Burning yourself while cooking isn’t pleasant. Even just grazing a hot oven rack can leave you with a blister...and a nervous inclination for handling hot equipment. And, of course, larger burns are far, far worse.
While people often ask what kind of oven mitts professionals use, chefs, line cooks, and bakers actually reach for side towels 99% of the time. These inexpensive cotton cloths can be used in large quantities and tossed in the laundry for quick cleaning. They serve as oven mitts, pot holders, and trivets and can be used to wipe up messes or wipe down stations at the end of a shift. But, for all of their versatility, they do the bare minimum to prevent burns (have you seen a line cook’s arms?) and will lose their heat resistance if even slightly damp. They can also catch fire quickly if left too close to a heat source.
Which makes high-quality oven mitts or pot holders a better choice for many home cooks. So, I tested 14 different oven mitts, pot holders, and towels to figure out which model is the safest to use, giving you the confidence to grip and grab any hot cookware.
The Winners, At a Glance
The Best Oven Mitt: Gorilla Grip Silicone Oven Mitts
This set of silicone oven mitts is incredibly flexible with a good fit for a variety of hand sizes, making it easy to grip onto utensils, handles, and trays. The mitts are a nice length to protect the lower forearm and are heat resistant in both wet and dry conditions.
Alternative Pick: Five Two Silicone Oven Mitts
The Five Two silicone oven mitts are a nice splurge if you’re in the market for a good-looking mitt that performs well. Additional features like magnets for hanging or storing, extra-long cuffs, and trendy coordinating colors make these gloves as attractive as they are useful.
The Best Pot Holder: Jane Domestic Suede Mitt
Of all the pot holders we tested, the Jane Domestic suede mitt/pot holder was able to withstand an impressive amount of heat, even when damp. It safely covers the whole hand and wrist from burns and looks good doing it.
The Criteria: What We Look for in Pot Holders and Oven Mitts
What Is It?
The main purpose of an oven mitt is, of course, to protect you from hot surfaces while cooking. Whether you’re moving hot pots around on the stove or pulling baking dishes out of the oven, a reliable oven mitt will protect your hands, preventing burns. Most cooks use an oven mitt, a pot holder, or a dish towel (or some combination thereof) to handle hot dishes and tools.
With so many mitts and holders on the market, you’d think that buying one would be relatively straightforward. But they aren’t all created the same. Pot holders are still available in the quilted cotton squares you’re undoubtedly familiar with, and they double as trivets to keep your countertop safe from the extreme heat of pots and pans. We wanted to take a look at some more contemporary pot holders that can also be used as mitts for more protection, or are made with different materials for additional heat resistance.
Most oven mitts are still made in the familiar mitt shape with a separated thumb, but some have evolved to include individual fingers to function more like gloves or have been redesigned to mimic the shape of a hand puppet (think Kermit the frog clamping down on your sheet pan). Most models are made using cotton exclusively or silicone with cotton lining. We also looked at mitts and holders made entirely of silicone, as well as suede and Kevlar to see how those materials performed.
What Makes a Good Oven Mitt?
At its most basic, an oven mitt should be able to protect your hands from the heat of a pan coming out of the oven. But, is that really the only standard an oven mitt should have? A good oven mitt should be able to withstand a high amount of heat, for as long as it takes you to pull a bubbling casserole dish out of the oven and walk it into the next room for dinner. Now, 30 seconds might not seem like very much time when you’re doing normal tasks, but it is when you’re carrying a searingly hot dish around.
Most often, you’re probably only ever holding a hot pan for five to ten seconds. But to be on the safe side, we think a high-quality oven mitt should be able to handle a hot pan for at least 30 seconds before the heat becomes too much—and it should be well insulated enough to prevent burns. In an ideal scenario, your mitt should also be able to protect you from the heat of a pot even if damp.
A good mitt should also be flexible enough to allow you to move your hands around, and grip onto a pair of tongs or a whisk with the same dexterity you have when handling a tall-sided baking dish or a sheet tray. This can be a little complicated when you’re considering different hand sizes and ranges of motion, but a decent mitt should accommodate most hands. Fabric that is too rigid or tight will make moving your fingers around difficult—whereas a mitt with too much fabric will flap around, making it difficult to grip with.
Finally, a good oven mitt is going to last a little while (at least a couple of years for an avid cook). So, we think an oven mitt should be relatively easy to clean and able to stand up to burns, especially if you’re cooking with an open flame. While some people may be attracted to oven mitts that come in coordinating colors and patterns, our primary focus here is on functionality—although most brands sell pot holders and mitts in a wide variety of colors.
