Cuisine Technology
A cook using a smoking gun to infuse flavor into food.

The 5 Best Smoking Guns for Cooking in 2020

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Smoke infusers (or smoking guns) give passionate home cooks a way to transform dishes into truly high-end, restaurant-worthy creations. They allow you to give your dishes beautifully smoky flavor without going through the hassle of actually using a full-sized smoker. They’re small and portable enough to use indoors, and offer enough control that you can deliver smoke exactly where you want it instead of accidentally smoking out your whole house. Plus they let you create that dramatic restaurant effect with smoke under a glass cloche, and who wouldn’t be impressed by that at your next dinner party?

There are quite a few viable options out there, but our absolute top pick for the best smoking gun is the PolyScience Breville Gun Pro Smoke Infuser. Equally suited for the professional chef or mixologist or the passionate home chef, this smoking gun is a joy to work with. One of its main selling points is its adjustable smoke intensity. This means you can choose exactly how smoky you want to make your food, instead of accidentally overpowering a delicate dish with too much smokiness. And while it’s not the cheapest option on our list, it’s incredibly reasonably priced for how excellent it is.


The Top 5 Best Smoking Guns for 2020


#1. PolyScience Breville Gun Pro Smoke Infuser

Best for: Discerning Home or Professional Chefs

The PolyScience Breville smoking gun easily takes the top place on our list. It’s designed for professional users, so you know you aren’t getting a poorly made or limited version designed for home cooks who don’t know any better. 

As mentioned above, it boasts a dial that allows you to delicately adjust airflow and smoke intensity. No more overpowering delicate dishes with smoke, or wishing you could coax more smoky flavor into your richer courses! As you read on in this list, you’ll discover that this is the only smoking gun we know of with this feature. Others are either not adjustable at all, or have two to three fixed settings. The precisely adjustable dial is unique to the PolyScience Breville option, and makes it really stand apart from the crowd.

This higher-end smoker feels sturdy and well-built in your hand. You’ll definitely know that you have a quality product that’s built to last. And as an added bonus, PolyScience is known for its high-end culinary technology devices, so you’re also getting the assurance of a brand that really knows what it’s doing.

Note: you can buy either the base version, or a version that comes with a cloche and wood chips. We recommend buying the base version and getting your accessories separately to save some money.

Specs and features:

  • Hose: 17.5”
  • Dishwasher-safe components? Yes
  • Adjustable airflow and/or smoke intensity: Yes
  • Batteries included? Yes
Pros
  • Adjustable dial for smoke intensity and airflow
  • Toolless disassembly makes the necessary cleaning less of a chore, as do the dishwasher-safe burn chamber and smoking barrel
  • Batteries and sample wood chips included
Cons
  • More expensive than other options on this list (but worth it!)
  • The adjusting dial may take some practice to get used to, but allows for exceptional control once you do

#2. Homia Smoking Gun Wood Smoke Infuser Extended Plus Kit

Best for: Comprehensive Starting Kit

When I get a new toy for the kitchen, I want to play with it by testing it out on everything I can think of right away. Are you the same way? If so, you’ll love the Homia Smoking Gun Wood Smoke Infuser Extended Plus Kit. It’s by far the most comprehensive starting kit we’ve found. You won’t need to run around looking for batteries, wood chips, or an appropriate smoking container, because this one has them all.

This 14-piece set includes not only the smoking gun itself, but also samples of 7 wood varieties, a smoking dome, a disk lid for other containers, a cleaning brush, and even a cocktail ball. Just decide what food you want to smoke, and get started as soon as it arrives!

We also love that this smoke infuser has two settings: normal and high. While it’s not as versatile as our top pick, it’s great to have more than one option so that you have extra control over the smokiness of your final dish.

Bonus: we reached out to several companies on this list to clarify specific points about their products, and the Homia team was the fastest to respond. Their great communication makes us even more confident in recommending their product.

Specs and Features:

  • Hose: 23.6”
  • Dishwasher-safe components? Yes
  • Adjustable airflow and/or smoke intensity: Yes
  • Batteries included? Yes
Pros
  • Comes with everything you need to get started right away
  • Two smoke settings (normal and high) with one easy button
  • The above-average length of the hose allows more freedom
Cons
  • Some of the included accessories may not be the best quality; be prepared to replace them eventually

#3. TMKEFFC Smoking Gun Food Smoker Set

Best for: Beginning Users Looking for a Bargain

Are you curious about smoke infusers, but not yet ready to commit to buying a professional-level one? If so, dip your toes in the water with this more affordable version of a starter kit.

