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Vanilla Bean-Espresso Crème Brûlée
Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Linda Hirst

There is something mesmerizing about watching sugar turn from itty-bitty crystals into a glossy, caramelized coat over a classic crème brûlée dessert. In fact, that’s probably the primary reason you bought (or are currently considering buying) a kitchen blowtorch in the first place, right? And now, you’re left to justify its existence in your home kitchen, given that you’re not brûléeing on a daily basis. While the blowtorch may not be the most necessary gadget to have amongst your other essential pieces of cookware, it will always garner a few oohs and aahs when you pull it out at a dinner party. The major practical pro to owning a culinary blowtorch is that you can achieve a crispy bubbly finish to your foods on a more controlled and precise level than your broiler can. Need more convincing? Here are a few foods that merit torching (and validate your purchase).


With a little sprinkle of sugar on a halved grapefruit, you can turn the puckeringly tart fruit into an elegant and refreshing start to your day. Torching the sugar until it’s caramelized is a good way to add character and deepened sweetness to the grapefruit. Pineapple is another fun fruit to caramelize and serve as a no-fuss dessert with vanilla ice cream or alongside chocolate cake. (It’s a seemingly odd pairing, but trust me, it’s shockingly good.) You can give this brûlée treatment to just about any of your favorite fruits.

Meats and Veggies Cooked Sous Vide

Cooking foods using sous vide techniques allows you to cook foods to perfection via highly precise temperature control. However, you do lose the color and caramelization that cooking foods, such as a steak, over direct high heat gives you. In this case, having a blowtorch on hand means you can give your food the perfect caramelized finish without overcooking. You can sear a steak or “roast” your veggies right after they come out the warm water bath.

Cheese Topped Dishes

Slightly browned and bubbly cheese is usually a sign that whatever you are about to eat is going to be heavenly. While you theoretically could torch the top of an entire 9-x13-inch casserole by hand, breaking out a blowtorch is typically best for dishes that are served individually, such a Parmesan topped French onion soup or ramekins filled with mac and cheese. You can also use your torch to warm that wheel of Brie on your cheese board as guests arrive, rather than popping it into the oven.

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Let’s be real, you’re not about to go build a fire every time you (or more likely, your kiddos) want a s’more. Instead, use your blowtorch to achieve perfectly burnt edges to your jumbo marshmallows for an epic night of making s’mores indoors. The flame will also help melt the chocolate to give you the best s’mores (without a campfire) experience ever. Just make sure you’re the one operating the flame; a blowtorch isn’t one of those “kid-friendly” kitchen tools.

Not sure where to find a culinary blowtorch? A quick Amazon search revealed an affordable, $20 model by Liba that is one of the site’s best seller. You can also visit a kitchen supply store such a SurLaTable or Williams and Sonoma.