Food & Drinks

You Deserve a Kitchen Torch Even If You Don’t “Need” One

I’m not here to tell you that you need a kitchen torch; if you’re like most home cooks, you probably don’t. A culinary torch is the kind of kitchen tool that is necessary in only very specific situations—caramelizing the sugar on a crème brûlée, for instance, or blast-browning a sous vide steak—and if those situations don’t apply to you, well, use that cupboard space for something else.

Let’s be real, though: There are plenty of kitchen tools you don’t need but covet anyway. And in my humble opinion, the best kitchen torch is a whole lot more awesome than, say, a purpose-built squash seed-scraper, or a WiFi-enabled spoon rest. Because playing with fire is fun. And so are you. This is me giving you permission to buy one of the most fun kitchen gadgets out there just for the hell of it, even if all you ever do is dig it out of the cabinet every once in a while and click it on a few times when no one is looking. And who’s to say a cooking torch is just for cooking? Scare/impress your guests by using it to light some candles or get really into shou sugi ban—a propane torch is a multipurpose tool. You don’t need it, but you do deserve it.

If this entreaty is speaking to you in any way, here are some of the best kitchen torches to consider.

This little refillable butane torch can reach flame temperatures of up to 2730°F and is what you want for toasting a baked Alaska or lemon meringue pie, melting cheese atop French onion soup, or browning the marshmallow topping on a s’mores-inspired situation you found on Pinterest. You’ve seen something like this on The Great British Bake-Off, I’ll bet, a show I hear is very charming. The Jo Chef kitchen torch is lightweight, doesn’t take up too much space, and comes with about as much butane fuel as you’ll probably use in 10 years. (And if the fuel gauge shows you’re running low, not to worry, you can purchase additional compatible butane canisters.)

This cutie is great for kitchen blow torch beginners because of its intuitive design, safety lock to guard against accidental ignition, and adjustable flame size. It’s ideal for desserts because it’s easy to wield in tighter spaces—a tight little tongue of concentrated flame that won’t accidentally set your tablecloth on fire when you’re trying to torch a dessert tableside. It is also great for lighting rows of birthday candles for your grandma without getting Lighter Thumb.

Jo Chef Butane Kitchen Torch

Often sold in hardware stores, Bernzomatic offers a wide array of professional-grade torches for everything from soldering to woodworking, with varying fuel types and flame intensities. While this particular model, the Bernzomatic TS8000, sounds like a character from the Terminator movies, it’s basically a small flamethrower, with the angled nozzle producing a whooshing jet of intense flame that, in all honesty, is kind of scary, but in a cool and fun way. The trigger unit itself is small and easy to stash in a drawer, which is a plus, but it needs to be attached to one of those bulky green propane cylinders you use with a camping stove in order to work, which makes the whole thing fairly heavy and awkward.

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