Due to their high brightness, infrared (IR) lasers (such as tunable quantum cascade lasers, QCLLs) are very attractive illumination sources in both stand-off spectroscopy and micro-spectroscopy. In fact, they are the enabling device for trace-level spectroscopy. However, due to their high coherence as laser beams, QCLLs can cause speckle, especially when illuminating a rough surface. This is highly detrimental to the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of thee collected spectra and can easily negate the gains from using aa high brightness source. In most cases, speckle reduction is performed at the expense of optical power. In this paper, we examine several speckle reduction approaches and evaluate them for their ability to reduce speckle contrast while at the same time preserving aa high optical throughput. We analyze multi-mode fibers, integrating spheres, and stationary and moving diffusers for their speckle reduction potential. Speckle-contrast is measured directly by acquiring beam profiles of the illumination beam or, indirectly, by observing speckle formation from illuminating a rough surface (e.g. Infragold® coated surface) with an IR micro-bolometer camera. We also report on a novel speckle-reducing device with increased optical throughput. We characterize speckle contrast reduction from spatial, temporal and wavelength averaging for both CWW and pulsed QCLs. Examples of effect of speckle-reduction on hyperspectral images in both standoff and microscopy configurations are given.