After testing over 15 oven mitts, pot holders, and oven gloves over the past three years, we think the Homwe Extra Long Professional Silicone Oven Mitts and the DII Terry Cloth Pot Holders are the best for most cooks. In our tests, both were able to protect our hands from the scorching heat of a 400 °F cast iron skillet for just over 10 seconds. These oven mitts and pot holders offer the best combination of heat protection, comfort, and maneuverability.
To help us find the best pot holders and oven mitts to test, we turned to people who work with food outside of professional kitchens (restaurant chefs and line cooks typically use side towels when cooking). We spoke to Kate McDermott, James Beard nominee and author of Art of the Pie, who teaches pie workshops in her home kitchen, and Melissa Clark, food writer, cookbook author, and staff reporter for the food section of The New York Times (parent company of The Wirecutter and The Sweethome).
Over the past three years, I have spent dozens of hours testing oven mitts, pot holders, and oven gloves in the Sweethome test kitchen. This guide builds on work from Sweethome senior editor Christine Cyr Clisset.
After researching over 50 oven mitts, oven gloves, and pot holders for this guide, we decided to try 15 in the Sweethome test kitchen. Here’s a rundown of the key features we looked for when choosing which oven mitts, oven gloves, and pot holders to test:
We looked for oven mitts, oven gloves, and pot holders that could protect our hands from high temperatures (around 400 °F) for at least 10 seconds. We think that’s a reasonable amount of time to protect hands from burning while you remove hot items from the oven or stovetop. Keep in mind that pot holders and oven mitts can only do so much to safeguard your hands from high heat. Anticipate where you’re going to put a hot item before you remove it from the oven or stovetop to avoid holding it too long. As cookbook author Kate McDermott told us in a phone interview, “you don’t want to be caught holding a hot pie for 45 seconds.”
Since so many Wirecutter staff members (myself included) prefer using folded kitchen towels instead of pot holders, oven gloves, or oven mitts, we decided to add a Now Designs Ripple Kitchen Towel (the staff-favorite dish towel in the Wirecutter test kitchen) to our lineup. In our tests, after folding the Now Designs towel in half three times, we were able to hold a 400 °F skillet for an impressive 26 seconds. The folded kitchen towel was more heat resistant than any of the oven mitts, oven gloves, and pot holders we tested. That said, we decided not to include a kitchen towel as one of our picks because you can severely burn your hand if it’s folded incorrectly.
Also, as Melissa Clark said in an email interview, “Fabric alone is problematic because if it’s wet, you’re screwed.” According to Leigh Krietsch Boerner, science editor for The Sweethome and The Wirecutter, wet fabric transfers heat much better than dry fabric. Since the thermal conductivity of water is about 25 times higher than that of air, when a fabric towel gets wet, Boerner said, “all of a sudden it’s really good at shooting that heat from the pan to your hand.”
For this guide, we tested pot holders and oven mitts made from the following materials: cotton (quilted and terry cloth), poly-cotton (a blend of polyester and cotton), neoprene (a type of synthetic rubber), silicone, and aramid fibers (synthetic heat-resistant fibers such as Kevlar and Nomex). In our tests, we were surprised to find that the type of material didn’t matter as much as we anticipated. A lot of factors contribute to heat protection, including the thickness of the material and its combination with other materials (such as silicone lined with quilted cotton).
However, we decided to only include traditional oven mitts for this guide. After scouring online customer reviews, and taking into account years of our own testing, we found the other styles more awkward to use and less maneuverable than a traditional oven mitt. We also looked at oven gloves, such as the ubiquitous Ove’ Glove, which resemble oversized knit winter gloves. Additionally, we tested a variety of pot holders.
Clark says she prefers oven mitts over pot holders or side towels because they offer more protection for her forearms when she reaches into an oven. And though oven mitts tend to be bulky, they offer the most skin coverage compared to an oven glove, pot holder, or side towel. That said, many of our testers preferred using pot holders because they’re smaller and easier to grab in a hurry. McDermott told us she’s partial to oven gloves because they offer the most dexterity. Deciding between styles is a matter of personal preference; choose what’s most comfortable for you.
