Have you ever wanted to add real wood smoke flavor to food cooked on your grill, oven, or pellet grill, but don’t have an actual smoker? Add the smoke tube in your BBQ arsenal! A brilliantly simple tool that allows you to infuse smoke into anything you cook, no smoker required.
Smoke tubes, also referred to as smoke canisters or smoke generators, are stainless steel tubes filled with wood pellets that smolder and produce smoke. The perforations along the tube allow the smoke to waft out steadily throughout the cook.
Using a smoke tube opens up a whole new world of possibilities for smoked meat, cheese, nuts, and anything else you want to add that irresistible smoke flavor to. You don’t need the space or hassle of a dedicated smoker to start amping up your cooks.
Let’s get started on demystifying this handy gadget and how to use a smoke tube like a pro!
Introduction to Smoke Tubes
Hey smoking enthusiasts! In this guide, I’ll teach you all about using smoke tubes so you can make mouthwatering smoked treats. Smoking made simple!
What is a Smoke Tube and How Does it Work?
Smoke tubes range in size from about 6 inches up to 18 inches long. The longer tubes allow you to produce smoke for extended periods. While shorter ones are good for quicker smokes or when you want lighter smoke flavor.
They have a removable end cap so you can fill the tube with wood pellets. Popular woods are the same used in pellet grills and smokers, like hickory, maple, cherry, and mesquite. Always use pellets specifically made for smoke tubes, not the pellets for pellet grills, as they are optimized to smolder and create more smoke.
To use a smoke tube, you remove the end cap and fill with the desired amount of pellets. It depends on how much smoke you want – typically around 1/2 cup is a good starting point. Light the pellets using a butane torch or chimney starter. Then place the smoke tube on the grill grates or oven rack near your food.
The pellets smolder and burn inside the tube, producing smoke that makes its way out all along the body for even smoking. A properly set up smoke tube can produce smoke steadily for 2-3 hours.
Benefits of Using a Smoke Tube
There are several great reasons to use a smoke tube instead of or in addition to a traditional smoker:
- Add Smoke Flavor Anywhere – You can turn any grill, oven, or pellet grill into a smoker. No need for a dedicated smoker box.
- Use on Gas and Charcoal Grills – Get that coveted smoke flavor on a basic gas or charcoal grill by placing a smoke tube on the grates.
- Cold Smoke Items – Cold smoke cheese, nuts, cocktails bitters, and more at low temps in an oven or pellet grill.
- Supplement Pellet Smokers – Add extra smoke flavor to meats in a pellet grill by using a tube.
- Infuse Smoke Indirectly – For oven roasting or grilling over indirect heat, use a smoke tube to infuse smoke flavor.
- Easy Smoke Control – Vary the amount of pellets and experiment with lighter to heavier smoke levels.
- Compact Size – Smoke tubes take up minimal space and are inexpensive investments for maximizing smoke.
- Minimal Maintenance – Unlike traditional smokers, just fill, light, and place – no temperature regulation needed.
The versatility and simplicity of smoke tubes makes it easy to start amping up your cooking with added wood smoke taste.
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Types of Smoke Tubes
There are two main types of smoke tubes – wood dust and wood pellet.
Wood Smoke Tubes
These are filled with sawdust from flavorful woods like hickory, maple, apple, cherry etc. The fine dust burns slowly and evenly.
Pellet Smoke Tubes
Filled with compressed wood pellets, usually a blend of flavors. Pellet tubes burn slightly slower and longer than wood dust tubes.
Both work great, so choose whichever smoke material you prefer!
How to Use a Smoke Tube on a Pellet Grill
Using a smoke tube takes just a few simple steps.
Filling the Tube
Remove the cap and fill the tube with pellets or dust, about 1/2 to 2/3 full. Don’t pack too tightly. Replace the cap.
Lighting the Tube
Use a butane torch lighter to ignite pellets. Let the flames spread through the tube until the material is slightly burning. Blow out any big flames so it smolders.
Placing the Tube
Put the tube in the grill, smoker or oven near food. Keep the tube a few inches from food so smoke can circulate everywhere.
