Want to get more smoke flavor from your pellet or gas grill? A pellet smoker tube is the way to go! The result is smoky flavor with the convenience and temperature control of a pellet or gas grill!
Learn how to light a pellet tube to give your food more smoke flavor.
One of the complaints we hear most often from pellet grill owners is that they are unhappy with how little smoke flavor they are able to achieve on their grill.
While we love pellet grills for their ease of use and temperature control capabilities, we find ourselves wanting more smoke flavor as well.
If you've already troubleshooted the reasons your pellet grill may not be making enough smoke, it's time to consider adding a pellet tube smoker.
Adding this simple, inexpensive product to the grates of your pellet grill can really enhance the smoke flavor you are able to achieve.
We will take you through how to choose the right brand of pellets for your smoker tube, as well as how to light it and position it in the grill.
With the help of a pellet tube smoker, you can ensure your food absorbs the maximum amount of smoke flavor, especially during the initial stage of cooking when the meat is cold.
- Utilize a pellet tube smoker to maximize smoke flavor on your pellet grill
- Choose the right pellet brand for optimal smoke production and taste
- Learn proper lighting, positioning, and post-cooking procedures for your pellet tube smoker
Rather WATCH than read? Check out our YouTube video for How to light a pellet tube smoker:
- Pellet tube smoker
- High quality wood pellets, such as Knotty Wood 100% Plum Wood Pellets or Knotty Wood Almond and Cabernet Wine Blend Pellets
- Heat Resistant Grilling Gloves
- Butane Culinary Torch
- Butane Fuel
Choosing the Right Pellet Brand
Three main characteristics to consider when choosing the best pellets to get smoky flavor from your pellet tube smoker are:
- Length: Longer pellets are generally denser and less likely to break apart during shipping. This quality is important since denser pellets burn slower and produce more smoke flavor.
- Variety of colors: Examine the pellet closely. If you see a lot of color variation, it indicates the inclusion of actual pieces of wood that will burn more like a log and provide interesting flavors and aromas.
- Sawdust production: Observe the amount of sawdust that the pellets create. Premium pellet brands will have lower sawdust production, indicating better compression and density, which leads to improved smoke production and flavor.
We have tried many brands of pellets, ranging from bargain to premium brands. One of our favorite premium brands is Knotty Wood, particularly the Almond Cabernet Wine Blend Pellets and the 100% Plum Wood Pellets.
The Knotty Wood pellets differ from other brands in size, color, and density.
Here we compare big box store brand pellets on the left and Knotty Wood 100% Plum Wood pellets on the right. You can see the color difference.
Not only are the Knotty Wood pellets a richer color, when you look down the center of the pellet you can see more color variation. The big box store brand pellets appear more homogenous and resemble compressed sawdust.
We also notice that the big box store pellets tend to break more easily during shipping and arrive in smaller pieces than the longer Knotty Wood pellets. The Knotty Wood pellets are denser, which creates better smoke.
In fact, we notice a lot more sawdust in the bottom on our pellet bucket with the mesh insert from the big box pellets compared to the Knotty Wood pellets.
Taken together, these features indicate that Knotty Wood brand pellets are a higher quality pellet than the standard big box store brand pellets.
Although premium quality pellets can be more expensive, it's worth it to invest in them for your pellet tube smoker to enhance the smoke flavor and aroma.
To save on costs, we recommend using the cheaper pellets in your hopper for heat, while reserving the high-quality pellets for your pellet tube smoker.
Lighting the Pellet Tube
To light the pellet tube, follow these steps:
- Fill the pellet tube
- Light the pellets
- Allow the pellets to ignite
- Extinguish the flame
Fill the Pellet Tube
Fill the pellet tube with pellets.
For long smokes, fill the tube completely.
For just an hour or two of smoke, you only need to fill the tube partially.
Light the Pellets
Hold the flame on the pellets for 1-2 minutes, ensuring the flame stays lit when the torch is removed.
If the flame does not stay lit when you remove the torch, continue lighting the pellets until a stable flame is achieved.
You can come down a little around the edges with the torch to light more of the pellets.
Allow the Pellets to Ignite
After the pellets are lit, keep the pellet tube upright and let the pellets ignite. This will take 2-3 minutes.
Extinguish the Flame
Once the pellets are well-ignited, carefully blow out the flame.
Positioning the Pellet Tube
You must wear heatproof gloves when handling the hot pellet tube. Ours protect your hands up to 1472°F!
Gently lift the pellet tube and place it on its side on the grill grates.
When positioning your pellet tube smoker, avoid placing it near the temperature probe to prevent distortion in the temperature readings. Instead, push it towards the back of the pellet grill with the lit end away from the thermometer.
This will allow plenty of smoke to flow over your food towards the exhaust chimney without interfering with temperature measurements.
Now, you can place your food on the grill and enjoy the enhanced smoke flavor, regardless of the temperature at which you are cooking. When you finish cooking, either let the pellet tube smoker smolder out on its own or transfer it to a charcoal grill to snuff out the pellets and save them for later use.
Salvaging Leftover Pellets
If you have unused pellets remaining in the smoker tube, you can save them for future use. To do this, transfer the pellet tube smoker to a charcoal or gas grill and close the lid to snuff out the pellets. Once the tube has cooled, you can safely save the remaining pellets for your next cook.
Additional Uses of a Pellet Tube Smoker
Aside from enhancing the smoke flavor in your pellet grill, a pellet tube smoker can also be beneficial in various other applications, such as:
- Smoking various foods on a gas grill: With a pellet tube smoker, you can achieve a smoky flavor even on a gas grill.
- Cold smoking: On a chilly day, you can use your pellet tube smoker for cold smoking. This process is excellent for experimenting with different types of food like:
Even More Smoke Flavor
Pellets generally will never give as much smoke flavor as you get from burning real wood.
If you find that you prefer even more smoke flavor than you get from a pellet tube, you may want to consider a smoker firebox.
Check out our video How to Light a Smoker Firebox to show you exactly how we used a flip smoker box to combine real wood chunks with charcoal briquettes for stick burner flavor with the convenience and temperature control of a gas or pellet grill!
How to Light a Pellet Tube for More Smoke Flavor
- Premium Quality Pellets such as Knotty Wood Brand
- 1 Pellet Smoker Tube
- 1 Culinary Butane Torch
- Butane Fuel
- Heatproof Gloves
- Fill the pellet tube with good quality pellets. If you need an hour or two of smoke, fill it up partially. For longer durations, fill it to the top.
- Use a butane torch to light the pellets. Hold the flame on the pellets for a good one to two minutes. Make sure the flame stays lit even after removing the torch.
- Leave the pellet tube smoker upright for another two to three minutes while the pellets ignite.
- Give the smoker a puff of air to blow out the flame.
- Wearing heat-proof gloves, gently lay the pellet tube on its side towards the back of the pellet grill, with the lit end away from the grill temperature probe. Avoid placing the lit pellet tube smoker near the temperature probe.
- Place your food on the grill and smoke it accordingly.
- After cooking, if there are leftover pellets at the bottom of the tube that you want to save, transfer the pellet tube smoker to a charcoal grill, close the lid, and let it snuff out the pellets. Once it cools, you can store your remaining pellets for future use.