you might want to consider one.
If you’re not up on the different pellet grills classes from Economy to Luxury such as the Memphis grills discusses in this post I have a separate post on how to choose the best pellet grill to meet your needs. As you should expect with Luxury pellet grills we are discussing some of the best/most expensive pellet grills currently in production. Therefore, unless you are very lucky these are not beginner/starter pellet grills. In many cases, equipment such as the Memphis grills below are an endpoint in a wood pellet cooking journey that started with a cheaper/lower specification unit.
Introduction To Memphis Pellet Grills/Smokers
Memphis grills are based in Bloomington, Minnesota, USA and since 2016 they have been manufacturing the range of luxury pellet grills below. Namely their smallest unit the 26″ Beale Street, 28″ Pro and their largest most sophisticated unit the 39″ Elite. There are a couple of reasons why Memphis grills are regarded as luxury products, and its not just the exclusive use of stainless steel. First, Memphis grills are not only designed in the USA, they are also made in the USA. Hence, they have better quality control, as the design and fabrication process is all in-house.
Update: It would appear that Memphis is no longer manufacturing their pellet grills in the US (cheers Vincent).
With the assistance of some of Memphis’s promotional material, I’ll discuss the features which make these grills standout out as a luxury product. However, I also want to discuss the differences between the individual Memphis grill models. For instance, different grades of stainless steel are on used on some models and the peak temperature setting does vary depending on the model chosen. All will be explained below.
The Advantages Of BBQ Wood Pellets and Memphis Pellet Grills
If you have read any of my previous posts on wood pellet grills you will be familiar with their benefits. However, if that’s not the case I’ve also included a video below from Memphis explaining the utility and functionality that pellet grills offer to both cook, smoke and sear on a single unit. The ability of a pellet grill to accurately control temperature on their own automatically is really the stand-out feature. BBQ wood pellets can provide all of the heat and flavour you’ll need.
In the second half of the video above you get to see how the high-quality twin-wall construction enables the Memphis pellet grills to achieve and maintain a high temperature even in extremely cold environments. The shown Memphis Elite pellet grill can achieve a peak temperature of 700 degrees. That’s higher than any other pellet grill on the market, and the sort of feature you should expect from a luxury pellet grill. However, just to clarify, not all Memphis pellet grills can achieve 700 degrees, more on that below.
How A Memphis Pellet Grill Works
Again, if you have read any of my previous posts you’ll be familiar with the basic process of how pellet grills in general operate. A pellet hopper feeds an auger which feeds the firepot. A control panel instructs the auger and combustion fan to achieve and maintain a set temperature using data from an internal temperature probe. While that basic process is true of all pellet grills how accurately that process is controlled depends on a lot of factors. For instance, how advanced the control panel is etc. With a luxury pellet grill brand such as Memphis, you would expect their implementation of the pellet combustion process to be best there is, and it is.
Memphis use Intelligent Temperature Control to precisely control the speed of the auger and fan to achieve and maintain set temperatures. Other lower specification pellet grills are now using PID (Proportional–Integral–Derivative) controllers to help provide more accurate temperature control. Furthermore, Traeger with D2 Direct Drive has dramatically improved the quality and power of their interior components. However, the larger fans with heavy-duty motors and full stainless steel construction found on Memphis grills is a step up over other pellet grills.
Memphis Pellet Grill WiFi Control Panels
As well as all Memphis pellet grills using Intelligent Temperature Control to provide accuracy within a 5-degree range up the grills maximum temperature setting, they are all WiFi capable. Many practical and premium class pellet grills are now offering WiFi integration. However, Memphis have been offering this functionality on their grills since 2016. WiFi integration is really a must-have feature for many pellet grills owners today to monitor and adjust the temperature of the grill when inside the house or out and about. You do find some grills with purely Bluetooth integration such as the Cuisinart Woodcreek and Twin Oaks pellet grills. However, Bluetooth is limited to within 30m or so outside and significantly less than that when the signal has to travel through walls.
Once the WiFi connection between the Memphis pellet grill and your homes WiFi network is established you can monitor the grill while you’re at work or at a game/down the shops. I’ve not had a chance as yet to review how the features of the Memphis app compare to Traeger WiFire or Camp Chef Connect, but I hope to do that at some point in the future.
