MAK 2 Star General Pellet Grill Review

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The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweet taste of low price is forgotten

Benjamin Franklin

The MAK 2 Star General may be the best pellet grill ever made. While we have not tried every pellet grill on the market, we can say with certainty this grill excels at all levels. We have created everything from beautiful briskets with black bark, seared ribeye steaks with grate temps at over 600 degrees, and baked pecan pies and chocolate chip cookies with the perfect hint of smoke flavor. The versatility of a well-made pellet grill is unmatched in convenience, usability, and quality of food.

Which Pellet Grill to Buy?

I started reading online about pellet cookers and I immediately knew I did not want just any ole pellet grill. We love to cook outside and wanted something different, something special, something that was built by people who think outside the box. Taking a look at many pellet grills, you will notice they look similar. The reasons for this is many of the brands are using the same pellet hopper, same controller with their branding, some even use the same main barrel. Everyone is trying to get into the pellet grill market because it is trending like crazy.

We purchased a Traeger from Costco about 5-6 years ago and ended up returning it because the auger kept getting jammed and would not feed pellets. When I contacted Traeger about the issue, they said my area had too much humidity and it would not work. We are located in central Texas. I found this odd since I knew several people who owned Traeger’s and seemed to like them. I might have gotten a lemon at the time but that was my honest experience. Things might be very different today with Traeger. I ended up returning the unit for a full refund.

The next pellet grill I looked closely at was the Green Mountain. I had a friend who actually won a steak cook off championship using a Green Mountain pellet grill with grill grates. The pricing was great, and they seemed to offer a lot for the money. Green Mountain had many awesome YouTube videos online which were very informative. They have done a great job with explaining their pellet grills and keeping customers up to date on new features.

I have another friend that has a RecTec pellet grill, and he really enjoys it. I strongly considered going that route mainly because the price is enticing. Other than that, I have no experience with the brand.

When doing my research, MAK pellet grills kept coming to the top every time. People would make comments about how they wished they would have skipped buying a cheaper pellet grill and made the plunge in the beginning and purchased the MAK from the get go. This is important to point out because many people who end up getting a MAK have already spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars purchasing other grills first. It is very hard to find anyone online saying anything negative about a MAK pellet grill.

I would have considered the Memphis pellet grill, but I wanted to do many long cooks with briskets and pork butts which I feel the MAK is better at. Memphis pellet grills are the alternative that is often brought up when people are looking into a MAK pellet grill. The reason for this is they are comparable in price (some models) and Memphis are known to be good high heat pellet grills for steaks and such.

My opinion is the MAK 2 Star pellet grill is the ultimate grill when you consider its versatility, convenience and cooking space. It has more overall capability than any other bbq pit made. It can do everything, and with ease.

The MAK 2 Star Pellet Grill is a Smoking Machine!

The MAK 2 Star General produces good, clean smoke for long cooks that produces amazing results.
The MAK 2 Star General produces good, clean smoke for long cooks that produces amazing results.

Let’s face it. This is what everyone wants to know. How does the MAK 2 Star General do when smoking a brisket or several racks of baby back ribs? Awesome!

I chose to start this article off showing briskets, ribs and pork butts we have cooked. Why? Because thats what everyone wants to see. We also have images of ribeyes steaks, chicken wings, pizza and smoked pecan pies. We go into more detail about the MAK 2 Star General later in the article. Enjoy!

Black Bark Briskets Smoked on MAK 2 Star Pellet Grill

I have smoked so many briskets on my MAK 2 Star, I have lost count. I love brisket. We love brisket. My whole family loves brisket. So, we cook a lot of brisket. We like ribs too! 😀

Beautiful black bark briskets smoking on the MAK 2 Star pellet grill. These two briskets were smoked on the upper full rack with drip pans underneath.
Beautiful black bark briskets smoking on the MAK 2 Star pellet grill. These two briskets were smoked on the upper full rack with drip pans underneath.

The image above is briskets I did on the MAK 2 Star pellet grill. I smoked them at 225F and as you can see they developed the highly desired beautiful black bark. The juice was puddling on top and flowing down the sides. What a beautiful sight!

Dino Beef Ribs Cooked to Perfection on MAK 2 Star Pellet Grill

Dino beef ribs cooked on MAK 2 Star pellet grill
Dino beef ribs cooked on MAK 2 Star pellet grill

Here are some Dino beef ribs we did that turned out amazing. They pulled up on the bone beautifully and rendered out juicy and tender. Dino ribs are so great when done right and the MAK 2 Star pulled it off masterfully.

