From torching meringue to roasting peppers, finishing off a creme brulee or caramelizing fruit, a high quality kitchen torch is a must for any gourmet home chef. But the range of brands and styles available is about as expansive as the list of tricks this tool can perform.
Does choosing which one is right for you really need to be so complicated?
To help you choose, we’ve researched dozens of models, reviewed the seven most popular brands, and narrowed down our top two favorites.
All of them feature anti-flare technology in the neck, making them safe to use without the risk of a flame biting the hand that holds it. They may be used upright or inverted, ensuring that you can utilize the flame from every angle necessary.
They can reach temperatures close to 3000°F. These are outrageously high temperatures, given that the highest temperature most oven broilers reach is around 500°F.
So there is no denying that they will get your food broiled. Fast.
This is ideal for more delicate desserts that need to be broiled without completely melting them like the Wicked Witch of the West.
Creamy custards such as creme brulee, or sugary desserts like marshmallows, are both examples of delicate desserts that need a quick sear from the flame without ruining their final texture and appearance.
There are two different styles from which to choose – we’ll discuss both the refillable canisters and the torch heads that screw onto a bottle of butane.
Each style has its own perks, and which design you choose will depend on what you find the most comfortable.
A Note When Purchasing
When you purchase a torch, note that your order will most likely not include the butane canister that is necessary to make it work. You will need to purchase the canister separately.
One of the most common mistakes that is made is using the wrong size gas canister refill. Be sure to check with the manual provided with your own tool to ensure you use the correct canister for refilling.
Some butane canisters provide different top insert attachments so they can be applied to models of different sizes. I recommend purchasing this type of gas canister so you are able to switch out the attachment if one size does not fit properly.
Read on for our individual reviews!
Table of Contents
Our Top Recommended Model: Iwatani
The Iwatani Professional Cooking Torch is a chef favorite. It is a torch head option that screws onto separately purchased butane canisters and features a piezoelectric ignition.
Piezo ignition is a form of electric charge favored for its quick response, and is often used in portable camping stoves, gas grills, and lighters.
Iwatani reaches a high heat of 2700°F, with a continual burning time of approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes.
The head measures 7 x 1.5 x 3 inches.
It features two dials for flame adjustments: the flame strength adjustment knob changes the intensity of the flame, and the flame shape adjustment knob adjusts the overall length and width of the flame.
It also has an on/off lock that allows for a continuous flame without the need to press down on any buttons to maintain the flame.
It comes with a stabilizing stand that attaches to the bottom of the butane fuel, providing a solid foundation for it to stand upright. The extra surface area on the foundation is a huge help in keeping your torch steady on the counter.
An instruction manual is also included with your purchase, with detailed explanations of usage.
The warranty is limited to one year commencing from the date of your purchase – if any failure occurs or defects are noted within this time, you may return it for free repairs.
Because of its manageable size and high reliability, the Iwatani is the ideal choice for home cooks who are shopping for a torch head model.
The manufacturer suggests that the head should only be used with Iwatani brand butane (though several Amazon reviewers say they have successfully used it with other brands, as well).
Through my own personal experience, however, this head does NOT fit on other brands. I tried. And failed.
Rest assured that I had absolutely no problem with using the Iwatani brand butane canister. It worked perfectly!
Our Budget Pick: LiBa
The Liba Culinary Torch is a low-cost refillable canister option. It boasts temperatures up to 2,730°F, and is equipped with all the features a user could want in a quality product.
It has a fuel gauge that allows the user to track the amount of butane used, a one-hour burn time, and anti-flare technology. It also has an on/off switch safety lock, should you want a continuous stream of flame without needing to hold down the switch with your finger.
Produced in China, it weighs 11 ounces, and has product dimensions of 4.5 x 6 x 2 inches. It is built with a heavy-duty stainless steel silver metal body for long-lasting use.
The base and head are comprised of black plastic. The base is removable, for when you need to refill the canister at the bottom.
The adjustable flame knob, the safety lock, and the quick-fire ignition are all made with a bright red plastic to help you to easily locate them.
It also features an extended angled nozzle that keeps hands safely away from the flame, allowing for easier and more precise maneuvering as you use it.
Butane is not included, so you must purchase a separate high quality butane gas canister for filling purposes. The filling capacity for this model is 16 milliliters.
