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There’s something gleefully primal about using a kitchen torch. And though its use seems limited to making crème brûlée, making it seem like a unitasker piece of equipment, the ability to apply direct hot heat to a food surface makes it versatile. The options are limitless, from caramelizing sugar (like the aforementioned crème brûlée) to searing sous-vide steaks to toasting marshmallows and meringues to charring vegetables. Direct heat via a targeted flame means you don’t ever have to stick your lemon meringue pie under the broiler and hope that the sides of the pie get brown before the top turns charcoal black.
But finding the right kitchen torch can be a challenge. Pastry Chef Rick Griggs of Taste Catering in San Francisco prefers the power of a propane torch, which is much faster than any butane torch, often wielding one in both hands as he worked his pastry line. Shauna Sever, baker and author of Midwest Made, recommends using a powerful and flexible torch, one that could be found on the shelves of a hardware store instead of a kitchen store. I took their recommendations into mind when I tested 6 popular kitchen torches in my own kitchen. I assessed each on ease of use and the power of the flame.
Regardless of whether you’re in a restaurant, a tiny studio apartment, have children running around, or are love the idea of having a torch that can weld metal together, I’ve compiled a list of the best kitchen torches for any lifestyle.
Best Overall: Iwatani International PRO2 Culinary Butane Torch
What We Love: Adjustable knobs control the shape and power of flame, detachable head makes it very portable and safe, affordable
What We Don’t Love: Needs a specific canister
Unlike other butane-powered kitchen torches, the Iwatani torch is actually just the torch head, which attaches directly to a butane canister. Attaching directly to a short-nozzle style butane canister, sold separately, means you don’t have to worry about refilling the gas every time you use the torch. This also means you do have to find the right sort of butane canister to attach to, but in the long run, it’s a cheaper torch to use, and easier and safer to bring with you if you go camping or want to travel with it.
The PRO2 torch has an output just shy of 6300 BTUs, the equivalent of 2700 degrees, strong enough to weld some metal! But Japanese brand Iwatani is known for its precision and quality products. This culinary torch has two adjustment knobs that allow you to adjust flame size as well as flame shape, a feature lacking in a lot of other kitchen torches. When I tested this, I found the one-touch piezo ignition is easy to use, and the included stabilizing plate means you can safely place the canister down on the table once you’re done or remove the torch head and have a place to put it as well. This caramelized marshmallows evenly and did not leave any fuel taste.
With all the features, a powerful output, and a reasonable price, it’s often the choice of restaurant professionals and is now my go-to torch in the kitchen!
Fuel Type: Butane | Dimensions: 17.8 x 7.6 x 3.8 inches | Highest Temperature: 2,700 degrees F
Best Compact: Jo Chef Superior RX Kitchen Torch
What We Love: Small and lightweight, fuel window, features prevent accidental ignition
What We Don’t Love: No finger guard, refueling can be a little cumbersome
Don’t let the small size of the Jo Chef Superior RX fool you. This powerful torch gets up to 2350 degrees while fitting comfortably in most average-sized hands. Despite being small and lightweight, the torch feels like it’s made out of solid heavy-duty material, never feeling like a cheap toy but rather a small compact professional tool.
The Superior RX has a safety lock, a positive for any household with curious kids. It also requires you to twist the flame adjustment knob all the way to the open position before igniting, making it difficult to turn on by accident. The flame adjustment knob allows you to customize the length and power of the flame. During testing, the torch caramelized the marshmallow just fine without any gasoline taste. I would definitely recommend reducing the gas to the middle since the full-strength flame is pretty powerful. You get more control with a less powerful flame.
Additionally, the fuel window on the side lets you know how much fuel you have in the torch. This is a nice touch when you’re making a time-sensitive dish and you want to ensure you can torch or sear it right away.
Fuel Type: Butane | Dimensions: 1.8 x 5.3 x 7.4 inches | Highest Temperature: 2,370 degrees F
Best Budget: Spicy Dew Blow Torch
What We Love: Intuitive to use, child safety lock, built-in flared base, best for beginners
What We Don’t Love: Hand guard is awkwardly placed, no continuous on function, slightly clunky-looking
With its bright green knobs and accents, the Spicy Dew professional blow torch is one of the more user-friendly torches available. Even if you’ve never used a kitchen torch in your life, the intuitive torch trigger, the green easy-to-find knob at the top to adjust the flame, and the hand guard under the torch neck mean you can safely start making crème brûlée at home like a pro.
