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Top Of The Best Cooking Torches Reviewed In 2018

Last Updated April 1, 2019
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Adrian HoffmanHi! My name is Reginald Meyer. After putting in 50+ hours of research and testing, I made a list of the best Cooking Torches of 2018 and explained their differences and advantages.

In this article, I will be categorizing the items according to their functions and most typical features. I hope that my Top 10 list will provide you great options in buying the right fit for you.



Feel free to explore the podium, click on the pictures to find out more.



How to save up to 86%? Here is little trick.

You must visit the page of sales. Here is the link. If you don’t care about which brand is better, then you can choose the Cooking Torches by the price and buy from the one who will offer the greatest discount.



№1 – Culinary Butane Torch Refillable Cooking Blow Torch Lighter with Safety Lock and Two Type of Flame, Kitchen Cooking Blow Torch for Crème Brûlée, BBQ, Camping, Soldering, Welding & More By CaCaCook

Culinary Butane Torch Refillable Cooking Blow Torch Lighter with Safety Lock and Two Type of Flame, Kitchen Cooking Blow Torch for Crème Brûlée, BBQ, Camping, Soldering, Welding & More By CaCaCook
Temperature and flame ADJUSTABLE: Our [New Edition] kitchen torch can adjust the flame temperature from [normal flame] 860°F/450°C to [jet flame]2372°F/1300°C. So you can make creme brulee and welding by Jet Flame, and turn clockwise the AIR CONTROL VALVE to adjust the perfect searing temperature for steak, salmon, etc.


№2 – Culinary Torch, LEOKOR Kitchen Torch – Best Creme Brulee Troch – Home Chef Professional Grade Cooking Torch – Butane Torch with Double Flame

Culinary Torch, LEOKOR Kitchen Torch - Best Creme Brulee Troch - Home Chef Professional Grade Cooking Torch - Butane Torch with Double Flame
PROFESSIONAL DOUBLE FLAME – LORKOR Culinary Torch with two POWERFUL FLAMES that is adjustable to suit every task,it creates a unique temperature pattern for optimal caramelization, which save fuel and become more efficient than the single flame cooking blow torches. Enjoying a low-carbon lifestyle.


№3 – JB Chef Culinary Micro Butane Torch | Refillable Cooking Kitchen Blow Torch With Safety Lock & Adjustable Flame | For Pastries, Desserts, Crème Brûlée, Brazing, Soldering, Camping, Welding & More

JB Chef Culinary Micro Butane Torch | Refillable Cooking Kitchen Blow Torch With Safety Lock & Adjustable Flame | For Pastries, Desserts, Crème Brûlée, Brazing, Soldering, Camping, Welding & More
✭ A MUST PROFESSIONAL KITCHEN UTENSIL FOR ALL: If you are looking for effective and hassle free ways to upgrade your cooking skills and amaze everyone at the next dinner party, then we got you covered. We proudly present you the finest culinary micro butane torch that will fire things up around and allow you to prepare the best Crème Brûlée of your life!


Burn Time

The most important thing to check on a butane torch is the burn time. Every butane torch will have a different rating for how long it can run based on a few factors:

Some torches may burn for half an hour, while others may be able to be used for an hour or more.

Decide how much burn time you would like to get from your butane torch. Depending on what you are doing, the amount of time you will need may vary drastically.

For kitchen usage, short burn time should be enough because you can always refuel before your next use. If you plan to use it for long-term projects in construction, you will want a longer burn time of at least one hour, as you won’t want to have to refuel too often.

Useful Features

Another thing to check out is what kind of useful add on features each butane torch has. Every torch is different, but there are a number of convenient features that you may want to look for.

These three features are some of my favorites. The best butane torch will have one or more of these features to make your user experience more enjoyable and efficient.

Flame Adjustment: Allows you to change how big or small the flame is.

Tips: Butane torches may have extra tips included, which change how the flame is dispersed while working.

Design Matters

Another important thing to consider is the design of the butane torch itself. If you are using it for hours on end, you will want to ensure it is comfortable and easy to use.

The key thing to check is how heavy the torch is. You want to make sure it is lightweight. If it’s too heavy, it will make your hand and arm tired while you are using it, making it more difficult to get your work done efficiently.

Another thing to check is if the handle is comfortable. You don’t want to have an awkward grip, as this could be dangerous. If it is comfortable, you will be more in control of what you are doing with the butane torch.

The last design feature that is worth checking for is an instant power switch. Some butane torches are very complicated to start up, while others have easy power switches. Check for the convenience of a modern, instant power switch.

When you’re using a butane torch, you’re controlling a flame. Fire can be a very dangerous substance, so you will want to make sure that safety is at the forefront of your mind while the butane torch is in use.

Different butane torches have different safety features, and the best butane torches will have safety backups that are better than cheap, low-quality torches.

Choose a butane torch that has a safety lock. This is important because it prevents the torch from being accidentally turned on. If you have children at home, this is especially important. Safety locks can prevent accidental traumas.

Find out if the ignitor on the butane torch is reliable or not. Some butane torches have to be light with a separate lighter or match, which can be very dangerous. Butane torches with built in, dependable igniters are safer to use, so look for a butane torch with this safety measure.