Pork Butt Rendered Out With a Beautiful Crust on MAK 2 Star Pellet Grill

Pork butt smoked on MAK 2 Star pellet grill
Pork butt smoked on MAK 2 Star pellet grill

How about them big butts? Here is a pork butt we smoked for 9-10 hours on the MAK 2 Star pellet grill. Once it cooled down, we pulled it apart with our hands and mixed the black bark and fat into the shredded pork. What a tasty treat this was after spending so much time absorbing good, clean smoke.

FlameZone Direct Grilling on MAK 2 Star Pellet Grill

MAK 2 Star Pellet Grill Flamzone
MAK 2 Star Pellet Grill Flamzone

High-temperature grilling on the MAK 2 Star pellet grill is one of its strong suits. When set to “Grill” mode we have been able to get the temperature up to 590F which is amazing for a pellet grill. One of the reasons for this is their amazing FlameZone system that is specifically designed to allow you go from “smoke” to “grill” mode by removing two small covers.

3lb bone-in ribeye on right cooking with boneless ribeye on left. Both steaks are being cooked on the Mak Grills Searing Grates which get blazing hot.
3lb bone-in ribeye on right cooking with boneless ribeye on left. Both steaks are being cooked on the Mak Grills Searing Grates which get blazing hot.

Pellet grills are not known for their grilling abilities as compared to gas or charcoal grills. Having the ability to low smoke and grill at high temperatures gives you versatility and the need to own only one pit for low smoking, baking and high temp grilling. Having one grill that can do it all is less to maintain and less space taken up on your back patio or in your garage.

Chicken wings cooked on MAK 2 Star pellet grill with FlameZone and MAK Searing grates.
Chicken wings cooked on MAK 2 Star pellet grill with FlameZone and MAK Searing grates.

We have used the FlameZone system to sear steaks, burgers and chicken wings. The grill gets plenty hot to bake a pizza with a crispy, smoky crust. The versatility in a good pellet smoker is not matched by any other grill.

Baking on the MAK 2 Star Pellet Grill

4 pecan pies baking on MAK 2 Star pellet grill upper rack. We even had a few sausages warming up on the bottom. Woohoo!
4 pecan pies baking on MAK 2 Star pellet grill upper rack. We even had a few sausages warming up on the bottom. Woohoo!

Bake your heart out using the MAK 2 Star pellet grill. Get the heat out of your kitchen and throw on some pies, brownies, or lightly smoked cookies. Dessert are not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a BBQ pit. If you like a little smoke flavor, you’ll really love it on a chocolate chunk cookie or homemade pecan pie. You choose the flavor of smoke by using whatever wood pellet you desire. The flavor combinations are endless which gives you an excuse for lots of experimentation. You can read more about our smoked pecan pie on the Mak 2 Star here.

Thin crust pizza cooked on our MAK 2 Star pellet grill at high heat on a pizza stone. Yum!
Thin crust pizza cooked on our MAK 2 Star pellet grill at high heat on a pizza stone. Yum!

Pizza ovens are all the rage today. Homeowners are having masons build them custom pizza ovens to accent their outdoor kitchens. We cooked a simple pizza on our MAK 2 Star pellet grill and it turned out fantastic. The pizza had that perfect hint of smoke flavor along with a crispy, golden brown crust. We were very happy with the results. You can read more about that cook here.

Cooking Capacity of MAK 2 Star Pellet Grill

11 pans of meatloaf cooking on MAK 2 Star Pellet Grill
11 pans of meatloaf cooking on MAK 2 Star Pellet Grill

The MAK 2 Star General is far more impressive in person as compared to what you see in pictures online. From the moment you start cooking on the MAK 2 Star, you notice how much food it can hold. When you add the upper full rack, you can cook for a small army. In the image above we cooked eleven pans of meatloaves simultaneously. This was a great cook as we had plenty of leftovers to freeze for a later date.

Four racks of baby back ribs on upper full rack on MAK 2 Star General pellet grill. You could easily add four more racks to the bottom grill. What a cooking machine!
Four racks of baby back ribs on upper full rack on MAK 2 Star General pellet grill. You could easily add four more racks to the bottom grill. What a cooking machine!

You could also fit 4 packer briskets in one cook or load it up with 8 racks of baby back ribs. The pellet boss controller is good at compensating for the large mass of meat added to the pit. They offer a full upper grate that is the same size as the bottom grill which adds tons of additional cooking space.

