The 7 Best Kitchen Torches, According to a Chef (2024)

A culinary torch is a kitchen tool that you will love to use the second you add it to your arsenal. These humble, butane-fueled gadgets can create a steady, hot flame that you can use to caramelize sugar on a crème brûlée, torch marshmallows, sear steaks and other proteins, scorch meringues, melt cheese, roast peppers, and so much more.

Worried about holding such a powerful flame right in the palm of your hand? There’s no need to be nervous—these torches are all designed with an anti-flare safety mechanism that ensures the flame won’t come anywhere near your hands. Different models offer a range of maximum temperatures, flame strength, and usability, so you should definitely have an idea of what you plan to use this torch for before you buy one.

What to Look for in a Kitchen Torch

Refillable Canisters vs. Torch Heads

Most torches are either a refillable canister or a torch head. The former are smaller and less bulky, making them a great option for beginners. Torches with refillable canisters have a small amount of butane in the handle and can be refilled from a separate butane canister. It’s always helpful when the refillable canister models show you how much butane is left so that you know when it’s time to refill. If you’re using the torch frequently, it can become somewhat annoying to constantly refill, but for the occasional torching, these refillable canisters are great.

Torch heads are screwed onto canisters, which means it’s simpler to refill because the gas is coming directly from the source, as opposed to refilling a smaller canister. That said, this setup does require holding the entire canister as you use it, which can prove more difficult for inexperienced cooks. Torch heads and refillable canisters are roughly the same size, but you need to keep in mind that when you’re using a torch head, you’ll also have the entire canister attached, which can be larger and bulky. Torch heads are typically the version that you’ll find in professional kitchens as they’re more efficient, they outlast refillable canisters, and they’re more powerful.

Fuel Source

Always keep in mind with these torches that there needs to be a fuel source. In some instances, the fuel is included, but not always. Make sure to read the directions thoroughly so that you know exactly what kind of fuel to buy for your device. Some torches require proprietary fuel, so make sure you have some when you plan to use it.

What We Like

  • Torch head is directly attached to fuel source

  • Inexpensive, yet still high-quality

  • Adjustable flame size and shape

What We Don't Like

  • Need to buy the brand’s fuel tanks

Iwatani is a classic Japanese brand known for its high-quality torches and attention to detail. This torch head connects directly to the fuel source, though you’ll need to purchase the brand's proprietary butane canisters separately. Each canister will get you about 100 minutes of burn time, which is plenty of fuel for the average home cook.

If you want to customize the flame, there are controls that allow you to adjust the size and shape of the flame at all times. Reviewers love the consistent and powerful strength of this flame. Because the fuel source is directly attached to the head, you don’t need to worry about constantly refilling or the flame weakening. Speaking of fuel, however, the torch does require Iwatani-specific fuel tanks.

Fuel Type: Butane | Max Temperature: 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit | Weight: 5.92 ounces

What We Like

  • Comfortable to hold

  • Safety lock

  • Adjustable flame

What We Don't Like

  • Requires frequent fuel refilling if used a lot

For your first kitchen torch, we recommend the Jo Chef Superior RX because it is so approachable and easy to control. You can buy this torch without fuel or as a package with up to five canisters of butane, which is convenient because you'll need extra if you use it a lot. It ships unfilled for safety, though, so your first step will be to pop off the base and blast fuel into the torch in short bursts.

We found that the tank holds enough fuel to caramelize sugar on crème brûlée, a batch of brioche French toast, or torrijas for a crispy surface, but we usually needed to refill the torch before its next use. When it does come time to refuel, we recommend bleeding the empty tank of any air and using the convenient window to avoid overfilling. The base will show frost around the refill hole because the butane is so cold, so wait a few minutes after filling for it to warm back up and ensure a steady flame.

Multiple safety locks and an adjustable flame knob help to make this tool easy to use for cooks of all levels. Its small size makes it comfortable in your hand, especially compared with larger torch heads that attach directly to the fuel source. The torch is also highly portable, making it simple to take outdoors to light a smoke tube or charcoal chimney or fire up other projects.

Fuel Type: Butane | Max Temperature: 2,370 degrees Fahrenheit | Weight: 1.34 pounds

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What We Like

  • Fuel gauge lets you know when it’s time to refill

  • Sleek appearance

  • Flame is 6 inches and very steady

What We Don't Like

  • Small fuel capacity

Torching a crème brûlée requires a delicate balance because you need a flame that’s strong enough to caramelize sugar, but you also need to be able to control and easily maneuver this flame so that you don’t completely burn the sugar or warm the custard underneath. This EurKitchen torch offers plenty of control and strength, making it an obvious choice for any crème brûlée enthusiast. The canister can hold 12 grams of butane and the convenient fuel gauge allows you to know when you’re running low and need to refuel (which may be somewhat frequent if you use the torch a lot.)

