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We’ve all been there: you want to do something new and creative in the kitchen, but you feel like you’ve exhausted all of your ideas. After all, there are only so many ways that you can play with familiar flavors and ingredients, right? If only there were a simple way to open up a whole new realm of flavor possibilities.
With the PolyScience Smoking Gun Pro, there is. This simple, portable device lets you burn wood chips (or just about anything you can imagine) to create a wide range of smoky flavors that infuse into your food. I’ve personally already tried it on soups, noodles, ice cream, drinks, sauces, cheese, and meats. And, while my concepts weren’t always successful, it definitely always added a new flavor that I couldn’t easily achieve in any other way.
Our full hands-on Polyscience Smoking Gun review digs into the details of this powerful tool to help you decide whether it’s right for you. But if you just want our quick verdict, here’s what we think:
The PolyScience Smoking Gun is a fantastic option for professional chefs or anyone who wants ultra-precise control as they cook. If you’re a passionate home cook, you may find that the more affordable Breville Smoking Gun is actually a better pick for you (especially if you can catch it when it’s on sale).
First things first: let’s get clear about exactly what tool we’re talking about.
This review is about the PolyScience/Breville Smoking Gun Pro.
Somewhat confusingly, this is not the same thing as the Breville Smoking Gun.
As far as we can tell, 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 Pro to explore their differences in more depth. And we’ve also written a separate hands-on review of the Breville Smoking Gun. But remember that this post is specifically about the PolyScience/Breville Smoking Gun Pro.
If you’re a chef looking for a high-quality tool to use in a professional kitchen, look no further. The PolyScience smoking gun offers a fantastic combination of durability, performance, and precision to allow you to create and serve smoke-infused dishes, drinks, or components.
In case you’re not familiar with smoking guns in general, they feature a motor that blows air past a smoldering burn chamber, which produces smoke that gets blown down the tube. You then direct that tube to wherever you want the smoke (typically into a sealed container holding the food or drink that you want to infuse with flavor).
More than any other smoking gun we’ve reviewed, this one is clearly ideal for the professional chef. But even so, it’s remarkably simple to use. You simply add the fuel of your choice to the burn chamber, set it alight, and adjust the knob to your desired air/smoke flow rate.
Cuisine Technology has reviewed several other smoking guns, and I was the assigned tester for one of them. This means that both the site itself and I personally already have a decent basis for comparison for this one.
Of all the smoking guns tested, it’s immediately obvious that this one is the least geared toward the average home cook. Others come in nice boxes that are designed to immediately appeal to an enthusiastic user, or include beautiful and colorful recipe cards to spark inspiration and creativity.
The PolyScience Smoking Gun Pro is almost austere in comparison. There’s no flash or glamour here; just a high-quality, well-made professional tool in a simple box that speaks more to functionality than playfulness. And the box even boasts “Professional Tools for Chefs and Mixologists.”
In that way, PolyScience immediately defines its audience as chefs and restaurateurs. This is definitely a high-end professional tool, not a fun gadget for a whimsical home cook to use for a week and then tuck away in the back of a cabinet. (Which isn’t to say that you shouldn’t buy it if you’re a home cook—just that you’ll be getting a truly professional tool if you do.)
As soon as I lifted it from the box, it became clear that this smoking gun is much heavier and more solidly built than its competitors. In that way, too, it comes across as more of a professional tool than a fun gadget.
Starting It Up
Assembly was very easy, and I had the smoking gun ready to go within minutes. The box comes with everything you need to get started, including the required batteries and two small sample tubs of wood chips (apple and hickory). While the tubs may seem inadequate, it takes very little for each use, so they’ll actually last for quite a while.
The burn chamber is slightly wider and shallower than those of other guns that Cuisine Technology has reviewed. This makes it easier to light with a standard handheld lighter (although a grill lighter would still be simpler!). And as tempting as it may be, never use a kitchen torch to light your smoking gun.