Free-Standing or Built-In Outdoor Kitchen Options
As stated by BBQGuys in their video above, their most popular models of Memphis pellet grills are the built-in models for an outdoor kitchen. Currently the mid-range 28″ Pro model or larger/more advanced 39″ Elite are available as built-in units. The smallest/cheapest unit the 26″ Beale Street is not as of writing this post available as a built-in unit for an outdoor kitchen. However, its also only recently been introduced so that might change in the future.
Something to note with a built-in unit for an outdoor kitchen is the material the pellet grill is made from. While all Memphis wood pellet grills are made from stainless steel, there are actually different grades of stainless steel. The built-in units of the Pro and Elite on the exterior surface panels use 304 stainless steel. Below, I’ll discuss why that’s important.
304 vs 430 Stainless Steel – Whats The Difference?
On premium pellet grills such as the Traeger Timberline, the internal cooking area is stainless steel. However, the exterior of the grill is painted steel. Internal components in all Memphis pellet grills are made from either 304 or 430 stainless steel. Depending on the particular model the exterior surfaces are made from either 304 or 430 stainless steel. For instance, the smallest/cheapest Memphis pellet grill the 26″ Beale Street uses 430 stainless steel for the exterior panels. The larger 28″ Pro is available with exterior panels in either 304 or 430. However, the elite model is only available in 304, as is the case with both the Pro and Elite built-in units. So what does that actually mean, what’s the difference between 304 and 430 stainless steel?
You may be thinking that 430 is better than 304, larger number, better quality stainless steel right? Actually, the opposite is true. 304 stainless steel is the higher/more expensive grade. 304 contains a higher percentage of Nickel (between 8 – 10.5%). In fact, 430 doesn’t actually contain any Nickel at all, but why does that even matter? Well, Nickel helps to provide superior corrosion resistance. You may be thinking that all stainless steel is resistant to corrosion, which is it. However, there are levels to it. For instance, when Memphis discuss their stainless steel construction they state:
“304 Stainless Steel is recommended for consumers in the coastal regions.”
In other words, around coastal regions, the humidity within the air carries a higher percentage of salt than the air inland. Therefore, while 430 stainless steel is corrosion-resistant, in coastal regions the better choice is to opt for 304 stainless steel. Just to clarify though, 430 stainless steel is a far more durable material compared to heavy-gauge steel plate etc used on lower specification pellet grills. On those grills, any scratches to the paintwork will start the corrosion process.
Higher Cooking/Searing Temperatures Than Other Pellet Grills
As I’ve stated above with a luxury pellet you would expect and should expect there to be features available that are just not found on lower specification pellet grills/smokers. Well, with the Memphis pellet grills they can reach high temperatures that most other pellet grills on the market today could only dream of. As I briefly referenced above, the Memphis elite can reach 700 degrees. Most premium pellet grills can only reach a maximum of 500 degrees. However, there are some differences between the Memphis pellet grills in terms of their maximum temperature capabilities.
- Memphis 26″ Beale Street Pellet Grill – Maximum Temperature = 550 degrees
- Memphis 28″ Pro Pellet Grill – Maximum Temperature = 650 degrees
- Memphis 39″ Elite Pellet Grill – Maximum Temperature = 700 degrees
While the Beale Street and Pro models do have lower maximum temperature settings compared to the Elite they are lower-priced units. While the Pro features a dual convection fan as does the Elite the Beale Street just features a single convection fan, hence the lower maximum temperature the fire can achieve. However, the Beale Street at 550 degrees still achieves a higher cooking temperature than any premium class pellet grill currently on the market.
Direct Flame Broiling Capabilities
Each of the Memphis pellet grills provides for the option of direct flame broiling. For instance, you may have been slow cooking burgers/steaks etc to provide then with as much flavour as possible from the wood pellets. However, to finish them off you might want to sear/caramelise the surface and give them that classic grilled appearance. Within the centre of the flavourizer (grease drip tray), there is a removable easy access insert positioned above the firepot. Well, the easy access insert can be replaced with the direct flame insert. Now, there is a specific procedure that Memphis grills recommend when using the direct flame insert shown in the video below.
