Many of us enjoy the wood-fired smoky flavors in our food, but not everyone has the luxury of owning a standalone smoker. A portable smoke infuser (also commonly known as a smoking gun) can solve many of these problems.
It is a small nimble gadget that allows you to easily infuse smoke into any dish or cocktails, delivering not just the taste but also impressive olfactory and visual effects.
Yes, you can smoke your food and drinks indoor, without the expensive bulky smokers. And without having to worry about triggering the smoke alarm.
Even though a smoking gun is a common gadget used by professions, it remains a rather niche product for home use.
Hence, I hope to share with you how this easy to use gadget can be a fun showy addition to your dinner parties and how to choose the best smoke infuser.
It is definitely a must have for home bars and home chefs who likes to be creative with their food.
Top Picks for the Best Smoke Infuser:
Let’s dive into the details now!
Feel free to jump straight into the product reviews if you are in a hurry.
Is a smoke infuser the same as a smoker?
Imagine that you are at a bar, and your Smoked Old Fashioned comes served beneath a cloak of mist. Or you are at a restaurant and a waiter removes a cloche to present your steak in a dramatic veil of smoke.
You can now do all these RIGHT at home.
With just a portable smoking gun, you can add wood-fired flavour to your grilled or sous vide meat.
But I have to set the expectations right. It wouldn’t be the same deep smoked taste you get from a real smoker.
Using a smoking gun is like a finishing touch that lets you inject smoky flavors and aromas into your cocktails and food.
Think of it as a seasoning, it adds flavor to your food but doesn’t change the nature or cook it further.
It is gentle and subtle, so it also works well for cocktails and delicate foods, such as ice cream.
A smoke infuser is NOT an exact substitute for a standalone smoker.
But it can be a great alternative, especially if you are living in an apartment and don’t have space for an outdoor smoker or the temperature is too cold for you get outside to fire up your smoker.
Cold Smoking vs Hot Smoking
There are 2 ways of smoking food – cold smoking and hot smoking.
A cold smoke or quick smoke is what a smoke infuser does.
Cold smoking is done at a low temperature of below 90 degrees Fahrenheit. You can easily do it on-demand to enhance the dish. It adds a smoky flavour without further cooking or preserving the food. The smoked flavor will be more gentle and subtle.
Hot smoking in an outdoor stand-alone smoker or a stovetop indoor smoker is done above 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The food is cooked while infused with smoke. Hot smoking tends to take hours and create a deep rich complex taste in the meat.
Cold smoking meats with a smoke infuser will NEVER be able to re-create the taste of smoked meats from a smoker. However, it is smaller and more versatile.
Cold smoking only takes a few minutes. It is simple and comparatively less efforts compared to using an outdoor hot smoker.
A smoking gun is not meant to be used to cook brisket for 2 hours. In fact, if you leave it for too long, it could taste like an ash tray. It is meant for a quick infuse.
TIP: Turn on the smoke infuser for just 1-2 minutes. Let the food rest and absorb the smoke. If you prefer a more intense smokey flavor, you may repeat a few more times.
How does a table Top Smoker look like?
A portable smoke infuser is also called a smoking gun as it often looks like a gun with an integrated base.
It can also be referred to as a table top smoker as it can be used right on your kitchen countertop, or even at your home bar counter and table top right before your guests.
A smoke infuser usually consists of the following parts:
- Control switch or knob – This is to turn the smoking gun on and off. Some models have additional speed controls to increase or decrease the fan speed, which in turn affect the airflow and smoke intensity.
- Burn chamber/hopper – This is where the wood chips are added and lit. It is used for holding the burning wood chips so it is usually made of stainless steel to withstand the high temperature. Be careful when pouring out the ashes after use.
- Smoking chamber/Barrel – This part connects to the nozzle extender tube.
- Mesh screen – this function like a filter to prevent the chips from falling into the barrel
- Removable tube – the extender hose can be attached and detached from the smoking gun. Directs the smoke to your food. Detachable for storage
- Fan – draws air in and blow the smoke down the tube
- Stand/base – some smoking guns come with an integrated stand so there’s less components to assemble and dissemble. The base provides added stability
- Power supply – Portable powered by AA batteries. Some rechargeable batteries.
