MAK Innovations: Perfecting Outdoor Cooking

MAK Grills approaches innovation by asking, how can we improve the outdoor cooking experience? The very first grills were designed to address the concerns that pitmasters, and everyday people had about pellet grilling. That same practical, customer-centric approach remains in place today. We’re constantly working behind the scenes to continue to pave the way and set the standards for this industry. Let’s take an in-depth look at the many MAK Innovations and how they came about.

MAK Innovations that Improve the Startup Experience

The FlashFire Igniter

Most pellet grills use Rod cartridge igniters. Ours no longer use them. The question isn’t if they’ll fail, but when, and whether they’ll give you any warning beforehand.

Sometimes you can tell when an igniter is starting to go. Sometimes it doesn’t give you any warning and you won’t know until you’re ready to use it. We have experienced the anxiety this causes firsthand, as backyard BBQers and as grill manufacturers. We went through several different American manufacturers trying to find an igniter cartridge that wouldn’t fail. In the end, no matter how high the cost or quality of materials, the fail-proof cartridge igniter could not be created.

We now use the ceramic FlashFire Igniter. It is rated for 90,000 on / off cycles, and if used every day should last nearly 250 years. The failure rate for these igniters is extremely low. We offer a lifetime warranty on them. If they should fail at any time for any reason, we replace and ship them for free.

This igniter gets much hotter, much faster than cartridge igniters – reaching 1000 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 10 seconds. It works in concert with our industrial variable speed fan to engulf the pellets in super-heated air. With MAK Grills, you’ll spend less time waiting and more time grilling.

The FlameZone

The most common concern that people have with pellet grills, even to this day, is that you cannot actually grill on many of them. Some will get very hot and allow you to bake or roast, but if they cannot generate direct heat, they cannot truly grill. The FlameZone system solves this problem by allowing you to switch between convection style cooking and direct heat grilling at will, by easily removing the stainless-steel FlameZone Covers. In seconds you can have direct heat across the entire cooking surface, or leave one of the covers on for two zone grilling.

This custom engineered system of nearly forty pounds of American stainless-steel funnels heat and smoke upward in an incredibly efficient manner – creating intense high heat, while simultaneously reducing pellet consumption. The result is that with one grill, you can slow smoke fall-off-the-bone tender ribs, bake a pizza at high heat, or perfectly sear a steak. All this, while avoiding the food-drying effect of direct flame. The FlameZone transformed the pellet grill from a single use case tool to one of the most versatile cooking platforms in existence.


MAK Innovations that Improve the Cooking Experience

Rolled Lid

A lid is something you probably don’t ever think about, until it becomes an inconvenience. Many pellet grills use a hinged lid that pivots up from somewhere in the center. The problem with this is that raising the lid up entirely without burning yourself requires you to be very tall or very careful.

Our lids roll back and fold cleanly over the hood. When you open your grill for the first time, you may notice the build quality and how smoothly and easily the weight of the well-balanced American steel moves. Once you become used to that, you shouldn’t think about your lid at all.

The Pellet Hopper

The MAK Pellet Hopper is specifically designed to taper down in an inverted pyramid fashion in order to ensure that all of the pellets are gravity fed into the auger tube without any hang-ups or stragglers. It also features a safety system that detects whenever the hopper lid is raised and automatically switches off the auger, preventing someone from accidentally harming themselves by reaching into a hopper with an active auger.

The Pellet Dump Door

The pellet dump door is one of the most convenient features that we originated. Perhaps the greatest thing about BBQ pellets as a fuel is the tremendous and diverse flavor that they can add to food cooked with them. We found that people liked to blend different flavor profiles by using multiple flavors of pellets during cooks. This used to mean having to manually scoop unused pellets out of the hopper. With the pellet dump door, you simply place a storage container below the door, open it, and let gravity do the work for you in seconds. You can do the same thing after your cook is finished to empty your hopper.