This model can shoot up to 6 inches of fire and the convenient finger guard ensures that you’re safe from making contact with the super-hot flame. The gas control knob makes for a super consistent and steady flame, which is ideal when you’re glossing over the sugar on a crème brûlée. Even, consistent browning is key.

For a little bit less, you can buy a version without the fuel gauge.

Fuel Type: Butane | Max Temperature: 2,370 degrees Fahrenheit | Weight: 11.3 ounces

What We Like

  • Small and easy to handle

  • Great for beginners

  • Has a "continuous fire" mode

What We Don't Like

  • No fuel gauge

  • May take multiple clicks to start after a while

If you’re not quite ready to make the investment on this kitchen purchase, it’s a great idea to start with this affordable model. Try it out on a homemade crème brûlée or try roasting a few marshmallows to get comfortable with the torch. This model is on the smaller side, so you don’t have to worry about any excessively huge flames that could be intimidating for your first go-around. The canister holds about 8 to 10 grams of butane, and when it’s all out, you’ll need to refill it.

Even though the torch itself is just shy of 5 inches, it can still churn out a flame as long as 6 inches. If you plan to use this for big-batch torching, you may find it cumbersome to continuously refill the comparatively small canister, but this would be great for a kitchen torching novice.

Fuel Type: Butane | Max Temperature: 2,372 degrees | Weight: 8.8 ounces

What We Like

  • Ergonomic grip

  • Flame is powerful and steady

  • Requires less frequent fuel refilling

What We Don't Like

  • Fuel not included

  • Propane fuel only

If you’re looking for the torch that kitchen professionals swear by, it is without question a Bernzomatic. Known for its high-quality, durable kitchen torches, Bernzomatic makes a range of reasonably priced torch heads. When you’re using this trigger-start ignition model, you don’t need to worry about keeping the torch upright, as it’s pressure-regulated for tilted use.

"I’m a fan of the Bernzomatic Multi-Use Torch Set," says Jenni Field, Pastry Chef and Founder of Pastry Chef Online. "The flame is adjustable, and the torch comes with a large propane canister you won't have to replace for a very long time, especially if you're only torching one or two desserts at a time."

You’ll need to buy a 14- or 16-ounce propane tank separately to fuel the torch. The adjustable flame knob allows you to control the strength of the flame as well as safely extinguish it when you’re done torching.

Fuel Type: Propane | Max Temperature: 2,372 degrees Fahrenheit | Weight: 2.8 pounds

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What We Like

  • Compact in size

  • Grip is comfy and padded

  • Adjustable flame

  • Easy to use

What We Don't Like

  • Butane not included

  • Tricky to fill

This torch is super compact and easy to handle, so you don’t need to carry around a bulky fuel tank. There is a clear, built-in gauge that allows you to check in on the fuel level and be prepared when it’s time to refill the handle. The sleek fuel knob also allows you to control the size and strength of the flame. This torch is 8.5 inches tall, which is the ideal size to fit in your grip, plus the handle is padded and super comfy.

There is an angled nozzle that prevents you from having to twist your hand awkwardly for even burning. It can be fussy to refill, so try flipping the handle upside down before adding the butane (which is not included so you'll have to purchase separately).

Fuel Type: Butane | Max Temperature: 2,370 degrees Fahrenheit | Weight: Not indicated

What We Like

  • Extremely powerful flame

  • Fuel control allows small and large flames

  • Compact size

What We Don't Like

  • Fuel sold separately

If you want the top-of-the-line, all-the-bells-and-whistles model, then this torch is right up your alley. Not only does it have a super sleek design, but it can also fire up a seriously powerful flame. Its compact size also makes it easy to transport, making it a great camping or outdoor adventure accessory.

This torch is super powerful, but its adjustable fuel control allows you to use it for delicate applications like crème brûlée or meringue, as well as heftier projects. Crank up the fuel control and use the full-power flame for tasks like searing steaks, roasting peppers, or lighting a campfire.

This is certainly a pricey option, but if you want a tool that can do everything from torch a mini marshmallow to caramelize a glazed ham, this is the torch for you. Even though it’s nearly twice or three times as expensive as some competitors, we think the investment is worth it—but we do wish fuel was sold along with it at its price.