How does a smoke infuser work?
The operations of smoke infusers are generally simple.
Flavored mini wood chips are first added into the burn chamber.
Then turn on the smoking gun and light the wood chips using a lighter. The fan will draw air in and blow the smoke through the tube into your food.
Tip: The smoking gun starts smoking really fast. If you have a very sensitive smoke detector, do get the placement of the tube and food well set-up before lighting the wood chips.
Do make sure that the fire is fully extinguished before cleaning out the residue in the burn chamber.
Techniques and Set-up to use with a smoking gun
Plate your ready-to-eat food and place it under the cloche. Insert the tube under the glass before turning on the smoke infuser.
To avoid getting smoke all over the kitchen, you can look out for a specific cloche with an air-tight opening that you can fit in the nozzle.
Let the food absorb the smoke for a few minutes just before serving.
To create a visual and smell effect for your guests, lift the cloche at the table to release the cloak of smoke.
A dome-shaped cloche is pretty functional as you can use it with a wide range of plates and bowls. But if you are serving smoked cocktails, you’ll probably need a taller bell jar.
Instead of purchasing a cloche, you can also use a cake dome or turn a glass bowl upside down.
To infuse smoke into sauces, soup or chowder, you can use a blender.
Pour the liquids into the blender and insert the tubing of the smoke infuser into the blender to fill it up with smoke. Remove the tube and quickly cover the lid. Blend the mixture until the smoke dissipates and let it rest.
You can also choose to cover a bowl of soup or cream with a cling wrap, infuse the smoke and give it a swirl. However, blending will increase the smoke intensity and flavor the soup takes on.
Repeat the smoking if necessary, else let it rest for a couple of minutes before serving.
Cocktail Shaker or Decanter
After preparing the cocktail, fill the shaker or decanter with smoke. Remove the tube, quickly seal the lid and shake it to allow the cocktail to absorb the smoke.
You can also smoke the glass before pouring the drink in.
The above technique is also known as the IN technique. It adds more smokey flavor in the drink so you can taste it in your mouth. However, this can be too overpowering for clear liquors.
Another technique for smoking cocktail is known as the AROUND technique, which is less intense. The glass of cocktail is placed in a smoking box or tall smoking dome, which is then filled up with smoke.
Cherrywood is common wood chips used for smoking cocktails. But you are not limited to wood chips. There are so any pairings that you can try.
Covered Container or Sealable Bag
You don’t always need special equipment or setup to use a smoking gun.
It can be as simple as putting the food in one of your food containers, tray or a large mixing bowl, and covering it with a saran wrap or lid. Alternatively, you can also use a Ziploc bag. The idea is simply not to let the smoke escape.
Insert tube into the enclosed setup and fill it with smoke. Let the food rest and absorb the smoke for a few minutes. You can smoke it for 2-3 times if you wished for a stronger smoke flavour.
What can You smoke with a smoking gun?
A smoking gun is highly versatile. There are so much you can experiment and have fun with:
- Cocktails and liquor
- Snacks such as popcorns, potato chips and ice cream
- Cheese and Butter
- Salt and Red cayenne peppers
- Olive oil
- Sauces and Cream
- Soups and Chowders
- Seafood (both raw and cooked). Such as raw oysters, sashimi-grade salmon, cooked shrimps and cured salmon.
- Salads, peaches, tomatoes
- Hard boiled eggs
- Cooked meats – ribs, steak, ham, pork chops
- Cooked poultry – chicken, duck, turkey
The list goes on…
I truly enjoyed the gentle but delightful flavor that is infused to a sous vide steak after searing. Highly recommended to try!
What flavors are good for indoor smoking?
Common wood chips include:
Hickory and Mesquite are more intense, and often used for meat. Cherrywood works well for cocktails.
Other than wood chips, you can also use herbs, spices and teas. Do check out recipes for inspirations!