One more thing to check is the applications that the butane torch is rated for. Some butane torches are only meant for professional or industrial users, and they should not be used at home. Make sure that you choose a butane torch that matches your needs.

The first butane torch to consider is the

JB Chef Culinary Micro Butane Torch. While this butane torch was made with the kitchen in mind, it can work for a number of other small applications at home.

I really like how easy this torch is to use and how safe it is. Not only does it have a locking mechanism, but you can also refill this torch very easily. Plus, you don’t have to keep the butane can on the torch while using it, making it very convenient and safe to hold onto.

You can also adjust this flame to be at full strength or at a lower strength very easily, making it convenient to use for any sized application. All you have to do to get started is click to ignite, and you’ll be ready to use your butane torch immediately.

The next butane torch that you can consider one of the best of 201is the

EurKitchen Culinary Torch. This butane torch has a sleek black design, and it’s very easy to use, which makes it a great option for many kitchens.

What I like most about this butane torch is that it has a very easy to use gas flow regulator dial. This dial allows you to control the length of the continuous flame. It can be up to inches long, and the temperature will adjust accordingly.

In addition to being lightweight and comfortable to use, this butane torch has safety lock and ignition features. This makes it one of the easiest torches to use. You won’t struggle to use this torch.


ATLAS Gerus Culinary Micro Butane Torch for Crème Brulee

ATLAS Gerus manufactured a great crème brulee torch with a gorgeous design which can also be used for soldering, welding, brazing etc. Use your imagination and make the great use of the Culibary micro butane torch by ATLAS.

What Is A Butane Torch

A butane torch is basically a tool that creates a hot flame that by using butane gas. Most butane torches you can buy at the market today can produce flames with heat temperatures up to 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit.

Butane torches capable of producing flames at very high temperatures can be used to melt common metals including aluminum and copper. What’s more is that it can also be used to vaporize several organic compounds as well.

Today, compact butane torches can be bought at local supermarkets for personal use, especially for culinary purposes.

What To Look For In A Butane Torch

Before you make a purchase, it is always important to look out for certain features that you think fill fit your personal preferences and needs. When looking for a butane torch, you don’t have to consider much. But do be mindful of these:

Heat Settings

Butane torches today can be capable of producing flames with heat temperatures up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s enough heat to melt certain metals.

Before you get a butane torch, be sure to check whether the torch you are looking at is capable of producing the required temperatures for your personal use.

If you are using your torch for cooking, you can do well with something that produces about 2300 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, if you plan on melting some metals from time to time, you may want to go with the ones capable of producing at least 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit.


The key to working effectively with a butane torch lies in its ergonomics. Butane torches come in several designs, some come with pistol grips, and others come with extended and even tilted nozzles.

Before you buy a butane torch, make sure that you can comfortably hold it in your hand in different angles. If you are planning on flaming something for a long period of time, you should consider getting a blow torch that comes with a handy base for freehand use.

A Quick Recap

Of all the product I have mentioned, I think that you cannot go wrong with purchasing the Gas One Cooking Torch. It is a very affordable torch that is simple and easy to use.

What I like about it the most is its sleek design that lets it fit your hands comfortably. Its design even lets you hold it at various awkward positions, which can be really great for culinary use.

R Series Mega Torch

Double Flame Dabbing Torch – Culinary Torch – For Professional Chef – Creme Brulee Cooking – Blow Jet Lighter kit – Dab rig (without butane gas)

SympleChoices Captain America Golden Dab Scrape Stainless Steel Tip 4.75inch Dabbing Wax Carving Tool/Captain America Symbol Carb Cap dab tool in one

Zippo Butane Fuel

This fits your.

to make sure this fits.

2.7oz. (7grams)

For use with candle lighters, flex necks, and outdoor utility lighters

Universal tip fuels …

Newport Medusa 6″ Silver Butane Torch with Do You Even Bake Bro? Sticker

This fits your.

to make sure this fits.

Fuel Cap 30 ML

Refilling for each Newport 300ml Cannister – times

Burning time – 40 Minutes

Flame Temp – 1300 C

Mini Newport Zero Butane Torch 5.5″ – Various Colors (Black) • Self-igniting piezo ignition.
• Child-proof safety lock system.
• Adjustable flame. Works at any angle.
• Quick refill design.
• 2000 – 2200°F Flame.


EurKitchen Culinary Torch – Safest Butane Torch w/ Protective Hand Guard for Crème Brulee, Meat, Seafood, Sous Vide – Leak-Free Cooking Torch for Brazing, Welding, Soldering – Butane Not Included

This fits your.

to make sure this fits.

RISK-FREE PURCHASE: Money-Back Guarantee and Warranty to ensure your ongoing satisfaction with your blow …

SMAGREHO Professional Kitchen Butane Culinary Torch for Creme Brulee and Food, refillable (butane gas not included)

This fits your.

to make sure this fits.

Do you want to cook delicious dessert and impress your friends and family as a professional chef? A kitchen …

Newport Zero – Bumblee Bee 6″ Butane Torch Black & Yellow

This fits your.

to make sure this fits.