The TMKEFFC (“To Make Every Friends Feel Cool”) smoking gun is designed to make it as easy as possible for you to get into infusing your home dishes with smoky deliciousness even if you’re on a strict budget. It comes with a resin dome, a cup cover, and the tools to allow you to create more smoking containers. This saves you even more money because you won’t need to buy these extra accessories.

We particularly like the design, which is distinctly different than most other smoking guns on our list. This one keeps the wood chips tucked away in a separate chamber in the middle of the column.

For a product that’s designed to appeal to home users and work straight out of the box, it’s a shame that it doesn’t come with the necessary batteries or wood chips. Be sure you have your own wood chips and four AA batteries on hand already if you want to use it as soon as it arrives. Other than that, this is a fantastic set that will get you going quickly, and for an incredibly reasonable price.

Specs and features:

  • Hose: 9.8”
  • Dishwasher-safe components? Yes
  • Adjustable airflow and/or smoke intensity: No
  • Batteries included? No
Pros
  • Very affordable, and great quality for the price
  • Includes more accessories than most
  • Easily portable and nicely compact
Cons
  • Batteries and wood chips not included

#4. COSTWAY 2-in-1 Food Smoker Gun

Best for: Users on the Go and Sous Vide Fans

The COSTWAY 2-in-1 Food Smoker Gun is unique on our list for its inclusion of a vacuum function. Since you’re passionate enough about excellent home cooking to want a smoking gun, you’re probably a sous vide fan as well! If so, and you don’t already have a vacuum, this may serve you well. (It’s important to note that the vacuum is designed for food storage rather than sous vide, so the included vacuum bags may not be sous-vide-appropriate.)

We’ve reached out to the company and been informed that the vacuum pump works with other bags, including Ziploc brand bags as well as bags specifically made for sous vide cooking. In other words, it’s not limited to a certain type of bag such as the ones included with the smoker gun.

We also love that this option has three smoke settings. While it’s not as precisely adjustable as the PolyScience Breville Gun Pro Smoke Infuser, it still gives you extra control over the final smoke level of your food. And the USB-charged lithium battery can last for up to 20 hours of smoking time, making it easy to take this device on the go with you.

Be aware that this product is not (yet!) available in California due to the state’s Prop 65, a right-to-know law that requires manufacturers to label products listing the chemicals in the product that may cause birth defects or cancer. We had some concerns about why COSTWAY would rather lose out on California sales than comply with this law, so we inquired with a company representative.

We were reassured by the response that they intend to make the product available in California, and “this product is being queued up to be labeled with the Prop 65 warning sticker for CA customers.” So if you live in the Golden State, you may need to wait a little longer, but soon this fantastic two-in-one product will be available to you too.

Specs and Features:

  • Hose: 22”
  • Dishwasher-safe components? No
  • Adjustable airflow and/or smoke intensity: No
  • Batteries included? Yes
Pros
  • Includes vacuum sealer functionality and accessories
  • USB recharging battery very convenient for portable usage
  • Three smoke settings (slow, normal, fast)
Cons
  • Not yet available in California due to labeling laws

#5. Kaven Smoking Gun

Best for: Extreme Budget Buyers

Let’s start off honestly: the Kaven Smoking Gun is by far the most affordable option on this list, and there’s a reason for that. If you’re a casual user who wants to try out smoking on a whim but probably won’t do it more than a couple of times, or someone on an extremely tight budget, you may find that this is the best option for you.

While this smoker definitely can’t compete with our other recommendations in terms of quality, it earns a place on our list for its sheer affordability. This is a fantastic choice if you’re buying it for one specific event or to see whether you like smoking guns before you invest in a better one.

One of our main concerns with this product is that the brand (Kaven) seems nonexistent; we can’t find any mention of it except in regards to this specific product. This lack of brand name accountability gives us some concerns over whether the implied warranty of the “[Worry Free 2-Years!]” would actually be obtainable. We tried to get in touch with them to inquire further, but were unable to find any way to contact Kaven.

In short, we recommend this product only if budget is your primary concern and you’re not concerned about customer support from the company or serious quality. If you can afford a better option from our list, go for that one instead. Once you factor in the price of accessories, the Homia Smoking Gun Wood Smoke Infuser Extended Plus Kit may even be a better deal overall. The Kaven Smoking Gun is listed here only as the best ultra-budget option, not because we love the product itself.