The Spicy Dew torch also comes with a child-lock button, so you don’t have to worry about your children hurting themselves. And there's a built-in wide base so you aren’t worried about placing it on a countertop or table. The fuel window on the side of the torch shows you just how much fuel you have in the torch, so you can refuel before making a showstopper dessert.
When I tested this, I determined it's especially good for beginners. Filling the butane was easy though the control knob was a little awkward. Caramelizing marshmallows was easy to do and left no gasoline or fuel taste. However, adjusting the torch power is a little awkward as it requires both hands, and the placement of the knob, though easy to access, is a little uncomfortable.
Fuel Type: Butane | Dimensions: 8 x 2 x 6 inches | Highest Temperature: 2,372 degrees F
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Best Propane: Bernzomatic TS8000 - High Intensity Trigger Start Torch
What We Love: Powerful continuous flame, fuel-efficient, surprisingly precise for size
What We Don’t Love: Not for beginners, requires propane tank, only has a continue on option, no trigger on feature
Professional chefs consistently cite the Bernzomatic as their go-to choice for kitchen torches due to its power and versatility. But it’s not for novices. The Bernzomatic TS8000 is a torch head that you attach to a propane tank, which are often large and a little unwieldy. It’s a solid cast aluminum torch head that is designed for industrial use, such as soldering and light welding, but it also works beautifully in the kitchen. The precision flame control knob allows you to adjust the size for different uses, whether it’s torching a crème brûlée, lightly browning a meringue top, or searing a sous vide steak.
When I tested this, I found attaching the torch head is easy and the torch lights consistently and immediately. Controlling the flame is also fairly easy, with almost no learning curve. The torch definitely browned marshmallows easily, though I recommend bringing the torch flame down a bit for delicate marshmallows and meringue. After all my experiments, I found this to be a great torch. I can see why restaurants and professionals use this! It's very powerful and very versatile. My only complaint is it's really big!
For some folks, the high output or the need for a propane tank may be overkill, especially if the torch is used infrequently. For enthusiastic cooks and bakers that love the power, the precise, pressure-regulated flow of gas, which yields a consistent flame when tilted at most angles, the Bernzomatic TS800 is the best choice.
Fuel Type: Propane | Dimensions: 1.9 x 5.25 x 12.25 inches | Highest Temperature: 3,650 degrees F
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Best for Safety Features: EurKitchen Premium Culinary Butane Torch with Safety Lock
What We Love: Angled torch neck and finger guard to protect your hand, double redundancy safety
What We Don’t Love: Continuous flame, no trigger on feature
The EurKitchen culinary torch comes with multiple safety features. The torch has a safety lock, as well as a user-friendly rear knob for adjusting the flame and gas flow. It also features a finger guard that keeps your hand away from the flame. The flame neck is angled up and away from your hand, unlike other torches that are at a right angle, closer to your hand. And there’s a built-in base so you don’t have to worry about finding a base to put your torch on when you’re finished with it.
What makes this torch a little more unique is the lack of a trigger. To turn the torch on, you have to release the safety lock, turn the gas flow knob on completely, and ignite the torch by pressing the ignition button on the back of the torch. Though this sounds complicated, all the buttons and nobs are there, keeping your hand away from the front, where the flame is. Though there is no trigger, which means the torch is on continuously, you never have to get near the flame to use this torch, making this one of the safer to use torches on the market.
I also liked was how easy it was to refuel and to control the flame while testing. It performed well when I carmelized a few marshmallows, with no fuel taste in the confectionary. All in all, this was my second favorite butane kitchen torch. I only wish I had ordered the version with the fuel window
Fuel Type: Butane | Dimensions: 4.7 x 2.3 x 7.7 inches | Highest Temperature: 2,370 degrees F
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Though you can’t go wrong with any of the torches on this list, I picked the Iwatani torch for its reasonable price, easy storage, and adjustable flame size AND shape, a feature that few other torches have. If you want a refillable torch with lots of safety features, the EurKitchen Premium Culinary Butane Torch with Safety Lock deserves a place in your kitchen.
What Are the Other Options?
Sondiko Butane Torch: In an effort to find the best budget pick, I tested this Sondiko torch. It's reasonably priced and has a number of features that even some more expensive torches don't have. But while I was testing it, I found controlling the flame to be cumbersome and some might have issues filling the canister. As I browned some marshmallows, this felt smaller and less substantial than any of the other torches. If you're on a strict budget, the Spicy Dew Blow Torch will serve you better.
