Pellet Grill Not Making Enough Smoke (Use A Smoke Tube?)

Hi, I’m Chris. I started back in 2007.

The topic of flavours in food is obviously highly subjective. However, its general acknowledged that pellet grills/smokers produce a lighter smoke flavour profile compared to Kamado BBQs or Stick Burners. Therefore the aim of making pellet grills/smokers produce more smoke is a target for some. The easiest way to make more smoke is to add a pellet tube smoker into the cooking chamber. However, is more always better? Well, that’s what we are going to look into with this article with the help of an experiment.

Pellet Grill Not Making Enough Smoke
Adding a pellet tube smoker or similar to your pellet grill is definitely a cheap/affordable means to add more smoke, but will it actually give you better flavour? Images –

Disclaimer: Hey! By the way… any links on this page that lead to products on Amazon or other sites are affiliate links, and I earn a commission if you make a purchase.

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Pellet Smoke Tube Experiment Results

I’ve previously discussed using BBQ pellets and pellet tube smokers etc on a gas grill to add smoke flavour. In that scenario, the source of heat (gas) is not adding any flavour to the food at all, therefore adding a pellet smoke tube etc is really the only means to add smoke flavour.

However, as a pellet grill/smoker is using BBQ pellets as the heat source some smoke is produced. There are also pellet grill/smoker smoke settings which can be used to increase smoke. Though I’m aware that some people are looking to add even more smoke into their food. Hence, they try adding a smoke tube as well.

I’ve referenced videos from Mad Scientist BBQ in previous articles, and the video from Jeremy below is well worth a watch. Jeremy along with Eric from TheBBQHQ put a pellet smoke tube to the test on a premium rack of ribs.

On their blind taste test, they could definitely tell which ribs were cooked with the pellet tube smoker, but it wasn’t the ribs they actually preferred

Spoiling the end of the video here, both Jeremy and Eric actually preferred the ribs which were cooked without the additional smoke from the pellet tube smoker. Now, anyone who is familiar with Jeremy and his Mad Scientist BBQ videos may be surprised by that, as Jeremy is a fan of stronger smoke profiles in food.

However, what Jeremy and Eric both found is that in this instance they thought the additional smoke from the pellet tube smoker dried out the exterior bark of the ribs too much. Furthermore, the additional smoke flavour did not actually compliment the ribs in their opinion.

Now, as stated at the top of this article, taste/flavour is highly subjective. You could personally do the same test and actually prefer the additional smoke flavour from using a smoke tube.

If you think that maybe the case and you want to try using a smoke tube for additional flavour as they are cheap to buy, just bear a couple of things in mind…

Pellet Smoke Tube Placement Is Important

Ok, if you are going to play about with adding a smoke tube into the cooking chamber of your pellet grill/smoker the placement is very important for two reasons as discussed in the video above.

First, it will affect how much smoke goes into the meat. Second, if you place the smoke tube too close to the RTD thermocouple within the pellet grill/smoker you’re likely going to get some issues.

Next To Or Under The Meat?

As discussed in the video above, if you’re pellet grill/smoker has a second rack above the main grate that gives you options in terms of placement of the smoke tube in relation to the meat, next to or under it.

In general, if the smoke tube is placed under the meat it will absorb more of the smoke into the meat compared to the smoke tube being placed next to the meat. As discussed in the video above, whether you actually want that much additional smoke will be a personal preference.

Pellet Smoke Tube Placement Is Important
The placement of the smoke tube in relation to the meat and the smoke stack/vents will impact the amount of additional smoke flavour added to the meat: Image – YouTube

The point being, play about with the location of the smoke tube along with obviously how long you leave the smoke tube in there and how many pellets you actually put in.

What I would also say is to make a note of the location of the smoke stack/vents on your pellet grill/smoker. Positioning the meat in between the smoke stack/vents and the smoke tube will also obviously mean the smoke spends more time over the meat before it leaves.

Avoid Smoke Tube Placement Near The RTD Probe

Some of you may be thinking ‘What the heck is an RTD probe, does my pellet grill/smoker even have one!?’ Yep, it will, no matter what make or model you have from Traeger, Pit Boss, Camp Chef etc there will be an RTD probe in the cooking chamber.

The RTD probe is the sensor that’s monitoring the internal temperature inside the pellet grill/smoker and giving that information to the control panel to influence its operation. Hence, if the RTD probe is not reading properly, the control panel cannot regulate temperature properly.

Pellet Grill/Smoker RTD Probe
It’s important to keep a pellet tube smoker away from the internal RTD probe: Image –

I’ve previously discussed the importance of keeping the RTD probe clean in my article on pellet grill temperature swings. Well, if you leave a pellet tube smoke sitting next to the RTD probe that could also give the RTD a false reading.

I’ve heard about people trying foil shields etc, but ideally, you just want to make sure the pellet smoking tube is at least several inches away from the RTD probe so the proper operation of the pellet grill/smoker can go ahead as normal.

Consider Your Smoke Tube Pellets Carefully

Within the hopper of your pellet grill, you may have oak pellets or maybe even charcoal pellets which are well suited to producing high heat output but not necessarily the smoke flavour you’re after.

Therefore within the smoke tube, you could use a single wood species BBQ pellet that will give a more distinct flavour. As you will see from my list of BBQ pellet brands/flavours there is a huge range of options to choose from.

BBQ Pellets
You can use one brand/type of pellets in the hopper and another more niche flavour in the smoke tube

For instance, for adding a sweet flavour to the meat you may want to try 100% Applewood pellets in the smoke tube. Or maybe even more niche options such as whiskey/liquor blends, there are also pellets made of the oak barrels used to mature wine.

You then have your other wood species such as Alder, Cherry, Hickory, Maple, Mesquite, Pecan and Walnut. There really is a huge range of options to try.

Just because you use oak pellets in your hopper for their steady and consistent temperature output it doesn’t mean you’re stuck using oak pellets in the smoke tube.

My Thoughts On Pellet Grills Not Making Enough Smoke…

I’ve always maintained that pellet grills/smokers produce a lighter smoke flavour profile than other alternatives such as Kamados and Stick Burners/Offset Smokers. Personally, I prefer a lighter smoke flavour, but what if you are looking for additional smoke flavour?

As discussed above, you can add a pellet smoke tube into the cooking chamber. However, make sure you carefully consider the points above about placement. Not only to produce the additional level of smoke flavour you’re after but also not to interfere with the operation of the pellet grill/smoker.

What I would suggest though is you also spend some time really getting to know the smoke settings of your pellet grill/smoker. My linked article goes into more detail on the topic, but you may be able to get sufficient smoke flavour by adjusting some settings.

That’s it! I hope you found the above useful and you can get the level of smoke flavour you’re after. As always, please check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide for more of my articles. 🙂

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Chris -

Hi, I’m Chris. I started back in 2007. This website is intended to be an educational resource on BBQ pellets, pellet grills & smokers. I hope you find the information useful.

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