Features to look out for in a portable smoke infuser
Ease of clean up – Removable burn chamber and filter
We think that having a removable burn chamber is vital as it makes the smoking gun easier to clean completely. Models with a non-removable hopper is a clear no-go from our point of view.
Without proper cleaning, residue can build up and cause the smoke to taste acrid. It would be a huge waste as that would render the smoke infuser useless after a few uses. acrid taste
To clean thoroughly, pop out the burn chamber. Tap out the residue and clean it with a cleaning brush (if provided) or a stiff toothbrush. You can soak it in soapy water and dry it. Some are dishwasher-safe.
Most of these models also come with extra sets of filters to replace.
Stability (heavy and wide base)
You wouldn’t want the smoke infuser to topple and create a hot fiery mess.
Anything under 1 pounds are more prone to getting knocked over, which is worrisome.
Length of tubing
Tube length of 17-18 inches is a good length between the infuser and container/bag of food. It provides sufficient clearance if you need more room to wriggle or adjust the placement.
Short tubes often do not extend far enough from the nozzle of the infuser to the container on the counter-top. So, you may end up having to hold the setup while smoking. It is also not ideal to be holding onto the smoking gun to bring it to reach the target since it is holding burning wood chips.
Tubes that are too long is also less ideal as it could fold over itself, disrupting the flow of smoke.
Adjustable fan speed
An adjustable fan gives you more control over the smoke intensity.
When you are lighting up the smoke infuser, you might want to start with high speed as it draws air in faster, making the wood chips easier to ignite. Then, switch to a slower fan speed for a slower but steadier stream of smoke.
Large hopper/burn chamber opening
A larger opening for the burn chamber is recommended as it is easier to load the wood chips.
What we didn’t like
Based on the criteria mentioned above. there are some models that didn’t match up to our expectations.
We didn’t like the earlier versions of the TMKEFFC Portable Smoker Gun even though it was cheap. This is a lightweight unit with a small base. Coupled with a short tube, it is often poorly balanced. It feels like a tug on the tube could topple the whole setup, spilling a hot mess. The opening of the burn chamber is also small. Even though you can pop out the screen to clean or change, you cannot remove the whole burn chamber at the top.
The Gramercy Kitchen Company Cocktail Smoker has a burn chamber opening that cannot be removed. The opening is also narrow, making it difficult to load the wood chips with spilling. The smoker is shaped like a box and features a short tube, which makes it difficult to manoeuvre. This is especially so if you are trying to inundate a tall glass or blender with smoke.
#1: Polyscience Breville Smoking Gun Pro Smoke Infuser
The Polyscience Breville Pro is our top favorite as it intuitive to use and easy to clean. We find it to be the most sturdy and stable model as it is the heaviest and has a wide base. You can operate it single-handedly without holding onto the handle, and still feel at ease knowing that it will stand firm. The long 17.5 inches silicon hose makes it really versatile and easy to set up with precise placement.
It is the only smoke infuser that features an easy turn dial that gives you full control of the smoke intensity. Depending on whether you want a gentle or intense flavor, you can vary the air speed from 5.3 to 15.5 m/s.
Easy to Clean
Both the burn chamber and smoking barrel can be easily assembled and dissembled without tools for easy and thorough cleaning. You can even access the metal fan and o-ring to wipe them clean. This prevents any cross contamination of smoke flavors when different wood chips are used.
- Stable and sturdy.
- Heaviest model with a wide base, reducing the risk of toppling.
- Full control of the smoke intensity using an easy turn dial.
- Air flow can be varied from 5.3 to 15.5 m/s.
- Long 17.5 inches silicon tube for ease and versatility of setup
- Extender tube is detachable for storage
- Heavy-duty heat-resistant fan blades
- Easy assembly and disassembly with no tools required.
- The burn chamber and barrel can be detached from the integrated base to clean out all the residue.
- Burn chamber features a wide opening for easy loading of wood chips, clean-up and filter change.
- Highly portable as it is compact and battery-operated.
- Can be used for both outdoor and indoor smoking.
- Quiet operation
- The pro series has a larger burn chamber to hold more wood compared to the standard Breville Smoking Gun.
