If you own a pellet grill but are not satisfied with the smoke profile it develops for your meats and other foods, a few simple yet effective tools and solutions can fulfill your dream of cooking food with an intense amount of smoky flavor.
Among these tools, there is a smoke tube that can hold wood pellets or chips to add an extra layer of smoke flavor to your food.
So in this article, I will try my best to cover every essential detail about how to use a smoke tube in a pellet grill, its alternatives, along with its advantages and disadvantages for elevating your barbecue experience.
Looking for a Topline Answer?
To use a smoke tube in a pellet grill, you need to fill the tube with your favorite wood pellets and ignite them from one end. After 10 to 15 minutes or so, the pellets inside the tube will start smoldering and producing smoke which will then infuse into your meal to add a smoky flavor to it.
Definition Of Smoke Tube
A smoke tube is a cylindrical-shaped metal or stainless steel tool which BBQ enthusiasts use to get more smoke flavor for their meats and other foods.
This tool typically consists of multiple perforations throughout its length, and its edges are widely opened from where you can enter and ignite the pellets and allow them to smolder.
You can fill the smoke tube with either wood pellets or wood chips, depending on the cooking requirements and your personal preferences.
When the pellets inside the tube smolder, the holes in it allow the smoke to escape and circulate throughout the grill, infusing the food with a rich and smoky flavor.
How Does A Smoke Tube Work?
The working of the smoke tube is pretty straightforward. The procedure begins with filling the tube with your desired flavor of wood pellets.
Interestingly, you can either use the same pellets you are using in the hopper or mix up the flavor and use different pellets.
After the filling process, you need to ignite the pellets or chips from the edges. Once the pellets catch fire and begin to smolder, place the tube over the grill grates carefully, and it will start producing smoke which will be infused into your meat.
So, this is how this tool works and offers desired results. But you might be curious to know about how to use a smoke tube in a pellet grill, right? Keep reading.
How To Use A Smoke Tube In A Pellet Grill?
No doubt, pellet grills are capable of providing smoke flavor during the cooking process because they use wood pellets as a fuel source, but for those who prefer more intense flavors, a smoke tube can be a useful device for them.
Using smoke tubes in these grills differs slightly from charcoal and gas grills because they have dissimilar shapes, fuel sources, and working techniques.
Let me disclose the step-by-step instructions regarding how you can use it if you own a pellet grill.
Use A Clean Smoke Tube
Firstly, ensure that the tube is clean and there are no pellets ash from the previous cooking sessions as it can mix up the fresh pellets with leftover ones and ruin the whole taste.
To clean it, you simply need to let it cool down first, empty it from the ash, rinse it with the help of water and brush, and it will be ready for the next cooking session.
Next, fill your desired flavor of wood pellets in the tube from its wide edges. You’ve got multiple choices here about pellets.
You can use the same pellets that you are using in the hopper, or you can also make a different flavor combination by using a different type of wood pellets in the smoke tube.
I recommend mixing up Apple flavor with hickory or cherry, as it offers a delightful combination of sweet, smoky flavors.
Place Tube in The Grill & Ignite The Pellets
Set up the smoke tube filled with pellets over the grates and start igniting them from the edge. Depending on the size of the tube, the pellets will burn within 10 to 15 minutes and start smoldering.
Once the smoke production has started, you must decide whether to keep the smoke tube on the grates or change its position.
I recommend placing it underneath the grill grates and above the heat deflectors from where it can get direct and high heat.
This technique is especially helpful when the smoking session is going to be longer, as the deflectors will allow the pellets inside the tube to produce smoke constantly.
Place Your Food And Start Smoking
Lastly, select a suitable cooking temperature, set up your food or meat over the grill grates, close the lid, and begin smoking.
Ultimately, you can ensure that your food items have a rich and unique smoky flavor that can impress your friends or family members.
Side Note: If you love intense smoke in your meat, I endorse you must use a smoke tube on a pellet grill, especially when smoking ribs, because they are not as thick as brisket, and smoke gets infused deep inside them for a delicious smoky taste.
When To Use A Smoke Tube?
There are two primary uses of pellets smoke tubes that I have explained below.
Adding Smoke Flavor
As mentioned above, one primary use of this tool is to enhance the smoke flavor in your grilled or smoked dishes. While pellet grills already provide some smoke, using a smoke tube allows you to add further smoky taste and flavors.
The second major use of this gadget is for cold smoking. It involves smoking food at temperatures below 90 °F and between 65 to 85 °F and infusing it with a smoky flavor.
It can also be helpful in food preservation through which you can extend the life of your food items for 1 to 30 days without compromising their quality.
The most popular foods to cold smoke are bacon, cheese, sausages, salmon, and other fruits and veggies.