How We Picked the Products in the Review
When setting out to find the best pot holders and oven mitts, we first looked at the offerings from recognizable brands (OXO, All-Clad, ThermoWorks, etc.). Then we looked at the highest-rated, most popular mitts sold by online retailers such as Amazon, as well as specialty and high-end kitchen goods retailers like Williams-Sonoma, Sur la Table, and Food52. Finally, we took suggestions from bakers, cooks, and experts, as well as weighing the opinions from other reviewers.
We didn’t set a limit for how much a quality oven mitt should cost, but we did take the cost into consideration when judging whether or not the price was reflective of a mitt’s performance. This was especially telling when mitts were sold individually, thereby doubling the price for a set.
Oven Mitt FAQ
Are silicone oven mitts better than cotton?
Generally speaking, yes. Of all the oven mitts we tested, the silicone oven mitts provided more insulation and were more fireproof than the all-cotton mitts. Almost all of the silicone mitts were lined with cotton, and some mitts were cotton embossed with silicone. We found the more silicone, the better.
How heat-resistant are oven mitts?
Different mitts have different heat resistance, but most quality mitts claim to be heat resistant up to at least 450°F and sometimes up to 650°F. Heat-resistant oven mitt temperatures typically do not include exposure to open flame, which requires a glove to be fire-proof.
What oven mitts do professionals use?
Professional cooks typically use side towels instead of oven mitts because they are inexpensive in bulk, easy to clean, and versatile for a wide range of kitchen jobs.
What’s the difference between a pot holder and a hot pad?
A hot pad is typically a quilted fabric square (or in some cases, cork or silicone) used on countertops to protect the surface from hot pots and pans straight off the stovetop or out of the oven. Pot holders can be used as hot pads, but they’re also used to handle hot pots and pans. Some pot holders are designed to cover your hand, acting more like an oven mitt. A fabric hot pad might be able to double as a pot holder in a pinch, but they offer less insulation and are more likely to result in burns, especially if damp.
Also, most pot holders can be washed in a washing machine on a cold or delicate cycle. Once washed, the mitts should lay flat to dry. Some all-silicone pot holders can be cleaned on the top shelf of the dishwasher, or simply rinsed and wiped down by hand.
Why You Should Trust Us
I’ve been cooking in professional kitchens and bakeries for over a decade, handling thousands of hot sheet trays and pots along the way.
To get familiar with each oven mitt and pot holder I put all 14 models through a series of tests to determine their comfort and dexterity, heat resistance, and durability under extreme conditions.
Each test was designed by the Serious Eats culinary team to analyze as many strengths and weaknesses. To make sure the results weren’t biased and there were no anomalies, I employed several sets of hands for the dexterity test, repeated the insulation test three times to produce an average reading, and burnt the mitts several times to make sure I was getting consistent results. While no burns were sustained during the testing process, please don’t intentionally try to light your oven mitts on fire at home.
Test 1: Dexterity
For this test, I gathered some friends and tried the pot holders and oven mitts on different sized hands, judging the comfort and the ease of which we could grip onto hand tools, sheet trays, and baking dishes. This included whisking, picking up items with tongs, rotating trays in the oven, and picking up and holding onto glass and ceramic baking dishes and stainless steel sheet trays. We looked for a flexible fit that accommodated a wide range of hand sizes and allowed for a large amount of hand and arm motion, without being too loose or tight.
Not surprisingly, we had the largest range of movement with the side towels which can be folded to accommodate any hand size. There were also very good results with the ThermoWorks silicone hot pad and the Grill Armor gloves, which fit snugly but still allowed for a lot of movement and a firm grip. On the other end of the dexterity spectrum were the pot holders with hand inserts. Both the Jane Domestic Suede Mitt and the OXO silicone-backed pot holder transformed hands into flippers, with the Jane suede mitt measuring 6 inches wide and the OXO pot holder measuring 7.5 inches wide—double the width of my hand. The additional material made getting a tight grip on smaller tools more difficult.
On average the traditionally-shaped oven mitts allowed me to grip onto utensils and handle trays with about 75-80% of my usual dexterity, which is fine. You (probably) won’t be doing detailed work with an oven mitt on anyway. The mitts made primarily with silicone were a little more flexible and non-slip than the cotton models (including the ones with silicone embossing). From the pool of traditionally shaped mitts, the Gorilla Grip silicone mitts and the All-Clad mitts were the most comfortable.
Test 2: Insulation
To judge the insulation qualities of each pot holder and mitt, I cranked the oven to 425°F and let a couple of cast iron skillets heat up. With an infrared thermometer, I took the temperature of the skillets coming out of the oven—they were about 375°F at the panhandle. Then, I timed how long it was comfortable to hold onto the hot skillet handle with each mitt. It only took about a minute for the skillet temperature to drop to about 325°F, at which point it would go back into the oven to reheat. I cycled through all of the mitts three times to get an average reading, letting the mitts and my hands cool off while the skillets heated back up to 375°F. For the fourth and final insulation test, I spritzed the outside of each glove with two sprays of water and once again timed how long it was comfortable to hang on to the hot skillet.
