How to Use a Smoke Tube with Pellets to Up Your Grill Game

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Learn how to use a smoke tube with pellets to add extra smoke flavor to your grill!  Whether you want to add a different pellet flavor to your pellet smoker, or you want to add some smoke to your gas grill, a pellet smoke tube is an easy to use gadget you should have in your grilling arsenal!

Creating that perfect smoky flavor in all of your pellet smoker recipes is an art.  But it doesn’t have to be difficult.

Whether you’re an experienced pit master or you just bought your first grill and you want to smoke your inaugural pork butt, this article will help you use a smoke tube to take your smoked meats from so-so to so freaking fantastic!

Learn how to use a smoke tube with pellets on a smoker, a charcoal grill, or even a gas grill in this easy guide!

smoke tube with wood pellets on a pellet grill

So, what is a smoke tube?

Think of a smoke tube as a smoky grill flavor enhancer.  This small, cylindrical metal or stainless steel tube with tiny holes along its length is designed to add major smoke flavor to whatever you’re cooking.

And while it doesn’t look like much, and you may be thinking, “Why did I just spend $30 bucks on a thin metal tube?”, once you fill it with your favorite pellets and add it to your grill grates, the extra aromatic smoke will turn you into a believer.

Just fill the tube with your favorite pellets, light it, and get ready to add extra smoke flavor to transform your ordinary BBQ into something extraordinary!

Why would you want to use a smoke tube?

So you may be wondering, “Why should I use a smoke tube?”, especially if you already have a pellet smoker or you’re a pro at using your charcoal grill as a smoker.  My wife asked the same question when she saw this smoke tube in our Amazon cart a few years ago.

But then she tasted that first bite of a fresh-off-the-grill pork butt, and questioning my shopping habits was a thing of the past.

Here are some reasons why you should consider adding a pellet smoke tube to your cooks also:

Pellet smoke tubes help produce consistent smoke.  

Most backyard BBQ cooks have pellet grills or smokers, largely because of their ease of use and affordability.  But while a pellet grill is great at maintaining a consistent temperature, it can sometimes fall short in terms of smoke consistency.

A smoke tube with pellets helps to produce a consistent amount of smoke throughout your entire cook, whether you’re smoking a pork butt for 8 hours or a smoked buffalo chicken dip for 45 minutes.

Smoke tubes are incredibly versatile.

Because these simple gadgets only require three things to work (pellets or wood chips, a flame, and the tube itself), they can be used in a variety of ways.

Add a smoke tube to your gas grill to add the smoky flavor that you’re missing out on, place the lit tube on a cold grill and cold smoke cheese or salmon, or use the tube on your pellet grill when smoking for longer periods of time.

I’ve even used a smoke tube on my outdoor griddle to cook up the best flat top grill meats that I’ve ever had.  A pellet smoke tube opens up a world of grilling possibilities!

smoke tube with wood pellets inside smoking on a griddle grill

Smoke tubes are an easy way to mix pellet flavors.

You may not want to mix pellet varieties in your hopper, but adding different flavors of wood pellets to a smoke tube is an awesome and easy way to experiment with new smoke flavors.

You can purchase wood pellets in a variety of flavors like hickory, cherry, pecan, mesquite, or applewood, and pair different woods with different meats (just like pairing wines!).  Having a smoke tube makes it easy to switch out pellets and experiment with different flavor profiles.

Pellet smoke tubes are easy to use.

You don’t have to be a seasoned pitmaster to start using a smoker tube.  Just load it with wood pellets, ignite, position the tube on your grill, and in the words of Elsa – “Let it go.”  Yes, I’m a #girldad in case you didn’t know!

How to Use a Smoke Tube with Pellets on Your Grill

Now that we’ve covered the basics, here’s a deep-dive into how to use a wood pellet smoke tube to up your grilling game:

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Before you start your grill, make sure you have these supplies on hand:

  • Smoke tube – Smoke tubes come in a variety of sizes and shapes.  Most are about a foot long and have a more oval-shaped body.  Choose a high-quality tube made of stainless steel for more durability.
  • Wood pellets – This is the “fuel” that will keep your fire smoldering and your tube smoking.  Pick your favorite brand and flavor of wood pellets, or try something new… that’s the beauty of a smoke tube!
  • Mini propane torch – For best results, I recommend a mini propane torch (similar to what you would use for caramelizing sugar on a creme brulee).  You really need something stronger than a regular lighter to get the pellets to burn.  But don’t worry, your new kitchen gadget is multipurpose… I use my mini torch to melt bleu cheese on top of my steaks also.
  • Tongs – A good pair of grilling tongs is the perfect tool for moving your smoker tube around on the grill.
  • Grill – Charcoal grill, gas grill, pellet grill, or even an outdoor griddle with a heat-resistant, insulated lid – you can add a pellet smoke tube to any of these.
  • Heat resistant grill gloves – I’ve never used heat proof gloves when cooking outdoors, but if it makes you feel more comfortable, then go for it.