And that’s it! Let the tube smoke away while you relax. Re-light as needed if it goes out. Now let’s get smoking!
Tips for Smoking Meat with a Smoke Tube
How to smoke meat for beginners is easy but there are some tips to get the best results.
Hot Smoking vs Cold Smoking
- Hot smoking is done at 225-300°F and cooks the food. Use for ribs, brisket burnt ends, shoulders, chicken, etc.
- Cold smoking is under 100°F and flavors food without cooking it. Use for jerky, salmon, and cheeses.
Choosing Woods for Meat
- Bold flavored meats like beef take stronger smoke like hickory and mesquite.
- Delicate meats like fish and poultry pair well with lighter fruit woods like apple and cherry.
Smoking Times and Temps
- 1-2 hours of smoke time is usually plenty for most cuts of meat.
- Hot smoke larger cuts like brisket and beef shoulder for 6-12 hours at 225-250°F.
- Cold smoke thin cuts like jerky for 4-6 hours under 100°F.
Tips for Smoking Cheese with a Smoke Tube
Smoked cheese is an amazing appetizer. Here’s how to nail it with a smoke tube.
Hard vs Soft Cheeses
- Hard cheeses like cheddar and gouda hold up well to longer smoke times.
- Delicate soft cheeses like mozzarella or goat cheese should only be smoked briefly.
- Cold smoke cheeses between 70-90°F to prevent melting.
- Hot smoking above 125°F can cause oils to leak out.
How Long to Smoke Cheese
- Hard cheeses can handle 2-3 hours of cold smoking.
- Only smoke soft cheeses for 30-60 minutes maximum.
- Apple, cherry, and pecan give cheese a nice sweetness.
So grab your favorite cheese and make it smoky!
Using a Smoke Tube in an Oven
You can also use a smoke tube to impart flavor in a regular kitchen oven or the oven setting on a pellet grill:
- Place the smoke tube right on the oven rack near the food you are cooking but not directly touching it.
- For optimal airflow, crack the oven door open slightly during smoking to allow ventilation for the smoke.
- Lower oven temperatures around 200-225F work best for cold smoking items like cheese, nuts, cocktails.
- For hot oven cooking, keep temps 225F+ and use shorter smoke times to prevent oversmoking foods.
- In a pellet grill, let the smoke build up before opening the lid. The sealed environment traps more smoke.
- Try adding a foil pan filled with wood chips, water, broth or wine to add extra flavor as the liquids vaporize.
- If you don’t want smoke permeating the whole oven, tent foil loosely over items you don’t want smoked.
The closed space of an oven makes it easy to infuse smoke flavor into almost anything. Experiment with wood types and cook times to find your perfect balance.
Head towards our latest and easiest recipes to try during Christmas holidays!
Pros and Cons of a Smoke Tube
Troubleshooting Smoke Tubes
Here are some common troubleshooting tips:
- Tube won’t stay lit – Make sure pellets are dry. Pack lighter. Let flames spread before blowing out.
- Bad smoke flavor – Refill with fresh pellets/dust. Use a milder wood type. Smoke for a shorter time.
- Bitter smoke taste – Smoke tube too close to food. Move further away and increase ventilation.
- Too much or too little smoke – Adjust fill level and smoking time as needed. Try other wood types.
- Flare ups – Blow out all large flames after lighting so the tube smolders without big fire.
Hope this helps you master smoke tubes for juicy smoked meat and cheese. Got any questions? Keep reading!
Q: Can you reuse pellets or dust in a smoke tube?
A: It’s best to use fresh pellets or dust each time for a clean smoke flavor. Reusing may make smoke bitter.
Q: What’s the difference between a pellet tube and pellet smoker?
A: Pellet smokers use electricity to burn pellets in a heating element. Tubes simply smolder pellets without heat.
Q: How long does a smoke tube last?
A: Most smoke tubes will produce smoke steadily for 3-4 hours before running out. Duration depends on fill level.
Q: Can I use a smoke tube indoors?
A: Smoke tubes produce minimal smoke and are generally safe for indoor use. Ensure proper ventilation.
Happy smoking my friends! Fire up those smoke tubes and take your grilling game to the next level.