If you have around $2K to spend on a pellet grill/smoker, you have the option of purchasing a top of the range Traeger Timberline model, or you could consider a full stainless steel pellet grill from Memphis Grills. While Traeger is still by far the most well know name in the world of pellet grills (here’s proof), there are now many other brands competing for attention. While Traeger’s main customer base is their cheaper Pro Series and Ironwood pellet grills, this comparison will focus on their top-spec Timberline 1300 to see how it compares to a similarly priced Memphis Beal Street wood pellet grill/smoker.
Disclaimer: Hey! By the way… any links on this page that lead to products on Amazon or other sites are affiliate links and I earn a commission if you make a purchase.
Now, I’ve recently done two previous comparison articles on Traeger vs Cookshack and Traeger vs MAK GRILLS. In those comparisons, I was comparing a pellet grill brand which used to be made in the US (Traeger) against brands which still manufacture in the US. Now, Memphis Grills up until recently did manufacture their pellet grills in the US, but apparently, that’s no longer the case. I just wanted to clear that up as its no longer a differentiating factor between Traeger and Memphis Grills.
Traeger Timberline 1300 vs Memphis Beale Street
I’ve chosen these particular models from each brand as they retail for the same price point. Both the Traeger Timberline 1300 and Memphis Grills Beale Street commonly retail for $1,999. When I’m writing these comparison articles putting one pellet grill brand against another, its only really fair to compare products of the same price point. Right, let’s get into this. We’ll look at how these pellet grills compare on cooking area & functionality, materials & construction and finally control panels and communication.
Cooking Area and Functionality
As you should be able to tell from the images of these two pellet grills above, the Traeger Timberline is quite a bit larger than the Memphis Grills Beale Street. You have also likely guessed that the ‘1300’ in the product name for the Traeger refers to the cooking area provided in square inches. The Beale Street, by comparison, provides a total cooking area of 558 square inches, so the Traeger provides a significantly larger grilling area, right?!
Not quite, Traeger (like several other brands) like to emphasize the total cooking area figure. However, context is important, as that figure refers to the main grilling grate as well as upper smoking/warming racks. So what about the size of the main cooking grates on each of these pellet grills, how do they compare?
Well, the Traeger Timberline 1300 provides a main cooking grate of 561 sq.in, whereas the Memphis Grills Beale Street provides a main cooking grate of 429 sq.in. Hence, while yes, the Traeger is the larger pellet grill, the cooking area provided by the main cooking grate (actually capable of grilling) is by no means as significant as you may at first think. On the subject of the grilling capabilities of both of these pellet grills, its also worth noting only the Beale Street comes with direct-flame access.
What direct-flame access offers on a pellet grill is higher cooking surface temperatures at the grate for improved grilling/searing. Now, it should be noted, the direct-flame insert for the Memphis Beale Street is not included as standard, it is an optional extra, typically priced around $125. In terms of actual maximum temperature settings on the control panel, the Traeger can be set to 500 degrees and the Memphis only slightly higher at 550 degrees. However, at the cooking grate with the direct flame insert, the surface temperature at the meat will likely be around 650 degrees.
Materials and Construction
As you should be able to tell from the images of both of these pellet grills above, their use of external materials are very different. The Traeger Timberline features painted mild-steel construction, whereas the Memphis Grills Beale Street is a full-stainless steel pellet grill. Now, in my article on the Memphis Grills pellet grills range I discuss how they produce products made from both 430 and 304-grade stainless steel, with 304 being the superior material for corrosion resistance. The Beale Street is only available with 430-grade stainless steel construction. That’s better than painted mild-steel, however, in a coastal location, maintenance may be required to keep the grill looking good.
While the Traeger Timberline 1300 is painted mild-steel on the exterior, it does feature a full stainless steel lined cooking chamber. Hence, when it comes to the durability of the cooking chamber and how easy either of these pellet grills are to clean, they should be very similar. The Traeger Timberline range is therefore also dual/twin-wall insulated construction. Hence, that means it will hold in the heat better than cheaper single-walled pellet grills, and as a result, consume fewer pellets to reach and maintain a set temperature. The Memphis Beale Street is also stated to feature dual wall construction. However, I’m not sure that applies to the lid, it appears to be single wall construction from the product images.
