In Depth: MAK Grills Pellet Boss Controller
A controller is the heart of every pellet grill. A well-designed controller is what separates the average pellet grill from a great one. The MAK Grills Pellet Boss Controller combines Atari simplicity with a Swiss Army Knife feature set to make your smoking and grilling adventures more successful. It is standard equipment on MAK 1 Star, MAK 2 Star, and MAK 3 Star General pellet grills. Their controller is designed to keep your cook on target, so your guests leave smiling with full bellies.
Great for Cooking in Hot or Cold Climates
The Pellet Boss controller is designed to keep the grill temperature plus or minus ten degrees of the set temperature. The software algorithms were tested in cold Alaskan winters and the extreme heat of the Arizona deserts. The MAK pellet grill is designed to stay close to target temperature no matter what the outside temperature is.
In Texas, our temperatures can range from the 100’s down to the single digits. We have cooked in all extremes with the MAK 2 Star pellet grill and have always had great results. I can’t say this enough. The major advantage to any pellet grill is the controller acts like your personal pitmaster. It controls airflow and fuel (wood pellets) to keep your grill at its target temperature. This leave you more time for creating, cooking, and sleeping rather than sitting next to the firebox at 2am hoping to have the brisket ready by 5pm for your visitors.
When you first turn on the Pellet Boss controller, it will be set to Smoke mode. The smoke mode runs at around 170-190F and is designed to smoke food low and slow. The controller does a great job of maintaining this temperature and allows you to infuse some good, clean smoke into your food. You can choose to slow smoke your food the entire time at this temperature or set the controller to automatically raise the temperature at a set time or when the internal temperature of the meat reaches a certain point. It’s entirely up to you. We have had great success cooking beef jerky this way.
Grill mode on the MAK 2 Star pellet grill is designed to be used with the FlameZone covers off, so you can grill at higher temperatures. The auger runs continuously to feed the firebox to keep the temperature high enough to sear steaks, pork chops, chicken wings, etc. The Pellet Boss Controller is governed at 600F. We have seen the pellet boss controller read temperatures as high as 590F when in grill mode. Throw some aluminum searing grates on there, and you have grate temps probably reaching over 700F. We have had great success grilling at high temperatures on the MAK 2 Star pellet grill.
Built in “Count Up” Elapsed Timer
I love the built-in elapsed count up timer because this allows you to track your total cook or run time. You can set the “count up” elapsed timer at the beginning of any cook you do, and it will independently track the total cook time. It does not interfere with the count-down timer which is used to track individual cooks with an audible alarm that goes off after the timer has expired. This outstanding built-in feature of the pellet boss controller will get a lot of use.
Built in “Count Down” Timer
The count-down timer is exactly what it sounds like. You can set the built-in timer to the exact hours and minutes you are looking for and a loud audible alarm will go off once it has expired. It is simple to use and integrated right into the pellet boss controller. These built in timers prevent you from having to use individual external devices which is more to maintain and keep up with.
There are three user programs that can be saved in your Pellet Boss controller. You can create a simple or complex program. The menu system is easy to use once you get used to it.
Here is an example of what you can do with User Programs for a brisket:
- Smoke mode (170-190F) for 4 hours
- At the 4-hour mark, the temperature automatically raises to 225F
- Smoke at 225F for 6 hours
- At the 10-hour mark, the temperature automatically raises to 275F
- Smoke at 275F until internal temperature of the meat reaches 200F
- Once internal temp reaches 200F, you can program the pellet boss controller to switch back to Smoke mode and hold the meat until you remove it
- Pretty awesome stuff. You program the controller and walk away and let the Pellet Boss “Pitmaster” do its thing.
This is an example of what you can do for a brisket. Of course, you could throw a brisket on and cook it at 225F the whole time and call it a day. If you are one of those people who love to experiment with your cooks, the pellet boss controller will give you full control in a simple design interface.
Three Temperature Probes
On the pellet boss controller, there are three ports for meat probes. Each meat probe can have its alarm set independently based on the internal temperature of the meat your cooking. This gives you ultimate flexibility to cook different types of meat simultaneously without needing lots of external devices lying around. Three meat probes is more than enough for any cook.
