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If you’re looking to add a heavy hand of smoky, succulent, savory flavor to your meats, veggies, fish, and cheeses, buying a smoke tube (also known as a pellet tube smoker) is a great way to do it. Whether you have a gas or charcoal grill, you can use a smoke tube to create a heavily smoky environment while cooking, which will penetrate the food and unlock an incredibly aromatic experience.
"Smoke tubes are a clever accessory for adding smoky flavors to foods cooked over an otherwise flavorless gas grill. They also work well for adding smoke flavor to foods like cheese, fish, veggies, or even cocktails where you want to keep the temperature lower than using a hot smoker," says grilling expert Paul Sidoriak.
Regardless of what your outdoor cooking setup looks like, as long as you have a grill, you can use a smoker tube to create a smoky cooking experience. Sidoriak says, “They can be used on any gas, charcoal, or pellet grill, regardless of whether the grill is running or not.” If you’re ready to take your outdoor cooking game up a notch without investing in an expensive, bulky smoker, smoke tubes are a humble, easy gadget that will help replicate that quintessential smoky flavor. There are a few shapes to choose from as well as different sizes, so you'll want to think about your grill setup and what you're looking to smoke before purchasing.
Here, the best smoke tubes.
Best Overall: LIZZQ Premium Pellet Smoker Tube 12 inches
5 hours of smoke time
Won't roll around
Efficient diffusion of smoke
Tricky to clean
This smoke tube would be just as fitting for a seasoned smoking expert as it would a beginner outdoor cook. Its 12-inch length provides ample space for plenty of pellets, which means upwards of five hours of smoking. The flat sides on its hexagonal shape allow you to position it easily on any kind of grill, including gas, charcoal, or electric. The rounded shape also allows for better distribution of smoke so your food cooks evenly and the smoky flavor can penetrate the entire contents of your grill.
It's also super affordable and a fun accessory for any smoky-loving cook to add to their tool kit. The tube is made of sturdy stainless steel, which has a sleek look and is super easy to clean. Reviewers are impressed by how user-friendly this tool is and how much taste it can impart to the food that they’re grilling.
Length: 12 inches | Burn Time: 5 hours
Best Rectangular: Dimeshy Pellet Smoker Tube
Easy to position
5 hours of smoke time
Includes cleaning brush
Rectangle shape not as good for smoke diffusion
While the rectangular shape is slightly less desirable than hexagonal (because a rounded shape diffuses smoke better than rectangular), it’s a huge advantage that this tube is extremely easy to position on your grill grates. The tube also includes a cleaning brush, which makes it easy to keep it looking brand new. The tube is 12 inches long so it has plenty of room for a lot of pellets that can last for up to five hours of smoking. The durable stainless steel material is extremely straightforward to clean and shouldn't need to be replaced for years.
Length: 12 inches | Burn Time: 5 hours
Best Small : KampFit Pellet Smoker Tube 6 Inch
Easy to transport
Perfect for small grills
Short burn time
If you’re in the market for a tube that’s on the smaller side, this 6-inch pellet smoker tube is the way to go. Because of its smaller size, it will likely only be able to burn for about two hours based on the number of pellets that it can hold, but it’s a great option for a cook who gravitates toward quicker smoking projects or has a smaller outdoor grill. Because of its compact size and its light weight, it’s a great toy to bring on your next camping or RV adventure to add some delicious, smoky flavor to everything that you’re cooking.
It is shaped like a hexagon, which means it’s not going to roll around and it diffuses smoke efficiently. You can use this tube on any charcoal, gas, or electric grill. Reviewers are in awe of how long this device was able to smoke (some reported up to two and a half hours). They also reported strong and steady streams of smoke during the entire usage time.
Length: 6 inches | Burn Time: 2 hours
Best Oval Shaped: A-MAZE-N Oval Expanding Pellet Tube Smoker
Can use at 6- or 9-inch length
2-3 hours of smoke time
Even, steady airflow
Awkward shape can be tough to fill
Unlike other smoker tubes that have a set length and volume, this oval-shaped tube can expand, giving you the option to use it at 6 or 9 inches long. The length will influence how long you’ll be able to smoke with it, but it will range from two to three hours, approximately. While the oval shape does not have a sturdy flat side like the rectangular and hexagonal shapes, because the circle is slightly flattened, it is easier to keep steady on the grates.
Some users do note that its round shape can be a bit cumbersome and especially awkward to fill, but it doesn’t roll around on the grill grates. Most users really enjoy this tube for a variety of smoking projects—from meats to cheeses—and they applaud the even, steady airflow.
Length: 6-9 inches | Burn Time: 2-3 hours
“Remember that different foods require different amounts of time in the smoke bath. This is important to take into consideration when purchasing a smoke tube. Smoke tubes come in different shapes and sizes. Some smoke for one to two hours and others will smoke for as many as ten. So, if you’re smoking something that takes 18 hours, like fish, you may want to consider purchasing a smoke tube with more pellet-holding power, which requires less refilling.” — Paul Sidoriak of Grilling Montana
Best Smoker Tube Kit: OutdoorGears 12-Inch Pellet Smoker Tube
Hexagonal shape is easy to control
Would make a great gift
Does not include pellets
Looking for a starter kit or something to gift the grill enthusiast in your life? This kit includes two hexagonal, 12-inch pellet smoker tubes, S-hooks for easy hanging storage, a grill tong, and a brush that makes cleanup simple. The tubes are made of stainless steel for a durable, sturdy finish. For extra long smokes, you can stagger the tubes and when the first runs out, you’ll have the second one pre-loaded.