Slide-In Upper Grates

Have you stood over a smoking grill while placing a large brisket or many, many chicken wings into tight spaces, while all of the heat washes over you and escapes? Wouldn’t it have been easier to move them directly from the kitchen counter to the grill on the very grates that they’ll be cooking on? We thought so too, and that’s why our grates slide directly in and out of the grill from the front.

Louvered Vents

Pellet grills often feature a single smoke stack that stands to one side and exhausts the heat and smoke upward and out of the grill. The problem with this is that the heat and smoke being generated by the grill will rise and be prematurely drawn to the smoke stack and exhausted. This creates inconsistent temperatures within the cooking chamber. You’ll have one side that’s holding temperature while the other will be significantly cooler.

MAK Grills use louvered vents, engineered to allow heat and smoke to evenly circulate throughout the cooking chamber, before cooling and falling out of the back. There are no hot and cold spots at the grate level or in the cooking chamber and there is no wasted smoke or heat.

Probes for more than Measurement

Before the MAK, if backyard cooks wanted to measure the temperature of the meat they were cooking, they had to use a third party probe that would not communicate with the grill in any way. Many pellet grills still don’t have integrated meat probes.

MAK Grills use industrial grade K-Style probes, which are incredibly durable and accurate. They not only measure the temperature of the meat, but allow you to program the Pellet Boss controller to change the grill’s internal temperature based on the internal temperature of your meat. This is extremely helpful for low and slow cooks where you want to smoke at certain temperatures for a time, but then drop or raise the internal grill temperature to finish the cook.

Accurate Temperature Control

When we entered the pellet grill marketplace, the standard at the time was a whopping 50 degree variance in temperature. Most grills at the time used a timed sequence to achieve an approximate target temperature. For example, if you set the grill for 300° it told the controller to feed pellets every 30 seconds. This would get you in the ballpark of the 300° set point. If it was a hot day outside, the actual temperature might have been 350°. If it was a cold day outside you may have only reached 250°. The fan speeds on most pellet grills were fixed so they could not help maintain your set point accurately.

When we created the Pellet Boss we set out to control fuel delivery based on the actual temperature inside the grill. Using an industrial grade thermocouple we were able to actively read the pit temperature and adjust the fuel and fan speeds to maintain the setpoint within 10 degrees.

You no longer have to worry about whether it’s hot or cold outside, or how much food you’re putting on the grill. Our algorithms were tested under the most demanding conditions, from the Alaskan winter to the heat of the Arizona desert. The Pellet Boss will maintain the set point temperature or program that you tell it to, regardless of external or internal factors.

Convenient Control

We originated many of the controller features found on high end and third party controllers today. In addition to the smartest controller on the market, we wanted the easiest to use as well. That’s why we were also the first to integrate BlueTooth and Wi-Fi technology with a controller.

The Remote Boss puts the power of the pellet boss controller in the palm of your hand. Carry it with you and control your grill from up to 300 feet away.

Got enough devices or need more flexibility? MAK Grills Mobile allows you to control and monitor your grill from any internet connected smart device with a web browser. There’s no app to download or keep updated and you aren’t limited to app capable devices. MAK Grills Mobile runs from a website, designed to be reliable and user friendly.

Unrivaled Smoke Generation

Precisely controlling the temperature allowed us to create more smoke. We programmed a SMOKE setpoint on our Pellet Boss controller, and also opted to avoid the drawbacks of insulating the cooking chamber. Smoke thrives at lower temperatures and is incinerated at higher temperatures. MAK Grills can reach and maintain lower temperatures because we don’t add extra steel to insulate the grill (but are still able to reach high heat with the FlameZone).

On setpoint SMOKE, the Pellet Boss will smolder the pellets by letting the fire settle. This ensures that the grill is creating the greatest possible amount of clean, blue smoke.

The Warmer-Smoker Box

Our most versatile model, The Two-Star General, comes standard with the Warmer-Smoker Box. This is a compartment of the grill that you can use to hold food at safe temperatures temporarily when you’re waiting to serve or to cold smoke foods like cheese, nuts, and fish.

The Warmer-Smoker Box is designed to stay approximately 100 degrees cooler than the setpoint temperature at any given time.