How To Use Smoke Tube For Cold Smoking?
So, you don’t want to add further smoke flavors to your meat and use the smoke tube to preserve food or for cold smoking. In this case, how’d you use it inside a pellet grill? I’ll tell you how.
- Fill Pellets: First, ensure the tube is clean, and then fill it with your favorite pellets. Set up the fill tube on the pellet grill.
- Ignite the pellets: Next, start igniting them using a heat gun or lighter, and they will be extinguished and start smoldering for around 15 minutes.
- Begin Smoking: When the smoke starts coming out of the tube, place the food you want to cold smoke, close the lid, and your cold smoking session will begin.
- There is no need to use any other fuel source in this case. Only the heat coming from the smoke tube should be enough.
Can You Use Wood Chips Instead Of Pellets Inside the Smoke Tube?
Though the tube is certainly designed to hold pellets, wood chips can also go in and offer some good results. Let me explain the difference between them and what you should use inside the smoke tube.
If you want constant and rich smoke for a longer duration, like 5 to 6 hours, I recommend filling it with wood pellets as they are preferable in this situation.
On the other hand, wood chips burn hotter and quicker, and you will need to refill the tube again and again. Therefore, the chips are suitable when the cooking session is going to be shorter.
Advantages Of Smoke Tube
- Mix up the pellets flavors: You can easily mix up the flavors of wood pellets and enhance your BBQ game by using two different flavors in the hopper and the smoke tube.
- Inexpensive: It is a cheap way to add your desired smoke flavors to your favorite food items.
- Versatile and Portable Option: It is a small tool that you can use in pellet, gas, and charcoal grills, making it a versatile product. Also, it is portable, which makes it a handy gadget for camping and road trips.
- Easy Cleaning: You just need to free it from the ash and burnt pellets residue and clean it by scrubbing it with water and a brush.
Disadvantages Of Smoke Tube
- Limited Capacity: It holds a limited amount of pellets which typically last for 5 to 6 hours, and if the temperature inside the grill is higher, you’ll need to fill it before that time.
- Time-Taking Ignition: To ignite the pellets inside it, you need to constantly provide it direct heat for 10 minutes or 15, depending on the tube size.
Smoke Tube Alternatives
If you are uncomfortable using the smoke tube for some reason, a few other alternatives can offer the same results.
A smoker box is a popular alternative to a smoke tube which is also simple to use. It is a small metal box with holes or vents that you can fill with wood chips or pellets.
The smoker box goes directly on the grill grates or near the heat source, allowing the wood chips or pellets to smolder and produce smoke.
This method provides similar results to a smoke tube, infusing the food with a smoky flavor. The main difference between these two tools is that they have different shapes, but the using technique is pretty similar.
It is another alternative to the smoke tube, which isn’t a tool but a technique for which you mainly require a sheet of aluminum foil and your favorite wood pellets.
To use this technique, you simply need to create a foil pouch and fill pellets inside it. Lastly, make small holes using a needle or knife, place the pouch filled with pellets over the grill grates, and begin smoking.
Flavor Profile Of Different Wood Pellets.
|Oak||Strong traditional smoke|
|Mesquite||Strong Earthy finish|
|Hickory||Milder than mesquite but stronger than apple & cherry|
|Apple||Sweet & fruity|
|Peach||Sweet & woody|
A smoke tube is a handy tool when it comes to adding an extra layer of smoke flavors to your meat, and you can use both pellets and chips inside it, but I would recommend wood pellets for better results in longer BBQ sessions.
Using this tube is pretty straightforward, and it has many notable advantages. Also, I have enlightened its alternatives so you can choose a smoke-infusing method that suits you the most.
Have A Great BBQ Session!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why soaked wood chips are used in the smoke tubes?
Soaked wood chips burn slowly, and it’s better to use them in a smoke tube. On the other hand, dry wood chips burn to produce flame and may dry the food rather than impart a smoke flavor.
What is the lifespan of a smoke tube?
A standard tube can last for around five to six hours, but the exact time varies on how much you use it and at what temperature you use it. If the temperature is higher, you may need to refill it earlier than cooking at a lower temp.
What temperature should a smoke tube be?
The optimal temperature for a smoke tube is between 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. In this temperature range, the tube produces maximum smoke, which then benefits your food items.
Should the smoke tube be vertical or horizontal?
The position of the tube does not make a big difference, but if you keep it in a vertical shape, the pellets will burn slower than in a horizontal shape.
Caspian James, the Founder and Chief Editor at FaveGrills, is passionate about sharing his knowledge and expertise on the latest Smokers and Grilling Products along with mouth-watering barbecue recipes. He constantly researches new gear with a sharp eye for detail, providing the FaveGrills community with in-depth reviews.