Using a sous vide torch isn’t only fun, but it also means that you’re searing only the outside of your food without affecting the inside. This allows you to cook a rare burger with the outside still perfectly charred. Combined with your best sous vide machine and sous vide vacuum sealer, it’s easier to create the perfect burgers, steaks, and baked Alaska’s that you thought were only available direct from restaurants. Plus, again, it’s super fun.
Best Cooking Torch – Bernzomatic TS8000
The Bernzomatic TS8000 is highly endorsed by professional sous vide chefs everywhere, and often regarded as the best torch one can own. It has some incredibly impressive and noteworthy features like:
- Auto start/stop ignition
- Ultra-swirl flame for soldering, brazing, heat treating and light welding
- Pressure regulated for consistent performance
- Adjustable flame control knob
The auto start and stop ignition button makes starting as easy as the push of a button. The adjustable knob controls the heat and size of the flame, making it a highly versatile tool for a variety of applications. Versatility is a word that you’ll hear often when we talk about this product, as it can provide different types of applications for one type of flame, and even presents an adjustable flame control aspect.
It’s incredibly easy to use and control design makes it a perfect option for beginners and experts alike. It would be an incredibly difficult thing to outgrow a tool that has as much versatility as the Bernzomatic TS8000. Speaking of versatility, the ulta-swirl flame allows for soldering, brazing, light welding, and even heat treating. In having this, you don’t have to spend money on additional products to make up for what it can’t do.
It does not come with a canister of fuel. However, this allows you to pick your preferred fuel to use it with. The aforementioned disadvantage doesn’t truly affect the performance of the torch whatsoever, but it is something to think about before taking the plunge and purchasing.
Don’t Forget To Buy The Searzall Torch Attachment
While you could start your sous vide journey armed simply with the TS8000, the Searzall adds an element of next-level sous vide that cannot be beat. It acts as a handle-held boiler essentially distributing the heat, which prevents the effects of “torch taste” as we discussed above. It boats some impressive features like:
- Prevents off-putting aromas that typically result when cooking with blowtorches
- Produces a consistent, evenly spread flame
- Screen is coated in palladium
- Prevents torch taste
- Easier to control than a blowtorch alone
The ability to evenly distribute heat is optimal when it comes to sous vide cooking. This attachment allows you to take your blowtorch and essentially turn it into a hand-held broiler as well. The Searzall prevents heat from becoming too hot or getting too close to the meat which prevents both the weird taste and the weird smell that are often associated with blowtorch cooking. (Much like what the diffuser on a hair dryer does.)
It’s a great tool for beginners who want to get into sous vide but are too scared they’re going to ruin food. This attachment makes searing, brazing, or charring any type of food much easier than it would be with a blowtorch alone.
When using the Searzall your Sous Vide searing will move a little slower than it would if you were only using a torch. This could even be great news as the longer it takes to sear it, the longer it would take to get torch taste, which gives you a much larger margin for error when using this tool.
What to Look for When Buying a Cooking Torch
Without a good sous vide torch your meat will come out looking less-than-appealing to anyone dining with you. In order to get the most out of your meal you should invest in a quality sous vide torch. Here are some key factors to look at when it comes to overall torch quality:
Temperature and range: The temperature the sous vide torch can go up to (and hold evenly) is very important. The higher the torch temp goes, the faster the sear. While some are capable of going much higher than others, this also means that you run the risk of cranking it too high if you’re not experienced with a sous vide torch. If that’s the case you may want to find a highly-adjustable torch that goes from barely smoldering to high temps with the twist of a knob. (More on that below.)
Versatility: Versatility is a great feature to have with any tool, and a sous vide torch is certainly no different. If you intend on creating torched desserts as well as meals using your torch you may want to check the range of temperatures to make sure it can accommodate whatever it is that you’re cooking up. As I mentioned above, if you’re new to the world of sous vide torches, you may also want to consider the range of temperatures to avoid over-charring your dinner. This allows you to “grow into it” so-to-speak.
Size: It’s important to understand that torches do come in several shapes and sizes. Some are small and burn at on 2,500 degrees (Fahrenheit.) While others, like the ones on this list, burn at or over 3,500 degrees (also Fahrenheit.) Smaller torches are suitable for pastries, caramelizing, or melting cheese. They typically do not put out enough heat to cover an entire sous vide dish in a reasonably short amount of time. With that said, if you’re not comfortable with a torch that burns that hot, they bigger torches do offer versatility. But the smaller torches only offer versatility within a smaller range.
Ease of use: You want to make sure that your sous vide torch is easy to maneuver and adjust as you’re going. If it’s bulky, cumbersome, or has difficult knobs or settings you may want to reconsider that particular torch in exchange for another.
Consistency: Consistency is key to many things, especially heat for charring meat. You want to be sure that your sous vide torch has the ability to hold a consistent temperature preferably for both long and short periods of time. While there really is no way to test this in a store (or at least I hope not) reviews are always a good place to start. Besides, you’re already here!
While there is much debate about certain types of fuel leaving undesirable tastes on meat, none of it has been conclusively proven. In fact, the only thing that has been proven surrounding this rumor is that if the flame is too close to the meat for two long it will actually burn the meat to the point where the surface starts to create new compounds (that are no longer meat-like) which is what leaves that undesirable taste that is often discussed. With that out of the way the only thing that remains is picking your preference on fuel, the most common types are;
Propane: Propane is a good start for most beginners. It provides enough heat to sear without being too powerful. It’s also incredibly cheap at the moment and easily accessible budget-wise for most beginners.
Butane: Butane is a cooler burning gas than propane so it’s easier to control, but it tends to be on the pricier side of things. It is, however, one of the most common types of fuel for kitchen appliances so it may be a good idea if you intend on using your torch regularly as it will be easier to refill.
Map-Pro gas: Map-Pro gas is a variant of propane that burns 200 degrees (Fahrenheit) hotter than propane. It is also more expensive than propane.
Consider your sous-abilities: As I mentioned above, the hotter the torch, the easier it will be to burn your steak (or your baked Alaska) so consider your sous-abilities when buying a torch. If you’re a beginner who wants to opt for a Map-Pro gas torch I would highly recommend ensuring that it’s incredibly adjustable so you can start low and work your way up.