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One of the big challenges of sous vide cooking is that your finished food ends up perfectly cooked… but without the charred, smoky flavor of being cooked over flames or wood. Even if you sear it afterward, you’re still missing out on some of those flavors that you get from high-temperature cooking.
That’s where the Smoking Gun comes into play. With just a pinch of wood chips, you can create your own smoke to flavor your foods. And don’t think its uses are limited to sous vide, either! This handy tool is great for adding smoky flavor to almost anything you can think of. Try it with drinks, ice cream, sauces, cheese, butter, and so much more.
As this style of finishing food becomes more popular, more and more options are becoming available. So is this one the right choice for you? Read our full Breville smoking gun review to learn about its pros and cons, and whether it’s the perfect addition to your gourmet home kitchen.
First things first: let’s get clear about exactly what tool we’re talking about.
This review is about the Breville Smoking Gun.
Somewhat confusingly, this is not the same thing as the Breville PolyScience Smoking Gun.
The former is designed, manufactured, and distributed by Breville; the latter is designed by Polyscience and distributed by Breville.
And yes, we agree that it’s confusing! So confusing, in fact, that we decided to do a side-by-side comparison of the Breville Smoking Gun and the PolyScience Breville Smoking Gun to explore their differences in more depth. We’ve also done a full hands-on review of the PolyScience Smoking Gun. But for now, just remember that this hands-on review is specifically about the Breville Smoking Gun—no PolyScience involved!
This smoking gun is designed to be extremely user-friendly and ideal for the gourmet home kitchen. It offers two air speeds—one to get the smoke going, and one to keep it flowing once the chips are smoldering.
As a handheld device, it’s extremely portable and simple to use. You just put a pinch of wood chips in the burn chamber, turn on the fan, and light the chips. Smoke then comes out of the tube, which you should direct into a sealed container. (Use a designated smoking container, or just securely cover a bowl or jar with plastic wrap.)
I’ve been wanting to get my hands on a smoking gun for ages, so I was thrilled to be assigned to test this one for Cuisine Technology. And after all that waiting and wishing, it didn’t disappoint.
Opening up the box immediately showed that Breville didn’t skimp on quality or accessories. Many (or most) smoking guns don’t come as a complete kit; they require you to source your own batteries or wood chips. But the Breville has everything you need to get started.
The kit includes:
- The smoking gun itself
- Extra mesh filters for the burn chamber
- Two small wood sample jars (note that even though the jars are very small, they have plenty of wood for multiple uses)
- A set of gorgeous, full-color recipe cards to inspire you
Once I had the Smoking Gun in my hands, it was clear that it’s a high-quality tool. It feels sturdy and well-made, with a nice amount of heft and weight to it. When you’re spending this much on a kitchen gadget, you want great quality, and the Breville definitely follows through.
The Included Recipe Cards
One thing I’ve mentioned before is that I wish that higher-end cooking devices would come with beautiful, colorful recipe cards or a small full-color recipe book. I rarely cook from recipes anyway, but this sort of inspiration is always welcome, and shows that the company is going above and beyond to create a great user experience.
That’s why I was so excited to see the gorgeous recipe cards included in this box. And they’re not boring, basic recipes either! When I saw one for roasted garlic aioli, I figured it would involve roasting garlic, mixing it with store-bought mayonnaise, and smoking the whole thing.
To my delight, I was wrong. The recipe actually has you make the “aioli” from scratch. (We could get into a debate about what’s technically aioli and what’s a flavored mayonnaise, but that’s a losing battle, so I won’t fault Breville for falling on the wrong side of that one.)
Similarly, the smoked chili jam recipe doesn’t dumb things down by calling for bell peppers. I have a decently high spice tolerance, and the recipe as written had me let out an audible “whew!” when I tasted it. It mellowed out over a couple of days in the fridge, but I was surprised and impressed that Breville didn’t insist on making a more accessible, mild recipe.
In short, it’s clear that Breville realizes that its audience for this Smoking Gun consists of true food lovers. The recipes are designed for people who want to do things right, not take the quick and easy way out. Thank you, Breville, for setting such a great example of how recipe cards can enhance user experience!
Starting It Up
Assembly was incredibly easy and straightforward. You simply insert the (included) batteries, put the mesh filter into the burn chamber, put the burn chamber into the barrel, and attach the tube to the gun. Just like that, you’re good to go!
The first time I used the Breville Smoking Gun, I hadn’t realized just how much smoke it would create. So I spent most of my first attempt frantically opening windows and turning on the fan over the stove!
After gaining a better understanding of its smokiness (and moving my work station next to an open window), things went very smoothly.
To get it going, you put a thin layer of wood chips into the burn chamber. Next, put the tube where you want it and turn the air flow to high. Finally, light the wood chips. Pretty quickly, smoke will start pouring out of the tube. You can either leave the air flow on high or turn it down to low (more on this later!).