As for instructions, LiBa provides detailed instructions on how to turn it on and off, and also includes specific instructions for gas filling procedures. Even more helpful are the charts and pictures for identifying all the major parts of the tool.
The company claims that using the LiBa is “as easy as 1-2-3.” You slide the safety lock to the “on” position, turn the flame knob until you hear the gas flow, and press the quick fire ignition button. You will get instant flame, and its strength can be adjusted by how much you turn the knob.
There was a little confusion with how to turn it on – Amazon.com and a few other company websites instruct you to turn the safety lock to the “off” position.
However, after watching some instructional videos and reading the product’s instruction manual, I have confirmed that you must switch the safety lock to the “on” position in order to ignite it.
The “off” position disables the quick fire ignition button, preventing you from pushing it and from igniting the flame.
It also includes advice on different ways to use the torch for food preparation. LiBa wants you to “let your creativity guide you” as you use it for caramelizing sugar on creme brulee, browning meringues, glazing a baked ham, searing a steak, roasting bell papers, melting cheese, and toasting breadcrumbs.
The company warns that the flame is nearly invisible in bright light or sunlight – you can’t rely on sight alone to make sure it is off. Be sure to turn off gas flow by turning the knob clockwise all the way to the right.
LiBa offers a 90-day “no questions asked” money back/replacement guarantee for those who are unhappy with the tool, as well as a 36-month warranty should it break. Contact LiBA USA via Amazon.com for warranty claims.
Overall, the refillable models are smaller and less intimidating than the torch heads – ideal for beginners!
The handle holds a small amount of butane fuel, which can be refilled with butane from a separate butane canister.
Some models provide a gauge on the handle that shows how much fuel remains – helpful for those who wish to get an idea of how much fuel they are using and to see how much remains before needing to refill.
On the downside, the canisters can be frustrating to refill. And for those who like to sear or caramelize their grub regularly, they must be refilled often.
Directions are typically provided on both the fuel and the torches with the proper procedure on refilling. Please follow these directions to ensure a successful and safe transfer of gas.
Read below for our top picks in this category:
The Rosle Kitchen Torch, manufactured in the Bavaria region of Germany, is made of stainless steel and plastic. It has a steel, silver-colored canister in the center, with a white plastic base and head, and a steel nozzle. The buttons and adjustment settings are made of dark gray plastic.
It weighs about 11 ounces, and has dimensions of 5 x 3.5 x 6.7 inches.
The temperature reaches up to 2372°F, and the manufacturer claims it’s capable of searing the sugar atop a creme brulee without warming the custard inside.
It features an adjustable gas dial to regulate the flame size, depending on your needs and comfort level holding the flame. There is a practical setting available for continuous operation; the manufacturer claims that each refill of the canister lasts for up to a full hour of burn time.
It features a childproof safety switch, as well as a topple-free base, so you can keep it standing in a sturdy, upright position when not in use.
Please note that the Rosle appliance is empty upon delivery, so the gas canister will need to be purchased separately. The manufacturer points out that it is easy to fill and refill with any commonly available lighter gas, such as butane or propane.
While most of the products sold by Rosle have a lifetime warranty, the company website confirms that its kitchen torch only has a 5-year warranty, due to some of its mechanical components.
Amazon.com and a few other websites where this product is sold mistakenly list a lifetime warranty for it, but please be aware that this is incorrect.
For cleaning, the Rosle should be carefully hand washed and hand dried.
The BonJour Chef’s Creme Brulee Torch is an aluminum torch that’s almost identical in design with the LiBa.
Don’t be fooled by the name – while it is definitely ideal for preparing creme brulee, it can be used for all sorts of other browning and melting purposes, such as browning meringue, melting cheese on top of French onion soup, and browning twice baked potatoes.
It is powered by standard butane fuel containers, which do not come included and will need to be purchased separately.
Product dimensions are 4.5 x 2.2 x 6.3 inches.
It features an anti-flare flame, a fuel window to gauge how much butane remains in the canister, an ergonomic handle, a removable stand, and a safety lock that allows a continuous flame without holding any buttons.
You are able to adjust the flame length by moving the flame adjustment slide, as well as the flame width by pushing the air control lever. Both controls are found on the head.
According to the FAQ page on the company’s website, BonJour writes that this model will operate for an average of three hours, depending on the size of the flame.
The manufacturer claims that the temperature ranges from 2012°F-2822°F, though verified Amazon customers argued that it veers towards the lower end of this range.