21 hamburgers on the bottom rack of MAK 2 Star pellet grill. If you had the upper full rack in you coud easily cook over 40 hamburgers at once.
21 hamburgers on the bottom rack of MAK 2 Star pellet grill. If you had the upper full rack in you coud easily cook over 40 hamburgers at once.

As you can see, there is not much the MAK 2 Star pellet grill can’t handle in terms of capacity. We have baked 6-8 pecan pies at once and cooked several batches of brownies a different time. Like I said, looks are deceiving.

MAK 2 Star Grill Construction

The MAK 2 Star General pellet grill and smoker is built like a commercial outdoor oven. Actually, that is how you should think of it. This pellet grill is designed with the best components available in the BBQ grill industry. It has been designed for you to use for all your cooking needs.

The standard MAK 2 Star model uses an 850 degree high-temperature powder coat for the lower cart. Many BBQ enthusiasts like this because it is durable and it doesn’t show grease as much. MAK Grills uses 304 stainless steel which is durable and easy to clean. All rivets and hardware are stainless steel as well.

Swivel and locking medical grade casters found on MAK 2 Star pellet grill.
Swivel and locking medical grade casters found on MAK 2 Star pellet grill.

The grill uses the same 3-inch medical grade casters found on rolling equipment you see in many commercial hospitals. The casters have built in locks that are easy to engage and they roll with ease. Everyone knows cheap casters are the first thing to break on BBQ grills. Premium casters make life with the MAK 2 Star a breeze.

Marine Grade 304 Stainless Steel

100% Stainless Steel Hardware
100% Stainless Steel Hardware

The MAK 2 Star pellet grill uses 100% domestically sourced marine grade 304 stainless steel that is used in ship building, industrial kitchens, and the medical field. 304 grade stainless steel is high in chromium and nickel which adds strength and low in carbon which reduces corrosion. MAK’s parts are manufactured to tolerances of 10 thousandths of an inch which makes MAK Grills extremely unique. Cutting and forming 304 stainless steel is much harder, but you end up with a level of quality that is second to none.

Most BBQ grills found at your local box store are made from 430 stainless steel which has a lower nickel content. This makes it more prone to corrosion and is why many Chinese made stainless grills end up rusting out prematurely. They also use 430 stainless steel because it is much easier to manipulate in the manufacturing process. The way to check your grill is to slap a magnet on it. If it sticks, then you have cheaper stainless steel.

Interesting tidbit provided by MAK Daddy on the pelletsmoking.com forum:

The exterior of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, MO is made from 886 Tons of 304 Stainless Steel!

Thickness of Metal is King? Or Maybe Not!

When looking for a new BBQ grill, the thickness of metal is probably one of the most impressive features of any pit. In the offset smoker world, thickness of metal rules and it makes sense why. In an offset cooker, you are maintaining a large fire as compared to a pellet smoker. That large fire is required to heat up pits that have lots of real estate and metal thickness of 1/4” or more. The thick metal will retain the heat really well over a long cook, but will take a long time to get up to temperature… especially when dealing with a large cooker.

When I was first looking for a pellet smoker, I was drawn to the Yoder 640. I went to a local BBQ store, and they had one sitting outside. The unit is impressive looking, especially on the competition cart. The metal is thick, handles are robust, and the smoke stack sits off to one side just like an offset smoker. I was sure this was the pellet cooker for me.

Because I was interested in a pellet smoker with thicker metal, I had narrowed it down to two different brands of pellet grills: Yoder and Pitts and Spitt’s. These two brands were making pellet grills with thicker metal than any other manufacturers out there. Well, Gator Pits is probably the thickest, but there was not a lot of information and feedback online from users about their pellet smokers at the time.

It was the conversation I had with a gentleman at Pitt’s and Spitt’s that got me thinking. He mentioned there are two types of companies that make pellet grills and I quote:

You have marketing companies that have pellet grills made for them in China and you have manufacturing companies that make their pellet grills here in the US. There is a distinct difference.

He then mentioned several manufacturing companies big and small that make their pellet grills in house. I had never really thought of it that way and it was very true. The companies that had their pellet grills manufactured in China had the best marketing videos online. Their videos were amazing.

The manufacturing companies were quite the opposite. Many relied on customer referrals and testimonies to generate new business and their websites and marketing videos were not that good or up to date. Very interesting. How many companies do you know that sell a product are actually marketing companies that appear to be manufacturers? There are very few actual manufacturers that design and fabricate their products and reinvent themselves time and time again to continually improve their product.