The Honey Bee Torch is part of a new custom series torches by Newport. Limited edition!

Height: 6″ inches

Soft & …

Blow Torch – Best Creme Brulee Torch – Refillable Professional Kitchen Torch with Safety Lock and Adjustable Flame – Culinary Torch – Micro Butane Torch with Fuel Gauge – Cooking Torch – Food Torch

This fits your.

to make sure this fits.

✭✭✭✭✭ PROFESSIONAL AND HIGHEST QUALITY COOKING TORCH- Envision yourself creating the tastiest and most …

Blazer GT8000 Big Shot Butane Torch • Anti-flare, brass-frame nozzle, for safety and flame control
• Attachable tabletop base, for hands-free use
• Gas-flow adjustment dial, to control flame …

ALNEW Culinary Torch, Pro Cooking Torch w/ Protecitve Guard for Creme Brulee & Desserts, Refillable Butane Torch for welding, Camping, Adjustable Flame Blow Torch for Kitchen( Butane NOT Included )

Culinary Torch, LEOKOR Kitchen Torch – Best Creme Brulee Troch – Home Chef Professional Grade Cooking Torch – Butane Torch with Double Flame

This fits your.

to make sure this fits.

★ PROFESSIONAL DOUBLE FLAME – LORKOR Culinary Torch with two POWERFUL FLAMES that is adjustable to suit every …

Butane Torch, AQQEF Kitchen Torch with Poize Ignition soldering torch, Adjustable Flame Cooking Torch, Blow Torch for Unfreeze, Drying, Soldering, Jewelry Processing

This fits your.

to make sure this fits.

POIZE ELECTRIC IGNITION: The soldering torch features built-in piezo ignition designs for easy and quick start …

Culinary Torch by JR Kitchen – Double Flame Crème Brûlée Butane Torch – Fast & Uniform Browning, Charring, Caramelisation or Searing – Impress Guests with Incredible Dishes

This fits your.

to make sure this fits.

CULINARY ESSENTIAL – Make classic Crème Brûlée like a pro chef, sear meat & fish, or bring color, flavours & …

CounterTop Brushed Aluminum Crème Brûlée Culinary Torch

This fits your.

to make sure this fits.

CounterTop portable kitchen torch, powerful flame; use it like a handheld grill or broiler and use your oven …

How To Use a Kitchen Blow Torch​

You may already know how to use one of these. If not, I recommend watching the excellent video below, to see how they should be used.​

NO CHOICE – LeChef- Pro – DOUBLE FLAME Kitchen Blow Torch V2.0 for Creme Brulee

This is the highest rated blow torch for cooks and chefs. This is a professional grade culinary torch that almost every single buyer loves. With over 200 buyer reviews, it is an extremely popular choice. With ratings of 4.out of stars, it is also clearly a very good kitchen product.

This is a very good little kitchen blowtorch that really does have a lot of power. It comes with simple to read  instructions on which butane canister is best, and how to start the torch safely and simply.

Please note that it doesn’t come with any gas. You will have to buy that separately, and most of the pound shops will get you the best deal on that.

This torch is well made and weighs around 320 grams. Its light enough however to feel comfortable in your hand. It has a powerful double flame torch which is ideal for novices all the way through to the more advanced chef.

The torch seems well made, and is mainly metallic, apart from the handle. The texturing on the handle ensures a goof grip, but some users found it too spiky.

It has a nice solid base as well, so when setting it down, there is no need to worry about this falling over.  You fill this one in the same way as you would fill a lighter.

Please note that it doesn’t come with any gas. The flame is really very powerful and easy to control.

This one has a double lumen, which is like a flame within a flame. That is a good thing as it gives the heat concentrated in the right place. However, the disadvantage is that it will use more gas in a shorter period of time.

NO CHOICE – Ankway Culinary Torch Kitchen Blowtorch Gas Torch

This is a relatively new product to the UK market. It is from a company called Ankway, who really do make high quality products. For under £14, this is also I think really great value for money.

Like the others this works when you fill it up with butane gas. The flame on this one is excellent, and it is also easy to set and control.

Buyers use this one for making meringues, toasting and caramelising. This one fits comfortable into the palm of your hand.

Great simple ergonomics and aesthetics. All in all, a very nice product.

None of the buyers had anything negative to say about this useful kitchen gadget. It is small, light and compact and looks very professional.

NO CHOICE – Andrew James Chef’s Kitchen Blowtorch

Andrew James is now becoming a household brand name in the UK. They do make good products. What makes them unique though, is that they always look that little bit different. They still retain all the functionality of course, but for many of their product lines, they are just more stylish.

This one is more expensive than many of the other blow torches that I have so far reviewed. Personally I think it looks better and it is the one that I use myself. I also have the first one on the list, but this one does look better.

It comes with a 2-year warranty, and is fuelled by butane gas. It also has a safety lock, and with my grand children running around, that is something I like to have. (Please note this one is currently not available though worth checking from time to time)​

The Blowtorch has an instant ignition. The flame reaches temperatures of up to 1300°c. It has a very stable base, and I think looks really cool.