Memphis grills are not the only pellet grills to offer flame broiling, its even found on budget/practical class pellet grills such as some Pit Boss budget pellet grills and the Camp Chef Woodwind. Its also available on a premium class pellet grill the Weber SmokeFire. However, as has been the case with the Weber SmokeFire, offering flame broiling capabilities safely and effectively on a pellet grill should not be taken for granted. If excessive grease/fat is not kept away from the flames its going to lead to issues. However, as you will notice on the Memphis grills direct flame insert most of the grease/fat is still directed onto the grease tray. Hence, the majority of the grease dripping down from the food does not come in contact with the flames.
The Beale Street Premium/Luxury Pellet Grill
All Memphis pellet grills with their 550-700 degree maximum cooking temperatures, full stainless steel construction and heavy-duty components fall into the luxury pellet grill class. However, their lastest and smallest unit The Beale Street is actually in terms of price point (under $2K) straddling the premium/luxury class category. Therefore, Beale Street is a new consideration and possibility for someone looking for the high quality durable full stainless steel construction of the larger Memphis pellet grills at a lower price point.
As I referenced above, the Beale Street does have a lower maximum cooking temperature of 550 degrees compared to the Pro and Elite models. However, that’s still higher than the 500 degrees on premium pellet grills models such as the Traeger Timberline. Furthermore, the Timberline does not offer flame broiling functionality where the Beal Street does. However, as can be seen in the video above, with the Beale Stree the direct flame insert and genie tool are optional extras.
Memphis Wood Pellet Grill Reviews
While I know a lot about how to make wood pellets and how to analyse and compare the features on a wide range of pellet grills I’m not a ‘BBQ Pit Master’. Therefore, when I write my posts and research different pellet grills I like to find the best reviews I can from BBQ professionals and owners to include into my posts. Below I’ve included a quick review on the Memphis Elite from Malcolm Reed who has one of the most popular BBQ channels on YouTube. Malcolm appears very impressed with the stainless steel build quality of the Memphis grill along with the accuracy of the temperature controller.
I also wanted to include some feedback/review from an owner of the much more affordable Memphis Beale Street pellet grill. Well, below I’ve included a video I found of Memphis Elite owner whose brother had just received delivery of the Beale Street. The reason I wanted to included this particular review is as an Elite owner they have a better perspective than anyone to measure how the much more affordable Beale Street compares to a top-of-the-line Memphis Elite. In fact in the video below you see a side-by-side cook on both grills for comparison.
Conclusions on Memphis Pellet Grills/Smokers
As I’ve stated many times throughout this post, these particular grills are luxury pellet grills and some of the most expensive pellet grills on the market. Granted, the Beal Street is more affordable by comparison. However, the whole Memphis pellet grill range is for those seriously into their outdoor grilling/smoking with a serious budget to put down on one. However, if you are cooking/smoking in a professional capacity, these are also a grill you’ll want to consider. Memphis are one of very few manufacturers of full-stainless steel pellet grills on the market today. In fact, I’m currently only aware of one other (Twin Eagles). And if you are looking for a grill that is really built to last opting for stainless steel construction is the way to go. Even if you cannot afford a Memphis grill at the moment, they are definitely the ‘pin-up’ pellet grill of choice to aspire to own in the future.
If I was going to point to feature which could potentially be improved, its the hopper sizes. While the Elite has a 24lb hopper which is reasonable and can take a full 20lb of wood pellets, the Pro is just 18lbs and the Beale Street is lower still at 12lbs. Therefore, on long cooks over with these grills, you would want to brim the hopper with pellets each time you checked the grill. However, at the same time, I fully appreciate why the hopper sizes are smaller because they are made from stainless steel and its expensive. Hence, offering larger hoppers would just increase the costs of theses grills further.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope the summary of features etc of the Memphis pellet grill range was interesting informative. If you are lucky enough to have the coin to purchase a Memphis grill if you head over to the BBQGuys.com they have all the Memphis pellet grills along with many budget offerings from Traeger, Camp Chef etc along with some great financing deals. If you would like to read more of my articles on wood pellets and pellet grills etc, please review my wood pellet grill/smoker guide. 🙂