In a pellet smoker, things are very different and efficiency is king especially since the one thing you will spend more money on than anything else will be wood pellets. I kept reading online that thicker metal is not necessary better in a pellet smoker. People kept mentioning their pellet smoker that had really thick metal would take longer to heat up and consumed many pellets in order for the metal to maintain the heat.

A pellet smoker has a much smaller fire than an offset wood burning smoker. The last thing I wanted was to be burning through pellets faster and a grill that would take too long to heat up… especially if I wanted to throw on some burgers or steaks quick to make dinner.

Once again, MAK Grills was mentioned over and over due to efficiency and how fast the grill would heat up due to their Ceramic FlashFire ignition. People would mention the high-quality metal they use which retained the heat very well, got up to temperature quickly, and provided a long-term rust free experience. Throw in the Pellet Boss controller which is designed in the USA from the ground up by MAK, and they have a home run.

Ceramic Flashfire Ignition

MAK Grills Ceramic FlashFire Igniter
MAK Grills Ceramic FlashFire Igniter

For years, igniters on pellet grills have been a sore topic. Many grill manufacturers use rod cartridge igniters. It’s not a question if the rod igniter will fail. The question is when it will fail and will you get any warning? It usually happens are the most inopportune time.

MAK Grills uses a ceramic flash fire igniter that is rated at 90,000 on/off cycles. It is capable of reaching 1000 degrees in less than ten seconds and works together with the industrial variable speed fan for super quick start-ups. Failure rate is extremely low, and they claim it should last 250 years if used every day. The unit has a lifetime warranty. If it fails, MAK will ship a replacement for free.

After using my MAK 2 Star quite extensively, I can attest to the quick start-ups. Before I have a chance to walk inside and back outside, the grill is smoking away bringing everything up to the desired temp in no time at all. The start up sequence is so easy on the MAK 2 Star pellet grill thanks to a quality igniter paired with a good fan and the best controller in the industry.

20lb Pellet Hopper With Quick Dump Door

MAK 2 Star General holds 20lbs of pellets and is sloped to keep the pellets continously feeding during your cook.
MAK 2 Star General holds 20lbs of pellets and is sloped to keep the pellets continously feeding during your cook.

The 20 pound pellet hopper holds more than enough pellets for any cook. You can go to sleep at night in peace knowing the heavy-duty auger and Pellet Boss controller will feed your cook with no issues. The hopper is sloped at the right angle to keep the pellets flowing down toward the auger so fire does not skip a beat.

Pellet hopper dump door on MAK 2 Star pellet grill allows you to quickly change between pellets.
Pellet hopper dump door on MAK 2 Star pellet grill allows you to quickly change between pellets.

The pellet hopper dump door allows you to quickly change flavors of pellets. You may be cooking with mesquite pellets for one cook and need to change over to cherry for a second cook. This can be done easily on the front of the unit by placing a bucket underneath. This is also a great feature if you plan on winterizing your grill and want to remove the pellets.

Pellet Boss Controller

MAK Grills Pellet Boss Controller with new K-Style professional meat probe connections.
MAK Grills Pellet Boss Controller with new K-Style professional meat probe connections.

The Ultimate Pit Master

The pellet boss controller is what separates MAK Grills from other brands of pellet grills. It is so simple to use, it’s hard to explain in writing. There are comments all over the internet of people singing the praises of the MAK controller. You will not fully understand its simplicity and usefulness until you try it for yourself. Some of the greatest things in life are simple and do their job very well. That is the MAK Grills Pellet Boss Controller.

The pellet boss features a smoke mode that maintains temperature around 170-190F and a grill mode that pushes the controller temperature up to around 600F. It has a built in elapsed timer for keeping track of total cook time as well as a regular countdown timer with alarm for notifying you during cooks. It also features User Program modes that can be set up to have the unit change temperature mid cook based on your settings.

Three temperature probe ports on the front help you monitor internal temps on meats and an optional Wi-Fi accessory will allow you to remotely monitor your cook. I do not have the Wi-Fi accessory so I can’t speak to its effectiveness or convenience. One last neat feature of the pellet boss controller is the cool down mode. If you press and hold the power button when you’re finished cooking, the pellet boss controller will go into a cool down mode that will burn out the fire pot and deposit some pellets at the end for the next cook. The pellet boss controller can also be upgraded by MAK Grills when they have firmware updates by simply removing it and sending it in.