This allows you to temporarily hold your food at safe temperatures to free up grilling space or until you’re ready to serve.

It also allows you to cold smoke food for the purpose of imparting smoke flavor without cooking it. We never recommend cold smoking or attempting to cure meat, as it can be deadly if done incorrectly.

Roaming Thermocouple

Pellet grills typically cook ambiently by circulating heat throughout the chamber and evenly cooking your food. The MAK is more than just a smoker and convection cooker, though. What if you’re grilling and want to know the temperature directly at the grate level. Now with the roaming thermocouple, you can place it directly onto the same surface where your food is cooking and control the grill using the precise temperature that your food is cooking at.

It also makes the thermocouple significantly easier to clean.


MAK Innovations that Improve the Cleanup Experience

The Removable Firepot

Firepots were often welded into the grill and primarily made of painted steel. The main problem with this is that when the heat and exposure inevitably rust out a steel firepot, your entire grill becomes junk.

A slightly less problematic side effect is that in order to clean out your firepot, you had to shop vac out all of the ash that might be left after your cook. This was more work than should be necessary, but more importantly, it tended to upset people. No one wanted their shop vac to be used to clean out filthy firepots. We solved this problem by creating the first stainless-steel removable firepot.

Stainless steel is much less likely to eventually fail, and if it does, you replace a part rather than the grill. Additionally, cleanup is as simple as pulling a pin, dumping the ash in the trash, and placing the firepot back in the grill.

The Grease Drawer

Like most pellet grills today, MAK’s originally used an external metal bucket to collect grease. While this will technically work, as a solution it is less than ideal. An external bucket full of hot grease is potentially hazardous to curious children and animals. It’s also a headache of a mess waiting to happen due to children, pets, or clumsiness, even after it cools. We developed a better solution.

Our grills now feature a stainless-steel drawer that sits inside of the body of the grill and slides out for easy grease disposal. This eliminates the potential hazard to pets and children and makes cleanup easier. In fact, the drawer was designed to specifically fit the disposable foil bread pans, potentially eliminating the need to clean the drawer at all.

Removable Grease Shield

Our grills are designed to channel grease down a removable shield into the removable grease drawer. The grease shield is also removable so that all of the areas that come in direct contact with the grease are as easy as possible to clean.

Stainless Steel Hardware

Just because the body of a grill is stainless steel, doesn’t mean that the hardware is as well. Grills are constantly exposed to the elements, drippings, and high heat. If your grill isn’t using stainless steel hardware, it may be falling apart at the seams. Each of our grills uses over 250 stainless steel bolts and rivets.

Cool Down Mode

When you’ve finished your cook and moved to shut down your grill, what happens?

The MAK cool down mode is designed to make your post-cook cleanup and next cook’s startup process easier. In cool down mode, the fan runs at full speed, burning the remaining pellets down efficiently, and blowing the remaining ash out of the firepot. This does not eliminate the need to empty the firepot, but it does reduce how often you need to do so and helps create a quick ignition cycle the next time you turn on your grill.

Once the firepot has cooled, the auger then rotates enough to deposit fresh pellets for your next cook. The MAK automatically adjusts its cool down based on the temperature you were cooking at.


Building the Future

At MAK Grills, we’re perfectionists. Everything is done with the goal of producing the perfect outdoor cooking experience, every time. We rigorously test existing products and are constantly researching for the development of new products and innovations to that end. Ultimately, none of this happens without you. You, the outdoor cook, are the driving force behind our success as a company. We looked, we listened, and we crafted your feedback into the best outdoor cooking machine on the market. Your feedback continues to play a crucial role in our development process. We welcome it and we hope you’ll stay in touch.

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Here at MAK, research and development is an everyday occurrence. We're constantly experimenting so that we can continue to innovate and improve our products. We aim to perfect the outdoor cooking experience and we want you to be up to date on our progress. We regularly post news, information, recipes, and more! Sign up for our newsletter so you never miss an update! Subscribe to Our Newsletter