How to use a smoke tube on a pellet grill

Using a smoke tube to add extra smoke with your pellet grill is entirely fine and works well. I share some thoughts here...

I bought a pellet grill a while back and have been experimenting with the different flavors of smoke the pellets offer. So far, I haven’t been overly impressed, so I have taken to using a smoking tube filled with chips to add extra smoke. It takes a bit of work, but I have figured out how to use a smoke tube on a pellet grill without a torch.

I bought two smoking tubes from Amazon (about $12 each), so I can keep one packed up with chips, so the smoke stays on the meat even when the first tube burns through all the chips. A quick swap of the smoke tube and my cook continues without a smoke interruption.

These make great gifts or accessories for anybody you know who is trying to up their meat-smoking game.

They’re cheap and, when used correctly, can really add some nice smoke. It also helps you mix the smoke up a bit. If I’m using Cherry smoke pellets, I can add a few apple chips to the tube smoker to mix it up.

The process below is for my Z-Grills pellet grill, but there’s no reason it wouldn’t be largely the same for a Traeger, Pit Boss, or another brand.

A quick word about the type of wood to use. I own an Oklahoma Joe’s upright smoker, so I may be biased, but they do a great job of breaking down the different woods for smoking.

The issue I had when first starting was that the heat in the pellet grill was never enough to set anything on fire. It did a great job cooking, but not hot enough to catch the chips in the smoker on fire.

I know many will use a propane torch for this – great idea.

What I tend to do, however, is drop the tube full of chips into the fire of my other smoker. I rarely cook on only one grill at a time, so this works well as I almost always have a fire somewhere nearby.

I fill the tube smoker with whatever flavor of smoke chips I want to use:

Wood chips and smoke tube - prepping for use on the pellet grill
With whatever chips you decide to use, fill it up good and tight.

I tend to pack the wood chips into the tube pretty tightly.

Smoker pellet tube manufacturers and brands

As I mentioned, I bought two smoke tubes and use them pretty much all the time, and they just work. I couldn’t even say what brand or manufacturer mine are.

I’ve looked at several different brands and read reviews for each.

For the most part, I don’t see a difference. I recommend simply finding one you like that is easily affordable and trying it out.

I did a quick search across Amazon for “smoke tube” and below is a sampling of what came back:

You have a wide variety to choose from. From my chair, I believe they are all essentially the same

As you can see, “smoker pellet tube” manufacturers have caught on that this is something we want and need, so many are simply slapping odd names (DIMESHY, SIZZQ, Aushutu…?) onto what I believe is a white-labeled item they buy in bulk from somewhere. Nothing against that process, as it gives us plenty of low-price choices.

I might go buy a boatload myself and slap “SmokeOps” on the label. Hmmm…maybe not a terrible idea.

Note the number of reviews for the items. I always say to multiply that number by at least 10 to arrive at the actual number sold since most people don’t leave reviews. You can see that the smoker tube market is booming!

As a side note, many of the options above include cleaning brushes, hangers, etc. Mine came with both, and I’ve never used either.

I bang the smoke tube against the grill when I’m done to knock the ashes out, and then when I’m done, I just put it back in the grill where it sits until my next cook.

It ain’t shiny and clean, but it works just fine.

So from my perspective, these extra additions aren’t really necessary. Next time I need one, I will simply opt for the cheapest-priced one I find.

I will be buying a means to light the smoker tube, such as a propane torch or maybe even one of these kitchen butane lighters. I haven’t tried this yet, though.

Wood chips or pellets in the smoke tube?

I have seen other folks use pellets for this. Interesting idea, but for me, the reason for doing this is because the pellet smoke is questionable.

In my experience, it has been anyway.

So my intent here is to get a good amount of smoke on the meat for a while. Smoke that isn’t reliant on pellets.

I will say that I’ve done a bit of research on the smokiness of pellets and have found and can verify that if you don’t store them appropriately, they can lose some of their effectiveness.

Leaving them in the hopper, for example, is convenient, but depending on where your smoker is, you are also leaving those pellets in what may be a bad environment for them.

You should keep them sheltered and, importantly, away from high humidity to ensure they work when you are ready for them.

But anyway, back to the tube smoker. Fill it up, pack those chips in, and then if you have another fire going somewhere, just put the tube in that fire just enough to catch the bottom of the chips on fire. Not the whole thing.

One way to start the wood chips in the smoke tube!
One way to light the smoking tube…

I mentioned before that some folks use a propane torch for this step, and it’s a great approach. I just don’t normally have one around.

Propane will leave no residue or bad taste, so don’t worry about that.

Purists, of course, will frown at anything that isn’t strictly caveman style.

Where to place the smoke tube in the pellet grill

Depending on the type of grill you have, the location of where to place the smoke tube will be different. In the picture below, my heat comes from the left and exits out a chimney to the right. There is a deflector plate under the grill to ensure there is no direct heat on the meat. I place my smoker tube nearest the source of the heat, which makes sense – that’s where you would expect the smoke to come from anyway.

My recommendation is to place it as close as you can to wherever the heat is coming from so the smoke can take advantage of the design of your smoker.

Once the chips have started burning in the tube, using gloves or whatever you have to protect your hands from the heat, move that tube into your pellet smoker:

Smoking meat on a pellet smoker with a smoking tube to add extra smoke
Pellet smoker, using a smoking tube with wood chips for extra smoke, Mmmm, brisket and ribs!

I find that a tube full of chips gives me about 2-3 hours of extra smoke.

That’s about it. Nothing too special, but just wanted to share one way to get this done. So if you are wondering how to use a smoke tube on a pellet grill, first, know that it’s entirely fine to do so, and second, you gotta find a way to light it since the pellet grill itself probably won’t.

Happy smoking!

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