How We Tested
Our tester and writer Irvin Lin sifted through dozens of highly-rated kitchen torches, closely looking at consumer reviews and available manufacturer information, to choose his top picks. We then purchased these products for Irvin so he could put them to the test in his home kitchen. First, he filled each torch with fuel. He assessed the safety features and comfortability of the grip. Then, he used it to carmelize marshmallows to test the accuracy and power of the flame.
After testing, Irvin submitted feedback about what he liked and didn’t like about each product and rated each one on the following features: Design, Performance, Capacity, and Overall Value. Learn more about how we test products.
What to Look for When Buying a Kitchen Torch
Refillable vs. Detachable
Kitchen torches most come in two styles: refillable torches where you add butane fuel to the body of the torch or a detachable head that you attach directly to the fuel tank. Both are great options. The detachable head is an excellent choice for portability and storage. It is often more reasonably priced as well, as the consumable fuel tanks are cheaper and frequently more powerful than refillable torches. However, you do need to find specific styles of fuel tanks for detachable head torches. Refillable torches are great for convenience, as you just fill the tank and use it when you want to. Butane fuel tanks that are needed for refillable torches are easier to find than the short nozzle version, so there’s no need to track down special tanks of fuel.
Capacity and Size
Most refillable torches are roughly the same size, though some are smaller, which is nice for storage. Smaller-sized torches also mean you have to refill the torch more often as they don’t hold as much fuel. How often you need to refuel the torch is dependent on how often you use it. But most tanks will hold enough fuel when filled to capacity for 30 to 45 minutes of use.
Keep in mind that the physical size of the torch often doesn’t correlate to the power of the torch though! So, take into account how much storage space you have, as well as how often you use your torch when selecting the size of the torch. Also, keep in mind that smaller torches often mean you are closer to the flame output. If you’re tentative about using a kitchen torch, you may actually want a slightly bigger one, so you can keep your hand away from the flame
Basic common sense is needed whenever you use a kitchen torch, including pointing the flame away from a person when lighting it, never touching the flame or torch neck with your hands, and making sure to turn the gas flow off when you are done, letting the torch cool completely before storing it away.
Beyond being cautious, there are various different safety mechanisms that can be included in kitchen torches. What safety measure you need on the torch will depend on how comfortable you are with an open flame or if you have children in your household. Some torches come with a childproof lock on them, while others require you to not only switch off the lock but also turn the gas flow all the way on to ignite the flame. Some torches will only stay on if you pull down on the trigger, while other torches have a “continuous on” feature that lets you use it with ease for large projects.
How do you fill a kitchen torch with butane?
If your butane torch is the type that needs to be filled, you will need to purchase a long nozzle butane fuel canister. The long nozzle is often referred to as a “Universal Tip” and can easily be purchased online (if your state allows shipping of butane) or a hardware store.
Most likely you will need to flip the torch upside down. On the bottom of the torch will be a small hole that you insert the butane fuel canister nozzle into. Press hard on the nozzle inserted into the hole and the fuel will flow into the torch reserve tank. Make sure to turn the torch right side up, and then let the torch sit for 5 to 10 minutes for the fuel to settle before using the torch.
If you have a butane torch head, like the Iwatani torch, you will need to purchase a butane canister with a short nozzle. These canisters are used for portable gas burners and often have a notched collar which helps align the torch head to the canister.
What kind of recipes can you use a kitchen torch on?
The classic recipe for kitchen torches that most folks think of is crème brûlée's caramelized sugar topping. But the kitchen torch is a versatile piece of equipment. Use it to sear a steak after it has been sous vide or toast the meringue topping of a lemon meringue pie. It can also be used for a baked Alaska, roasting a bell pepper's skin, brûléeing a grapefruit, toasting marshmallows, and melting cheese over French onion soup.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
This article is written by Irvin Lin, a cookbook author of "Marbled, Swirled, and Layered" and an ongoing contributor to Simply Recipes. He runs his own blog Eat the Love, is a professional recipe developer, photographer, writer and ceramic potter. He plays with flames all the time, both in his own kitchen and in the ceramic studio, where he uses torches to dry out his greenware and fires his final glazed ceramic ware in a gas kiln to approximately 2350 degrees F.
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