No Smoke Stack To Adjust

MAK 2 Star General vents out of the rear, around the lid, and out the side smoker.
MAK 2 Star General vents out of the rear, around the lid, and out the side smoker.

The MAK 2 Star pellet grill has no vents to adjust which is unique for any pit. The vents are built into the back of the unit and on one side. The vents in the back are fixed and have no adjustments. All you have to do is keep them clean by scraping the build up off the vents.

There are also two vents on the right side that allow heat and smoke to fill the side smoker. This heat and smoke travel through the side smoker and out two additional vents mounted on the outside of the side smoker. The MAK 2 Star has options. The side smoker is one of those unique options built into the unit that can be used in many ways.

Since the heat and smoke is not drawn to one particular spot in the upper corner, the heat and smoke distribution is more even. As the pellet grill cooks, the heat and smoke rises and rolls back down out the back and side vents. We have found this design to cook very evenly.

Warmer & Side Smoker on MAK 2 Star Pellet Grill

MAK 2 Star General pellet grill side smoker
MAK 2 Star General pellet grill side smoker

The side smoker is the MAK 2 Star Generals secret weapon

The MAK 2 Star side smoker has so much versatility, the options are limited only by your imagination. Many owners will use it to take food off the pit early that is done while the rest continues to cook. This allows you to keep the food warm and it will continue to layer smoker flavor on the meat.

You can use it to cold smoke nuts and cheese to give away as holiday gifts. You can place any side dishes in the side smoker that you would like to inject some smoker flavor on. This can be done while you are smoking a brisket or pork butt in the main chamber.

If you like to reverse sear larger steaks, you can place them in the side smoker to allow them to get up to temperature while the grill is heating up. Once the internal temperature is where you want it, you can move the steak over to the main grill for the final sear. The options are endless with the side smoker. As time goes on, you will find more creative ways to utilize this unique feature of the MAK 2 Star pellet grill.

Lots of Side Shelving to Set Things Down

The MAK 2 Star General offers large spacious stainless steel side shelves to use during your cooks.
The MAK 2 Star General offers large spacious stainless steel side shelves to use during your cooks.

The MAK 2 Star pellet grill has two stainless work areas on the left and right side with tons of room. They are large work spaces to set things down or you can use them to prepare food. They are made from the same 304 stainless steel which makes them easy to keep clean. You can never have enough room to set things down when barbecuing. They also offer an optional front shelf that includes a paper towel holder for those needing additional shelving.

Slide In Upper Grates

The new MAK 2 Star pellet grill offers several option for slide in grates to be used.
The new MAK 2 Star pellet grill offers several option for slide in grates to be used.

The MAK 2 Star pellet grill features slide in upper grates that can be easily removed so you can bring them inside to prepare food. This allows you to be able to layout all your food on the rack without having to stand over a hot grill while smoke is getting in your eyes. A truly helpful feature.

The full size upper rack is large enough to hold two packer briskets or four racks of baby back ribs. The amount of cooking you can do on this pellet grill with the upper racks added will blow your mind. It is one of the most deceiving grills we have ever cooked on. When you reach to the back of the grill to grab food with your tongs, it seems to go on forever. The pit is very deep.

The newer MAK 2 Star pellet grill that was updated in 2020 now comes with an option for you to choose three upper racks. They offer three sizes which are half, three-quarter, and full size upper racks that allow you to configure your grill to your style of cooking. All the grates are easily removed for cleaning or putting in the dishwasher.

Upper Full Grate

Upper full grate on MAK 2 Star pellet grill holds two packer briskets with no problem at all.
Upper full grate on MAK 2 Star pellet grill holds two packer briskets with no problem at all.

One thing I noticed when I first set up the MAK 2 Star was the grill grates are running left to right. There is a grate in the back and one up front. There are two half grates that come with the grill which allows for multiple configurations especially if you purchase the searing grates or the griddle. These cannot be turned and configured to run front to back because of the dimensions of the grill.

The full upper grate does come all the way to the front which makes it hard to reach food in the back of the grill on the bottom grate. This got me to start moving things around and I realized the full upper grate I purchased will move right to the bottom. This allows you to move one of the half grates that came with the grill standard to the top so you can have a full bottom grate plus a half grate on top. Pretty cool.

I never saw this mentioned anywhere online. It seems as of late, there is not a lot of information about the MAK 2 Star General online. You will find some older reviews on YouTube and some limited information in the forums. The only reason I can think of this is due to the cost of the unit and the impression it leaves when you first see it online. The unit looks small and it does not have that large barrel look that attracts most people to a new BBQ grill… especially when spending a lot of money.