Step 2:  Pick Your Wood Pellets

Next, choose what flavor of wood pellets to use in your pellet smoke tube.  Each type of wood has its own unique flavor, so think about what you’re cooking and choose a variety that will pair well.

For instance, you probably wouldn’t want to use mesquite pellets with a delicate fish like sea bass, because the bold, intense smoky flavor could overpower the mild taste of the fish.

Here’s are a few notes on the flavor profiles of different types of wood pellets:

  • Hickory – This is my go-to for most of my smoker recipes.  Hickory is great for beef, pork, or poultry because it has a strong smoky flavor with lightly sweet undertones.
  • Applewood – Just like its name suggests, applewood has a slightly sweet, mildly fruity flavor.  Great for seafood, pork, or chicken.
  • Mesquite – Mesquite wood pellets offer an intense, rich smokiness to your foods, so they pair well with red meat.
  • Cherry – Similar to applewood, cherry wood pellets offer a slightly sweet smoky flavor profile.  Great for a variety of meats or even smoked desserts!

You could even make your own blend of pellets by layering different flavors in the smoke tube.  The possibilities are endless!

Step 3: Add the Pellets to the Smoke Tube

Once you’ve decided on the type of pellets to use, it’s time to fill the smoker tube.  To do so, just follow these steps:

  1. If your tube has a cap or stopper (not common), remove that first.
  2. Use your hands or a funnel to add the wood pellets to the open end of the tube.  Typically I fill my tube about 80% full, but you can use fewer pellets for shorter smoke times.  Just remember that the tube will be laying down horizontally on the grill grates, so you don’t want the pellets to spill out.
  3. Gently shake the tube to make sure the pellets are evenly distributed.
  4. Replace the cap (if applicable).

Step 4: Light the Smoke Tube

Once the smoke tube is filled, it’s time to ignite the pellets and make sure they are smoldering.  Just follow these steps to ignite the pellets:

  1. Using your mini propane torch (or other fire starter), ignite the pellets through the open end of the tube and through multiple holes along the length of the tube.  This ensures an even burn.
  2. Allow the pellets to burn for a few minutes, until you see a steady stream of smoke.
  3. Once the pellets are smoldering nicely, gently blow out any open flames.

Step 5: Preheat Your Grill

Once the smoke tube is going strong, preheat your grill to the desired temperature.  With the use of a smoke tube, it’s best to set up your grill for indirect cooking, meaning that your steaks, ribs, or chicken are as far away from the actual fire as possible, rather than directly over the flame or hot box.

Starting your pellet smoke tube before heating up the grill has an added benefit… It helps your pellet tube to produce consistent smoke before you ever add any proteins to the grill, so you’re ensuring maximum smoke flavor throughout the entire cooking process.

Step 6: Position the Smoke Tube

When the grill is preheated, position the smoke tube so that it is in the optimal position for maximum smoky flavor!  Here are some tips for choosing the perfect location on your grill grates:

  • Using a smoke tube on a pellet grill – Position the tube on the grill grates, on the opposite side of the firepot (or heat source) so that the smoke is pulled across your food as it cooks.
  • Using a smoke tube on a gas grill – Position the smoke tube directly on the grill grates away from the direct flames.
  • Using a smoke tube on a charcoal grill – Place the smoke tube on the opposite side of the charcoal bed.  See an in-depth tutorial on how to use your charcoal grill as a smoker here.

Step 7: Get to Grilling!

Once the smoke tube is properly lit and in position, and your grill is heated up to the desired cooking temp, it’s time to add your food!

Here are some things to keep in mind as you’re grilling with a pellet smoke tube:

  • Keep the grill lid closed as much as possible to trap in that yummy smoky flavor.
  • Keep an eye on the grill temp and adjust as needed.
  • Use a reliable meat thermometer to monitor the internal temp of the meats that you’re cooking.  For smoking, I prefer this wireless internal probe thermometer because it gives me a constant temperature reading for the internal temps of my meats and the temp of the grill.
  • Rotate your food on the grill so that all pieces get an even amount of smoke.  For instance, if a few pieces of chicken are closer to the smoke tube than others, then swap positions about halfway through the cook.

Step 8: Monitor the Smoker Tube

Using a smoke tube is not necessarily a “set it and forget it” type of cooking.  During your smoke, you may need to move the smoker tube to a different area on your grill, or if you notice that the smoke is dissipating, you’ll need to reignite the pellets.

Feel free to experiment with the placement of the smoke tube on your grill, keeping in mind that the closer the tube is to your food, the more smoky taste you’ll get.  After a few uses, you’ll probably figure out the “sweet spot” location for your pellet smoker tube.

And that’s all there is to it!

Whether you’re smoking a whole chicken or you’re grilling up some steaks, a smoke tube with pellets can impart some major smoky goodness to your meal!  So fill your smoke tube with your favorite wood pellets, fire up the grill, and get ready to experiment with this handy grill master’s tool!

Happy grilling!

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