Specs and Features:

  • Hose: unknown
  • Dishwasher-safe components? No
  • Adjustable airflow and/or smoke intensity: No
  • Batteries included? No
Pros
  • Extremely affordable
  • Fairly durable despite the price (with proper maintenance)
  • Very easy to clean
Cons
  • Doesn’t include any accessories
  • Limited functionality
  • Seemingly made by a nonexistent company, so don’t expect much customer support

What Is a Smoking Gun or Smoke Infuser? Why Do You Need One?

A hint of smokiness can be the difference between “good” and “breathtaking” in certain dishes, but a full-sized smoker is impractical for many uses. Liquid smoke can work in some applications, but it’s painfully easy to use too much and end up with an inedibly acrid final dish.

So what’s the solution for passionate and creative home cooks? A smoking gun or smoke infuser! These relatively small devices allow you to create smoke at home by burning small wood chips of specific varieties. (Use wood chips specifically made for this purpose, as large wood chips can be too big and you need to make sure the wood is safe for food.) The smoke then travels through a tube into a container holding your food, which absorbs the smokiness and gains that extra dimension of flavor.

If you’re ready to really take your home cooking to the next level, it’s hard to beat a smoke gun. Use it for everything from the obvious (meats and cheese) to the creative (purees and drinks).


The Different Types of Smoking Guns

Most smoking guns are fairly similar in both form and function. Your standard device has a chamber for wood chips, a fan, and a hose that transports the smoke to your container of choice.

What sets some apart from others—besides quality, of course—is primarily whether you can control the airflow and smoke intensity. Your most basic smoking guns at the lower end of the price range typically don’t include this feature. As you move up in quality, some will offer two to three settings.

Our top pick, the PolyScience Breville Gun Pro Smoke Infuser, has a dial that lets you precisely control the smoke. While it may take some getting used to at first, the slight initial challenge is absolutely worth it to have such flexibility.

Another unique feature to consider as you decide on your device is whether you want a vacuum function as well. This isn’t a common option in a smoke infuser, but the COSTWAY 2-in-1 Food Smoker Gun goes above and beyond by adding it. If you were considering getting a vacuum too, you may find that this product fills both needs.


The Benefits of Using a Smoking Gun:

  • Add real smoke flavor to your culinary creations. You can choose what type of wood you use based on how it complements what you’re cooking, so the possibilities are incredible.
  • Infuse your fancy drinks with smoke to create breathtaking mixologist-worthy cocktails at home.
  • Create elegant visual effects. After all, we eat with our eyes first, right? A smoke infuser lets you fill a cloche (or glass hood) with smoke before serving a dish, so it can dramatically float out as you or your guests lift the cloche off.
  • Get all the joys of smoky flavor without the need for a full-sized smoker (or the risk of adding just a couple drops too much liquid smoke and accidentally ruining your entire dish).
  • Enjoy the portability of a relatively small device. Whether you’re going to a friend’s party and want to make unique cocktails or cooking an elegant dinner for a loved one during a romantic weekend away, your smoking gun can easily come with you.

What to Look For in a Good Smoke Infuser

First and foremost, look for a smoke infuser that’s easy to clean! One common reason that these devices start to malfunction (or even stop working completely) is that they’re not cleaned often enough. Ideally, you should clean your smoking gun after every single use. This means it’s incredibly important to choose one that’s easy to clean. We love the PolyScience Breville Gun Pro Smoke Infuser for having dishwasher-safe components to make cleanup as easy as possible.

Decide what kind of power source you prefer. Most options are powered by AA batteries. However, the COSTWAY 2-in-1 Food Smoker Gun uses a rechargeable lithium battery with a USB plug. If you’re not someone who tends to keep batteries around the house, this may be a better option for you.


Conclusion 

No modern kitchen of a passionate home chef is complete without the ability to add smokiness to various dishes and drinks. Instead of relying on solutions like adding smoked paprika to everything or trying to drip in just the right amount of liquid smoke, invest in a smoking gun. The variety of woods available for smoking (each of which has its own unique flavor) means that a smoking gun will open up thousands of doors for new experiments. 

Our top pick is the fantastic PolyScience Breville Gun Pro Smoke Infuser. This tool is good enough for the professionals but straightforward enough to use at home. It’s our favorite for its high-quality construction, reliability, and especially its adjustable airflow and smoke intensity. Most other smoking guns have one to three settings, but this one’s dial gives you unparalleled control and precision with the level of smoke you want to use.