Rolled Lid

Side view of the MAK 2 Star pellet grill shows the unique design of the rolled lid. This is one feature that you will enjoy over and over every time you open your MAK 2 Star.
Side view of the MAK 2 Star pellet grill shows the unique design of the rolled lid. This is one feature that you will enjoy over and over every time you open your MAK 2 Star.

The rolled lid is awesome and often never talked about. You have to use the rolled lid to understand what it’s like. The purpose of the design is to prevent you from having to reach too far to the back of the pit when opening and closing the lid. This reduces how much time your arm is reaching over a hot pit.

The rolled lid is also very smooth and lightweight. Anyone in the family can use it and because it rolls from a center bushing. The ergonomics are easier for a shorter person to grab the handle and close the lid. Overall, it is hard to explain but one feature that will be much appreciated by the whole family.

MAK 2 Star Tool Hanger

Tool hanger on MAK 2 Star pellet grill is great for holding tongs, grate removers, scrapers and gloves. Comes in handy.
Tool hanger on MAK 2 Star pellet grill is great for holding tongs, grate removers, scrapers and gloves. Comes in handy.

The MAK 2 Star pellet grill has a tool hanger that hangs on the right side off the side smoker. This simple, yet functional addition allows you to hang everything you needs for grilling or smoking. The hooks are shaped to accept all types of tools and reset back to stay out of the way. A great touch!

MAK 2 Star Grease Tray

Heavy duty removable grease tray allows for easy cleanup after long, messy cooks
Heavy duty removable grease tray allows for easy cleanup after long, messy cooks

The MAK 2 Star pellet grill features a super heavy duty grease tray that is removable. All the grease and juices during a long cook will funnel down into this tray making cleanup a breeze. It is a heavy duty tray made of thick metal that is designed to handle hot liquids. The stainless steel construction makes for easy cleanup when dealing with grease and liquids.

Removable Firepot

Remove the pin in the firepot and it will lift right out so you can dispose the ashes.
Remove the pin in the firepot and it will lift right out so you can dispose the ashes.

The MAK 2 Star General features a removable firepot that makes cleaning a breeze. I like to empty the firepot on my pellet grill quite often. I have learned that a clean firepot makes for trouble free cooks. To clean the firepot, you remove the grates and FlameZone. There is a single pin you pull and then you can lift the firepot out to dump out excess ash. The funnel system does not need to be removed in order to empty the firepot which is a huge convenience. It’s quick and simple. That is how every pellet grill should be.

The MAK Grills Difference

MAK Grills are made by their parent company MAK Metals. During a downturn in the economy in 2008, they had to decide whether they were going to downsize or innovate. They chose the latter. MAK Grills was born.

The family consisted of lifelong barbecuer’s with over 50 years of sheet metal experience. The word “MAK” is an acronym for Matt, Alex, and Kal… their children. This goes to show you it was a true family endeavor.

When pellet grills were first introduced by Joe Traeger in 1985, they were good at smoking, but they left a lot to be desired when it came to grilling. Many of them had a hard time maintaining the higher temperatures needed to sear steaks or cook crispy chicken. Not to mention they were hard to clean out and disposable once the firepot burned out.

With the growing popularity of pellet smokers in the last twenty years, many manufacturers that sell wood or charcoal burning smokers decided to get in on the action. Many of these manufacturers that were already selling wood and charcoal smokers would take their existing designs and slap on a pellet hopper with a generic controller and send it to market. What you would end up with is a mediocre pellet grill.

This is where MAK Grills separates themselves from the competition. MAK Grills built and designed their pellet grills from the ground up. They spent a year and a half asking existing pellet grill owners what they would like to see in a new pellet grill. They went out to the market to find out what worked, what didn’t work, and what could be improved upon.

MAK Grills Firsts

Fast-forward several years and MAK Grills was the first to introduce a 304 stainless-steel firepot, first to introduce a Wi-Fi controller, first to use a ceramic igniter, and the first to introduce a roaming thermocouple. MAK Grills has slowly released updates over time that improve on their original design.

MAK Grills Awards

They have also received several Vesta Awards due to their quality and innovation. They are one of the most awarded pellet grill companies today.

