The MAK Pellet Grill Fans Facebook group is very active and helpful.
Several fantastic online sources have a wealth of knowledge, recipes, and a dedicated MAK section for help and hints:
Indirect cooking is where the air and heat circulate around the food, slowly cooking it evenly on all sides—sometimes known as convection cooking. Your pellet grill rolls smoke and heat in a way that creates a natural effect similar to a rotisserie, eliminating the need for a rotisserie while preserving moistness and creating incredible flavor.
Direct cooking is where the food surface is exposed to direct heat, creating a Maillard reaction and searing the food.
Check out some of the websites listed above for more detailed information!
Yes, with our FlameZone direct heat system! The funnel FlameZone system comes standard on all MAK Grills. It is available as an accessory for MAK Two-Star General Grills before serial number 3191 and MAK One-Star General Grills serial numbers 1093-1692. The funnel FlameZone allows you to create perfectly seared steaks, chops, burgers, and vegetables. Our Searing Grate accessory is available for all current model MAK Grills. Our searing grates are made of hard-anodized aircraft aluminum and get much hotter than standard stainless steel grates, creating perfect steak-house sear marks that many people love.
This is more of a personal preference for people—some feel cleanup is easier with their grease pans lined with foil, and others find cleaning simpler without messing with foil. If you DO foil, you want to make sure that you’re not blocking any airflow in the grill and also that the foil allows the grease to flow freely into the grease runoff area.
If you are foiling over your Flame Zone area, be sure to contour the foil to the dimples, then poke a hole in each dimple to allow for the direct heat to pass through.
Yes. Preheating the grill (always with the lid down) allows all of the steel to come up to temperature and will help with more even cooking. When you place cold food on the grill, it acts as a heat sink, and having the grill preheated will help balance the potential temperature swings.
If you are cold-smoking items such as cheese, preheating the grill ensures a stable fire and the cleanest smoke without heat possible.
No, the electrical system in the MAK is not compatible with countries outside of North America.
Our grills do require some assembly. You can see our Owner’s Manual for assembly details.
The One-Star General assembly takes approximately 20-30 minutes, and the Two-Star General assembly takes 60-90. Both require two people to help lift the grill after installing the legs.
You can find the full recommended cleaning schedule in your owner’s manual or reference our blog post on how to properly clean your MAK Grill, but here are a few quick tips for keeping your grill running smoothly:
Your owner’s manual has a detailed cleaning schedule or reference our blog post on how to properly clean your MAK Grill, and we also have a handy printout here:
We recommend keeping the grill covered to help avoid the pellets absorbing moisture from the air and protect the grill’s surface.
The heavy-duty stainless steel components can be cleaned in a self-cleaning oven cycle to help remove buildup.
We do not recommend that you do this.
Yes, wiping or spraying some oil on your grates can help prevent your food from sticking. Another option is putting the oil directly on the surface of the food, which can avoid sticking even better than putting it on the grates.
You should always have your lid closed unless you are actively flipping or arranging the food on the grill grates. This includes during start-up. Keeping the lid closed allows the grill to maintain the most constant temperature, which means more evenly cooked food!
You will get the most even cooking if you thaw food before putting it on the grill. If you’re in a pinch, it is possible to cook frozen meat, but plan on taking a bit longer than thawed food.
If using an extension cord to power your grill, it must be a grounded, 3-prong, outdoor cord, 12-gauge minimum, no longer than 25 feet. Whether using an extension cord or not, plug your MAK Grill into a GFCI-protected outlet.
The ignition sequence is designed to start your grill as fast and reliably as possible—bypassing this sequence, or trying to jumpstart it by turning the grill off and on will not make the grill light faster, and can lead to undesirable effects or results.
While it’s infrequent, we do occasionally make changes in the firmware that runs on the Pellet Boss control boards.
To check what firmware is currently installed on your Pellet Boss, turn the grill on, and press and hold the “UP” arrow on your board. After about 10 seconds, a small lock icon will appear– continue to hold the button. Shortly after this, a screen will appear that says “MAK GRILLS VER _______”.
We are currently on Version 3.6. Please note: Pellet Boss boards that have a toggle on/off switch, rather than a button, are NOT compatible with our latest version of firmware.
If you would like to upgrade, please write a note letting us know you’d like the upgrade, along with your name, address, and grill serial number. Mail the note along with your board (securely padded/packed) to:
PO Box 817,
Dallas, OR 97338
We will update the board here, and mail it back within 1-2 days.
