Are you looking for an easy way to add more smoke flavor when using your pellet grill?
You’ve come to the right spot!
In this TheGrillingDad.com guide you will learn:
- About smoke tubes
- How to use a smoke tube on your pellet grill
- And much more!
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What You Need to Know About Using a Smoke Tube in a Pellet Grill
Using a pellet grill to BBQ is a great way to cook some nice BBQ over low and slow heat. But sometimes, cooking over a pellet grill won’t quite give you the smoke flavor you desire, especially when you are grilling something large like a brisket.
The good news is, you don’t have to settle for the less-than-perfect smoke flavor thanks to an invention known as a smoke tube.
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What Is a Smoke Tube Exactly?
A smoke tube is a grill accessory that can be used to add smoke flavor to foods you grill. It is basically a tube that you put wood pellets or wood chips in that is then lit on fire for the purpose of generating smoke.
Any quality smoke tube is designed to support a long-lasting burn so you won’t constantly have to refill them as you cool. You can use a smoke tube to add smoke flavor, cold smoke, or use your grill to smoke meats.
Because smoke tubes are so versatile and easy to use, if you don’t have the money to purchase a smoker in addition to your grill just yet, it is a good alternative to use to achieve smoked meats until you buy your smoker. But only if you know how to use it!
When Should You Use a Smoke Tube?
The cool thing about a smoke tube is that you can use it for whatever you like! Whether it’s chicken, beef, or even veggies, if you want a smoke flavor your smoke tube is the answer.
There is a common misconception that you can only use a smoke tube for items that grill for a long time, and this simply isn’t true. You can use your smoke tube even for things that cook quickly, it may just not be worth the 15-minute set-up process when you really want to have dinner on the table in a flash.
You can also use your smoke tube when the grill is off for a process known as cold smoking, more on this later.
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Supplies You Will Need to Use a Smoke Tube in a Pellet Grill
There are a few different things you will need in order to use your smoke tube in your pellet grill, so ensure you grab all of the following supplies before you begin.
- Smoke tube (of course!)
- Pellets or Wood Chips
- Grill grate for your grill
- Food to cook
Once you’ve got all of these things, you are ready to grill!
How to Use a Smoke Tube in a Pellet Grill
If you are reading this guide because you’ve already started cooking and want to add a smoke tube to your grill mid-cooking, don’t panic, because you can add a smoke tube at any time while you cook. It is advised, however, to add the smoke tube as close to the beginning of the cooking process as possible.
Here are the steps for using a smoke tube in a pellet grill.
Step 1: Preheat Your Pellet Grill
Start by turning your pellet grill on. While it is best to add the smoke tube in the beginning, don’t waste smoke and have your grill on so you can begin cooking as soon as the smoke tube is ready.
Step 2: Fill the Smoke Tube
Check that your smoke tube is clean and dry, then load it with the wood chips or pellets of your choice.
Step 3: Light the Tube
Place the smoke tube on your grill grate and light the end of the tube with your lighter. You may need to leave the lighter on for a few minutes to ensure there’s a good flame.
Step 4: Let the Smoke Tube Burn
Let the smoke tube burn for 15 minutes, relighting the pellets of wood chips if they happen to go out. After the 15 minutes is over, blow out the flame.
Step 5: Grill Your Food
When you extinguish the flame, you should see plenty of smoke billowing from the tube. Now is the time to put your food on the grill to begin cooking!
Always reference the instructions on your specific smoke tube brand before you begin cooking to ensure there are no special instructions you need to follow.
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Where to Place Your Smoke Tube on Your Grill
There are a few different options when it comes to placing your smoke tube on your pellet grill.
First and foremost you can stand it upright in the middle of your grill. This will allow all of the items in the grill to receive quite a bit of smoke. With some grills, however, this isn’t possible, as the grate isn’t flat enough for the smoke tube to stand upright.
When this is the case you can lay your smoke tube down in your grill, just know it is more difficult to get an even smoke with this method.
Additionally, there is the question of which rack to put your smoke tube on. If you have an upper rack, it is best to put your smoke tube on the lower rack, since the smoke will rise to cook your food.
Of course, you can play around a bit with your grill and your smoke tube to find which position gives you the most balanced and complete smoke flavor in your meats.
