The best moment in preparing a delicious meal from your sous vide is searing it at the end. This is when the flavors that have been infusing into the dish in your water bath come together, char, caramelize, and create a delectable crust with a near-perfect internal temperature.
While we can sear our food in a pan, the torch provides an energy-efficient way to finish the job without producing a lot of unwanted heat or smoke in the home. The best torch for sous vide meals will be high-powered, efficiently priced, safe, and durable. Here are my top 4 recommendations, with one accessory recommendation as well:
- Bernzomatic TS8000 – High-Intensity Trigger Start Torch
- Iwatani International CB-TC-PRO 2 Iwatani PRO2 Culinary Butane Torch
- Sondiko Butane Torch
- GiBot Blow Torch Lighter
- Booker & Dax Searzall Torch Attachment
Why Should I Use A Sous Vide Torch?
Once you’ve finished cooking your meat in the sous vide, you will likely need to sear the surface to add texture, color, additional flavor, and seal in moisture. This is very similar to the chemical reaction that occurs when caramelizing sugars. When we create this crust on the protein after cooking it in the sous vide, it’s known as a reverse-sear.
You could sear your protein in a pan on a stove, but many home chefs find that this overcooks their meat, which defeats the purpose of using the sous vide to achieve the ideal temperature.
How Do I Use A Sous Vide Torch?
When you purchase your torch, you’ll need a can of butane that can add fuel for your flame. At the bottom of your torch, you’ll find a small hole where you can attach the butane nozzle to. Place the nozzle in the hole and press it in firmly to add butane. You can hold it for increments of 5 or 10 seconds and it will make a “sputtering” noise when it’s full.
Your torch will have an on/off switch that will allow the butane to flow. Then there will be a button that you can press to ignite the flame. Your unit may have a nozzle that allows you to control the heat or intensity. Make sure to have your flame as blue as possible for a correct sear.
- Take your meat out of the vacuum bag and place it on top of a couple paper towels, on top of a cutting board. This will help to draw away moisture. Then, use another towel to pat moisture off of the top side.
- Add any additional seasonings you would like onto the meat. Remember that the drying process will remove much of the salt and seasonings that you placed in the sous vide bag.
- Prepare your torch with butane and begin to sear the meat. Move the flame back and forth in a sweeping motion for an even layer. Repeat the process if you would like a darker sear.
Avoiding Sous Vide Torch Issues
After taking so much time to cook your sous vide meal, you don’t want to ruin it at the end with your torch. Chemical tastes and odors, burning your food, and safety are your top 3 concerns.
A bad taste from a sous vide torch is usually due to a low temperature flame that does not burn up all of the gas. This gas will soak right into your food and impart a flavor onto it. Make sure to use the hottest bluest flame possible to reduce this issue. Bad smells and tastes can also come from “hot spot overcooking”, where a flame lingers too long in certain areas. Torching your food in a slow controlled sweeping motion will help to improve your technique and eliminate this issue.
Hot spot overcooking also results in over cooking or burning your food. In addition to consistent sweeping movements, make sure to hold your torch an adequate distance from your food. With time you’ll better understand what is too much or too little torching, and develop a preference of “doneness”.
Safety is always a concern with high heat objects such as a culinary torch. Make sure to keep this device out of the way from children or animals and don’t store your gas in too hot or sunny of an area.
You’ll also want to be mindful of what surfaces you use when torching your food. Anything that can’t stand up to the heat may melt and release harmful chemicals into your food and the air. Consider using a cooling rack with a sheet of parchment paper underneath.
Many sous vide torches come with “on/off” switches which will prevent you from accidentally starting the device. Make sure to turn this off after each use.
The bernzomatic is an industry standard for chefs and home cooks alike, making it an excellent investment if you plan on regularly searing your food. It is highly adjustable and has a knob that controls the temperature and size of the flame. This can help you to avoid imparting gas flavor into your food with a cool/non-blue flame.
This torch is also officially endorsed as a pairing for the Searzall hand held broiler, so if you are planning on investing into this accessory, you can rest assured that it will fit perfectly with the Bernzomatic device.
This torch is so strong that you can use it for several other projects, such as metalworking, wooden stoves, soldering, lighting fireworks, and lighting campfires! Be careful with this device and keep it out of reach of minors.
The Iwantani sous vide torch is second in line for power and heat, coming in at 6300BTU, much higher than an economy torch. This item is a great choice for someone looking for a quality item for about half the cost of the above reviewed torch.
The flame on this torch is relatively large, however, there is a knob that will you allow to adjust the flame’s length. The unit fastens on top of a can of butane fuel and you can grab an affordable four pack from the company as well
The Sondiko Butane Torch focuses on safety and ergonomic design, making it perfect for beginners. It’s also offered at a very reasonable cost, making it a good starter unit or gift. You can hold the unit in any direction, even upside down, and it will redirect the flame in the right direction. There is an easy one-hand on/off button that doesn’t require additional ignition to start up.
The flame can be adjusted to 4 different sizes, making it appropriate for anything from cocktails to BBQ depending on the intensity of heat that you need. It is made out of durable aluminum and zinc for long term use and comes with a safety lock to make sure an unsuspecting little one doesn’t turn it on when you’re not around.
The GiBot Blow Torch is one of the most affordable models on the market and is perfect if you don’t want to make a big investment or would like to find an affordable gift idea. This refillable torch can reach temperatures of up to 2372 F and flames can reach a length of 5 to 6 inches.
This unit has a safety switch to give you peace of mind when not in use. It has high fuel economy, meaning you won’t be needing to refill it constantly, and it is also less likely to impart gas flavors to your food. Some users report having difficulty filling the torch with butane so make sure to go slowly with this part of the process and read other user suggestions on Amazon.
The Searzall attachment is not a torch itself; it is the most popular attachment for your sous vide torch, allowing for the heat of the flame to diffuse itself over your food for gas-flavor-free and evenly cooked dishes.
There is an adapter and screw that will allow you to attach the Searzall to your torch. While there may be several compatible brands with this attachment, the company strongly suggests the BernzOmatic TS-8000 torch, which is the first recommendation in this article.
This device can allow you to utilize chef-level techniques with very little experience in your home. You can use it to perfectly crisp salmon skin, brown steaks, roast marshmallows, melt cheese, and finish roasts and other meats that need a sear in the crockpot.
The Searzall is definitely an item that should be on the aspiring chef’s gift list and will pay for itself through the quality of your meals very quickly.
Sous Vide torches are a great staple in the home chef’s kitchen. It can help you to brown and sear food without excessive amounts of heat or smoke that a pan would produce. It also works as a great presentation piece when you’re entertaining or hosting for the holidays.
What dishes do you like to use your sous vide torch on the most? Let me know in the comments below!