The silicone models handled heat better than cotton mitts, with a few exceptions. The cotton mitts embossed with silicone (All-Clad, Big Red House) fell short of the all-silicone mitts, but were still comfortably insulated for longer than 30 seconds. The grip on the Jane Domestic mitt might have been difficult, but it managed to insulate just as well as the silicone and silicone-embossed mitts. However, to my surprise, the Grill Armor gloves (a blend of generic Nomex and Kevlar) that had performed so well in the dexterity test proved to be a less effective insulator—clocking an average of only 21.67 seconds of comfortable insulation. The popular HOMWE silicone oven mitt other reviewers had rated so highly was one of the lowest scoring silicone mitt sets, averaging 23.09 seconds. And while the side towels and ThermoWorks silicone trivet were good insulators, my bigger concern was how little they actually protected the hand, wrist, and arm. Most professional cooks learn how to drape the side towel over their arm for large sheet trays and pots, but it’s still risky and leads to some nasty burns. Even though these might come in handy for quick jobs, mitts and holders that cover the whole hand and wrist are safer options.
The damp insulation test divided the group very quickly. The cotton mitts were searing with heat in less than eight seconds and the puppet mitt, terry mitt, and side towel were rendered mostly useless. The silicone mitts and pot holders that had performed well in the dry insulation test (Gorilla Grip and Five Two silicone mitts) performed just as well while damp. Surprisingly, several of the silicone-covered mitts insulated from the heat of the cast iron even longer while damp than while dry. It was unexpected, and we can attribute it to the temporary cooling effect by the water on the surface of the silicone mitts evaporating when coming in contact with the skillet.
Test 3: Durability
While I can’t tell you exactly how well these pot holders and mitts will hold up with years of wear and tear, we wanted to put them through the wringer a bit to see how they’d fare in some extreme situations. First, I held the mitts up to am open flame of a lighter for five seconds to see if they would catch fire. For mitts that had both silicone and cotton exterior features, I tested the flame on both materials. I note whether the mitts burned, melted, discolored, or disfigured. I also examined whether or not the mitt smelled after being exposed to the flame. Finally, I spot-cleaned the mitts to see if simply wiping them off would be enough to clean them and took note of the manufacturers' suggested cleaning methods.
Once again, the silicone oven mitts and pot holders came out on top. The silicone surfaces blackened where they came in contact with the flame but did not melt or catch fire after five seconds. Out of curiosity, I also burned the silicone mitts for ten seconds and found that the silicone began to get softer, but still didn’t warp or burn. A wet cloth was able to remove the char marks to a degree, but some evidence of burns remained.
The flame test presented mixed results with the other materials. The Grill Armor gloves, made with a Kevlar-type fabric weave, showed almost no sign of distress or discoloration under the fire—solidifying my opinion that they are great for wood or charcoal-fired grills, but not so much for close-contact baking. The Jane Domestic mitt darkened in the area where the flame made contact but didn’t start burning or melting. The suede stiffened, but could probably be renewed with a suede brush and gentle cleaning. The cotton side towel and terry mitt went up in flames within seconds and needed to be extinguished with water. Finally, the cotton and silicone combination gloves were fire-resistant to a point, but the cotton portions did catch fire. The flame typically didn’t burn the top layer of cotton down to the insulation, but extra care around a gas-fired stove should be taken.
To standardize our definition of hand sizes, we used the same sizes you’d look for when buying latex dish gloves at the grocery store or boxes of commercial gloves. Our testers wore sizes medium and large by those standards. With these sizes in mind, we considered the shape, stiffness, and overall comfort of each mitt and pot holder.
The Best Oven Mitt: Gorilla Grip Silicone Oven Mitts
This might be the first time you’re hearing the Gorilla Grip name, but it’s a large company that sells thousands of home goods across several brands. At the time of this writing, these oven mitts have nearly 7,000 reviews on Amazon, and an impressive 4.8 out of 5 stars. Of course, you can’t believe everything you see on the internet, so I was skeptical about how good these mitts would actually be until testing them.
It turns out, these mitts are incredibly flexible, yet protective. They fit a variety of hand sizes and easily allowed for a firm grip on hand tools and for hands to stretch around a baking dish. The external shell of this mitt is made from heat-resistant silicone and it has a longer, textured "cuff" that protects your wrists. Since there’s no cotton on the exterior of the mitt, only the interior lining, nothing is flammable.