The Cooking Process
Since getting the Smoking Gun, I’ve used it for a wide range of recipes (which may already give you a clue about how much I love it!). Here’s what I’ve experienced and learned through the process!
Use a container that you can seal to be airtight. One of my earliest attempts involved smoking pesto butter in a gorgeously textured handmade bowl. Sadly, plastic wrap doesn’t cling to texture as well as you’d hope. If you don’t have an airtight container for smoking, make sure you use a smooth bowl or jar to ensure that the plastic wrap adheres firmly.
Dual Fan Speeds
The Smoking Gun’s documentation is a bit vague about the purpose of the two fan speeds.
The manual says that the low speed is “to smolder the wood chips and generate smoke,” while the high speed is “for greater airflow to assist in initially lighting wood chips.” This pretty strongly implies to me that the higher speed is only to use while igniting the chips, and the lower speed is what you should use to actually produce smoke.
Their Amazon listing, on the other hand, states that the tool has “Dual-flow air speeds (7.1 and 11.1 m/s) to control smoke intensity.” This suggests that both speeds are intended for use while producing smoke.
In my experiments, I found that it didn’t matter much. So I’d suggest not stressing about this! The high speed does have faster airflow, of course, but they both produce enough smoke to quickly fill up a reasonably sized container. Any difference between the two is a matter of a few seconds.
Cooking With the Breville Smoking Gun
My first smoking attempt was the smoked chili jam recipe included with the gun. The combination of sweet, spicy, and smoky is so addictive that my husband and I went through the first jar shockingly quickly, and I made a double batch the next time.
I did notice, however, that the smoke flavor didn’t infuse as intensely as I would have liked. The second time around, I smoked the jam twice as many times as instructed (4 instead of 2), and the smokiness was more pronounced. I suspect that this was just because the jam is so intensely flavored to begin with, as I didn’t notice any issues with other uses.
Next, I tested the Smoking Gun on something with a much milder flavor: a homemade pesto butter. I let the butter warm and soften, then smoked it, stirring between smoking sessions. After one round of smoking, it was distinctly smoke-flavored. After the second round, the smoke flavor was so pronounced that it was almost overpowering.
Next up was cheese. I got an ultra-cheap, honestly pretty low-quality gouda from the store to see whether smoking it could redeem it and transform it into something delicious. I cut it into slices and smoked them, then flipped them over and smoked them again so each side would have smokiness.
Again, the Smoking Gun was remarkably successful. The now-smoked gouda was surprisingly tasty, with the smokiness emphasizing the best of its flavors and masking its relatively low quality.
Since then, I’ve been using the smoking gun on just about everything that sounds like it could possibly benefit from smoke. And while sometimes the choice to smoke was a mistake (smoking horchata makes it taste like a burnt marshmallow, by the way), the gun itself performed exceptionally every time.
Other Comments and Considerations
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: a smoking gun is not a replacement for a smoker. It doesn’t cook your food, and the smoke isn’t even hot when it comes out of the device. And because the smoke is only in contact with your food or drink for a few minutes at most, it doesn’t penetrate as deeply as it would in a traditional smoker. Keep in mind that this tool is designed to add smoky flavor to food, not to truly smoke food.
Tips for Using the Breville Smoking Gun
As you’re lighting the Smoking Gun, you’ll need to angle the flame downward. I was nervous at first about doing this with a standard lighter, because of course flames tend to want to flow upward, and that’s where my thumb was! But it turns out that on airflow level 2, there’s enough suction that the flame gets pulled downward toward the chips.
Don’t overfill the burn chamber. You just need enough chips to cover the mesh filter in a thin layer. In other words, definitely don’t fill up the entire burn chamber! This means that the very small jars of sample chips that come with the device will actually last a surprisingly long time.
Work near an open window. Even if you’re careful about where you direct the smoke and use an airtight container, you’ll find that quite a bit of smoke still escapes. Using the Smoking Gun by an open window helps minimize the residual smokiness in your kitchen!
If you’re going to be incorporating a liquid into your recipe, it’s easier to smoke the liquid than to try to smoke a solid. When I made soup, for example, I smoked some of the finished broth in a jar, shaking it to incorporate the smoke, then poured it back into the soup pot. This added much more smoky flavor than when I simply smoked a finished bowl of soup.
If you’re smoking a soft solid (like softened butter, cream cheese, peanut butter, jam, etc.), spread the food to be smoked over as wide an area as possible. Instead of having a big lump of butter in a bowl, for example, spread it over the bottom and sides of the bowl to create a larger surface area for the smoke to infuse into.
Use the right kind of wood chips. The large chips that you might use in a full-size smoker or barbecue aren’t the right ones for this smoking gun. The correct ones are very small (as you’ll see in the two included bottles!).
Pros & Cons
The Breville device is clearly intended for truly passionate home cooks. If you love to experiment and play with your food in all the best ways, we think you’ll be thrilled with adding the ability to smoke your culinary creations to your arsenal.