The Cooking Process
I was glad to have tested and used a smoking gun before this one, because I could immediately jump into playing with it to create recipes. When I previously reviewed the Breville Smoking Gun, I did lots of experiments with four standard wood chips (mesquite, apple, hickory, and cherry). So with this new device, I branched out further, playing with using tea, dried herbs, spices, and dried edible flowers.
Throughout these various tests, the PolyScience Smoking Gun Pro performed exactly as I would expect and hope. It consistently and reliably created smoke, which was easy to adjust with the dial on the back of the device.
Something to keep in mind is that because this device has a slightly larger and wider burn chamber than many others, it also takes more smoking material. I found myself using about two pinches of smoking material each time, compared to just one for other devices. This means you’ll need more material on hand than you may expect if you’re accustomed to other smoking guns.
One more noteworthy point came up while testing this device at the lowest end of its range. When the fan speed is that slow, there’s not enough airflow to push all of the smoke through the tube. Instead, some smoke starts to emerge from the burn chamber as well.
This isn’t really a problem, as long as you don’t mind some smoke escaping. And it immediately resolves itself if you increase the fan speed. It’s just something to be aware of if you plan to use this tool at its lower settings.
The Included Instructions
As mentioned above, the PolyScience Smoking Gun Pro doesn’t come with specific recipes (much less the beautiful recipe cards that were included with the Breville version).
Instead, it’s clearly designed for chefs or advanced home cooks who already understand flavor profiles and are more interested in techniques and concepts than specific recipes. It should come as no surprise, then, that the instructional book that comes with it includes a list of techniques.
In this booklet, you’ll be able to read about how to use your smoking gun for the following applications:
- In a container or bag
- At the table side
- In a stand mixer
- In a blender
- In a shaker
Most similar devices either have one set fan speed, or the option of two (high or low). The PolyScience smoking gun definitely stands out in this regard, because it has a full speed dial instead. This gives you far more control over the airflow and smoke production speed than you would have with most other tools.
Be aware that at its max setting, the PolyScience device is comparable to other smoking guns on their high speed settings. Based on our tests, it doesn’t actually produce smoke faster than other options. Instead, the extra flexibility is all at the lower end; it’s capable of issuing a much smaller and gentler stream of smoke than other devices.
Other Comments and Considerations
No doubt you already know this, but a smoking gun is not a smoker. This tool won’t actually cook your food or smoke it through. Instead, it produces cold smoke that basically flavors the outside layer of your food (unless, of course, you stir or shake the smoke into a liquid). If you want food that’s truly smoked as a cooking technique rather than food that has smoke flavor incorporated into it, you’ll need a smoker, not a smoking gun.
As much as I love the PolyScience Smoking Gun Pro, it may be overkill if you’re a home cook. Most home cooks don’t need the level of precision that it offers, so a two-speed smoking gun may be a better choice (and is generally more affordable). If that rings true for you, consider the Breville Smoking Gun instead. And if you’re not sure, check out our comparison of that one with the PolyScience Smoking Gun Pro!
Tips for Using the PolyScience Smoking Gun Pro
Use a grill lighter if possible as you’re lighting the Polyscience Smoking Gun. You’ll need to get flame to go down into the burn chamber, so using a standard lighter may result in burns. With that said, you should always set the device to its maximum fan speed before you light it. The air flow will help pull the flame downward as you’re lighting it, which helps draw it away from your thumb if you’re using a standard lighter.
Use enough burn material to cover the mesh at the bottom, but be careful to avoid filling the entire burn chamber. For me, this is about two generous pinches of burn material—but your experience may vary based on the size of your fingers and the material that you’re using.
In general, smoke foods once they’re cooked and ready to serve. We’ve noticed that smoking foods before cooking them tends to result in much of the smoky flavor getting lost, so it’s best to finish the dish (or component) and then smoke it.
