How to Use a Smoke Tube in a Pellet Grill Like a Pro?

April 17, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

If you’re anything like me, you’re always on the hunt for new ways to take your BBQ game up a notch. And with the smoke tube, you could change your BBQ cold smoking game for good. Just fill this mini-cannon with wood chips or pellets. Then place it on your smoker’s grates and introduce your meat around it. 

This is like a smoke flavor bomb that’ll take your taste buds to heaven and back. It’s a simple hack that I learned at cooking school and have been using ever since. I’ll guide you through everything, from what you need to choosing the right wood pellets and keeping the wood in the smoke tube burning. So, let’s get smokin’ and take your grilling game to the next level!

How to use a smoke tube in a pellet grill

Supplies You Will Need to Use a Smoke Tube in a Pellet Grill

First, here are some supplies I use for this pellet tube smoking technique:

  1. Smoke tube: Make sure you get a good quality smoke tube that is big enough for your cooking time. You should also confirm from the product description or the seller if it’s compatible with your smoker type. Talking about compatibility, the LIZZQ Pellet Smoker Tube is one I have tried in gas, electric, and charcoal smokers. 
  2. Wood chips or pellets: You will need wood chips or pellets (around 3 to 5 pounds) to fill the smoke tube. Choose a wood flavor that complements the meat you will be smoking. For instance, hickory goes with poultry, and oak pairs well with pork and beef.  
  3. Lighter: You need a firelighter or propane torch to light the wood chips in the smoke tube.
  4. Pellet grill: You will need a pellet grill for this technique. Don’t worry. We will not be technically operating the grill. We just need the grill grate and the grill’s cooking chamber.  
  5. Tongs: You’ll need a pair of grill tongs to handle the smoke tube when it’s hot. You can’t touch the smoke tube with your bare hands in the middle of the cooking.
  6. Meat thermometer: Like in any BBQ smoking session, you need a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the meat. This will help you determine when the meat is done.
  7. Water pan: Sometimes, I like to place a water pan on the grill too. This helps prevent the meat from drying out.

Note: I provided the tools in order of importance. It’s not necessary to use a water pan by the way. And if you can swear by your cooking skills, a thermometer isn’t 100% compulsory. But I recommend having one on hand.

Instructions on How to Cold Smoke With a Pellet Smoker Tube

Next, I will guide you through the complete process of using a smoke tube in your pellet grill and some other things you could do to enhance the smoking experience. 

Grilling Hotdog Hamburgers

Step 1: Fill the Smoke Tube with Wood

The first step is to fill the smoke tube with wood chips or pellets. You don’t need to fill the tube to the brim. After filling the smoke tube, tap it lightly to remove any air pockets.

Step 2: Add a Water Pan (Optional)

Before firing up the tube, you may want to place a water pan in your pellet grill to add moisture to the smoking environment. This will help prevent the meat from drying out and cook evenly.

Place the water pan directly underneath the meat on the grates. If your pellet grill doesn’t come with a water pan, purchase one separately and place it in the same location. 

Fill the pan with hot water before placing it on the grill. Some like to replace water with beer or juice. But this doesn’t add anything spectacular to the taste or texture of the meat. 

Step 3: Get the Pellet Tube Lit

Light the filled tube with a gas torch at one end of the tube. Ensure the flame burns for up to 10 minutes before transferring it to the grill.

I recommend letting the smoke tube burn by itself. But if the wood chips/pellets aren’t burning or smoking well, you may need to fan it a bit. 

Step 4: Place the Smoke Tube in the Grill

Next, place the burning smoke tube on the grates near the heat source. The ideal placement is upright (if your smoker allows this) in the middle of the grill, a bit away from the food. This is so that the smoke can circulate around the meat. Otherwise, you can lay it flat in the middle or at an angle in the cooking chamber if your smoker grates don’t have enough height to allow a vertical placement. 

Some smoke tubes are designed to be hung on the side of the grill. Other manufacturers recommend laying it flat on the grate. Ensure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and ensure it’s not too close to the food, as this can cause the meat to become over-smoked and bitter.

Step 5: Close the Lid

Once you have your smoker tube placed in your grill, it’s time to start the cold smoking process. Make sure you close the lid of your grill to ensure that the smoke stays inside the grill and circulates around the food being smoked. 

Closing the lid also helps to maintain a consistent temperature inside the grill. This is essential for cold smoking.

Step 6: Monitoring the Tube and Food

Finally, monitor the food regularly to ensure it cooks evenly and absorbs enough smoke flavor. Also, ensure the pellets stay lit. Use your meat thermometer to check the internal temperature and adjust the heat and smoke output accordingly. 

Remember that cold smoking meat with a smoke tube is a slow process. It’s a smoking method where the heat ranges from around 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. So be patient and let the smoke work its magic.

The final internal temperature to stop cooking depends on the meat. In any case, 145 degrees Fahrenheit is the minimum internal temperature for pork, lamb, and beef recommended by the USDA. For poultry meats like chicken and turkey, the minimum here is 165, according to the USDA. 

