The best cooking torch
Accomplished home chefs are always looking for ways to up their game in the kitchen. While there are plenty of cool kitchen tools that can help you perfect certain dishes, few feel quite as impressive as a cooking torch. This handheld tool uses butane to produce a hot flame that's extremely focused, so you can target specific areas of a dish without cooking it further or heating the dish all the way through. Use your cooking torch to caramelize the top of crème brûlée, brown meringue, melt marshmallows, roast tomatoes and peppers, sear the exterior of a piece of meat, and melt cheese on top of casseroles or nachos.
Our buying guide is packed with all the information you need to find the best cooking torch for your kitchen. We've also included some specific recommendations, like our top choice from Iwatani, which allows you to adjust the size and shape of the flame to concentrate it exactly where you need it.
Considerations when choosing cooking torches
Type of torch
You can choose from two main types of cooking torches: torch-head cooking torches and cooking torches with built-in fuel tanks.
A torch-head cooking torch attaches directly to a butane tank, so you never have to refill the tank. Instead, you swap out an empty tank for a new one when the gas runs out. You get more fuel because an individual butane tank is larger than the tank included with other torches. A torch-head cooking torch doesn't have a handle, so it can be more difficult to hold the larger tank when you're using the torch.
A cooking torch with a built-in fuel tank has a head that's attached to a base with a built-in fuel tank. It has a slim, compact design that makes the torch easier to handle, and the built-in fuel tank means you never have to worry that the head is compatible with the fuel canister. You do have to keep butane around to refill the tank when the fuel runs out, which can get messy if there are spills.
Many home cooks are intimidated by cooking torches because of the danger posed by working with an open flame. It's crucial to choose a torch with key safety features that can help you feel more secure. Some safety features to look for include:
A safety lock, which locks the torch so your children won't pick up the torch and accidentally turn it on.
A heat shield to keep your fingers from getting too hot when they're in the vicinity of the flame.
A flame guard to keep the torch's flame from flaring when you're making adjustments.
A well-designed aluminum or stainless steel nozzle, which limits the risk of the nozzle overheating and becoming a fire risk.
When you're using a tool that emits a high-heat flame, you definitely want to have a good grip on it. Look for a cooking torch with a solid, comfortable handle that allows you to grip it firmly, so it won't slip out of your hand as you're caramelizing your crème brûlée.
Not every recipe necessarily needs the same type of flame. A high-quality kitchen torch lets you adjust the size and/or shape of the flame so you can get it just right. Most torches have a dial or knob on the flame tube to easily make the adjustment.
A cooking torch's overall burn time is the amount of time you're able to continuously operate it. The majority of torches have an overall burn time of 30 minutes, but you can find some models that go all the way up to two hours.
Some cooking torches have a fuel gauge that allows you to see just how much fuel is inside. This means you'll never run out when you're in the middle of making a meal.
Cooking torches cost between $15 to more than $30. A basic torch with a smaller fuel tank can range from $15 to $20, while a larger torch with some extra features may set you back $20 to $30. If you want a professional-grade cooking torch, you can pay more than $30.
Q. Is it safe to use a cooking torch?
A. A cooking torch can be dangerous because it features an open flame. If you follow the proper usage guidelines, you shouldn't have any issues. Always keep the torch away from children and flammable materials.
Q. Do all cooking torches run on butane?
A. Most cooking torches use butane as fuel, but some models use propane.
Cooking torches we recommend
Best of the best: Iwatani's PRO2 Culinary Butane Torch
Our take: An excellent kitchen torch that's compatible with nearly any butane tank and allows you to adjust the shape and size of the flame.
What we like: Nozzle connects to any butane canister. User-friendly controls make it easy to turn the torch on and off. Adjustability allows you to control the air and fuel levels to adjust the intensity and concentration of the flame. Offers a one-year warranty.
What we dislike: Some buyers have experienced issues with the igniter breaking.
Best bang for your buck: EurKitchen's Butane Culinary Kitchen Torch
Our take: A kitchen tool made with safety in mind that's well-suited for those new to using a culinary torch, while still offering enough control for experienced users to appreciate.
What we like: Has a slim, compact design for easy storage. Refilling the tank is easy. Features a safety lock to prevent accidents and fuel leakage. Gas flow regulator dial makes it easy to adjust the flame to suit your needs. Finger guard prevents burns and heat exposure.
What we dislike: Lighting the torch can be difficult.
Choice 3: Rösle's Adjustable Kitchen Torch
Our take: A German-made kitchen torch that works well for a variety of recipes and dishes.
What we like: Flame is steady and consistent. Offers key safety features like a child-resistant safety switch. Provides up to 60 minutes of continuous flame. Allows for one-handed operation. Boasts an outstanding lifetime warranty.
What we dislike: Some buyers have issues with leaking. Fuel tank is small, so it requires frequent refills.
Jennifer Blair is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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