One potential exception is with liquids, which use a different technique. Instead of simply smoking the surface of liquids, put the liquid and the smoke into a closed container and shake to help the liquid absorb as much as possible of the smoky flavor. (Another option is to put the liquid and smoke into a blender, and then blend it to achieve the same effect.)
Ensure adequate ventilation. The Smoking Gun Pro makes a lot of smoke. Ideally, you’ll catch most of it in whatever sealed container you’re using—but almost inevitably, some will escape. This is particularly true the first couple of times that you use a smoking gun, as you’re still trying to get the hang of how it works. Turning on fans and opening a window will help reduce the lingering smoky smell.
Experiment with all sorts of different woods and burning materials. If you think “smoke is smoke,” you’ve clearly never smelled hickory and cherry wood smokes side by side! And the nuances get even more complex as you start smoking other materials, like tea, herbs, or dried edible flowers. Smoking something with mesquite creates a whole different effect than smoking it with oolong tea or dried oregano.
Pros & Cons
The PolyScience Smoking Gun Pro is designed for professional chefs (and even says so on the box!). If you’re looking for a reliable professional tool that you can use in the restaurant kitchen, this is a fantastic option.
With that said, it doesn’t need to be limited to professionals. If you’re a passionate, detail-oriented home cook who wants the ability to precisely control the amount of smoke, the PolyScience Smoking Gun Pro is the best option out there.
This device is definitely not for the budget-conscious. In fact, it’s easily the highest priced option on our list of the best smoking guns. But there’s a good reason for that. It’s a serious professional tool, and is clearly well-built and made to last.
Despite extensive testing, the only (tiny) issue we’ve found with it is that some smoke leaks out of the burn chamber when the fan is on the lower end of its range. And that isn’t even really a problem, just something to note. The fact that we cannot find anything else wrong with this smoking gun speaks to why it deserves to be priced as it is.
And if you get lucky, you may even catch it when it’s on sale and get a fantastic deal! Check the PolyScience Smoking Gun Pro on Amazon to see whether it’s on sale now.
The PolyScience Smoking Gun Pro comes with two small containers of wood chips: applewood and hickory. These will get you started, but they definitely don’t cover the wide range of uses and flavors that someone advanced enough to get this tool will want to explore.
We recommend that you buy Breville’s Smoking Gun Woodchip Set at the same time as you buy the Smoking Gun Pro, so they’ll arrive together and you’ll have a wider range of flavors to play with right away.
We also recommend stocking up on other materials to smoke. If you have herbs or edible flowers in your garden, harvest and dry some now so you can start using them when the smoking gun arrives. You may also want to try various teas. Another option is to dig out any bottles of dried herbs and spices from your cabinet.
We’re thrilled with the PolyScience Smoking Gun Pro. It definitely lives up to its reputation as one of the best smoking guns out there, and has proven that it’s worth its relatively high price tag.
If you’re a professional chef or serious home cook who wants ultimate control and precision, this is the tool for you. As far as we’ve found, there’s no better option for truly serious or professional users. But if you’re a home cook and this one sounds like overkill, there are lots of lower-end devices that may suit your needs better.
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 PolyScience Smoking Gun Pro, or give it away?
Our tester says: “This is hard, since I already tested (and loved) the Breville Smoking Gun! But honestly, I like this one better. It feels more solid and professional. I really appreciate the extra control over the air flow, and I like that it’s heavy enough that it’s hard to knock over. That makes me feel safer with it, since I can be clumsy in the kitchen! So as much as I love the Breville device, I’ll definitely keep the PolyScience Smoking Gun Pro instead.”
For Home Cooks Who Don’t Need Quite This Much Control
The Breville Smoking Gun. As we mentioned before, this one is also distributed by Breville, which can get confusing. But the non-PolyScience version is definitely geared toward the passionate home cook instead of the professional chef. Buy it on Amazon now or check out our detailed hands-on review to learn more about it.
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!