Updated June 2022
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Buying guide for Best cooking torches

The cooking torch: no other culinary tool lends itself so well to fantasies of competing on Top Chef while also combining the intricacies of kitchen chemistry with the fun of turning out scrumptious desserts for family and friends.

It’s a tool that is unfamiliar to most cooks, however, and choosing a cooking torch can feel somewhat like solving a mystery.

How do you know which type is best for your needs?

With different brands of cooking torches available, which features should you look for?

And if you’ve never used – maybe never even heard of – a cooking torch before, what can it do for you?

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Your cooking torch is useful outside the kitchen as well. You can use it for soldering, woodworking, leather crafting, wax working, and jewelry repairs.

Cooking torch 101

What is a cooking torch, and why would you want to use one?

If you’re puzzling over how a torch is used in a kitchen, take heart; a cooking torch – also called a culinary torch or kitchen torch – isn’t the flamethrower the word brings to mind. Rather, a cooking torch is a handheld device that uses butane (a highly flammable gas) to create a small, focused, very hot flame.

The most notable use of a cooking torch is the preparation of crème brulee, but it’s useful for quite a few tasks beyond the crunchy-on-top, creamy-underneath dessert. In fact, your culinary torch could come in handy in a wide range of situations where you want to melt, sear, caramelize, or toast ingredients without cooking or heating the entire dish. You could use a cooking torch to do any of the following.

  • Sear a delicious crust onto your steak without overcooking the rest of the meat

  • Melt cheese for nachos, sandwiches, or anywhere else you want a hot topping

  • Caramelize sugar on cookies and cakes

  • Toast breadcrumbs or turn bread chunks into croutons

  • Roast the outer skin of tomatoes, peppers, or squash

  • Brown meringue for pie, tarts, or baked Alaska

  • Melt marshmallows for s’mores or other desserts

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Expert Tip
If you’re caramelizing the sugar on top of a Creme Brulee, aim to avoid any black spots. The perfect brulee (“burn”) is evenly caramelized to a warm nutty brown color -- never fully taken to black. It only takes a second to go from no color to black, so watch it closely.
BestReviews Cooking and Baking Expert

Cooking torch types

While their function is the same, you’ll find two basic types of cooking torches: those that have a built-in fuel tank and those that screw onto the top of a disposable fuel tank. Both have their pros and cons, although in general, the screw-on torch-head devices are more powerful and have longer run times.

Torch-head cooking torches

Torch-head cooking torches screw directly on to a butane tank as opposed to having a handle that encloses a small, refillable fuel tank.


  • No need to refill the propane tank; replace when empty

  • Larger gas tank means longer period of use without running out of fuel

  • It's cleaner. There's less fussing with refilling with propane, which has a propensity to spray and drip


  • No real handle – you grasp the fuel tank, which can be bulky

  • Larger size may be intimidating/difficult to work with

  • Need for replacement canisters


Beginners can find torches a little intimidating to use, so take your time with lighting and adjusting the flame. Start with a smooth sweeping motion a few inches from your target to figure out how large your flame should be and the best distance at which to use it.

BestReviews Cooking and Baking Expert

Cooking torches with built-in fuel tanks

Cooking torches with built-in fuel tanks are an all-in-one design. The head attaches right to the base, which encloses the inner fuel tank.


  • No need for separate butane canisters or worry if the canister fits or not

  • Generally smaller and less intimidating than torch-head models


  • Need butane on hand for refilling the torch

  • Potential for spillage or overflow when filling the tank

  • Fuel may evaporate (a small amount) during the filling process

  • Frequent refueling required

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An easily-adjusted continuous flame is key. Consider how you want to use a torch (for quick intense heat or even toasting over time), and choose the torch with the flame control most applicable to your cooking style.
BestReviews Cooking and Baking Expert

Cooking torch prices

You don’t have to spend a lot to get a good cooking torch.


For $15 to $20, you can get an adequate torch with a fairly small fuel tank. If you only plan on using the torch for the occasional crème brulee or similar desserts, this should suffice.

While using the torch with its stand, turn the flame OFF whenever you set it down to avoid burning yourself or items around you. Even if the flame is off, some metallic surfaces on torches can remain hot, so stay alert.
BestReviews Cooking and Baking Expert


The $20 to $30 range is the sweet spot for most buyers. For this price, you can get a cooking torch with a good-size fuel tank and most of the desirable features.


For $30 and up, you can get a professional-quality cooking torch with a large fuel tank. If you use a cooking torch extensively, or if you simply prefer the best, consider models in this price range.

Tips for choosing the best cooking torch

There are a few features that elevate the best culinary torches above the rest of the pack. Here are some to look for:

  • Just about every cooking torch has an anti-flare neck, meaning the neck is designed so you can use the torch from any angle without the flame flaring back onto your fingers. Don’t even consider a torch without this feature.

  • Your cooking torch should reach a minimum temperature of 2,000°F – although most get much hotter – and it should heat up almost immediately.

  • A gas flow adjustment lever is a must. This feature lets you adjust the size of the flame to suit your needs.

  • You don’t want to run out of gas during a kitchen session, so look for a cooking torch with a fuel gauge.

  • A safety lock keeps your cooking torch from firing up if an inquisitive child gets ahold of it.

  • Your hand might get tired during a lengthy torching session, so the cooking torch you choose should be reasonably light and comfortable to hold. It should also have a stand so you can set it down easily. In addition, a lock button should come with the torch which allows you to lock the flame in the "on position" while working. 

  • Some cooking torches run up to an hour before needing to refuel. If you’ll be using your torch for lengthy cooking sessions, look for one with a long burn time.

  • The best cooking torches are easy to use. There should not be a steep learning curve, and you shouldn’t have to master any tricky maneuvers to use one.

  • Make sure the butane suited for your torch is available locally or via shipping from online sites. Some states like California prohibit the shipping of flammable items like butane, so ensure ease-of-purchase regarding fuel prior to purchase of your torch.
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Once you really have a feel for your kitchen torch, you’ll likely be inspired to hunt down more recipes that put it to good use.


Q. Do I have to keep my finger pressed down on the trigger the whole time I’m using a cooking torch?

A. It depends on the torch. With some less-expensive models, yes, you’ll need to hold your finger on the trigger to keep the flame coming. With others, there’s a lock that keeps the flame on even if you set the torch down. If you plan to use the torch for lengthy sessions or on a regular basis, it’s worth spending a bit more for a torch with an “on” button.

Q. Do I have to buy special fuel to refill my cooking torch?

A. The majority of cooking torches use butane as fuel, although some run on propane. Generally, you do not need any special butane to refill your torch, but a few brands do require their own specific refill canisters. Before choosing a torch-head-style cooking torch, determine what replacement fuel canisters it uses.

Q. Are cooking torches safe?

A. While any device that emits flames can be dangerous, if you follow basic safety precautions and remain alert, it’s quite safe to use a cooking torch. Of course, you should never use the torch near flammable items, nor should you leave it unattended while switched on. And don’t let children handle the cooking torch, even if it’s turned off.

Q. Do I need to light a cooking torch with a match or outside flame?

A. Almost all culinary torches have piezoelectric ignition, which is the same type of automatic lighter found in gas grills or stovetops. Generally, you just press the ignition button to fire up your cooking torch.

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