While it’s likely you have heard of Traeger, it’s much less likely you are aware of MAK GRILLS. Traeger is the most well-known name in the world of pellet grills, while MAK GRILLS is a much smaller outfit. However, the company behind MAK GRILLS has a long history of precision engineering. Hence, their pellet grills are some of the highest quality products you can actually find on the market today. Though as a result, we are talking about premium products at a premium price point, starting just under $2K. Therefore, for that price, we’ll look at how these two brands pellet grill/smoker offerings compare.
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For this comparison we are going to look at two pellet grills with the same price point, the Traeger Timberline 1300 and MAK GRILLS One Star General. Both of these pellet grills smokers retail for $1,999. Now, there is an important difference between these two brands. As I discuss in my article on which pellet grills are made in the USA, while Traeger was previously made in the US, that’s no longer the case. However, MAK GRILLS have always and will likely always be made in the US.
Traeger Timberline 1300 vs MAK GRILLS One-Star General
With the above in mind, what were are really comparing here is a mass-market/mass-produced product from Traeger and niche/arguably higher quality product from MAK GRILLS. Each comes with its own benefits for the end user. Which pellet grill would be best suited for you personally obviously depends on your own priorities/focus. Let’s look at what each pellet grill/smoker offers in terms of cooking area/functionality, materials & construction and finally their control panels and connectivity.
Cooking Area and Functionality
So as you can probably tell from the images above, the Timberline 1300 is a larger pellet grill than the One-Star General. The Timberline 1300 offers a total cooking area of, you guessed it, 1,300 sq.in. That’s divided up over three cooking racks, a main cooking grate (561 sq.in) and two upper smoking racks (476 & 306 sq.in). The One-Star General by comparison offers a total cooking area of 429 sq.in just on the main cooking grate, upper racks can also be added for more space. The point being though, while on first impressions the Timberline 1300 may seem to offer much more cooking space, its actually only an additional 132 sq.in on the main cooking grate.
While the One-Star General maybe a smaller pellet grill, its actually more capable at grilling/searing than the Timberline 1300. First of, the MAK GRILLS One-Star General can be set to 600 degrees, where the Traeger will max out at 500 degrees. Notably, the One-Star General also features a form of direct-flame functionality called FlameZone. As I discuss in my article on the MAK GRILLS range, I really do think its an excellent design. The Timberline 1300 doesn’t feature direct-flame access, just like all other Traeger grills. Part of the reason I believe are the risks with direct-flame access as I discuss in my article on when to clean a pellet grill.
Materials & Construction
While neither of these pellet grills uses stainless steel as a predominant feature of their external construction you will find several stainless steel internal components. For instance, on the Traeger Timberline 1300, not only are all the cooking racks stainless steel, there is a stainless steel twin-wall insulated lining around the cooking chamber. What this will provide is improved heat retention for better cold-weather cooking performance and reduced pellet consumption. Not only that, but a stainless steel interior is also a lot easier to clean.
The MAK GRILLS One-Star General also features extensive use of 304-grade stainless steel on its interior, namely the cooking racks but also the components lower down. The grease tray, FlameZone heat deflector and pellet burn pot are all made from stainless steel. This will help the One-Star general to provide a long service life. As MAK GRILLS themselves state, they aim to produce a product that can provide 25 years + of use and be handed down to future generations. A longer useable lifespan is one of the benefits of higher quality products which does have to be factored into the higher than average purchase price.
Control Panels & Connectivity
The D2 control panel fitted to the Traeger Timberline 1300 is part of the D2 Direct Drive system developed for the latest range of Traeger pellet grills. The control panel fitted to the Timberline 1300 features precise temperature control to within 5 degrees of the set temperature using PID technology. The Traeger control panel also features WiFi fucntionality (or WiFire as Traeger brands it). I beleive the Traeger App to currently be one of the most user friendly with built in features such as video instructions/reciepes. You can also download a specific receipe and the pellet grill will follow the cooking temperatures/timings. All Timberline pellet grills also come with the Traeger Pellet Sensor as standard, which can be monitored through the Traeger App.
The MAK GRILLS One-Star General does come with a PID control panel as standard for the same precise temperature control as the Traeger. However, for WiFi connectivity on the One-Star General its currently an optional $300 upgrade option (MAK Mobile). I’ve not actually seen the MAK GRILLS App, so I can’t state how it compares to the offering from Traeger. Another optional extra that MAK Grills provide if you want to control the pellet grill remotely but without your phone is the Remote Boss. The Remote Boss can monitor and adjust the cook on the pellet grill from up to 300 feet.
Conclusions On Traeger vs MAK GRILLS
So where does the above comparison leave us? Well, first off, I should mention that the One-Star general is just the entry level product in the MAK GRILLS range. If you are determined to purchase a made in the USA pellet grill and can afford it, they also produce some much larger full stainless steel pellet grills. For just under $2K though to be compared against the most expensive Traeger pellet grill, the One-Star General is directly comparable.
As shown above, the Traeger Timberline 1300 is the larger pellet grill which has has various features which the One-Star General does not. Namely, twin-wall insulated construction and WiFi as standard. However, the MAK GRILLS One-Star General also has features not found on the Traeger pellet grill, namley direct-flame fucntionality via their FlameZone. I also think its likely the MAK GRILLS product is made to a better standard, with more attention during the manfunfacturing process.
So really, which pellet grill is best depends on specific needs. Is low and slow smoking how the pellet grill/smoker would be used? In that case, the twin-wall insulated construction and WiFi/App monitoring of the Traeger would give an advantage. However, if you are mainly looking for grilling/searing performance then the MAK GRILLS One-Star General is going to win that battle.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope you found this Traeger vs MAK GRILLS comparison interesting/useful. If you would like to check out more of your options above and below the $2K price point of the products 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.