Savu Smoker Bags are disposable aluminum bags that allow cooks to smoke foods in an oven or on a stovetop. You have a choice of hickory chips or milder alder wood, and reviewers say you'll get a nice smoky flavor with no cleanup required. Just don't expect the results to compare with meat that's been slowly smoked in a high-quality, standalone smoker. One expert says the bag creates a steaming effect, resulting in chicken skin that isn't crisp and ribs that are chewy compared with true standalone smokers. Little smoke escapes the bag, and we saw only one complaint about a faint smokiness lingering in the kitchen. At a little more than $3 to $4 per bag, though, your costs will add up over time, especially if you use the bags frequently. Though the initial cost is higher, the 18.5-inch Weber Smokey Mountain (*Est. $300 for 18.5-inch size), the best reasonably priced charcoal smoker overall in reviews, will save you money in the long run -- if owning one is feasible. For apartment dwellers, the Savu bags are a nearly ideal solution.
Cook's Illustrated magazine compares the disposable Savu Smoker Bags to two reusable indoor smokers, though the review doesn't compare Savu bags to other smoker bags, such as those sold by Cameron (including its Emeril Lagasse line). We also found worthy reviews at TheNibble.com, About.com and The New York Times, but they don't offer direct comparisons with similar products, either. About a dozen owners post reviews at Amazon.com.
1. Cook's Illustrated Magazine
Cook's Illustrated magazine editors review three indoor smokers, including the Savu Smoker Bags. Although the frame of reference is small and the reviews are very brief, they are based on solid, unbiased testing. You'll have to subscribe to Cook's Illustrated magazine online to see the full results, though you can get a 14-day free trial membership.
Review: Indoor Smokers, Editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine, Jan. 2006
Editors praise the Savu Smoker Bags as a convenient, easy way to prepare a meal. However, this uncritical article is more of a product description than a hands-on test, and there's no indication that the Savu bags were tested objectively.
Review: Savu Smoker Bags: Simply Smokin', Editors of TheNibble.com, July 2008
About.com's guide to barbecues and grilling notes that while the Savu Smoker Bags impart a smoky flavor, chicken skin will not crisp because meat tends to steam inside the bag, and ribs came out a bit chewy. A reader comment suggests that you brown the meat first, then put it in the smoker bag -- that way it will be crisp on the outside. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: Savu Smoker Bags, Derrick Riches, Feb. 2007
4. The New York Times
This is an older review, and Savu has since begun marketing a smoker bag that uses hickory chips -- this report discusses only the bag that uses milder alder chips. Reviewer Amanda Hesser says the flavor is good, but following the included recipes resulted in overcooked food.
Review: Test Kitchen: Smoke Gets in Your Meat, Not in Your Eyes, Amanda Hesser, Sept. 1999
Only about a dozen owners review Savu Smoker Bags, and they give the bags mixed reviews, with an average rating of 3.3 out of 5. A couple of people complain that their houses smelled like smoke; others say food cooked in one of the bags did not taste smoked, or was otherwise not very tasty. A majority are satisfied overall, however.
Review: Savu Smoker Bag for the Oven and Grill, Contributors to Amazon.com