During the insulation test, this silicone mitt set performed well, clocking an average of 45.66 seconds before the heat resistance began to wane. It’s not quite as high as some of the other models, but it's still plenty of time. When it came to the damp insulation test, these mitts were among the top performers. According to the manufacturer, they are safe to use up to 484°F, which should cover most home cooking projects. Additionally, these gloves are sold as a set so you won’t need to buy two, and the price is affordable for almost every budget. They also come in ten colors.
Alternative Pick: Five Two Silicone Oven Mitts
The Five Two silicone oven mitts from Food52 came in a close second to the Gorilla Grips for a number of reasons. But, if you’ve got a little more cash to spend on a pair of mitts with some extra bells and whistles, it’s worth considering these gloves. The main hand portion of this mitt is covered in silicone and lined with cotton, and it was one of the top performers in both the dry and wet insulation tests. The silicone portion of the mitt also stood up to the open flame without melting or warping and was easy to wipe clean. For those especially concerned about burning their arms, the extra-long cuff should ease your fears. These mitts have magnets about the size of quarters sewn into the cuffs for mounting on magnetic surfaces, or for snapping the gloves together for storage. They’re available in five colors, too.
The biggest drawback to these mitts is that the cotton cuff caught on fire during the durability test. While the burn didn’t make it all the way through the lining, it did tear the cotton cuff at the burn site. If you have a gas-fired stove, you’ll need to be extra careful not to drag the long cuffs across the open flame to avoid setting them on fire. This set is also a little more expensive than other mitts.
The Best Pot Holder: Jane Domestic Suede Mitt
The Jane Domestic Suede Mitt was the most luxurious pot holder of the bunch. It's attractive and soft to the touch while feeling substantial enough to hold up to the heat—which it does incredibly well. During the insulation test, this pot holder performed just as well as the Gorilla Grip silicone mitt, with over 45 seconds of heat resistance. The suede holder didn’t flinch during the damp insulation test either, maintaining a time of 42 seconds. The material was also incredibly resilient during the open flame test, hardly sustaining any damage and maintaining a mostly clean look.
Since the Jane Domestic mitt is designed as a pot holder that you can slip your hand into, it does come with a few drawbacks. It isn’t the most comfortable to use when holding on to smaller tools, narrow handles, and shallow trays. It does best gripping handles on the sides of pots and baking dishes. The suede will show signs of wear when it comes in contact with extremely hot surfaces or direct flame for a prolonged period of time, but it should have years of use with proper suede care. Truly, the biggest drawback is the price. Just one of these pads costs more than most of the other contenders, and we do think it’s a good idea to have two.
KitchenSmart Neoprene Oven Mitt: The shape of the puppet oven mitt seemed clever in theory, but was difficult to use and provided little grip. It also offered little heat resistance and was flammable.
Update International Terry Cloth Oven Mitt: This mitt should be avoided at all costs. It provides minimal insulation from heat and burns and will catch fire quickly if exposed to an open flame.
Grill Armor Gloves: I had high hopes for these gloves because of their incredibly durable fabric, which hardly sustained any damage when working over an open flame. However, this didn’t translate to great insulation when in direct contact with extremely hot surfaces.
OXO Good Grips Silicone Pot Holder: This pot holder is difficult to handle—although it can withstand the heat of a hot skillet for longer than many other mitts. The fabric backside is not fire-resistant, unlike the silicone side.
ThermoWorks Silicone Hotpad/Trivet: Except for the fact that this model provides almost no hand protection, the little silicone round is a fantastic insulator and relatively easy to handle.
Big Red House Heat-Resistant Oven Mitts: These oven mitts are perfectly functional, with middle-of-the-road insulation. However, since it's mostly cotton with silicone embossing, its insulation falls short when damp and it catches fire easily.
Loveuing Kitchen Oven Gloves: The little raised hearts that adorn these gloves won’t appeal to everyone, but they provide a decent grip—even though the individual fingers are too short for average hands to fit comfortably.
OXO Good Grips Silicone Oven Mitt: OXO is generally a reliable brand, and its silicone mitt is decent. But we don’t like that a temperature rating isn’t given, that the mitts are sold individually, and that the cotton cuff was flammable.
HOMWE Extra Long Professional Silicone Oven Mitts: The extra length of the HOMWE Extra Long silicone oven mitts is great for people who tend to burn their arms while cooking, but the insulation of the glove itself didn’t perform as well as other brands.
All-Clad Textiles Silicone Oven Mitt: I tried to light these mitts on fire several times with no luck, which is great—but the insulation properties were only average, and nearly disappeared when the mitts were damp.
Royal Classic Kitchen Cotton Towels: Side towels should have a place in your kitchen, but their high flammability and complete lack of insulation when damp will make them hazardous to many cooks.