The Thermocouple is the upright probe located in the back left inside of your MAK. This sensor continually reads the ambient grill temperature and feeds that information back to the Pellet Boss. This constant feedback is what allows the MAK to keep such steady temperatures. If the Thermocouple senses the temperature has dropped, the Pellet Boss turns on the auger to put more pellets into the fire and raise the temperature. Likewise, if the temperature is reading over your set point, the grill will slow down the rate of pellets to allow the temperature to remain at your set point.
Remember that the Thermocouple reads the overall ambient temperature of the grill. It is located where it is because that location gives the best accuracy for overall grill temperature, which ensures the grill is running at the temperature you set.
However, if you have the FlameZone covers removed for direct heat searing, the temperature on the grates will be much higher than what the Pellet Boss is registering.
In the unlikely event that your Thermocouple has failed (and you’ve ensured that it is plugged in firmly on the top right corner on the back of the Pellet Boss), we do have a workaround that will bypass the thermocouple and allow you to use your grill, called MANUAL MODE.
To enable MANUAL MODE, press and hold the STAR button until MANUAL MODE is displayed. Press the STAR button again, and the word SMOKE will begin flashing. Use the UP or DOWN arrows to select SMOKE (170°-190°), LOW (225°), MEDIUM (275°), MEDHIGH (350°), HIGH (450°+). Press the STAR button again to lock in your selected cooking temperature. The setting selected will stop flashing, and the grill will adjust to the new set temperature. Note: Because there is no working Thermocouple to measure the temperature, the screen will not show the grill temp.
Should your igniter fail, it is still possible to use the grill until you can get a replacement.
This is usually an indication that your igniter is beginning to fail. The GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) helps protect the Pellet Boss from electrical overload. If it senses a surge in electricity, it will trip and avoid damaging the board.
If your GFCI trips, unplug or turn off the igniter, press the reset button on your outlet, and turn the grill on again. If the grill runs without tripping the outlet again, you have confirmed that it is the igniter causing the overload. Please see the manual lighting instructions to use the grill listed above and contact us for a replacement igniter.
The fuse is on the Pellet Boss to protect the computer components from electrical overload. If you are plugged into a GFCI outlet, the outlet would trip before the fuse blows. However, if you are not plugged into a GFCI, the fuse is the next line of defense and will blow to keep the board from overloading. If your fuse blows, the screen will still light up, but the igniter, fan and auger will not run.
The igniter failing is typically the cause for a blown fuse, and you can confirm that by unplugging or turning off the igniter, putting in a new fuse (there is a spare in the back of your manual, or you can use a 4 amp fast blow fuse that is the same size and diameter), and restarting your grill. If the fuse does not blow with the igniter unplugged/off, that confirms the igniter has failed. Please see the manual lighting instructions for using your grill, and contact us for a replacement igniter.
If the fuse blows even after the igniter is unplugged, please contact us for further troubleshooting.
Your fan should be running any time the grill is turned on. If it is not, unplug the grill and take the side fan panel off of the grill. First check to make sure the fan cord (labeled) is plugged firmly into the blue receptacle on the back of the board, labelled “Fan”.
Try and spin the fan with your hand to make sure there is no debris keeping it from spinning. Clear out any matter that may prevent it from spinning freely.
If the fan blades are clear of any obstruction, next check the fuse on your Pellet Boss board to see if it has blown. If the fuse blows, the screen will still light up, but the fan, auger, and igniter will not work. If the fuse is blown, see FAQ answer above regarding a blown fuse.
If the fuse is still intact, and the fan is not running, please contact us for further troubleshooting.
The auger does not turn continuously unless you are in GRILL mode. During the ignition sequence, it will run for approximately 2 minutes, then turn off to allow the fire to become established. A small “A” will appear on the Pellet Boss screen any time the auger is actively turning, which will vary depending on your set point temperature.
If the auger is not turning at all, take the side fan panel off of your grill and ensure that the Auger wire is plugged into the white receptacle on the back of the board, labelled “auger”. Also check to make sure the fuse is intact. (When the fuse blows, the board will still light up, but the igniter, fan, and auger will not function. See the FAQ for a blown fuse above.)
If it is plugged in firmly, the fuse is OK, and the auger still will not turn, empty your pellet hopper. Check to see if the pellets have been exposed to any moisture. If they have, see the next FAQ answer below for how to clear the jam.