NO CHOICE – Kitchen Craft Colours Cook’s Blowtorch

A very well known brand who offer something a little different in the appearance. As you can see this is like a pistol grip style, that has been designed to fit snugly into the hand. The 15cc refillable cylinder uses butane gas

Thisone does the job nicely, though it is not rated as highly as all of the other kitchen blow torches shown above. I simply included this one as some people will prefer this particular style.

Some people did say that it was hard to fill this one with gas, and that it was also more difficult to use. That is because they had to hold the switch in to keep the flame lit.

That isn’t a great design feature, but it didn’t put off that many of the buyers.

For around £14-15, this one is not bad value. I just think any of the other on the list are a better choice. That is unless you like this particular style. ​Quick Buying Guide for Cooking Blow Torches

Most mini blow torches used in the kitchen, are fuelled by butane gas. In the main they are used for recipes such as creme brulee, or for caramelising sugar. They can however also be used for searing fish or beef. Some chefs use these to melt cheese quickly.

With most decent models, the flame can be adjusted, and that is important.​ It is important always that safety should be your paramount consideration. When you have gas and flames then you have a potential explosive mixture. You just need to take extra care. One thing that can happen, is when you have finished using it, it is all too easy to forget to switch it off. 

My Personal Favorite Torches for Dabs

Before we get into the top best torch for dabs, I wanted to peel back the curtain and let you see my personal three favorites.

So to be fair, this list is my own personal list of torches I can not live without, the next will be torches for dabbing I have used that are some of the most popular with stoners around the world.

Gold Newport Butane Torch

Perfect if you have a smaller nail and smaller rig, this is one I used when i first got my start in dabbing. Even though i was wet behind the ears back then, this bad boy still delivered the goods every time.

The flame can be adjusted and locked in place, and you can leave it on the table and take a hit hands-free.

SToK FYR Torch for Dabs

One month I forgot my Big Shot on campus, so while I was on vacation I hit a smoke shop and this was the only torch they had in stock.

I assumed it was either the worst because the others were gone or he only carried the best torch in town.

It was the latter, this little torch is a pit bull, it delivers every time, has some basic features, and you can lock in the flame after you get the right setting.

Double Flame Dab Torch

If you are looking for a dab torch that is designed to get the job done on the first try, this is the flame shooter for you. Double barrel torch means twice the power when you need it fast.

Professional grade premium materials. While some may consider this to be overkill, there is no doubt that you are going to get that precise flame exactly when you need it most.

Metro Fulfillment Dab Torch

Powered with a standard butane cartridge, features a low fuel indicator so it is simple to know when you need to fuel up again. Perfect starter torch for anyone just getting into dabbing. Base allows for hands-free dabbing.

French for “under vacuum”

SousVide is a food-packaging technique whereby vacuum-packed food pouches are submerged within a bath of precise water temperature for a precise time. At the end of this time, results that are impossible to achieve through any other method become possible. Beautiful steaks, succulent vegetables, creamy starches are very possible & very easy with SousVide.

Rosle Kitchen Torch

If you are looking for a reliable kitchen torch to make creme brulee, char-grill tomatoes or peppers or even brown meringue, then you can’t go wrong with the Rosle torch. It’s easy to use with one hand, has adjustable flame control and a handy child lock. 

This culinary torch really has no downsides, it’s attractive, does what it’s suppose to and is enjoyable to use. The only complaint is that it doesn’t come with instructions. Keep that in mind as it might take a little more time to figure out the controls. 

Vector Convertible

Looking for a highly rated torch that doubles as a cigar lighter? Well look no further! This reliable torch can help fix your plumbing issues, solder and brown a steak, then light your cigarette or cigar with a regular lighter flame. 

This is one of our top picks in the general purpose torch category and is the only torch that doubles as a lighter.  Most users rate this torch highly, check it out. Read more.

Outdoor kitchen

The worst way. Please don’t use starter fluid, mineral spirits, gasoline, kerosene, or any hydrocarbons. They soak into the coals and emit a stink that I can smell from blocks away. When I smell it I want to march over to my neighbor with a fire extinguisher and a link to this page.

Gas and kerosene put out noxious vapors and I have heard of more than one case of people being killed by the fumes. Here’s a news video about a man who died from gasoline fumes used to ignite a charcoal fire. Let’s not talk about how many sleeves have caught fire while trying to light coals with fluid and a cigarette lighter, and if your fire doesn’t get off to a roaring start please please please don’t squirt it with starter fluid unless you’ve been wanting to see how the inside of the hospital’s burn unit looks.

And stay away from the easy lighting charcoal. Just open the bag and smell. They are soaked in mineral spirits. All the way to the core. So petroleum products are in the smoke right to the end. And you can taste it in the food. I prefer salt and pepper thank you.

Here are some techniques that work. Remember that there are really two fuels, charcoal and oxygen, so make sure all the vents are open wide when you try to light the coals. With briquets you should wait until the heavy smoke subsides a bit and the coals are covered in white ash before you start cooking. Lump will not ash over, so about 1minutes is sufficient.

