How to Use a Smoker Tube on a Charcoal Grill (Step by Step)

This post may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a small commission. Thanks.

Grilling enthusiasts are constantly on the lookout for new ways to elevate their culinary experiences. One popular method is using a smoker tube on a charcoal grill, which infuses smoky flavors into various dishes. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced grill master, this comprehensive guide will walk you through the step-by-step process of how to use a smoker tube on a charcoal grill, unlocking a whole new world of delicious possibilities.

What is a Smoke Tube?

Before diving into the details of using a smoker tube on a charcoal grill, it’s essential to understand what a smoker tube is and how it functions. A smoker tube is a small, cylindrical metal container with ventilation holes that allow smoke to escape. It is typically filled with wood pellets or wood chips and placed inside a charcoal grill to produce flavorful smoke.

Preparing Your Charcoal Grill

To begin, make sure your charcoal grill is clean and free from any debris. Follow these steps to prepare your grill for using a smoker tube:

  1. Clean the grill grates: Remove any remnants of previous cooking sessions by scrubbing the grates with a grill brush or a ball of aluminum foil.
  2. Create a two-zone fire: Push the charcoal to one side of the grill to create a direct heat zone and an indirect heat zone. This setup allows for more control over the cooking process.
  3. Add charcoal and light it: Place an appropriate amount of charcoal in the grill’s direct heat zone. Light the charcoal using a chimney starter or lighter cubes following the manufacturer’s instructions.
How to Use a Smoker Tube on a Charcoal Grill

How to Use Smoker Tube

Now that your charcoal grill is prepared, it’s time to delve into the specifics of using a smoker tube. Follow these steps for a successful smoking experience:

  1. Select the right wood pellets or chips: Choose wood pellets or chips that complement the flavors of your dish. Popular options include apple, hickory, mesquite, and cherry. Soak the wood chips in water for about 30 minutes before using to extend their burn time.
  2. Fill the smoker tube: Fill the smoker tube with the desired wood pellets or chips, ensuring they are evenly distributed. Avoid overpacking, as proper airflow is crucial for generating smoke.
  3. Ignite the smoker tube: Use a butane torch or match to light the pellets or chips in the smoker tube. Allow them to burn for a few minutes until they start producing smoke.
  4. Place the smoker tube on the grill: Position the lit smoker tube on the charcoal grill’s indirect heat zone. For better smoke circulation, it is recommended to place the smoker tube above the charcoal.
  5. Monitor the temperature: Close the grill lid and adjust the bottom and top vents to achieve the desired temperature. The ideal smoking temperature typically ranges between 225°F (107°C) and 275°F (135°C).
  6. Add food to the grill: Once the desired temperature is reached, place the food you wish to smoke on the grill grates in the indirect heat zone. Close the lid to retain the smoke and maintain an even temperature.
  7. Maintain the smoke: Check the smoker tube periodically to ensure it continues producing smoke. If necessary, relight the pellets or chips using a torch or match.
  8. Control the cooking time: The cooking time will vary depending on the type of food you are smoking. Use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of meat, poultry, or fish, ensuring they reach the recommended safe levels.
  9. Experiment and enjoy: As you gain experience, feel free to experiment with different wood flavors and combinations. Remember to take notes on cooking times and flavor profiles to refine your smoking techniques.

Smoke Tube vs Smoke Box vs Foil Packet: A Comparison

When it comes to adding smoky flavors to your grilled dishes, there are several options available, including smoke tubes, smoke boxes, and foil packets. Each of these methods offers its own advantages and unique characteristics. Let’s compare them to help you choose the best option for your needs.

Smoke Tube: A smoke tube is a cylindrical metal container with ventilation holes designed to hold wood pellets or chips. It is placed directly on the grill grates or suspended above the charcoal in a charcoal grill. The smoke tube is then ignited, producing smoke that infuses the food with flavor.


  1. Easy to use and clean.
  2. Provides a consistent and prolonged smoke output.
  3. Can be used with various types of grills, including charcoal, gas, and pellet grills.
  4. Offers versatility in terms of the types of wood pellets or chips that can be used.


  1. Requires additional space on the grill grates.
  2. May require monitoring and occasional relighting.

Smoke Box: A smoke box is a small metal or ceramic box that is filled with wood chips and placed directly on the heat source, such as the charcoal or gas burners, inside the grill. The box is designed with ventilation holes to allow smoke to escape while keeping the wood chips contained.


  1. Easy to use and clean.
  2. Provides a steady release of smoke throughout the cooking process.
  3. Can be used with both charcoal and gas grills.


  1. Requires direct heat contact with the wood chips, limiting placement options.
  2. May have a smaller capacity for wood chips compared to a smoke tube.
  3. May require pre-soaking the wood chips to extend their burn time.

Foil Packet: A foil packet involves wrapping wood chips in aluminum foil, creating a small pouch. The packet is pierced with holes to allow the smoke to escape. The foil packet is then placed directly on the heat source or on the grill grates.


  1. Simple and cost-effective method.
  2. Easy to customize with different wood chip combinations.
  3. Can be placed directly on the heat source or grill grates.


  1. Requires careful attention to prevent the packet from burning.
  2. May have a shorter burn time compared to smoke tubes or boxes.
  3. Limited control over the intensity and consistency of smoke.

Smoke tubes and smoke boxes offer more control and consistency in smoke production, making them ideal for longer cooking sessions. They can be used with various grills and provide ample space for wood pellets or chips. On the other hand, foil packets are a simple and affordable option for shorter cooking times, but they require more attention to prevent burning. Ultimately, the choice depends on your preferences, the type of grill you have, and the specific flavors you want to achieve in your grilled dishes.


Using a smoker tube on a charcoal grill is a fantastic way to infuse rich, smoky flavors into your favorite dishes. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can enhance your grilling game and create mouthwatering meals that will impress family and friends. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to experiment and refine your technique. Enjoy the journey of exploring different wood flavors and unlocking the full potential of your charcoal grill. Happy smoking!

Leave a Comment