In case you haven’t heard, cooking sous vide has become an incredibly popular and trendy way to cook! Briefly, sous vide is a method of cooking food (usually meat) in a water bath or steam environment, which is kept at a steady temperature to prevent overcooking. Additionally, food is placed inside vacuum seal bags before entering the water bath, as we aren’t trying to create stew.
Below, you can find my top picks for kitchen torches for sous vide cooking. Check them out here at Amazon.
Let’s say you have moderately inexpensive cut of steak. Although you could season it and cook it well on the grill, or in a cast iron skillet, you would have to be very watchful of it. There’s a very small window of time between a medium rare and well done steak. Cooking sous vide, however, you would be able to sustain the exact temperature to which you wanted to cook the steak, for about 4 hours.
Although the initial cooking time may be a bit longer than traditional methods, the benefits of cooking sous vide lie in the convenience of this method. If your 1” steak needs to cook for an hour, you have ample time to spend on planning out your side dishes or preparing a fancy dessert to finish off your perfect meal. Here is my favorite Immersion Circulator (opens in a new tab) from Kitchen Gizmo.
Sous vide is also great if there are variables in your dinner plans. If your guests were supposed to arrive at 6:00, but their flight was delayed, the steak can remain at the perfect temperature for up to 4 hours before the integrity of the meat is compromised. This allows you to keep the steak warm while you’re waiting for guests to arrive.
But how do I get my steak to look perfectly charred?
What an excellent question! Since cooking meat in water won’t yield that crispy char you get from cooking on the grill or in a cast iron pan, you need to replicate the crispiness without cooking the meat any further. To do this, you should be equipped with an industrial grade sous vide torch.
By selecting an industrial grade torch, you will be dealing with heat in excess of 3,500°F. This level of heat is perfect for crisping the surface of the meat without burning or cooking the inner layers. Typical culinary torches used for caramelizing sugar atop creme brulee or browning meringues will not be hot enough, as even the most powerful of these torches only reach a high temperature of 2,500°F.
A sous vide torch is meant to bring a dark caramelization to different cuts of meat, which is accomplished by quickly waving a blue-flamed torch over the surface. With the right technique, you can achieve the perfect char without burning the outer surface of your meat. There are also specialty torch attachments that can ensure even cooking.
Bernzomatic TS8000 High Intensity Trigger Start Torch
One of the best torches on the market today for sous vide cooking is the Bernzomatic TS8000. It creates a unique swirling flame with a decent size diameter that creates maximum heat output for quick and easy charring. It also has an automatic start and stop ignition for safe and fast ignition and extinguishing.
The body of this torch is made out of aluminum for impeccable heat conduction and durability. In terms of ease of use, this model does it all. With one touch ignition, a lock button for finger-free handling, and a flame control knob for for adjusting flame size and switching between settings.
Searzall Torch Attachment
To really make your sous vide come out perfectly, add a torch attachment to your device to add control. This attachment works with the Bernzomatic mentioned above, so it’s a great combination.
Attachments like the Searzall help the torch because it creates the perfect searing temperature for your meat. It does this by forcing the flame through two layers of high temperature resistant mesh wire, which creates an evenly spread flame. This creates a more even sear in your meat.
This particular attachment is great because the back layer is coated with palladium for added oxidation resistance in the flame. This discourages the not-so-pleasant aroma that comes with working with blow torches.
EurKitchen Culinary Butane Torch
If you’re looking for more torch options, try out the EurKitchen Butane Torch. This torch is designed with kitchen safety in mind. It’s small and compact, so it fits perfectly in any kitchen. There’s also a finger guard against burns and a gas flow safety lock as well. It’s also very lightweight for easy handling.
The flame produced is impeccable as well. It’s adjustable up to 6 inches, and a maximum of 2370°F with the help of the gas flow regulators. The one touch ignition starts the flame fast, and the torch takes any form of butane for refilling.
This little torch is so versatile for home cooking, you can use it for so much more that sous vide. Caramelize sugar, melt cheese, glaze ham, even toast marshmallows! And of course, sear meat!
Iwatani PRO2 Culinary Butane Torch
Another awesome kitchen torch comes from Iwatani. The flame from this torch is completely adjustable, from size to shape. If you have a large amount of ground to cover, or small slices, this is the mini torch for you. It’s perfect for charring veggies or preparing textured desserts too!
It has an easy one touch ignition, as well as a stabilizing plate for hand and finger protection. It’s small enough that it’s totally portable too – perfect for the kitchen, RV trips, or outdoor barbecues! With a 1 year warranty, this is a great purchase.
JB Chef Culinary Micro Butane Torch
If aesthetic concerns are a priority for you, check out JB Chef Culinary’s Micro Butane Torch. It’s beautifully crafted and looks great in any kitchen, home or professional. It’s made from top quality materials, and has been said to last years and years after purchase. It also comes with a money back guarantee and lifetime replacement policy, making this one time purchase a lifetime investment!
The torch’s flame is also totally adjustable to optimize any dish to perfection, and it is refillable with butane (which isn’t included in purchase). With a simple one touch operation and high temperature, you can create beautiful sous vide and plenty of other dishes with ease with this handy, compact butane cooking torch.
What are the benefits of cooking with a sous vide torch?
Aside from giving you freedom from being tied to cooking your meal, cooking sous vide usually results in a more flavorful and tender piece of meat than traditionally-cooked counterparts.
Because the meat only receives direct heat from the torch after it’s been fully cooked, the torching process doesn’t affect the quality of the meat. For meat that is cooked using direct surface heat, the outer parts of the meat will inevitably “gray” while you’re waiting for the inside of the meat to reach the desired temperature.
In addition to the lackluster aesthetics of grilled meat, a grilled or seared piece of meat loses the delicious tenderness that cooking sous vide retains. When the meat is left on a grill or hot pan, the outside becomes tough and dry while the inside is cooked to your desired temperature.
When you use a sous vide torch, you treat browning the meat as an entirely separate process from the actual cooking. Once you’ve mastered cooking sous vide, torching your food to a perfect char as the finishing touch should be a piece of cake.
How do I properly use a kitchen torch for sous vide?
After you’ve invested in a sous vide cooker, it’s only sensible to pair it with a powerful kitchen torch to make your food both aesthetically pleasing—as well as delicious.
There are several gases to choose from when selecting fuel for a kitchen torch. Among butane, propylene, and propane, many chefs favor propane as the gas of choice because it burns well and is relatively inexpensive compared to the other gases. When shopping for a a torch, be sure to pick one that takes the fuel type(s) you intend on using.
To get an even char on all of your food, it’s important to heat the torch to an extremely hot temperature. This is usually indicated by a blue, rather than a red, flame. Once the torch is sufficiently heated, apply the flame to the surface in a sweeping motion as to avoid burning any sections of the meat.
Once you’ve reached the level of char that you’re looking for, be sure to garnish your dish and prepare your guests for one of the most tender cuts of meat they’ve ever tasted!