The charcoal chimney

This is the best method. A chimney is a tube with an upper compartment and a lower compartment. First you stuff newspaper into the bottom compartment, add charcoal to the top compartment, then you light the paper, and after about five minutes, put on a glove and grab the handle and give a shake so the unlit coals on top will turn over and that’s about it. In about 1minutes the coals are white and ready. The hot air from the newspapers rises and sucks oxygen in through the bottom which ignites the coals and creates an updraft that grows rapidly in heat making the top of the chimney blowtorch hot.

Some folks have been known to drizzle some cooking oil on the newspaper to make it burn longer but I’ve never found this necessary. Another technique is to use firestarters on the chimney. Weber sells small cubes of paraffin that work just fine (above). The package says to use two per chimney, but one is really all you need. You can even make your own starter cubes, cheap and easy. Just take a look at the sidebar.

Reader “SuperDave2” writes to say he puts the chimney on the sideburner on his gas grill and “I can light my chimney with a push of a button, they are ready in half the time, and perfectly evenly lit.” Clever feller.

With a chimney there is no chemical aftertaste, no solvent smell in the air, and it’s a lot cheaper and safer than using lighter fluid. Just make sure you place it on something heatproof after you dump out the coals, and away from children and pets.

The Weber brand of chimney is my fave and it lasts longer than the cheaper models. But another feature of the chimney is that it is an excellent temperature controller for your cooking because it is a measuring cup! As you get experienced, you will learn just how high to fill the chimney in order to get your grill to the desired temp. A Weber chimney holds about five quarts, or about 80 briquets. For a Weber kettle, I put about half a chimney of unlit coals in the grill and put about half a chimney of fully lit coals on top to get to 225°F. To get to 325°F, 3/to a full chimney should do it. It all depends on the air temp, humidity, brand of charcoal, and other variables. You must do dry runs to calibrate your grill.

Use a chimney. Get repeatable heat every time and save your eyebrows.


Paraffin wax blocks or some left over wax from used candles

Newspaper, cotton balls, or some dryer lint (whatever you have handy)

1) Put the parafin in a disposable aluminum pan, place the pan over a low heat source and melt the wax completely.

2) If you are using newspaper tear the pages into squares about 12″ x 12″, crumple into balls, and dip them into the wax holding one corner so it can act as the fuse when you light it. If you are using cotton balls simply hold a corner and dip into the melted wax. If you are using drier lint, make a ball about the size of a golf ball and dip.

3) Break open a cardboard box and lay it flat. Cover it with foil or parchment paper. Put the wax dipped starters on the foil and let them dry. Once the wax has had time to harden use a scrapper or spatula to break them free. Bag or box the cubes and store them in a cool area, away from direct sunlight or moisture.

To use the starters simply fill your chimney with charcoal place the starter on your grill grates and light one corner. Place the chimney over the lit starter and the coals will catch.

BBQ Dragon

If you are in a hurry and can’t wait 1minutes for your chimney to be fully lit, the BBQ Dragon accelerates startup with a battery operated hairdryer-like fan on a goose neck with a clamp.

When the company sent us a test unit, I rolled my eyes and chuckled. Hair dryer on a stick. It sat unopened for weeks. Then one night my wife asked the dreaded question “When will it be ready?” The salmon was prepped, sides were almost done and I hadn’t started the fire yet. I filled the Big Green Egg with charcoal, lit up a couple of paraffin cubes, pointed the blower at the bottom damper and within minutes had a beautiful glowing fire.

There are some other uses that may not have occurred to you. Meathead uses his to fire up the logs in his pizza oven and when he grills over wood and says it reduces startup time for wood fires drastically. It can also be used on a fire for a long cook when the temp is dropping because the fuel is burning down. Puff some air on it and things really pick up. Or if you want to add new coals to a fire, it is always best to add lit coals. BBQ Dragon can have them ready in a hurry.

The sturdy goose neck arm clamps securely to legs, shelves and handles, or use the clamp as a base to rest on a flat surface. The variable speed motor allows infinite air control: crank high to get the coal started or dial low to gently aid a struggling cooker and stabilize temps. It is battery-powered, hands-free and the stainless steel and heavy black plastic construction feels durable and looks sharp. A micro-USB connection that accepts most cell phone chargers is built into the handle for AA rechargeable batteries. Water proof for cooking in the rain. Two year warranty. – Max Good

The Looftlighter

The Looftlighter is a real boy toy. It is a hair drier flamethrower hybrid. Just make a pile of coals (try to count them first or use a giant coffee can to measure a fixed amount), place the tip of the Looftlighter against the coals, and within 20 seconds you’ll see sparks flying. Pull back a few inches, and in about a minute or two you have a ball of hot coals. Stir, and in about 1minutes you’re in biz. Looftlighter is an excellent way to start a chain of coals (there are occasions when you want to lay down a C-shaped chain of coals and light just one end).

On the minus side, you need an outlet, you don’t want to use it in the rain, you don’t have the convenient measuring tool of the chimney, you have to stir the coals, and you have to be careful where you place it when it is hot. Plus, it sounds like a leaf blower. sous vide machine one day, I discovered it can also be used to sear meat!

