If you take your backyard cooking time pretty seriously and have a budget to match there is expanding range of pellet grills/smokers to consider. One such example is MAK GRILLS who I recently covered in my article on pellet grills made in the USA. Within that article, I stated I wanted to do a proper review of the full MAK GRILLS range, so here it is. MAK GRILLS have been producing their American made pellet grills since 2008 after the global financial recession encouraged them to diversify their steel fabrication business.
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.
Introduction To MAK GRILLS
A family/veteran-owned business based in Dallas, Oregon, MAK GRILLS are very proud to be offering a 100% American made product. The foundation for MAK GRILLS came from a love of BBQ and the need to create a new product line for their steel fabrication business after the market crash of 2008.
MAK GRILLS were however well suited to produce a high-end luxury pellet grill line with their background in precision engineering. As is stated on the MAK GRILLS website ‘Precision cooking requires precision engineering‘. The video below covers the story of how MAK GRILLS started.
As I also have a background in helping to engineer pellet mills and other associated pellet equipment I appreciate the dedication MAK GRILLS have to make the best line of pellet grills they can. Below I’m going to run through the different sizes of MAK GRILLS to get to what I really want to discuss.
Generally when I write my articles, particularly for high-end/premium pellet grills and smokers there are certain features that stand out to me. In this case with MAK GRILLS its their FlameZone which I think is currently one of the best heat deflector designs on the market today.
One Star General Pellet Grill
The One Star General is MAK GRILLS most affordable grill. Featuring 429 square inches of cooking space and a 20lb pellet hopper. The advantage of having at least a 20lb pellet hopper is the grill can take a full bag of smoking wood pellets in one go. Importantly, the hopper also has a dump door for quickly changing pellet flavours.
However, its also used to quickly and easily empty the hopper before storage. In terms of temperature range, the One Star General can be set between 170 and 600 degrees. Hence, it offers lower temperatures below 250 degrees for ‘low and slow’ cooking/smoking but also provides higher temperatures (above 450 degrees) for grilling/searing.
MAK GRILLS use their own proprietary Pellet Boss digital controller which adjusts and monitors the temperature of the grill with the help of an industrial-grade thermocouple sensor. The Pellet Boss digital controller can also be upgraded with WiFi which has become pretty standard now on mid-range pellet grills and upwards.
Notably, though, MAK GRILLS are the only pellet grill manufacturer I’m aware of that also offer a Bluetooth remote control to monitor and adjust the pellet grill from up to 300 feet away. After all, not everyone enjoys playing around with phone apps and WiFi signals.
On the One Star General, the cooking surface and below (the FlameZone heat deflector and firepot) are made from 304-grade stainless steel which is the highest grade of stainless you will find on any pellet grill. The rest of the body on the One Star General is made from aluminized steel, which is similar to galvanized steel and then painted in a powder coat finish rated to withstand temperatures of 850 degrees.
Two Star General Pellet Grill
Now, the Two Star General is similar to the One Star General in several ways. They both feature 429 square inches of cooking space and a 20lb pellet hopper. Furthermore, both the One Star and Two Star General feature the same Pellet Boss controller and cooking/smoking temperature range of 170 – 600 degrees.
However, there are some important differences between these pellet grills. For instance, on the Two Star General 304 stainless steel is also used in the fabrication of the lid and the main body of the pellet grill. Though the cabinet, pellet hopper and warmer/smoker box are made from aluminized steel with a powder-coated finish.
MAK GRILLS is also going to introduce the option of a full stainless steel Two Star General pellet grill. Besides the increased use of 304-grade stainless steel construction of the Two Star General over the One Star the most notable additional feature is the warmer/smoker box positioned on the right-hand side of the pellet grill. This can be used to keep food warm which you have just finished cooking. However, it can also be used as a cold smoker. A similar feature is integrated into Cookshack pellet grills.
Three Star General Pellet Grill
The Three Star General pellet grill from MAK GRILLS is a different beast entirely. This unit as standard is sold as a worktop/built-in unit so its suitable for outdoor kitchen setups. However, a caster wheel cart can be purchased separately for the Three Star General. This grill is made purely from 304-grade stainless steel, hence it will be easy to clean and the bodywork will last a lifetime.
The cooking/smoking area on the Three Star General is 660 square inches and the temperature setting range is 170 to 650 degrees. Hence, it can reach slightly higher temperatures than the One Star or Two Star General. Furthermore, a larger 30lb pellet hopper is used on the Three Star General. Where it gets more interesting though is how the Three Star General functions, as this grill has dual pellet firepots which can be independently controlled.
What that means is you can be smoking at a low temperature on one side of the grill while simultaneously grilling/searing at a high temperature on the other side of the grill. While there are residential customers for the Three Star General I can definitely see the appeal of the dual firepots for a commercial catering business.
MAK GRILLS FlameZone
As I stated above, in my opinion besides the high-quality materials and precision engineering of the MAK GRILLS I think their most interesting feature is FlameZone. While I’ve been researching MAK GRILLS I came across various videos showing different heat deflector designs over the pellet firepot. Hence, MAK GRILLS have been working for over a decade at perfecting their heat deflector designs, and I think they have properly cracked it with their lastest FlameZone design.
The entire FlameZone fabrication is made from 304-grade stainless steel. A flat deflector plate sits directly over the pellet firepot and directs the flames/heat up evenly with the inverted/upside-down funnel which surrounds the firepot. This is one of the best solutions/designs I’ve seen used on pellet grills today to get as much direct heat from the pellet fire up to the cooking surface while displacing the heat as evenly as possible.
Quite a few pellet grills today have significant differences in temperature across the cooking surface (hot spots). What that means is you have to keep moving food around the grill when grilling/searing to stop some food burning while other food is undercooked. Hence, why GrillGrates have become very popular on pellet grills.
MAK GRILLS Pellet Grill/Smoker Reviews
As MAK GRILLS is a small/niche brand there are not that many reviews/owners videos available online for me to reference. However, I have been able to find a couple of video reviews of the Two Star General, MAK GRILLS most popular pellet grill. The first video below is from AmazingRibs.com. This is of the latest iteration/version of the Two Star General with the inverted cone FlameZone design discussed above.
The second video I wanted to include is from the YouTube channel Odeed who has owned a MAK GRILLS Two Star General for 6 years. Where possible I always like to find owners reviews once they have actually, you know, owned and used a grill for several years. As you can see from Odeed’s video below his Two Star General is still in excellent condition.
I believe that’s partly the case because Odeed has been looking after his grill properly, but its also due to the high-quality construction and materials like the 304 stainless steel. Again though, its important to note as Odeed does in his video below, the latest versions of MAK GRILLS feature the upside-down cone FlameZone design.
Conclusion On MAK GRILLS Pellet Grills/Smokers
As someone with a background in helping to engineer high-quality pellet equipment, I can see the attention to detail that MAK GRILLS are putting into their products. For instance, the precision of the steel welds and riveted body construction will help to produce a pellet grill that will last much longer than many other pellet grills on the market today.
I also like to see features such as a cold smoker integrated into their products. I personally feel that cold smoking capabilities are often ignored by several manufacturers, and I really enjoy cold-smoked foods. As stated above, its the latest inverted cone FlameZone design that has really caught my eye. I genuinely think its one of if not the best direct heat deflector design used on a pellet grill/smoker to date.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed the review/analysis of the MAK GRILLS range above and found it interesting/informative. If you are interested in getting yourself a MAK GRILL head on over to Bigpoppasmokers.com and they can sort you out. Otherwise, if you would like to do more research on the various pellet grill brands out there please check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide. Enjoy! 🙂
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.