This option is approved for home use only, not commercial use. And it has the feel of being designed for passionate home users. For example, if you’re a chef buying a commercial device for your restaurant, you probably don’t need recipe cards because you’ll already have some idea of what you want to do with it.
In short, if you’re a gourmet home cook who appreciates the best, the Breville Smoking Gun is designed for you.
This Breville option definitely isn’t one of the cheaper smoking guns out there. In fact, it’s at the upper end of the price range for these types of handheld smokers, with just a few more expensive options available.
However, especially when it’s on sale, we believe you’re getting great value for the money. This device is solid, well-built, and high-quality—and you’re getting the assurance of the Breville name.
If you’re looking for a budget device to just play around with a few times, look elsewhere.
But if you want a serious, high-quality kitchen tool that will last you for years to come, we believe that this is a fantastic choice.
Pro tip: there are at least two different Amazon listings for this smoking gun. Before placing your order, check through to see which has the best price! At the time of writing, one of the two identical listings is on sale for about 20% off, and the other isn’t.
The Smoking Gun comes with two small containers of wood chips: apple wood and hickory. The hickory is a much more intensely smoky flavor, which is great for meats, for example. The apple wood is more delicate and mild, better for most drinks, desserts, or lighter applications.
Between these two woods, you’re covered for most uses. But for even more control and variety, we recommend Breville’s Smoking Gun Woodchip Set. In addition to (much!) larger tins of hickory and applewood, you’ll also get mesquite and cherrywood. Mesquite is similarly intense and heavy to hickory, but with a distinctly different flavor. And cherrywood is more light in character, but also has its own unique flavor.
This set gives you a lot more versatility in flavor—and, considering how little you need each time, enough wood chips to last indefinitely. As I mentioned, I’ve been smoking whenever I can find an excuse, and have barely made a dent in my set.
Smoking Container (or Containers)
It absolutely works to smoke in a bowl or jar covered tightly with plastic wrap. If you’re satisfied with that, there’s absolutely no need to buy an extra container.
However, containers can make the process easier and more elegant. They let you serve dishes or drinks with a dramatic flourish, and help keep the smoke where you want it with minimal effort.
There are lots of options available, and if you already have a cloche at home, that should work just fine! But if you want to buy a new option purely for smoking, here are a couple to check out.
The Homia Accessory Set for smoking guns includes not only a dome, but also a fun cocktail ball glass and a lid that lets you turn other containers into smoking chambers. Plus you’ll also get a cleaning brush and small jars of seven types of wood chips (and remember, the Smoking Gun takes so few chips that these small jars will last for quite a while).
For just a dome rather than a full accessory set, check out the TMKEFFC Smoking Cloche Dome Cover. Since it’s purpose-built for smoking guns, this dome has a rubber port for your smoking tube to enter, as well as a rubber seal around the bottom to keep the smoke in. (Just be sure to remove the thin protective plastic layer on the dome before you use it.)
The Breville Smoking Gun is a fantastic, well-built tool. After our hands-on experience with it, we highly recommend it for any passionate gourmet home cook who wants to open up new pathways of flavor.
It’s straightforward and easy to use, with no noticeable issues or design flaws. It has worked consistently and reliably across our tests, adding a smoky (but never acrid) flavor to a wide range of foods. And while it’s not the most budget-friendly option out there, the price is more than worth it for this level of quality and attention to detail.
We particularly love that this device comes with everything you need to get started, including batteries and a couple types of wood chips. (You’ll need to supply your own container, but a bowl with plastic wrap works just fine.) This all-in-one kit saves you the effort of needing to source your own batteries and wood chips in advance, and lets you start smoking right away.
As always, the big question is whether the product tester decides to keep the device. As normal people with normal-sized home kitchens, it’s not realistic for Cuisine Technology’s product testers to keep everything they try out for reviews!
So what’s the verdict—will the tester keep the Breville Smoking Gun, or give it away?
Our tester says: “I love this device! The only thing that could potentially convince me to give up the Breville Smoking Gun is the PolyScience Breville Smoking Gun, which I’m assigned to test soon. I’ll let you know which one wins!”
For Commercial Use or Professional Chefs
The Breville PolyScience Smoking Gun. Despite being also distributed by Breville, the PolyScience option has enough differences that it’s a better pick for professional chefs.
For a Complete All-in-One Kit
The homia Smoking Gun Wood Smoke Infuser – Extended Plus Kit. While the total price is similar to that of the Breville, the homia option also includes a smoking dome, a smoking ball, a lid, and 7 types of wood chips.
For Extreme Budget Buyers
The Kaven Smoking Gun. To be clear, we don’t recommend getting this option if you can afford a better one—but if this is as far as your budget stretches, it will definitely let you get a taste of smoking your food.
Check out more options on our list of the best smoking guns!