The electric starter

This is an electric coil similar to the coils on a hotplate. Pour a pile of charcoal in your grill and jam the coil into it and plug it in. As the coals ignite, remove the coil, and mix the unlit and lit coals together with a fireplace shovel. Make sure you place the hot coil on something that is not flammable until it cools.

It’s an OK firestarter, and unlike the Looftlighter, you can walk away while it is doing its thing. But I have a few quibbles with it: You need access to an outlet, you don’t want to be using it in the rain, it ignites only the coals it is in contact with so you need to stir them around to get them all lit, and then you need to move them to where you want them. Chimneys are faster, get the coals hotter faster with less fuss, and you can dump them right where you want them. Also, you don’t have the convenient measuring tool that the chimney is.

Propane torch

Then there’s the real flame thrower. Connect it to a propane tank, hit the spark, and whoosh! Within a few minutes a whole bag of charcoal is glowing and that makes it popular on the competition circuit. And propane, unlike gasoline or lighter fluid, is flavorless and odorless when burnt.

It is also good for burning weeds from the cracks in your patio, and flushing enemy woodchucks. This is the kind of tool Karl Spackler would love. This model is the Red Dragon Torch.

For long cooks

Part of the problem with charcoal is that it starts cold, heats up rapidly, hits a peak, and then slowly cools as the fuel is consumed.

But it is important to keep the temp of your grill or smoker constant. There are several clever solutions. The core concept of them all is that you put lit coals on top of unlit coals, or visa versa, or side by side, and the ignition of the new coals synchronizes with the death of old coals.

They work well with one noteworthy problem. Freshly lit coals put out a lot of smoke, and it is thick white smoke, not the thin blue smoke that makes the best flavor.

The Minion Method

The Minion Method came first. Named after Jim Minion, a caterer who invented the technique, you start by pouring a Weber chimney full of unlit coals (80 briquets) into the grill or smoker and bury about three chunks of wood in the pile. Then put 1/a Weber chimney (40 briquets) of hot coals on top of cold coals, and a lump of wood on top. The exact number of coals will vary depending on the brand you use, the smoker, and the weather. It is the standard technique now for the very popular Weber Smokey Mountain bullet smoker.

The fuse method

To light the fuse, known as the snake, C, or U method, you put the coals in a C or U shape, ignite one end, and walk away. It works remarkably well. Here is how it looks on a Weber Kettle or a bullet smoker.

Here is how it looks on a Backwoods Smoker, but it can be adapted to many others.

As you can see that I have divided the coal tray with two bricks. No special firebricks, just bricks. The coals are spread out around the U and there is wood scattered along the path. Hot coals lit in a chimney are poured in one end on top of a wood chunk and the door is closed.

After about three hours. Notice the second chunk of wood has begun to smolder.

Discard the dust

Often there is charcoal dust and small crumbs in the bottom of the bag. Discard them. If you pour them in your grill they can clog the airspaces between the coals and constrict airflow and choke back your fire by as much as 50°F. Remember, oxygen is just as important as charcoal!

Discard the ashes

Empty the bottom of your grill. Ash is a great insulator and it reduces the amount of heat bouncing off the bottom of the cooker. On the other hand it reduces the amount of heat escaping through the bottom of the cooker. But too much ash can choke off oxygen, or be stirred up and coat your food with gray dust.

Extinguishing charcoal

I prefer to suffocate the fire by closing all vents. It can take an hour or more for the coals to die, but they will die if your cooker is reasonably tight. You can extinguish a charcoal fire by dousing it with water, but beware, steam that that can peel the skin off your face will come up in a hurry, and the hot water that will pour out of the bottom of your grill can put you in a wheel chair for a while. Also, wet ashes can form a concrete-like crust that can corrode your grill. When they are thoroughly dry, coals can then be shaken to slough off the ash, and used again. But it can take days for them to get thoroughly dry so if you plan to use the grill soon, don’t douse the coals with water. If you have a ceramic grill, never use water to douse the fire or it might crack.

A video about charcoal

Pull Quote

Steak that’s a perfect medium rare … chicken so tender that you don’t even need a knife, and eggs the consistency of custard.

A home sous vide cooker is mostly for food lovers and experimental cookers. It’s for people who love cooking and playing around with new recipes and techniques, those who are willing to wait for hours for food to finish cooking. Over the past few years, sous vide cooking has blossomed into the public consciousness. Thanks to the technique’s prevalence in the kitchens of high-end restaurants as well as a glut of demystifying literature, demand for home-use sous vide circulators has soared, and many inventors have been using Kickstarter to fund the creation of affordable machines.

Now a mainstay of cooking shows and Internet discussions, sous vide involves using a tool, such as the immersion circulators we tested here, to heat up water and keep it at a set temperature. Then you seal your food—ideally within a vacuum—and immerse it in the hot water for hours at a time until the entire thing reaches a uniform temperature. The result? Steak that’s a perfect medium rare throughout (no cold, raw centers or overcooked outsides), chicken so tender that you don’t even need a knife, and eggs the consistency of custard. That’s what sous vide can do. And for the most part, making that happen is easy.

The best of these devices are very simple to use and allow you to expand the margin of error in creating the perfect piece of food. They’re like a more controllable version of slow cookers, and they can give you some pretty interesting food outcomes thanks to their accuracy.