Grilling Meat and Patty on Small Propane Grill

Tips to Enhance the Smoking Experience

You may try out the following to enhance the smoking experience: 

  • Experiment with different types of wood pellets and meat rubs 
  • Ensure to clean the pellet tube smoker regularly to prevent it from clogging and affecting the smoke output. 
  • Avoid opening the grill too often to prevent the smoke from escaping.

How Does a Smoke Tube Work?

Simply put, a smoke tube, also called a pellet tube, or a pellet tube smoker, is a small perforated metal cylinder. It’s designed to hold wood pellets (as well as wood chips) and create cold smoke when the wood inside is burned. It’s a nifty little gadget that can take your low or cold smoking game to the next level. It adds a rich, smoke flavor that we all love to the meat. 

Smoke tubes come in a variety of sizes and shapes. But they all work in essentially the same way. The tube is filled with wood pellets or chips, then lit with a lighter or butane torch. Once the pellets or chips start to smoke, the tube is placed on the grates alongside the meat, and the smoke is allowed to work its magic.

They allow you to experiment with different types of wood to create different flavors. 

For example, if you’re smoking chicken, you might use applewood pellets for a sweet, fruity smoke flavor or hickory pellets for a more robust, smoky taste. The possibilities are endless, and it’s all up to your preference. 

Pros and Cons of Using a Smoke Tube

Using a pellet tube in your pellet grill can be a great way to add smoke flavor to your meats, but there are also some pros and cons to consider: 


  • Adds more smoke flavor to your meats: A smoker tube lets you infuse your grilled meats with a rich, smoky flavor you can’t get with traditional grilling methods. This is all thanks to the low cold smoking method which allows the food to slowly take in smoke flavor.  
  • Even a beginner can try this: Smoke tubes are simple to fill, light, and position on the grill grates. It’s easier to set up compared to operating a pellet grill which also needs electricity to work.   
  • Versatile: A lot of pellet tube smokers can be used with any type of grill; whether it is including pellet grill, gas grill, electric or charcoal grill. You can use a smoke tube for low-and-slow cooking methods.
  • Not expensive: They are an affordable way to add smoky flavor to your meats without investing in expensive smoking equipment. They generally sell for $9 to $25. Remember, you’re not burning two pounds of pellets an hour like in a pellet smoker. 
  • Consistent smoke: Smoke tubes produce a constant amount of smoke, which ensures that your meat is evenly cooked and infused with a smoke flavor.
  • Portable: Pellet tube smokers are small and lightweight. They are easy to bring with you for camping trips or tailgating.
  • Low maintenance: These smoking tubes require minimal maintenance and can be easily cleaned with soap and water.


  • Limited smoke capacity: Smoker tubes have a limited capacity for wood pellets or chips. So they may need to be refilled frequently for longer smoking sessions. But a larger pellet tube like this 12-inch smoke tube has a burn time of up to 5 hours.
  • May not be perfect for high-temperature cooking: A smoke tube is typically designed for low-and-slow cooking methods. It burns slower than a smoke box or foil packet. It may, however, not be suitable for high-temperature grilling, which requires a different type of smoking equipment. Note: High temp grilling (450° to 650°F) differs from hot smoking (126 to 176 °F). 
Chicken Drumsticks and Sausages on the Hot Grill

How to Prevent the Smoker Tube From Dying?

To prevent the smoker tube from dying and ensure it continues to produce smoke throughout your entire cook, there are a few things you can do:

  • Use dry pellets: Moisture can cause the pellets to clump together and prevent them from smoking correctly. So, use dry pellets that have been stored away from moisture.
  • Don’t overfill the smoke tube: Overfilling the smoke tube can prevent oxygen from reaching the flame. This may cause the flame to die before your cook is done. As a rule, only fill the pellet tube about 3/4 of the way full.
  • Position the smoke tube correctly: Place the smoke tube directly on the grill grates. This will ensure that the pellets inside the tube smolder slowly and produce smoke for a longer period of time.
  • Keep an eye on the smoke tube: Check on the smoke tube periodically during your cook to make sure it’s still producing smoke. If it’s not, you may need to reignite the pellets, add more pellets or adjust the tube’s position.


1. Should Smoke Tube Be Vertical or Horizontal?

I recommend using a smoke tube in a vertical position if your smoker allows this. This allows the pellets to smolder and cold-smoke for a longer period. Placing the smoke tube horizontally can cause rapid burning of the pellets. This may result in the smoke tube dying before your cook is finished.

2. When Should You Use a Smoke Tube?

I use a smoke tube whenever I want to add a smokier flavor to my grilled meats. It’s especially useful for low-and-slow cooking methods, such as smoking or barbecuing, where the meat spends several hours on the grill. So, whether you’re cooking brisket, pork shoulder, or ribs, a smoke tube is an excellent tool in your BBQ arsenal to elevate your grilling game.


Congratulations, you can now take on the world of BBQ with your newfound knowledge of cold smoking tubes! By using a smoke tube in your pellet smoker, you’ll be able to infuse your meats with even smoky goodness. This cold smoking technique can elevate your grilling game.

By following the procedures I explained and with a bit of practice, you can create mouthwatering, smoky meats that will impress your guests and have them coming back for more. So go ahead and give it a try, and enjoy the delicious results. Happy smoking!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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