If pellets are dry, check the auger for any foreign materials (rocks, etc.) that may be preventing the auger from turning. (This is why you never want to put pellets that have spilled on the ground back into the hopper!)
If auger still won’t turn, contact us for further troubleshooting.
BBQ wood pellets are nothing more than compressed hardwood sawdust that is extruded into a pellet shape. If the pellets absorb moisture (either from rain or ambient moisture in the air) they break back down into sawdust and swell with the moisture. This creates an almost cement-like mess, which takes a good bit of work to clear out. This is why we recommend that if you are not using your grill for 1-2 weeks or more, especially during rainy weather, you empty your hopper and burn through whatever pellets are in the auger tube.
Should your auger tube get jammed with decomposed pellets: Auger Jam Clearing Instructions
If the display is getting difficult to read, you can adjust the contrast of the screen. (If it’s especially difficult to read, try looking at an angle from the top down to be able to follow these directions.)
If this fails to alleviate the problem, contact us and we can provide further support.
Do remember that your MAK is a smoking machine—for some just getting introduced to pellet smoking, it can be a surprising amount of smoke compared to what they’re used to. Even if you set the grill to “HIGH” right off the bat, it’s going to smoke until it reaches the higher temperatures.
If you are seeing an unusually large volume of white smoke coming from your grill shortly after startup, the firepot is likely too full of ash and pellets, and the fire is struggling to ignite properly. If this happens, the best thing to do is open the lid, turn the grill off, allow it to cool down, dump out the firepot, and clean all the vents before starting the grill again.
Airflow is an essential element in maintaining the fire, so dumping your firepot regularly (every 3-5 cooks) and cleaning the vents to ensure they are free of grease buildup will help avoid this situation. For Two Star owners– don’t forget the vents going into the warmer/smoker box! They’re somewhat out of sight behind the grease shield, and are often overlooked.
If your grill has a wind baffle covering the vents at the rear of the grill, we recommend removing that entirely. Unless you are in a very very high wind environment, we’ve found the grills run better without that plate covering the vents.
We have a safety feature on our new grills that causes the auger to stop turning anytime the hopper lid is opened. There is a small magnetic sensor on the hopper lid and grill body that alert the Pellet Boss when they are moved away from each other (as when you open the lid). If you are getting a “Hopper Open” error while the lid is closed, it is possible the magnets are not making a good connection.
This is almost always a sign that your MAK is in need of cleaning. Should the regular airflow of the grill be obstructed by grease and debris, the smoke tries to find the path of least resistance, and potentially can come back up through the hopper.
If you see this happening, begin by cleaning all the vents in your grill once the grill is cooled off. Depending on the series of grill you have, there may be a flat piece of metal, called a wind baffle, covering the vents in the back inside of your grill. Remove the baffle and clean the vents thoroughly.
*For Two-Star General owners– make sure you don’t miss the vents going into and out of the warmer/smoker box on the right side of the grill. The vents going into the warmer/smoker box are behind the triangular grease shield, and are often missed since they’re out of view.
Next, ensure that the area behind the triangular grease shield on the right side of the grill is not clogged. Also, if you have an external grease bucket, ensure that the trough going into the bucket is free of any build up.
While you’ve got everything taken apart, also empty your firepot of any ash, and scrub the thermocouple with a bit of steel wool until it is shiny again.
The Pellet Boss is programmed to alert you if your temperature goes 100° or more above your set point for more than one minute (or if it reads above 600° while set to HIGH). While food flare ups or grease fires are rare (we govern our grills out at 600° to help minimize them happening), if there is grease build up in your grill it IS possible to have a flare up, and your grill would alert you that the temperature has risen above what it should be.
If this happens, to quiet the alarm, press any button on the Pellet Boss. Leave the lid closed, and unplug the grill from the wall. Allow enough time for the flareup to die down before opening your lid. Once any flareups have burned down and the metal has cooled, clean out the firepot, plug the grill back in and resume cooking.
Cleaning the inside of the grill regularly will help minimize the chance of getting a flare up.
This alarm sounds when the grill senses that the flame has gone out.
This can happen if the grill has run out of pellets during a cook. Always check to make sure your hopper has fresh, dry pellets when you begin a cook.
It can also happen during the ignition sequence if the grill fails to reach the temperature threshold to move the grill from ‘igniting’ to ‘grilling’ mode. The ignition sequence runs for 6 minutes, and if the temperature does not reach 165° (or 50° above the ambient temperature) during that time, it will go back into igniting mode (up to three cycles) to attempt to get the grill up to temperature. If it cannot reach the required temperature after three cycles, the grill will alarm and display “FLAME OUT, CHECK FIREPOT & HOPPER”.