Pellet Boss Controller Update in 2020
MAK Grills updated their Pellet Boss controller in 2020 to now come standard with K-Style thermocouple probe connections. This is a more robust professional style connection which is now integrated right into the controller. They also changed the algorithm, so the high temperature in grill mode is now governed at 600F instead of the previous 500F. Some changes to the Wi-Fi were made as well.
Pellet Boss Controller Alarm is LOUD
The alarm on the Pellet Boss controller is very loud. You can easily hear the alarm going off while you are inside your home. The alarm can go off for many reasons. The most common being when the countdown timer has expired or when the internal temperature is reached on the meat probe.
On our property we have a few buildings that are 100-150ft apart. The alarm on the MAK 2 Star pellet grill is so loud you can hear it going off while on the other side of the main building over 100ft away inside the warehouse of a second building. There is a tone to the alarm that makes the sound travel, and it gets your attention. It always gets our attention.
You will also hear the alarm go off if you have a flame out or other malfunction with the grill. The most common reason for flameouts is due to lack of maintenance. You will want to make sure your firepot is clean when doing long cooks at lower temperatures. This is a great feature that gets your attention, so you can address the problem before your expensive cut of meat is ruined.
Cool Down Mode is Simple and Awesome
The 20-minute cool down mode on the MAK 2 Star pellet grill is really cool and often overlooked. Once you are finished with your cook, you press the power button and the 20-minute cool down mode will begin. It is an automatic process which allows you to walk away and the grill will burn down the existing pellets and get itself ready for the next cook.
During cool down mode, the Pellet Boss controller will turn the fan on high to burn down the remaining pellets in the firepot. The fan blowing at high speed will burn down existing pellets, and it also pushes excess ash out of the firepot to reduce build up for your next cook. This reduces the number of times you have to clean the firepot.
The MAK Pellet Boss controller is smart. The controller will automatically adjust the cool down process based on the temperature you were cooking at. Once the firepot is burned down and the cool down process is finished, the Pellet Boss controller will rotate the auger just enough to drop some fresh pellets in the firepot. The reason for this is faster startup times on your next cook as fresh pellets will be sitting in the firepot waiting for ignition. Really cool stuff!
MAK Grills Mobile and The Remote Boss
MAK Grills offers a Wi-Fi option and a Remote Controller that can be monitored up to 300ft away. We don’t use either one of these, so we can’t speak to their effectiveness. I had originally thought about upgrading to the Wi-Fi accessory as I love technology, but the more and more I used my MAK 2 Star, the more I enjoyed the simplicity of the Pellet Boss controller and walking away from the grill and letting it do its thing. It is so good, I never worry about it. I would recommend trying the grill out first without these accessories as you can always add them later.
Pellet Boss Controller Can be Upgraded
MAK Grills released a firmware update for our controller, and we could get it updated. We remove the circuit board and mailed it to MAK Grills and USPS almost lost it in the mail. It took over a month for them to deliver it from Texas to Oregon.
I was starting to get scared thinking it was lost in the mail, so I contacted Dennis at MAK Grills. Dennis stayed in touch with me following up every week to let me know if he had received the controller. It took so long that Dennis and I thought it was lost in the mail, so Dennis offered to help me out.
I’m not sure what he was going to do, but the controller finally arrived at MAK Grills. They got the circuit board updated with the latest firmware and got it back to me promptly. I appreciated the help I received from Dennis as he is always there to follow up with you.
Trying to decipher which pellet grill to buy online can be a daunting task. You will have to weed through several websites littered with affiliate links, and you will most likely end up with decision fatigue. Most pellet grills today are manufactured overseas and imported by “pellet grill companies” which are essentially excellent marketing companies that distribute pellet grills. They have all figured out how to leverage social media to its fullest using influencers to promote their products.
MAK Grills does things a little differently. A little slower. They are not the fastest at making changes or updating their social media page. What they are good at is consistently producing top-notch products daily they can stand behind. Products they believe in. Products they can trust. Their Pellet Boss Controller is designed, tested, and built within driving distance of their Dallas, Oregon facility. Being that the controller is the heart of every pellet grill, it’s nice to see that MAK Grills keeps it close to home.
Read our full review of the MAK 2 Star General Pellet Grill or our full write-up on Pellet Grill Searing on the MAK 2 Star. Enjoy!