MAK Grills are Made in the USA

MAK Grills are Made in the USA
MAK Grills are Made in the USA

MAK Grills are Made in the USA and that is a statement they take serious. They have been “Made in the USA” certified since 2011, and they became the first pellet grill manufacturer to be inducted into the “Made in the USA” Hall of Fame in 2013.

In a time when most other brands were moving their manufacturing offshore, MAK Grills continued to source their materials and components locally. Their auger, auger motor, and K-style meat probes are Made in the USA to MAK Grills exact specifications. Their Pellet Boss Controller is designed, tested, and built within driving distance of their Dallas, Oregon facility where they manufacture their grills. Even their hats are fully Made in the USA by a veteran-friendly company that manufacturers hats for branches of the United States Armed Forces.

Other manufacturers will use tricky marketing terms like “Assembled in the USA”. They get away with this because they import materials and components from outside the USA and then assemble them in the USA. This allows them to make the claim “Assembled in the USA” but many times the components and materials are cheaper quality and not built to the same standards as MAK Grill components.

The MAK Grills staff consists of Marine and Navy veterans who provide amazing support after the sale. When you purchase a MAK Grill, you are directly supporting American engineering, construction, and employment. In return, you will receive a pellet grill built to the highest standards and one that is a Triumph of American Industry.

Advantages of a Pellet Grill

There are many advantages to a pellet grill that cannot be found in other grills. One of the major advantages of a pellet grill is you will cook more often. Yes, you can fire up a gas grill effortlessly, but you can’t get smoke flavor like you can on a good pellet grill.

A good pellet grill will offer the convenience of starting the pit with a push of a button, combined with smoke flavor that otherwise could only be found with charcoal or wood. Plus, it makes outdoor cooking fun.

A pellet grill allows you to start up the smoker with the press of a button. Yes, the grill requires power to run it, but the built-in controller acts like your personal pit master as it starts and maintains the fire. The simplicity of the start up process is second to none. Adjusting the temperature is just as simple. There are no vents to adjust or wood to add. Move your temperature up or down and the controller along with the fan will do everything for you.

If you have a good controller like the pellet boss on MAK Pellet Grills, it’s almost like having a butler cook your BBQ for you. I know what you’re thinking… I want to cook my BBQ. That is great, but sometimes you want to cook during the week while you are at work, cleaning the pool, running errands in town, etc. A pellet grill gives you that flexibility.

So, whether your smoking briskets at lower temperatures or baking pies at 400, you can do it all on a pellet grill. Once you’re done with the brisket cook you can kick the temperature up to 350-400 and cook a pie for an hour. After that, you can adjust the temp down to smoke ribs for 3-4 hours or throw on a macaroni and cheese side dish for some golden brown smokey cheese flavor. Your options are endless and it can all be done in a day. One after another. It’s that simple.

Use Premium Pellets

Dry pellets with no fillers will produce great results in your MAK 2 Star pellet grill
Dry pellets with no fillers will produce great results in your MAK 2 Star pellet grill

I was having some issues with my grill and starting doing some experiments. Come to find out a certain brand of pellets I was using was causing my problems. My MAK 2 Star was not getting up to temperature quickly enough and it had a hard time recovering. I also had issues getting up to higher temperatures.

I tried everything to remedy the situation and even bought more pellets of the same brand thinking they had too much moisture. I finally switched them out and started using Lumber Jack wood pellets and have not looked back. Ever since I have started using good pellets, my MAK 2 Star has performed like a rock star. Very consistent temperatures, starts every time, and recovers quickly.

What you will find out as time goes on is many wood pellet manufacturers use cheaper residual woods versus quality hardwoods from whole logs like you find in Lumber Jack pellets. Lumber Jack is also the only one I know of that keeps the bark on the wood for most of their pellets. There is a difference in the smell, taste, and performance.

Make sure you are using quality pellets if you want the best experience from your pellet grill. Mak Grills ships Bear Mountain pellets with all new grills. While Bear Mountain pellets heat up good and maintain temperature well, I don’t find they have the same flavor and smell as Lumber Jack. When your burning Lumber Jack pellets in your pellet grill it’s obvious. The smell is authentic and rich. I have also had great success with BBQr’s Delight pellets and have found them to be authentic. These two wood pellet manufacturers are one of the few that actually tell you whats in the bag. Using bad pellets is like putting crappy gasoline in your car. It will leave you stranded on the side of the road.

Can MAK Grills Operate in Harsh Weather?

MAK 2 Star General pellet grill smoking three racks of baby back ribs as steam is rolling off the hood from the cold winter rain.
MAK 2 Star General pellet grill smoking three racks of baby back ribs as steam is rolling off the hood from the cold winter rain.