One manual is provided with your purchase, which includes both a recipe book and operating instructions. You are also able to access this manual for free via their company website.
This particular BonJour tool falls under the company’s quality assurance guarantee rather than its lifetime or 1-year warranty.
The quality assurance guarantee is a promise from the company that the product is to be free of defects at the time of purchase. If the product is found to be defective upon opening the package, you can return it with your proof of purchase and they will replace the tool or give you a full refund.
You may contact BonJour via their company website, or by calling their Consumer Relations Department.
The Messermeister Cheflamme Culinary Torch is a sleek, aluminum model with a silver color that reaches a temperature of 2,700°F, and can burn for 200 minutes of use per 9 ounces of butane.
Messermeister is now a 100% woman-owned company that began in Germany in the early 1980s as a source of premium German cutlery. It has since expanded internationally to manufacture and sell new and innovative culinary kitchenware items, such as kitchen torches.
The Messermeister Cheflamme Culinary Torch balances high quality with a reasonable price, making it the ideal choice for those who wish to use to use the refillable canister style.
It has an on/off lock that serves as both a child safety feature as well as a continual flame feature, so you can operate it with the flame constantly on without holding down any buttons. The adjustable temperature dial allows for a variety of flame intensities.
While it can burn for up to 200 minutes, some verified customers on Amazon.com noted that the butane burned much more quickly than they expected on the highest heat setting.
Product dimensions are 3 x 6.8 x 10.5 inches.
As with the other models, butane is not included with your purchase, and will need to be bought separately.
They also offer another model, the Messermeister Cheflamme Culinary Torch with Fuel Gauge.
It is designed similarly to the Cheflamme Culinary Torch, except with the additional feature of a fuel level indicator window, so you may see how much fuel you have left.
Messermeister guarantees product satisfaction. If you are unsatisfied with the product, you are able to return it for an exchange or refund. Credit will be issued back through your original payment method if returned within 30 days.
The torch head type is precisely what it sounds like – a head that must be screwed onto a fuel canister for use.
In my opinion, this variety is simpler to use than the refillable varieties, since it attaches directly to the fuel source without the complicated steps involved in frequently refilling empty canisters with a separate fuel supply.
But some home cooks are not comfortable holding a full bottle of fuel while they work. Admittedly, it can be intimidating to use a piece of equipment that may also be used on construction sites.
Makes you feel like a culinary version of MacGyver…
While most of the refillable varieties are roughly 6 inches tall and easy to grasp by hand (and, yes, far less intimidating), the actual fuel canisters used as the base for the heads are generally bigger.
Butane canisters used for the heads can be about 6 inches tall, but other propane gas canisters for larger torch heads can reach a foot tall, and may be bulky to hold.
Because you are handling an entire bottle of a flammable gas, please be incredibly cautious when using and storing your canisters, making sure they are stored upright and away from any other heat, gas, or fire source.
Once you move past the initial shock of the gas canister size, and get used to holding it, the torch head versions are ideal if you brulee your food items often.
These types are often used in restaurant kitchens, where the fast-paced demand of platings for large volumes of customers necessitates reliable, long-lasting equipment.
The torch heads attached to whole gas canisters are more effective, more consistent, and they do outlast the smaller refillable canisters, especially when used on a regular basis.
Read below for our top choices in this category:
The Bernzomatic High Intensity Torch Head Trigger is actually marketed as a gas-powered construction torch, designed for soldering, brazing, heat-treating, and welding.
While it is one the best choices for plumbers and welders, it is also a smart choice for restaurant and home chefs. It has been a staple in most of the restaurant kitchens where I have worked.
From plumbers to cooks to pyromaniacs, this is a phenomenal option.
Torches that are marketed for culinary applications, such as those within the refillable canister category, are designed to be more home-friendly. They are typically smaller with a limited amount of gas storage and strength.
However, with the Benzomatic design’s large, optimized swirl flame that provides maximum heat output, a chef can have maximum power for the most efficient and effective use when flaming food.
The flame can also be adjusted from a low heat, gentle flame up to a flame with high intensity that can melt even metal. It is perfect for tasks as simple as browning marshmallows and as intense as searing meat.
As verified by a phone call with a Bernzomatic customer service representative, the head trigger should only be used with propane or MAP-Pro gas cylinders specifically designed for use with hand torches. Butane is used for smaller devices only, and it should not be used with this particular high-intensity trigger.