- 4 AA batteries included so you can start using right out of the box.
- No extra accessories included. Cloche has to be purchased separately.
What is included in the package?
The Smoking Gun Pro consists of 4 components:
- A detachable anodized aluminium smoking chamber
- a removable stainless-steel burn chamber
- an integrated base
- removable 17.5” silicon nozzle extender tube
Extra mesh filters and 2 samples of Breville smoking wood chips (Hickory and Applewood) are also included. Each of them comes in a 0.5-oz jar.
The package also includes instruction and recipes with gorgeous pictures for inspiration. You can start using the smoking gun right out of the box as it comes with 4 AA batteries.
What Accessories Can I Buy?
It is probably worth to invest in a variety flavored wood chips so that you can try out different pairings of flavoured smokes and dishes. The Breville Wood Chip Set comes with applewood, cherrywood, hickory and mesquite. The mini chips used by the smoking gun are fine like sawdust. They are much smaller than the wood chips that you would usually use for a traditional smoker.
Cloches & Lids
If you are looking for a cloche to serve your food in a more dramatic and creative presentation, you’ll love the Breville PolyScience Smoking Gun Pro Glass Cloche. It is a beautifully handcrafted cover made from borosilicate glass, which is also dishwasher safe! The nozzle of extender tube from the smoking gun is inserted via the silicone one-way valve on the side of the dome cover, preventing smoke from escaping.
However, the base is not perfectly flushed or sealed. So, there could still be some smoke seeping out from the bottom, but it is much better compared to making do with a standard dome cover.
It measures 7 inches in diameter and 5 inches in height. You can place a glass inside, but the cloche is still not tall enough to accommodate a cocktail glass. For a taller glass jar to infuse smoke to a cocktail glass, you might want to check out the DOITOOL Smoking Cloche Dome Cover.
The Breville PolyScience Smoking Gun Pro Glass Cloche looks really elegant but it is expensive.
Options are more limited for a glass cloche. The Cabilock Smoking Cloche Dome Cover is a more affordable glass dome cover but the dimension is smaller at 5.91 inches in height and 5.12 inches in diameter.
Acrylic cloches are generally cheaper. The Handy Smoker PRO Smoking Gun 10-inch Dome Cover Cloche Lid has a wider diameter of 10 inches but lower interior height of 4.25 inches.
The smoke infuser lid is also a versatile and handy accessory for smoking cocktail drinks. It is suitable for most cups/glasses and even smaller bowls/plates less 4 inches wide. The crystal acrylic material is highly durable and the rubber seal can be removed for complete cleaning. The rubber port can also be adjusted to fit the sizes of different smoking gun.
How to use the Polyscience Breville Smoking Gun Pro Smoke Infuser?
After putting the AA batteries into compartment at the bottom of the smoke infuser, attach the barrel to the integrated base.
Insert the burn chamber to the top until you hear or feel it click in place. Load the wooden chips into the burn chip.
Tip: Don’t over fill the hopper. You only need to use a pinch of wood chips.
Get your setup ready by placing the tip of tube into the enclosed container or sealable bag containing the food to be smoked. Turn on the smoking gun and light up the wood chips with a lighter. The fan will draw the air in and blow the smoke through the silicone tube to the food.
Dimensions: 5.75 x 3.25 x 6.75 inches
Weight: 2.04 Ibs
Air Speed control: Variable airflow ranging from 5.3 to 15.5 m/s
Warranty: 1 year limited product warranty
Who is it for?
The quality of the Polyscience Breville Smoking Gun Pro is approved for commercial use, but it is also easy and fun enough for home chefs and armatures bartenders to enjoy. If you are looking to make entertaining showstopper dishes at dinner parties, the Smoking Gun Pro promises a fuss-free solution.
#2: Breville Smoking Gun Food Smoker
The Breville Smoking Gun Food Smoker is a more affordable version compared to the pro version.
For this non-pro model, you now only have dual air speed control (7.1 and 11.1 m/s) instead of the full control over the fan speed and smoke intensity. It is less sturdy compared to the Breville Polyscience Smoking Gun Pro as it is more lightweight and has a smaller footprint.