Control Panels & Connectivity
Both of these pellet grills are fitted with the latest in pellet grill control panel innovations, i.e PID temperature control. Previous generations of pellet grills and some current cheaper models use time-based controllers. Time-based controllers would simply run the fan and pellet feed auger in set intervals until the set temperature was achieved. While time-based control panels work reasonably well, for precise temperature control PID (Proportional, Integral, Derivative) control panels are superior.
Now, Memphis doesn’t actually specifically state they fit a PID control panel. Memphis promote their ITC (Intelligent Temperature Control) which they state can do the following:
“The ITC, a proprietary two-way logic information system, measures grill temperature continuously and adds pellets as needed.”
Well, continuously measuring the temperature inside the pellet grill and adjusting the feed of pellets and fan speed is what PID is all about. Hence, the Memphis Grills ITC control panel is using PID algorithms. Traeger fit a D2 control panel into their Timberline pellets grills which were developed as part of their D2 Direct Drive system. Again, its using PID technology to constantly monitor and adjust the combustion process for a 5-degree temperature accuracy.
Both of these pellet grills also feature WiFi connectivity or WiFire as Traeger brands the feature. You can see some screenshots of the Traeger App above. From the Traeger app you can monitor and adjust the interior temperature within the grill, as well as monitor the internal temperature of the meat with the included probe. Within the Traeger app you can even watch video recipes and download those recipe settings to the grill, pretty cool stuff.
While Memphis does provide WiFi functionality, their app/software is not as comprehensive as the Traeger WiFire app. Furthermore, reading various reviews around the web it does appear some customers have been having connectivity issue. However, as such issues are likely just software-based, it should be possible for Memphis to resolve those issues.
Conclusions On Traeger vs Memphis Grills
So what are my final thoughts on the two offerings above from these pellet grill brands? Well, the Traeger does provide a larger cooking area for smoking/BBQ purposes, though as stated the difference specifically with regards to grilling area is not as significant. The Memphis Beale Street also has the edge over the Traeger when it comes to grilling offering direct-flame access, even though the direct-flame insert is an optional extra. I think in terms of a smoker the Traeger is likely superior due to the entire cooking chamber (including the lid) being twin-wall insulated and the superior software of the Traeger WiFire app for remote monitoring/adjustment of the cooking process.
In terms of materials & construction, the Beale Street for long-term durability is the superior product, especially if you intend to leave the grill outside. If you are willing to wheel the Traeger in and out of a garage/shed before and after use it would help to maintain the paint finish on the Traeger and therefore keep rust/corrosion at bay.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope you found this Traeger vs Memphis Grills comparison interesting/useful. To check out all your options below and above the $2K pellet grill examples above, please check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide. 🙂
Back in 2007 when I first become aware of pellet grills and smokers the only brand I was really aware of was Traeger. Traeger is really where this whole concept of cooking with pellets started in the 1980s. It was a ‘slow burner’ (pardon the pun) but since the 2010s is really when pellet grills and smokers started to get mainstream awareness, discussed alongside gas and charcoal grills. There are now over 30 pellet grill/smoker brands that I’m aware of, and the link above goes to my A to Z list of brands article.
Now, you may already be aware of a few of the other brands such as Pit Boss, Camp Chef, Z Grills and I’m sure you are aware of Weber, though you may not have known they have entered the pellet grill game. However, they are now many, many more brands to look into. Some may be what are commonly referred to as ‘Traeger clones’, but many others are offering their own unique designs and features.
A pellet grill/smoker is only as good as the BBQ pellets you put into it. The type/quality of the BBQ wood pellets you use will impact temperature performance and smoke flavour. There are many pellet flavours including Apple, Hickory, Mapel, Oak and Walnut to name but a few. However, some brands are hardwood blended pellets whereas others are 100% single wood species.
In this article, I provide details on over 20 brands of BBQ wood pellets, their range of flavours, whether they are 100% single wood species or hardwood blended pellets, their typical price and where they are available. I also provide tips on how to get the best deal when buying BBQ wood pellets and how to test pellet quality. Finally, I discuss the new kid on the block, charcoal pellets and their special attributes compared to all other hardwood BBQ pellets.