If this alarm happens when the hopper has pellets in it: Let the grill and metal cool and check your firepot to make sure it has not overflowed, and empty any ash & pellets out of the firepot. Then turn the grill on with the insides removed so you can watch the auger. Ensure that the auger is pushing pellets into the firepot, and that the fan is running. If pellets are moving and the fan is running, but no fire will start, your igniter has likely failed, and you should contact us for a replacement.
*Be aware that the first time running the grill, or if you’ve run out of pellets, it will take a longer time to start and can trigger this alarm, as the pellets have to work their way all the way through the emptied auger chamber. If you get the alarm in these cases, simply turn the grill off, and turn it back on again.
There are several reasons why this might be happening:
The SMOKE setting on your Pellet Boss will fluctuate between 170-190°F to create the maximum amount of smoke possible.
On GRILL, the auger will turn continually, and is governed at (regulated to not exceed) 600°F, depending on outside temperature, variety of pellets being used, and altitude.
Remember that the temperature at the grate level will be considerably higher if you have the Flame Zone uncovered—so while your grill might read 450°, the temperature where your steak is searing will be much hotter. The thermocouple measures the overall grill temperature, much like a house thermostat regulates the overall temperature. Your room thermostat might be set to 70 degrees, but if you stand over the open air vent while it’s blowing, it will be much warmer at the heat source.
We designed our grills so that anyone can repair their MAK without being particularly handy or using uncommon equipment. We’ve also produced a number of technical/service videos with step-by-step instructions, showing you how to repair your MAK. We’re also just a phone call or email away for any additional support you might need. 503-623-1234, or [email protected]
Nope! We recommend using Bear Mountain BBQ. They are made here and Oregon using high quality woods and are subject to a rigorous quality assurance process. They deliver a consistent experience and impart great flavor. That being said, you can use any brand of hardwood barbecue pellet in your MAK Grill.
We do recommend buying just a bag or two of any new pellet that you’re trying before loading up on tons of them—some brands of pellets create more ash than others which means having to clean your firepot more often. Some are formulated for greater heat production vs. greater smoke production, and you’ll want to experiment with what flavors you like best.
PLEASE NOTE: Pellet bags are NOT airtight, and will absorb moisture from the air over time. We recommend storing pellets indoors, in an airtight container, to avoid issues from moisture.
No. Fuel pellets are often made from scrap woods, which could have paint, stain, or other contaminants and cancer-causing chemicals that are not healthy for you (not to mention would taste just awful when they burn!). We always recommend that you use only hardwood barbecue pellets, which are considered food grade pellets.
Yes. Each new MAK Grill is covered with a Limited Lifetime Warranty.
We feel that it’s essential that the controller is returned because the Pellet Boss controller is proprietary technology, not just designed by us, but designed specifically for the MAK. We are still the only pellet grill manufacturer that designs and makes our boards from scratch, rather than modifying and branding one that is “off the shelf.” We build them locally according to our own design.
The algorithms that make the Pellet Boss so special have been tested exhaustively in environments across the country, earning them a reputation for unrivaled performance and functionality.
We take great pride in the Pellet Boss and for that reason are unashamed to say that we do not want to see it placed on inferior units or in the hands of bad actors.
We have heard reports that they can be used to control other grills, but we cannot make promises or predictions about how they’ll cause another machine to behave, and we strongly discourage attempts to find out. Ultimately, they shouldn’t work optimally, if at all, on other grills and we share no liability for any attempt to make them work.
We understand that some MAK owners prefer to hold on to their old Pellet Boss as a backup, just in case the new one fails. While past experience may suggest that’s a wise move, the truth is that the new controller failing is very unlikely. Its individual parts have been chosen in part due to their reliability. When problems do arise, we are here to help, and can likely help you find a better solution than reverting back to a controller that won’t let you use your superior K-Style probes and likely has outdated firmware.
When Pellet Boss controllers are returned to us, they’re tested and then properly recycled. A small number may be refurbished. The vast majority will be broken down to their individual materials and disposed of according to federal and state regulations.
We won’t harass you if you don’t send your controller back, but we do ask for it and provide a shipping label. We hope this explanation adds clarity to our reasons for doing so, and encourages you to help us in this way.