Best Smoke Infusers

Updated September 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

24 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
321 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best smoke infusers

Last Updated September 2019

If you’ve caught any cooking shows over the past couple of years, you’ve probably seen a smoke infuser. These handy gadgets offer an easy way to add a touch of smoke to everything from meats to cheeses to desserts … and even cocktails. Think of a smoke infuser as a smoking grill for those who don’t have access to a grill or don’t have time to fire one up.

Smoke infusers sell in a variety of sizes and shapes, so it’s best to have an idea of what you want before you buy. In this guide, we’ll introduce some of the features you need to know about. We’ll also explain the different types of wood chips you can use to make your meals more scrumptious and how much you should expect to spend to own the delight that is a smoke infuser.

Keep your smoke infuser in an airtight bag when not in use to keep it from smoking up your whole cupboard or drawer.

Smoke infuser 101: the basics

How does a smoke infuser work?

Operation is pretty simple for the majority of smoke infusers. You place wood chips in the burning or smoking chamber, light the chips, and turn it on. A fan will blow the smoke through a tube and onto your food.

One classic way to use your infuser is to place your cooked items on a serving plate under a glass dish, cup, or bowl. Fill the underside of the glass with smoke and let it sit for about five minutes. Bring the plate to the table, remove the glass to release the smoke, and impress your dinner guests.

When you first start using your smoke infuser, try it out with “lighter” woods such as apple, cherry, or maple. These will produce a milder smoke flavor, and you can decide from these results whether you want to move up to stronger flavors such as those created by hickory, oak, or mesquite. Your best bet is to buy chips in a fine grade so they fit in the burn basket. Anything larger, and you would need to do your own grinding to bring the chips down to size.

What are smoke infusers made of?

The majority of smoke infusers are made of plastic and metal. The more metal an infuser has, the more durable it will be. A smoke infuser with aluminum components will be lighter in weight than a smoke infuser with stainless steel components. Both stainless steel and aluminum aren’t prone to rust, but aluminum can corrode.

What can I burn in a smoke infuser?

You are held back only by your creativity here. Manufacturers recommend you use wood chips in their infusers, and you will find any number of woods available, although hickory, apple, mesquite, and cherry are some of the more popular.

You can also burn spices, herbs, teas, and even flowers in an infuser (check with the manufacturer before trying anything too exotic).

How is a smoke infuser powered?

Batteries are the power source of choice here. A mini-fan is the only part that really needs power, so your battery needs should be light (usually two to four AA batteries). Battery-powered infusers require no cords and are portable. When considering an infuser, check whether it ships with batteries or if you should add them to your initial cost.

Is a smoke infuser easy to use?

A smoke infuser should be quick to load (with both batteries and wood chips) and offer single-hand operation. It should assemble quickly when it first arrives and break down just as quickly for cleaning.

EXPERT TIP

Smoke infusers are the perfect solution for avid smokers who aren’t able to fire up their grills in the winter.


Staff  | BestReviews

Smoke infuser features

Controls: Some infusers provide you with a way to control the speed of the fan. This is often done via a knob which, when turned, can change the airflow going through the infuser and the smoke intensity on the receiving end. There should also be some way to turn the fan on and off.

Burn chamber: You don’t need a huge burn chamber to run an infuser, but it should be large enough to meet your needs and smoke the amount of food you need it to.

Smoke screens: These protect the fan and other infuser elements from the heat of the burn chamber. Screens can clog up over time and need replacing, so you should check whether the infuser ships with extras and also how easy it would be to find replacements down the road.

Stand: Some infusers ship with a stand, either as a separate part or built into the infuser. A stand will give you more stability when using the infuser.

Extender hose: With an extender hose, you can easily blow smoke to the right place. The longer the hose, the more versatility you will have with your infuser.

Other accessories: The smoke infuser you buy may ship with other extras. For example, it may come with wood chips. (If so, you may want to find out what amount and what type you’ll be getting). The majority include a manual and a recipe to start you off. It may be worth your time to find out if the product you order includes batteries or replacement smoke screens. Other accessories, such as a storage bag, cleaning brush, and dome cover, are nice to have but aren’t always included.

DID YOU KNOW?

Unlike with a smoker grill, you won’t need to soak your wood chips to use them in a smoke infuser.

Smoke infuser prices

Smoke infusers start around $20 and can range up to $150 or more. However, you will find the majority of them in the $20 to $40 range.

At higher price points, you can expect to find items that are more durable and possibly of a commercial-grade design. A bundle of accessories — batteries, wood chips, and so on — could also jack up the price. If you don’t want to pay for these extras, make sure you order a smoke infuser without them; it will save you money.

Also be aware of any warranty a manufacturer may offer to back up their product.

Tips

  • Use different types of wood chips to impart different flavors to foods and beverages. For example, hickory chips will leave meats with a smoky bacon flavor. Apple wood chips will impart a sweeter, fruitier essence.
  • Never use bits of charcoal with your infuser. Charcoal emits harmful fumes and should only be burned outdoors.
  • If your infuser did not ship with a dedicated cleaning brush, try a stiff-bristled toothbrush capable of reaching all areas of the burning chamber.
  • You can create your own inexpensive smoked salt by placing your favorite sea salt (we recommend Himalayan pink) in a sealed plastic bag. Fill the bag with smoke, seal the bag, and allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • While wood pellets are used quite a bit in grill smoking, infuser manufacturers largely do not recommend their use in smoke infusers.
  • One great way to infuse smoke into a sauce is by using a blender. Place the sauce in the blender, fill the remainder of the blender with smoke, and place the cap on. Run the blender until the smoke dissipates. Repeat if you want a stronger smoke flavor.
  • A light touch with an infuser is generally preferable to extended smoking sessions, particularly if you are using it with foods like cheese. If you leave soft foods in smoke too long, you will wind up with something tasting more like an ashtray and less like haute cuisine.

Cold smoke (like that produced by infusers) is recommended for use with foods that melt easily, such as cheese.

Other products we considered

With the wide variety of infusers available on the market, we’d like to point out a few more good ones. The Smoker Gun Infuser Set by Meva stands out for its accessories, including a dome cover and a cup lid for infusing liquids. It also has two smoke levels and a built-in stand. The TMKEFFC Portable Smoker has top-lighting for added stability and cleans up easily. Finally, we love the attractive design and ease of use of NutriChef’s Portable Mini Food Smoker. It is also lightweight and light on the wallet.

Smoke infusers generally do not come with an ignition system. Consider picking up a wand or butane (preferable) lighter so you can easily start your wood chips.

FAQ

Q. Can I use any kind of wood with my smoke infuser?
A.
Only use wood chips approved for use with smokers. The majority of lumber today is treated with various chemicals that are effective at preserving the wood but are terrible to flavor a meal with.

One classic way to use your infuser is to place your cooked items on a serving plate under a glass dish, cup, or bowl. Fill the underside of the glass with smoke and let it sit for about five minutes. Bring the plate to the table, remove the glass to release the smoke, and impress your dinner guests.

Q. Can I use a smoke infuser to smoke meats for an extended period of time?
A.
Not really. Infusers are more for single-use accent smoke, not continuous, deep smoke that you can achieve with a smoking grill. The burn chambers on infusers are compact, and the wood chips you place in them burn off fairly quickly.

Q. Is a smoke infuser easy to clean?
A.
The majority of infusers you can treat like a grill: when you’re finished using it, let it cool down, and then brush it clean. Some manufacturers claim that their infusers are dishwasher safe. Check the instructions for specific cleaning recommendations.

The team that worked on this review
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Rich
    Rich
    Writer

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