Over the past few years, sous vide technology has come into its own, and the price has dropped significantly. If you’ve been curious about the technology, now is the perfect time to give it a try. Thanks to recent interest and competition, sous vide devices are now more affordable and easy to use.

Plus, since sous vide cooking in the home has been so heavily driven by innovative people putting things together piecemeal and experimenting in their kitchens, you can find a lot of fantastic recipes online. But if you want the best technical breakdown of sous vide cooking that’s available at no cost online, Douglas Baldwin’s excellent “A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking” is your best bet. It’s a fantastic look at the science of sous vide, offering details about proper handling, cooking times, and various other techniques. If you’re interested in diving deeper into the science of cooking and other advanced techniques,

Modernist Cuisine at Home are two bibles. They’re expensive but immaculately researched (and gorgeously photographed).

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The relatively low price of the Anova Precision Cooker Wi-Fi comes at the cost of some functionality. Most obviously, the 900-watt heater takes longer to warm water than more-powerful models. It is faster than the 800-watt version, though: In our tests, bringing a 1.5-gallon vessel from 69 °F to 135 °F took 20 minutes on the new version, versus 2minutes on the last Wi-Fi model. You can always give the heater a bit of a boost by using hot water from your kettle to preheat the bath.

The Anova Precision Cooker Wi-Fi is not UL-certified (it is ETL-certified). These are independently tested safety certification standards that require devices to meet stringent safety-and-use guidelines, as well as to undergo regular follow-ups to make sure the devices are still up to standard.

The ChefSteps Joule outperforms the Anova Precision Cooker Wi-Fi in a lot of ways. The most obvious is its size. At 1inches long and 1.8inches in diameter, it’s about one-third the volume of the Anova unit and about half the weight, at only 1.2pounds. This thing is impressively tiny—it can easily fit in pretty much any utensil drawer, whereas the Anova is too large to fit in most.

The Joule is also more powerful, with a 1,1W heating element. In our tests, it heated water a full five minutes faster than the Precision Cooker Wi-Fi, raising the temperature from 69 °F to 135 °F in only 1minutes. And despite the higher wattage, it used less power over time: In 1hours, the Joule drew only 0.4kWh, versus the Precision Cooker Wi-Fi’s 1.0kWh. Based on the US Energy Information Administration’s August 201national average of the price of electricity, that’s a cost of less than 6¢.

Another way the Joule preserves resources is by requiring less water. The Precision Cooker Wi-Fi needs at least 2½ inches of water in which to operate, while the Joule needs only 1½ inches. The Joule pulls in water through an opening just above the base, heats it up, and then spits it out through an oval-shaped opening that doesn’t have to be submerged. The device also has a magnetic foot that lets it stick to the bottom of some pots and other vessels. We were able to use a Dutch oven for sous vide cooking with the Joule, which would have been difficult with the Precision Cooker Wi-Fi because of the shape of the pot’s curves and its relatively short walls. The Joule just stuck right to the bottom, and we were ready to go. When it comes to larger pots, though, the Anova model’s adjustable mounting bracket is superior to the ChefSteps cooker’s fixed clip.

The ChefSteps model is just as quiet as the Anova cooker when the output spout is totally submerged, measuring 52.dB at the cooker and 44.dB a foot away. When the opening isn’t underwater, it sounds like a fountain that might be used for white noise, and is noticeably louder at 73.dB up close and 61.dB from 1inches away.

The downside to the app is that it’s the only way to control the Joule. Other than the top cap, which you can use to stop the cooking, the Joule has no buttons or displays. With the Anova Precision Cooker Wi-Fi, you can just spin the wheel to your desired temperature and hit the start button. With the Joule, you must pull out your phone or tablet and set everything from there. This is the single reason the ChefSteps Joule isn’t our top recommendation. We know that for many people, the app-based control scheme will be just fine, but for others it’s a dealbreaker. A version of the Joule with onboard controls, if ChefSteps were to make one, might just be the perfect sous vide machine.

ChefSteps’s newest Joule is just as small as the original. Photo: Nick Guy

ChefSteps now offers two versions of the Joule: the original with a stainless steel cap and foot, and a less expensive model that uses polycarbonate on those components, as on the rest of the body. We tested both, and they’re functionally identical, so we recommend going with the less expensive version unless you love the look of the steel.

Budget pick: Kitchen Gizmo Simplified Sous Vide Immersion Circulator

The Kitchen Gizmo immersion circulator isn’t as svelte as others, but it does a good job for an affordable price. Photo: Nick Guy

This model is not the most elegant option, but it is efficient and quiet.

If you’re just getting into sous vide cooking and you’re not sure whether you’ll take to it, or if you’re looking for an inexpensive gift for someone who loves to cook, Kitchen Gizmo’s Simplified Sous Vide Immersion Circulator is the best option. You have to give up some features and design elements for the lower price, but the Kitchen Gizmo does what it’s supposed to: This cooker gets water hot and keeps it there.