Pellets are not included in this kit, but you can use your favorite flavor of smoking chips—cherry, hickory, mesquite, apple, and pecan would all be delicious. If you’re out of gift ideas for a friend who enjoys outdoor cooking, a smoker tube kit would make for an unexpected surprise.
Length: 12 inches | Burn Time: 5 hours
Best For Long Smokes: Kona Wood Pellet Smoker Tube
Upwards of 8 hours of smoke time
Diamond-shaped inlets ideal for airflow
May not work with smaller grills
If you’re looking to embark on some long smoking projects, you’ll need a smoker tube that can give you plenty of smoke time. This 12-inch tube takes special dry pellets that can give you up to eight hours of smoke time, almost double most of its competitors. In fact, only ½ cup of chips can give you up to two hours of smoking, so you won’t be burning through a ton of chips, either.
The cleverly designed diamond-shaped air inlets create the ideal amount of airflow, which keeps the pellets lit and smoldering while delivering the perfect amount of smoke for delicious food.
Length: 12 inches | Burn Time: 8 hours
The LIZZQ Premium Pellet Smoker Tube (view at Amazon) is a versatile, affordable, and all-around good option whether you're a beginner or a seasoned grill master. If you're looking for a pellet smoker tube to take on your next RV adventure, go with the more portable KampFit Pellet Smoker Tube (view at Amazon).
What to Look for in a Smoke Tube
The larger your smoker tube, the more pellets it will be able to hold, and that makes for a longer smoking time. Most 6-inch models can last you for at least two to three hours of smoke time, but as you get closer to a 12-inch model, you can smoke for upwards of five hours. Even though the actual smoke time depends on other factors like the types of pellets and the conditions of your grill, it’s fair to say that larger smoker tubes are better if you want to do long bouts of smoking. If your grill is small, you may be better off with a smaller tube because it will fit easier.
Smoke tubes that have a flat side (rectangular or hexagonal) are ideal because you don’t have to worry about them rolling around. That said, a circular cross-section is helpful because it better regulates how fast the pellets burn by using less surface area. Hexagonal shapes are a great compromise because they feature minimized surface area yet they have a flat side that makes them much easier to position on the grates.
Depending on the size and shape of your tube, different models will require different methods to clean. The larger the tube, the more cumbersome and tricky it can be to clean. You’ll have more residue with a larger tube, which means you'll have to properly dispose of that before you can thoroughly wipe it down. A smaller tube will be less work to deep clean.
What is a pellet smoker tube?
A smoker tube is a perforated metal canister that you use to load pellets into when hot or cold smoking foods. The pellets slowly burn in the tube and release their fragrance and heat. The ends are usually accessible so that you can light the pellets once they’re in the tube. The pellets burn over the course of a couple hours, but the length of time depends on the volume of the tube and the number of pellets. The point of the tube is to keep the pellets close together while at the same time restricting excessive airflow to prevent it from burning too hot.
How do you use a smoke tube?
To use a smoker tube, fill the metal container with pellets and light it at the open end. Once the fire is lit, blow out any flames so that the pellets are gradually smoldering. This slow burn will emit a smoky flavor, which is what makes the food so succulent and tasty. Paul Sidoriak says, “Although you can ignite the wood pellets with a grill lighter, a small butane or propane torch will get the job done more efficiently. Each smoke tube is slightly different, but it’s recommended you allow a small area of the pellets to actually burn for ten minutes before you blow out the flame and allow the pellets to smolder.”
How do you use a smoke tube on a gas grill?
Even if you don’t have a smoker, you can still replicate that smoky cooking method by using a gas grill and a smoke tube. A gas grill is typically too hot for the ideal temperature to smoke meats, but you can still imitate the results that a smoker produces with the convenience of your gas grill. To achieve this, you’ll use the gas grill burner(s) for low heat and fill the smoke tube with pellets for aromatic smoke, and that creates well-cooked, delicious meats.
How long does a smoke tube last?
The amount of burn time that a smoke tube can provide depends on the volume of the tube as well as how many pellets you load into the tube. This can mean anywhere from one to five hours of gradual smoldering and smoking.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Sara Tane has written dozens of buying guides for The Spruce Eats, understanding what consumers and cooks need to consider before making a new purchase for their culinary adventures. She is a professionally trained chef in addition to an outdoor cooking enthusiast. She is no stranger to all things outdoor cooking, from grilling to smoking on gas, charcoal, and pellet grills. After researching different pellet smoker tubes and their different styles and models and interviewing grilling expert Paul Sidoriak, she can help you find the best smoke tube for your outdoor cooking desires.