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 or cold smoking before cooking, both of which will penetrate the food and unlock an incredibly aromatic experience.
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. 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 are our recommendations.
LIZZQ Premium Pellet Smoker Tube 12 inches
Five 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 up to around 3.5 cups of pellets, which means upwards of 5 hours of smoking. However, it won't take up a lot of space on the grill itself.
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 also can be used to cold-smoke food without turning the grill on.
The tube is made of sturdy stainless steel, which has a sleek look and is super easy to clean. It's also super affordable and a fun accessory for any smoky-loving cook to add to their tool kit. An added bonus is that the purchase of this smoke tube comes with a free e-book full of grilling ideas and recipes.
Price at time of publish: $16
Length: 12 inches | Burn Time: 5 hours | Capacity: About 3.5 cups of pellets
"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." — Paul Sidoriak, founder of Grilling Montana and author of The Flippin' Awesome Backyard Griddle Cookbook
Carpathen Smoke Tube
Easy to position
Easy to clean
Easy to fill
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. This means it won't roll around when opening up the grill top or when moving food around near it. The difference in shape doesn't mean it takes up any more space—it is still small and leaves tons of room, plus, it is super quick and easy to put pellets into the open cap at one end (the other end is closed with a grate). Because of its simple shape, it may even fit oddly-shaped chips or pellets better.
The tube is 12 inches long so it has plenty of room for around 3-4 cups of pellets that can last for up to five hours of smoking. (Remember to burn them for about 10 minutes before putting the smoke tube into the grill.) The durable stainless steel material is extremely straightforward to clean and shouldn't need to be replaced for years.
Price at time of publish: $16
Length: 12 inches | Burn Time: 5 hours | Capacity: 3-4 cups of pellets
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 can give you up to eight hours of smoke time, almost double most of its competitors. 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.
Only 0.5 cups of chips can give you up to two hours of smoking, so you won’t be burning through a ton of chips, either. If you want to get the full 8 hours of smoking time, the brand does recommend you use its own Kona 100% Pure Premium Blend Wood Pellets. This will take about 4 cups of chips. Even though it can produce smoke for upwards of 3 hours longer than others on this list, this smoke tube is about the same size as them, which means it won't take up too much room on your grill.
Price at time of publish: $16
Length: 12 inches | Burn Time: 8 hours | Capacity: About 4 cups of Kona's premium wood pellets
"Smoke tubes can be used on any gas, charcoal, or pellet grill, regardless of whether the grill is running or not." — Paul Sidoriak, founder of Grilling Montana and author of The Flippin' Awesome Backyard Griddle Cookbook
Ignite Sear-iously Good Griling Smoker Tube
Has a handle
Caps on both sides
Not as large
Smoke tubes can work with any type of grill, and this one makes doing so especially easy. It is slightly less long than others and has a coiled handle so it is easy to pick up with tongs or your hands and maneuver around to another grill at a campsite, park, backyard BBQ, etc., or to clean out. It is made of sturdy and thick stainless steel but only weighs a little over 1 pound, making it incredibly portable.
Although its round shape doesn’t sit on grill grates fittingly as rectangular or hexagonal ones do, it comes with caps on both ends so pellets won’t fall out should it move around during cold or hot smoking. These caps are easy to remove to fill it up. While the pellet capacity is not listed, other smoke tubes of a similar size fit between 2 and 3 cups of any type of wood chips. Despite its smaller size, it still can produce smoke for up to 5 hours.
Price at time of publish: $13
Length: 9 inches | Burn Time: 5 hours | Capacity: Not indicated
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. Its burn time is about 2 hours, but if the pellets you use are extremely dry you can get a few extra minutes out of it with strong and steady streams of smoke the entire time.
Price at time of publish: $11
Length: 6 inches | Burn Time: 2 hours | Capacity: About 1.5 cups of pellets
“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, founder of Grilling Montana and author of The Flippin' Awesome Backyard Griddle Cookbook
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.
Price at time of publish: $19
Length: 12 inches | Burn Time: 5 hours | Capacity: About 3.5 cups of pellets
The LIZZQ Premium Pellet Smoker Tube 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.
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.
It's not just the size of the smoke tube you should pay attention to. The size of the holes in the tube are also important. Larger ones allow for more smoke to escape the tube, but may mean that some smaller wood pellets could fall out. Smaller holes let less smoke out, but there can be more of them in the tube and it can hold the wood in more efficiently.
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 of cleaning. 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.
What is cold smoking?
Despite what it implies, cold smoking is not smoking food when it is cold outside. (Although, this can be done!) Instead, it is the method of adding a smoky flavor to foods via smoke inside of a grill or smoker without a lot of heat so the food doesn't cook. You can do this with a smoke tube and any type of grill. Simply light the pellets in the smoke tube, let it burn for the appropriate amount of time—usually around 10 minutes or so—and then add the tube and the food you want to be smoked to a grill. Place the lid on and take the food out when it is to your liking. The temperature inside should not be hotter than 100 degrees Fahrenheit in order to keep the food from being cooked. Cold smoking can take upwards of 12-24 hours.
Keep in mind that a large smoke tube that can hold more wood pellets will give off more heat. If you have a larger grill this may be okay, but if you have a smaller grill it's best to use a smaller smoke tube. Also, keep in mind the weather. If you want to cold-smoke food, make sure the temperature outside isn't too hot. Depending on where you live it may be best to cold smoke in cooler months like the fall, winter, and spring, or at night during the summer.
Some foods that are ideal for cold smoking include cheese, salmon and other fish, bacon, tofu, fruit, many types of meat, and anything else you want to have a smoky flavor.
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. "Although you can ignite the wood pellets with a grill lighter, a small butane or propane torch will get the job done more efficiently," Paul Sidoriak, the founder of Grilling Montana and author of The Flippin' Awesome Backyard Griddle Cookbook says. "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.
What type of wood can you use in a smoke tube?
Most smoke tubes can use both wood chips—which are chunks of wood roughly chopped and in various sizes—and wood pellets—small, round, and long pieces of compressed wood and wood byproducts. Both chips and pellets made from wood like cherry, hickory, pecan, apple, and more are good to use to smoke food with a smoke tube. However, you should avoid using soft woods like eucalyptus, Eastern cedar, walnut, sassafras, liquid amber, pine, redwood, fir, spruce, or sycamore because they contain toxins.
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. It also depends on how wet or dry the chips or pellets are. The damper they are, the shorter the burn time (if you can get them to burn at all). The drier the chips or pellets, the longer the burn time. Most smoke tubes come with instructions that say to light and then burn the chips or pellets for around 10 minutes before placing the tube inside your grill so they all get hot, crisp, and start producing smoke.
How We Researched
To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best smoke tubes on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like size, burn time, capacity, and price—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.
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.
Amanda McDonald is an editor at The Spruce Eats and has over seven years of experience researching, writing, and editing about all things food — from what new products are at the grocery store to chef-approved hacks that keep tricky leftovers fresh for days. She updated this article to include the most up-to-date information.
- Paul Sidoriak, founder of Grilling Montana and author of The Flippin' Awesome Backyard Griddle Cookbook