The competition

The Gourmia GSV140 Immersion Sous Vide Pod has an appealing price tag—comparable to that of our budget pick—but the device has too many faults for us to recommend it. Before you even use it, you can clearly see that the design is not well thought out. The clip is on the front of the unit, rather than the back as is the case with most immersion circulators. That’s not so bad on its own, but the clip is nowhere as accommodating as on Anova’s cookers. We used the GSV140 with the same stockpot as the rest of the tested cookers, and the height of the nonadjustable clip prevented it from gripping sturdily. The power cord comes out the front of the circulator, getting in the way. Also, in our tests the display’s temperature was consistently a degree or two low compared with our thermometer, and the GSV140 was one of the loudest units we tested, at 70.dB. We found the only redeeming factor to be the fast heating times: The GSV140 is a 1,200-watt cooker, and it brought water to temp in 1minutes, as fast as any other sous vide unit we’ve ever tested.

The Gourmia GSV150B WiFi Sous Vide Precision Cooker Immersion Pod comes at a slight price premium over the GSV140. It’s just as powerful, the design is a little more thoughtful, and it has a Wi-Fi connection, something the less expensive model lacks. Unfortunately, the more expensive version is just as problematic, if not more so. During our 12-hour cook test, the circulator got up to 134 °F, rather than the 135 °F we set it to. The display and thermometer both showed the lower temperature, while the setting indicator in the top right of the display continued to indicate 135 °F. That might be excusable if it weren’t for the cooker’s volume: The GSV150B started out pretty loud at the beginning of our cook, measuring about 6dB. It got progressively louder as time progressed, rising to 81.dB by the end of the 1hours. That’s comparable to the noise from a garbage disposal. The sound was maddening, and we almost ended the test early because of it.

We were hoping to test Instant Pot’s Accu SV800 Sous Vide Immersion Circulator, especially in light of our positive experiences with the company’s pressure cookers. Unfortunately, when we requested a review unit, Instant Pot declined “to participate in comparison testing among brands that have been in the market for a number of years,” saying: “Once we have a product which we are confident stands up to our brand standards we will then proceed to providing testing samples to the media.” We’d normally have no problem obtaining a product we want to test through other methods when a company declines, but Instant Pot’s suggestion that the sous vide cooker may not be up to “brand standards” was enough for us to leave the Accu SV800 out of the running altogether.

The VacMaster SVSous Vide Cooking Immersion Circulator was both the largest circulator we tested and the most expensive. While it got to the set temperature the fastest (after only 1minutes, thanks to a 1,500 W heater that could potentially trip circuits) and used the least power over 1hours (1.7kWh), it had a few serious drawbacks, including inconsistent temperature, difficult-to-use buttons, and an annoyingly shrill alarm.

The Wi-Fi Nomiku allows you to control the timer and temperature from anywhere using an app. It’s not as easy to use as other circulators, though. For starters, the Wi-Fi login process is a pain. To enter your password, you must turn the jog wheel around the perimeter of the device’s face, going through each character on lowercase, uppercase, and numeric keyboards and hitting Select once you reach the desired character. If you make a mistake, you have to scroll all the way back to the beginning to hit the delete button; that’s also where the submit option is. This process should have to happen only once, but it’s still a pain. Overall, we found the cooker’s navigation more complex than necessary and less intuitive than we’d like. Small bugs, such as the app’s failure to adjust from Celsius to Fahrenheit when we made the change on the circulator, also kept this model out of the top spot. The easy-to-use and strong clip is a nice touch, though.

The Sansaire Sous Vide Immersion Circulator is a capable device, but it’s also much larger than the competition, and its clip system doesn’t attach as easily or as solidly as those of any of the other models we played with. It also has no timer functionality whatsoever.

PolyScience’s Sous Vide Professional Creative Series is built like a tank and extremely accurate. However, it isn’t intuitive to use—it’s huge and heavy. It can’t calibrate the temperature, and it doesn’t really offer anything that you can’t get from a model that’s half its price.

A note for international readers

This year’s crop of sous vide circulators includes 220 V and 240 V models alongside 120 V models. Anova has 220 V models of the 800 W Precision Cooker with UK, EU, and AU plugs; the company will be updating them to the 900 W version at some point in the near future.

What to look forward to

Sansaire launched a Kickstarter campaign for its new sous vide cooker, the Sansaire Delta. Unlike most of the cookers we’ve tested in the recent past, this one isn’t tubular; instead, to our eyes, it looks like a giant Fitbit One. Standing inches tall, it straddles both sides of the cooking vessel. A digital display is on the face, and you can set the time and temperature on the unit itself or via a companion app. The Sansaire Delta isn’t expected to ship until April 201(with a 220 V international version following in June), and we generally don’t recommend backing crowdfunding projects for hardware. We will be testing the Delta when it becomes available.


Pablo Escolar, SideKIC: Sous Vide Review (Accuracy/Stability), Medellitin, February 23, 2012

Anova Sous Vide Immersion Circulator Product Review, The Black Peppercorn

John Biggs, Hands On With The Anova Automatic Sous Vide System, TechCrunch, September 9, 2013

Eric Pepple, Sous Vide Fajitas, Happy Valley Chow, October 29, 2013





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Final Word

First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.

Most important, have fun and choose your Cooking Torches wisely! Good luck!

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