Fuel Type: Propane or butane (not included) | Max Temperature: 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit | Weight: 4.8 ounces

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Final Verdict

The Iwatani PRO2 Culinary Professional Butane Torch is our top pick because it's fairly inexpensive for a kitchen torch, yet still high-quality with about 100 minutes of burn time. For a powerful flame capable of lighting campfires or toasting marshmallows, we recommend the SearPro Multi-Use Torch.

FAQs

How do you use a kitchen torch?

"Kitchen torches can be intimidating at first, but they're quite simple to use," says Mary fa*gan, Recipe Developer and Founder of The Library Kitchen. "First, ensure you’ve properly filled the torch with butane fuel. Then, slide open the safety lock, point the nozzle away from your body, and press the ignition button. Slowly sweep the flame across the surface you’d like to char, then turn off the flame. My favorite ways to use this tool are to torch crème brûlée and crisp chicken skin after cooking the bird in an Instant Pot."

Where do you buy butane for a kitchen torch?

You can purchase butane on Amazon or at any of your favorite kitchen or home improvement stores, like Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond, Williams-Sonoma, or Sur La Table. Keep in mind that your state may restrict the amount of butane you'll be able to buy at once.

How do you fill a butane kitchen torch?

Before refilling your torch, you should always ensure that the gas flow is off. The refill port and nozzle are at the bottom of the torch. Give the butane a little shake, and then insert the nozzle into the canister while pressing and holding. This pressure will create a flow that allows the butane to enter the nozzle. After a few seconds, the canister will be filled and you can release. It’s best to refill your torch in an open space.

What can you use a kitchen torch for?

Kitchen torches are most notably used for caramelizing sugar on the top of a crème brûlée. You can also use one to brown marshmallows, roast peppers, melt cheese, caramelize the top of a casserole, brûlée a grapefruit, and brown meringue.

What is the best method for caramelizing sugar on crème brûlée?

"When torching crème brulee, the best place to start is with an even level of turbinado sugar on top,” says Gabrielle Draper, pastry chef and associate manager, R&D technical culinary applications at Barry Callebaut. "Start torching from the center and work outwards. Slowly go in a circular motion around the dish, moving on to the next spot when the previous area has a nice brown caramelized surface. It’s important to torch your crème brulee close to when it will be enjoyed so the sugar stays with a nice crack."

How do you torch meringue?

"To get the best meringue result when torching, it’s important not to stay in one spot too long," says Domenica Lazo, Assistant Application Chef at Barry Callebaut. "Depending on the power of the torch, I may hold it 1.5 to 3.5 inches away from the direct surface. Typically it is best to start around the edges of the meringue and work your way to the center, moving on when the previous area has a nice golden brown surface."

Is it safe to use a butane kitchen torch on food?

Yes, a butane torch is safe to use directly on food. You never want to burn something to a crisp and should try to keep the flame a few inches away from the food. That said, if unused hydrocarbons from the butane make their way onto the food, it is safe to consume.

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Sara Tane has written nearly a dozen buying guides for The Spruce Eats, understanding what consumers and cooks need to consider before making a new purchase for their culinary adventures. She is a professionally trained chef in addition to a kitchen torch enthusiast. From crème brûlée to seared steaks to roasted peppers, she has used a kitchen torch for many of her private cooking clients. After researching different kitchen torches, she can help you find the best device that fits what you’re looking for.

This roundup was updated by Carrie Honaker, who interviewed four pastry experts for their insights. A pastry chef herself, Carrie's work has appeared in many publications, including Bon Appetit, Allrecipes, and Wine Enthusiast.

Julie Laing has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years and is the author of the weekly newspaper column and food blog, Twice as Tasty. She published her first cookbook, "The Complete Guide to Pickling," in 2020. Julie’s excuse for purchasing a kitchen torch was its usefulness in lighting a smoke tube, but she’s come to love it for many kitchen tasks—when she can find it. Her husband keeps borrowing her kitchen torch to debubble epoxy on countertops and solder joints of copper pipes, arguing that: "It’s the kitchen tool I never knew a carpenter needed."

Sources

  • Gabrielle Draper is a Pastry Chef and the Associate Manager at Barry Callebaut.
  • Jenni Field is a Pastry Chef and the Founder of Pastry Chef Online.
  • Mary fa*gan is a Recipe Developer and the Founder of The Library Kitchen.
  • Domenica Lazo is the Assistant Application Chef at Barry Callebaut.

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The 7 Best Kitchen Torches, According to a Chef (2024)

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