MAK Grills makes four very impressive residential pellet smokers and one large commercial smoker. They are Meatheads favorite pellet smokers and earned our AmazingRibs.com Best Value Gold Award. MAK took the pellet world by storm and quickly developed a reputation as a best in class producer largely due to their sophisticated "Pellet Boss" controller. The Pellet Boss is easy to learn, intuitive and highly accurate. It also has some useful added features like three independent meat probe inputs and wireless capability. Furthermore construction is solid, durable and effectively holds even, set temps.
In 2016 MAK introduced their FlashFire igniters on all new models, (left). FlashFire is said to be impervious to moisture and corrosion. MAK claims it will be good for 90,000 on/off cycles providing many years of dependable startups. Standard igniters are prone to failure. Although FlashFire costs a bit more, if they last as long as MAK states, they are well worth the additional expense. A retrofit kit may be purchased to upgrade pre-2016 models.
MAK Grills is a family owned business that grew from MAK Metals, an Oregon company engaged in precision metal fabrication since around 1990. They have about 70 distributers, mostly in the northwest.
MAK Grills have the distinction of being Meathead's favorite pellet smokers. He tested their 1 Star General and 2 Star General Residential Pellet Smokers. MAK also makes a large double firepot 3 Star General, a commercial size 4 Star General, and a small Mobile Smoker. Here is Meathead's review on the 1 Star General.
Introduced in fall 2010, the 1 Star is a real star, and it sells for about $1,500, $1000 less than the 2 Star. In 2013 MAK made a few changes. It now has a silver vein powder coat instead of plain black, attachable legs so it can be used free standing or as a built-in, a removable baffle in front of the rear exhaust vents for easy cleaning of the vents and an ash clean-out door at the bottom of the cook box.
The 1 Star is shorter (44"), narrower (20" deep and 37" long) than the 2 Star, with a smaller cooking surface (20" wide x 18" deep and 12" high), but there is still plenty of room for a whole lot of chicken parts or pork chops and tall enough for a turkey. It uses the same Pellet Boss digital controller as its big brother, so it has the same set-it-forget-it convenience. I used it in below freezing December weather and it held temp steady within 5°F with my best testing equipment. The entire unit is aluminized steel, an excellent material for heat retention, and the paint is high-temp powder coat, also top drawer.
MAK Grills Mobile WiFi option, released in 2013, is an upgrade to their previous Remote Boss bluetooth remote control. MAK Mobile enables owners to control and monitor their MAK from any device with an internet connection, anywhere in the world. It requires easy installation of a chip and antennae. Remote Boss can be upgraded to MAK Mobile.
We caught up with MAK's Bruce Bjorkman, aka Mr. Barbecue, at the 2015 HPBExpo in Nashville who was kind enough to give us a tour of the newest model MAK 1 Star.
The hood is a roll top meaning it does not need a lot of rear clearance like some competitors. As with the 2 Star, it is built to last: Heavy gauge and solid! Best of all, there was no assembly other than screwing in the casters. Assembling the 2 Star took some time. The hopper is capacious, holding more than one 20 pound bag of pellets. You can order several options, a bottom storage shelf, a right side shelf, a tool hook, and an upper grill grate. Most importantly, the meat it produces has plenty of moisture, tenderness, and the delicate smoke flavor typical of pellet burners. MAK recently got rid of their external grease bucket and replaced it with an internal grease drawer that accommodates a disposable foil pan to easily remove ash and gunk. As with the 2 Star, I would like to see a reel for the cord or some way to store it out of the elements. Also, you should make sure to buy a cover for it. Water got into the Pellet Boss on mine and it ceased functioning. I took it out of the unit, air dried it, and it worked just fine. To be safe I ran a bead of silicone caulk around it to prevent encroachments again.
Cooked On It
We have hands-on experience testing this product. We have also gathered info from the manufacturer, owners and other reliable sources.