For the best results, Bernzomatic does recommend using the head trigger with one of the company’s MAP-Pro fuel cylinders, such as their 14.1-ounce MAP-Pro Hand Torch Cylinder.
The flame temperature can reach 3730°F (about 1000 degrees higher than the other models reviewed in this article), and the company claims that their product offers a faster heat transfer than traditional propane gas cylinders.
One verified customer on Amazon excitedly noted that it “sears meat like a dragon,” applauding the power of this high-intensity machine.
Manufactured in China, it is made of a cast aluminum body for durability, and features an instant on/off trigger igniter with a simple one-handed operation. It also includes the option of a lock button to keep it lit for finger-free use.
The Bernzomatic can be used with the Searzall attachment, great for those who plan to use it to finish dishes cooked sous vide.
Sous vide is a method of cooking food in a vacuum-sealed bag under water that is held at a constant temperature. After bringing the food to a consistent temperature all the way through, meats and vegetables are finished with a torch to get the perfect Maillard sear on the outside.
All Bernzomatic equipment comes with an instruction manual, which is the same for all of the company’s trigger-start torches. It is also available to view for free on the company’s website.
Carefully read through the assembly and safety warnings and precautions heavily detailed in the instruction manual.
This model comes with a lifetime limited warranty, replacing any parts that may break.
But if all you plan to use the torch for is to occasionally finish off a marshmallow or brulee a slice of fruit, it’s likely a much larger and more expensive tool than you need.
The Sterno Butane Culinary Torch is a low-cost, professional-grade culinary torch head that attaches to small 8-ounce butane canisters, making it far more approachable and less bulky to handle than the Bernzomatic.
The head measures 3 x 8 x 4 inches.
It uses an adjustable dial to control the flame intensity to adjust for a variety of culinary uses like melting, browning, crisping, and caramelizing.
It includes a safety lock to prevent accidental ignition, and features an anti-flare design with a piezo ignition system for instant start-up and shut-off.
You can use this torch upright or inverted, to get every angle of your favorite dessert evenly caramelized.
You will need to purchase the butane canisters separately from the Sterno head.
For the best and safest results, Sterno recommends using Sterno Butane Fuel, due to the company’s industry-first, built-in state of the art Countersink Release Vent (CRV) safety feature.
However, with a quick call to Sterno’s customer service, the company representative confirmed that, while they advise that customers should use Sterno’s products, other butane canisters are acceptable.
A manual with step-by-step instructions and photos is included with your purchase, and can also be accessed on Sterno’s company website.
How to Decide
Unsure as to whether you prefer the refillable model or the torch head? Debating between low cost and reliability?
Ask yourself these questions to help you decide:
- Are you nervous holding an entire butane canister?
- Will children or teenagers want to help with some of the torching?
- Do you have limited or no experience handling torches?
- Will a kitchen torch be a fun tool to use on just some occasions?
If the answer is yes to some of these questions, go with the smaller, refillable model.
While refills can be annoying, the smaller flame is better for use if you will not be using it too often, or if you have children who want to help with toasting marshmallows. And of course, adult supervision is always a requirement.
How do you plan to use your torch? If it’s just the occasional sugar caramelizing, then the low-cost variety is probably fine, as this task does not require prolonged use.
If you answered no to any of the above questions, I highly recommend the torch head option for you.
Not only does it provide a more consistent and stronger flame, the head attachments take up less space in the kitchen. And because they eliminate the need for regular refills, they are safer and cleaner to use overall than smaller handheld varieties.
If you are planning to brown meat, which requires a stronger flame, or think you will be using it on at least a weekly basis – or if you plan to put it to use outside of the kitchen as well – then torch head options are definitely the right style for you.
Now Put It to Use!
We hope our guide to the top kitchen torches gave you plenty of information to make the right decision for your own needs. With our help, you’ll be making perfectly caramelized creme brulee and other toasted goodies with your preferred tool!
We want seared marshmallows, not singed eyebrows!
Do you own a culinary torch? What is your favorite way to use it? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo credit: Credited photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via various manufacturers: Iwatani, LiBa, Rosle, BonJour, Messermeister, Bernzomatic, and Sterno. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock. Significantly revised and expanded from an original version researched and written by Kendall Vanderslice.
About Nikki Cervone
Nikki Cervone is a hungry foodie living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she is not tearing through her city's best grub, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.