Maybe you’ve had a friend tell you to pick up a pellet smoker tube before barbecue season begins. Maybe you’ve been thinking of getting into smoking but worried that it might be too expensive. Maybe you heard two words that sounded utterly foreign to you and decided to Google them.
A pellet smoker tube is a 12″ tube designed to turn gas or charcoal grills into pellet smokers. When they are filled with wood pellets and lit on fire, they can produce significant amounts of smoke for hours at a time. This makes them a good alternative to expensive smokers.
Fantastic! But do they really do the same job as an expensive pellet grill? And what about those wood pellets they use. Aren’t those expensive?
What Does A Pellet Smoker Tube Do?
Pellet smoker tubes do a couple of things that make them useful. The first is that they are built to use wood pellets, a specific kind of fuel that are designed to release a lot of smoke that is especially flavorful.
Wood pellets are basically super-condensed, seasoned sawdust. They would probably taste really bad if you tried to eat them, but the smoke that they produce does a great job of adding a smoky taste to whatever you apply them to.
The other thing that smoker tubes do is control the speed at which the pellets burn. This allows a relatively small amount of wood to burn for upwards of three hours sometimes.
Because pellet smoker tubes produce smoke on their own without the being attached to any heating mechanisms, they can be used both for cold smoking and hot smoking.
This means that you can turn your gas-powered grill into the perfect place to smoke salmon, bacon, or anything else really.
When it comes to hot smoking, they are competing with pellet smoker grills. It’s harder to get a subtle flavor with a pellet smoker tube. This is mostly because gas or charcoal grills aren’t really designed to regulate the way that smoke flows through them.
Pellet smoker grills are really good at doing this, and they only tend to apply new smoke when they’re heating up. This allows them to create a more balanced flavor.
However, I can’t stress enough that while for some people pellet smoker tubes will create too strong of a smokey taste, for others that boost in flavor is exactly what they enjoy.
I’ve definitely known people to use their pellet smoker tubes inside of their pellet smoker grills for maximum smokiness.
Are Pellet Smoker Tubes Worth Buying?
If you don’t have any experience as a pit master and you really want to start right now, then absolutely. Why? Because an actual smoker will almost certainly set you back hundreds of dollars, and a pellet smoker tube will only cost you twenty bucks tops.
The fuel isn’t very expensive either. While top brands may run you twenty to thirty dollars for twenty pounds or so (and I would definitely recommend splurging,) you only need to fill the tube with pellets once to get an entire smoke session’s worth of smoke.
What if you’re a veteran Pit Master who already has all the paraphenelia? Is this a good addition to your toolkit? I would probably venture on the side of yes.
If you have alternatives, you probably won’t need to use the tube all that often. However, having the option to use it for cold smoking or to use it to infuse some extra smoke flavor to ribs or brisket is definitely worth the investment.
What Is The Best Pellet Smoker Tube?
When it comes to sheer value, the LizzQ pellet smoker tube can’t be beaten. At the time of writing, you can get one for maybe twelve bucks on Amazon, plus you’re not really sacrificing quality for price.
I prefer the LizzQ’s hexagonal shape mostly because it stays where you put it, which makes it much easier for cold smoking. The main drawback of the LizzQ is that it only gives five hours of smoke on a full load. This is a pretty long time, but some other models can get a bit longer out of one load.
Of these, a particular community favorite is the A-Maze-N oval shaped pellet tube. The oval makes it easier to position than totally round options, but also can reportadly get twelve hours of smoke out of one load.
As far as reviews go, most people who have bought the A-Maze-N report that six hours is probably a lot closer to reality. Even so, six hours is pretty impressive!
However, the A-Maze-N is on the more expensive side when it comes to pellet smokers. Models run from twenty to thirty dollars. Still a lot cheaper than a pellet smoker grill, but a lot more than the LizzQ’s twelve bucks.
How To Use A Pellet Smoker Tube
Pellet smoker tubes are fairly easy to use, although there is something of a trick to it all. Once you’ve filled the tube with pellets, you won’t be able to light it with just an ordinary lighter. A small benzene torch will do the job just fine, and you can get one that will work at any hardware store for under thirty bucks.
Once you’ve lit the pellet smoker, all you have to do is lay it down somewhere that the smoke will get where you want it to go. This will differ depending on whether you plan on cold or hot smoking.
With hot smoking, you can place the pellet tube at the end of the grill. Some more verticle models may have space to hang the tube. This also works fine, although you may need to add hooks to some of the cheaper models.
For cold smoking, it will depend on whether you’re using your grill or you’re leaving the food you’re smoking outside. If it will be in the grill, you can probably safely put the tube right underneath the thing you’re smoking.
If you’re smoking the food outside, you’ll need to figure out the direction that the wind is blowing so that you can position the tube upwind of the food.