Other than that, the Smoking Gun Food Smoker serves the function well. It is easy to operate and clean, just like the pro. Just as importantly, it comes with the much-loved 17.5 inches silicone hose.
- More affordable compared to the Pro version
- Stable (but less sturdy than the Pro)
- Dual speed control switch to vary smoke intensity
- Comes with the same detachable 17.5 inches silicon tube as the Pro
- Durable fan blades
- Easily assembled and dissembled without tools
- The burn chamber and barrel can be detached for thorough cleaning.
- Burn chamber is dishwasher safe.
- Wide opening of the burn chamber allows for easy loading of wood chips, clean-up and filter change.
- Highly portable due to its compact and lightweight design
- Can be used for both outdoor and indoor smoking as it is battery operated
- 4 AA batteries included so you can start using right out of the box.
- Only 2 speed control
- Smaller base and lighter compared to Pro
Dimension: 5” x 2.5” x 6.5”
Weight: 1 Ibs
Fan Speed: Dual setting of 7.1 m/s (low) and 11.1 m/s (high)
Warranty: 1-year limited product warranty
What is included in the package?
The Breville Smoking Gun Food Smoker comes packaged with the essentials that you need to get started right away.
The package comes with the smoking gun and silicon hose, extra replacement screens, 2 sample wood chips, 4 AA batteries, instructions and recipes.
#3 – Houmia Fuma Smoking Gun Wood Smoke Infuser
Houmia Fuma is a great starter kit as it comes with a lot of fun accessories, such as the dome covers, so that you can get started right away. It also comes with a generous set of 7 flavor wood chips so you can experiment and find what you like.
I was a little disappointed to realise that many of the accessories are made of plastic rather than glass. But given the price, I guess I can’t complain too much.
The Houmia Fuma is a simple 1 button operation with 2 fan speed. However, the smoke is fast and intense at high speed so I feel that I have less control.
Go for the premium or universal kit
Premium kit comes with a disc lid, smoking dome lid and smoking cocktail ball. The cocktail ball is a fun tool, which got me really excited. Unfortunately, not all the attachments are glass. Only the cocktail ball is made of borosilicate glass. As the disc lid is made of light plastic, it doesn’t provide a very tight seal between the cup and the lid, so you might need to hold the lid down or place something on top.
The universal kit is similar, but the glass ball is replaced by the tall smoking dome which is great for the taller glasses for cocktails. The glass cocktail ball can be purchased separately if you are keen on that.
What are included in the package?
When you purchase the Houmia Fuma, the exact accessories such as the lids and covers will vary depending on your selection.
However, the following will be included in all packages – e-recipe, 4 AA batteries, 7 flavour wood chips, 1 extra mesh set (5 pieces), a cleaning brush. and a flexible hose.
The 7 types of smoking wood chips are: Apple, Hickory, Cherry, Pear, Beech, Peach and Oak.
Fan Speed: 2 speed options (1 button operation)
A smoke infuser is not an essential kitchen tool. Some may even consider it frivolous. However, if you are a food enthusiast or mixologist, you’ll definitely enjoy the addition of this gadget to your collection.
The Polyscience Breville Smoking Gun Pro is a worthwhile investment as it is the most sturdy and gives the greatest control over the smoke intensity. Even though it is of professional quality, it is still easy to operate and clean.
The non-pro version of the Breville Smoking Gun smokes just as well, making it the best value buy. You do lose some control over the smoke intensity but you still can select from 2 settings.
The Houmia Fuma Smoke Infuser is an affordable starter kit as it comes with many fun accessories, though not all of them are made of glass as we would have preferred.
With these simple tabletop smokers, home chefs can take their dishes to the next level effortless by injecting a smokey depth to your food without any bulky or expensive equipment. If you have set up your home bar, then this is a must have. You can experiment the different combinations flavors of wood and liquor when you have friends around. The mix can be a hit or miss at times, but for sure, there will be lots of fun.
If you are still sitting on the fence about whether you need a smoke infuser, why not check out these videos for some inspirations?