The quick answer is yes. I have used my MAK 2 Star pellet grill in pouring down rain with no issues. It’s hard to tell in the picture above, but the rain was coming down pretty hard with no problems at all during the cook. The wood pellets in the hopper stayed dry and there was no water in the main cooker.

Below are some quotes from MAK DADDY on the pelletsmoking.com forums.

The MAK GRILL was born in the rain, Oregon rain that is

MAK DADDY

I cooked in the rain for 2 years on my 2 Star without any issues before we built an awning, now I don’t get soaked putting food on the grill

MAK DADDY

Here are some harsh weather tips found on the Big Poppa Smokers website. The information below was copied directly from their website and is credited to Big Poppa Smokers and/or MAK Grills.

You may be wondering, “How does the MAK Grill handle rain, snow, and wind?”

The best place for your MAK grill is under a cover and out of extreme weather, but if you absolutely have to grill, there are no worries because the MAK pellet grill was built to handle any weather condition. Check out these pro-MAK tips below for cooking in harsh weather:  

  1. The thickness of the steel used in the MAK grill bodies (16 gauge) helps the grill cook at consistent temperatures – no matter what the weather is like.
  2. Use Oak, Hickory, or Mesquite pellets in cold weather. They burn hotter!
  3. Always be plugged into a GROUNDED 110 outlet with a GFCI plug.
  4. If it’s windy – keep your casters locked on your MAK grill to keep it in place.
  5. Keep your MAK grill & smoker out of puddles or standing water.
  6. Keep your wood pellets dry! Soggy/wet pellets will ruin your MAK.

MAK 2 Star Pellet Grill Alternatives?

Let’s face it, at the time of writing this article the MAK 2 Star General sells for around $2,999, and that is not in everyone’s budget. Yes, you can finance the grill through Affirm and get 0% for six months, or you can go as long as 36 months and get the payments down to $105 a month if you’re willing to pay interest on the loan. But, what if someone did not wan’t to spend that much money? What would I recommend?

Well, first I would recommend the MAK 1 Star General pellet grill which sells for $1,000 dollars less than the MAK 2 Star. It does not come with the side smoker shelf and stainless hood, but it does feature many of the unique features that are exclusive to MAK pellet grills. For instance, it comes with the same MAK pellet boss controller, the FlameZone system for awesome pellet grill searing, 20 pound pellet hopper, and the ceramic FlashFire ignition for fast startups.

The MAK 1 Star also has the same 429 square inches of cooking space and that doubles to 858 square inches when the upper full grate is added. The cooking space on a MAK is very deceiving. Their grills are very deep which allows you to put four full size packer briskets on the smoker with the upper full grate in place. It’s amazing how much food these grills can hold. It would by far be my choice over anything else on the market in that price range. MAK pellet grills are that good.

If you are wanting to go with a pellet grill for even less money, I would probably go with a Traeger, Green Mountain, or Camp Chef. All three brands are very popular and seem to garner some good reviews online. They are all very active with their customers and have many brand ambassadors online always doing cooks and demonstrations which is a welcomed sight when you own a product.

I would steer away from the new Weber SmokeFire pellet grills as they had a very tough launch with their new grill. Right out of the gate many people purchased the new pellet grill from this legendary company only to find out the unit has grease fire issues along with problems feeding pellets due to the hopper design. The reviews were really bad not only online, but on many YouTube channels as well. I don’t think Weber handled this fiasco very well. They will eventually get these units running correctly, but at the time of writing this article they are asking a premium price tag for an inferior pellet grill.

Limited Lifetime Warranty

We make one promise to the MAK Family—we will take care of you.

I can attest to this. If you have any issues with your grill, the team at MAK Grills will take great care of you. They answer phone calls and emails promptly and Dennis at MAK Grills followed up with me several days later to make sure everything was working good. It turns out the issue I was having had nothing to do with my MAK Grill. The problem I was having had to do with pellets. I changed the pellets and everything went back to normal.

If your MAK Grill or any of its components are found to be mechanically flawed or defective, MAK Grills will replace them free of charge (shipping excluded) for the duration of the life of the grill for the original owner. You can read testimonies online from MAK Grill users who reached out and their issue was solved. Their customer service is top-notch.

With good pellets and a clean fire pot, your MAK 2 Star General pellet grill will start every time.

Good fuel and proper maintenance is standard for any grill.

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