Ways To Use A Smoking Gun

Summer may have come and gone, but just because your grill's in hibernation doesn't mean you have to do without the flavor of charcoal flames for the rest of the year. Enter the smoking gun—a handheld gadget that's equal parts dinnertime special effects show and clever way to finish your food with a taste of the Weber without, well, the Weber. 

Though you're probably accustomed to seeing it used by Grant Achatz-level chefs in Michelin-starred kitchens, this handy tool, which uses a tiny fan to literally blow smoke into your food, is surprisingly accessible (and versatile) for everyday cooking. Here are five clever tricks to convince you this high-tech gizmo isn't all just smoke and mirrors.

① Shake Up Extra-Sultry Cocktails

Bolster the naturally oaky flavor in your favorite whiskey or mescal by smoking your cocktails, whether it's your after-dinner old-fashioned or brunchtime Bloody Mary. You can even try smoking your water before freezing ice cubes to accent your boozy drinks.

② DIY Smoked Salt

Simply seal kosher or flaky sea salt in a plastic bag before inserting the smoking gun's nozzle for homemade smoked sea salt that doesn't cost a premium.

③ Make Your Own Smoked Cheeses

Gouda might be the most popular cheese to get the smoker treatment, but since these guns use cold smoke, you can flavor softer cheeses like goat or ricotta that otherwise wouldn't hold up to the real smoking process. Put that in your grilled cheese and smoke it. 

④ Give Popcorn a Campfire Twist

The next time the weather has you barricaded indoors for a movie marathon, try infusing your popcorn—even if it's just the microwaved stuff. Bonus points if you season it with that homemade smoked salt.

⑤ Try Using Herbs and Spices

You don't just have to use wood chips in your smoking gun—herbs such as rosemary or dried spices can be used to finish your food with a breath of aromatic flavor.