Troubleshooting Your Smoke Tube
While a smoke tube is generally simple to use, there are a few issues you may run into.
There’s No Smoke
If there isn’t smoke billowing out of the smoke tube after 15 minutes, then wait a little longer before you extinguish the flame. If you have to relight the flame multiple times, you will likely need longer than 15 minutes to get enough smoke.
The Smoke Tube Keeps Going Out
If the smoke tube flame keeps going out while you are trying to start it up, ensure that the tube, pellets, and/or wood chips are all dry. Moisture in any of these locations will make it difficult to keep the smoke tube lit.
If you notice, after you start cooking, that the smoke tube keeps going out, this is probably because there isn’t enough airflow in your grill. Try moving your smoke tube as close as possible to the air hole and trying again.
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How to Cold Smoke on Your Pellet Grill
So you’ve got some cheese you’d like to add some smoke flavor to, with a pellet grill and a smoke tube this is a very easy process!
Step 1: Fill the Smoke Tube
Check that your smoke tube is clean and dry then fill with the pellets or wood chips of your choice.
Step 2: Light Your Smoke Tube
Light your smoke tube using a lighter, and ensure there is a good healthy flame going.
Step 3: Wait 15 Minutes
Wait 15 minutes to extinguish the flame. By now the smoke tube should be billowing smoke.
Step 4: Smoke Your Cheese
Place your cheese on the COLD pellet grill with the smoke tube. Close the lid and leave for the desired amount of time. Just like that, you’ve officially cold smoked some cheese!
Pros and Cons of Using a Smoke Tube
Before you rush out and buy a smoke tube, you should know that there are many pros and cons to owning one!
- An easy method of adding smoke to your food
- Can be used for fast or slow cooking methods
- You can use pellets or wood chips
- Simple to Clean
- Needs to be refilled for very long cooking sessions
- Not very sturdy (the metal is thin)
- Cannot be used in a fully enclosed grill (needs air to function)
As you can see, the pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to smoke tubes, so you should definitely consider one if you don’t have your own smoker just yet.
Are There Other Options Beyond a Smoke Tube?
Absolutely! Using a smoke tube isn’t the only way to add a smoke flavor to your grilled food, in fact, you can also use a foil packet or a smoke box.
The problem is, foil packers and smoke boxes burn much more quickly than a smoke tube, meaning they are only advised for your shorter cooking sessions, like steaks. Additionally, they are not near as easy to use as a smoke tube.
Should You Use Wood Chips or Wood Pellets in Your Smoker Tube?
Although a smoker tube can be used with either wood chips or wood pellets, is there one option that is better than another?
Generally, smoker tubes work better with wood pellets as these are what they were designed to be used with. But the reality is, either wood chips or wood chips will work just fine in your smoke tube.
It is advised to use wood pellets for longer smoke sessions, as this will keep you from needing to refill the smoke tube halfway through. But if you are just smoking something quickly, wood chips will suffice.
Ensure you check the labeling on your specific smoke tube to ensure that yours is okay with using both before you begin.
How to Stop a Smoke Tube
So you’ve made your dinner, and some smoked cheese for a snack later…but the smoke tube is still going. Is there any way to stop it?
The best way to stop a smoke tube is to use an old metal spoon to separate the burned pellets from those that haven’t burned yet. If you choose to do this by emptying the tube partially, be aware that the pellets which are on fire need to be emptied away from flammable material, preferably in a bucket of water.
In an emergency, a smoke tube can also be stopped by dousing it with water. This method should only be used in an emergency, however, as it will ruin the pellets remaining in the tube and make it difficult to clean them out.
Honestly, we recommend just letting your smoke tube burn itself out on the grill.
Final Thoughts About Pellet Grill Smoke Tubes
Whether you are looking to smoke some amazing meats, veggies, or maybe cold smoke a block of cheese, there is nothing quite like using a smoke tube on your pellet grill.
It’s simple, fairly quick, and who doesn’t want to add that amazing smoke flavor to their food? Just be careful to always follow the directions on the smoke tube, and be cautious when you are putting out the flame.
Other than that, it is very difficult to go wrong when you use a smoke tube and it is a great replacement to use when you don’t yet have your own smoker.