We wanted to find oven mitts that could fit a range of hand sizes. For maximum arm coverage, we searched for oven mitts between 14 and 17 inches long. We also looked for pot holders that were wide enough to allow us to grasp a pot lid or handle without the risk of burning our hands.
Comfort and maneuverability
Pot holders and oven mitts need to be comfortable to hold and easy to maneuver. According to McDermott, grip is paramount. If the material of the mitt or pot holder is too slick, you’re more likely to drop a hot pan. McDermott also pointed out, “If an oven mitt is too bulky, it will knock the side of a pie crust and break it.”
Clark told us that she dislikes using silicone oven mitts that don’t have an inner cotton lining, saying, “I don’t like the way they feel, though they do work. Somehow they feel like I have less control—that they are more likely to slip.” Heeding Clark’s advice, we searched for silicone oven mitts lined with fabric interiors.
The best oven mitts and pot holders will be machine-washable—or, at the very least, easy to wipe clean. That said, oven mitts and pot holders take a beating in the kitchen, so stains are inevitable. Even the most stain-resistant materials will discolor with persistent use.
We also looked for oven mitts and pot holders with a loop for hanging, which is a useful feature, especially if you have a small kitchen with limited drawer space. Hanging oven mitts and pot holders near your stove means they’ll always be at the ready. There’s nothing worse than scrambling to find a pair of pot holders buried in a drawer when you’re trying to remove something from the oven quickly.
Assuming mitts and pot holders will be hung on display in your kitchen, we wanted them to be decent looking and available in a variety of colors. But ultimately, choosing mitts and pot holders is more about protection than aesthetics. As McDermott said: “Do you want something that’s homemade and pretty? Or something that’s actually functional that will protect your hands from getting burned?”
We tested 15 oven mitts, oven gloves, and pot holders for this guide. We timed how long each of our contenders were able to protect our hands from heat while holding the handle of a 400 °F cast iron skillet. To evaluate their maneuverability, we used the oven mitts, oven gloves, and pot holders to remove saucepan lids, to move a 4-quart saucepan filled with water around the stovetop, and to retrieve a heavy roasting pan from the oven. Additionally, we had several members of our staff try on each oven mitt and oven glove to help us find an appropriate size for most people. Finally, we washed all of the mitts, gloves, and pot holders to see how easy they were to clean.
The Homwe Extra Long Professional Silicone Oven Mitts offer the best combination of heat protection and maneuverability. These mitts allowed us to hold a 400 °F cast iron skillet for an average of 11 seconds (according to the manufacturer, the Homwe oven mitts are heat-resistant up to 450 °F). And at about 15 inches long, the extra-long Homwe oven mitts did an excellent job of protecting our arms from burns when reaching into a hot oven.
While oven mitts are inherently bulky and tend to inhibit dexterity, our testers felt they were able to maneuver the Homwe oven mitts with ease. Most of our testers agreed that the silicone was surprisingly grippy and provided a secure grasp even when wet. And since the mitt’s exterior is made from silicone, there’s no risk of burning yourself if it accidentally gets wet.
For light cleaning, the silicone exterior of the Homwe oven mitts can be hand washed using a sponge, a little dish soap, and hot water. The mitts are also machine-washable and dryer-safe (note: the tag on the inner lining of the mitt recommends air drying, but we successfully dried the mitt in a dryer several times). Also, since the inner lining is attached at the base of the mitt, be sure to pull it inside-out before machine washing.
In our experience, silicone oven mitts often retain heat for several seconds after holding a hot pan. However, we don’t think this is a dealbreaker. Just be mindful of how you handle the Homwe mitt after touching hot items. Also, the extra-long Homwe oven mitts don’t come in a slew of colors like our pick for pot holders, but they are available in red and turquoise.
The Homwe oven mitts come with a satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not happy with the mitts or they become damaged under normal household use, contact Amazon customer service at 1-888-280-4331 for a refund or replacement.
The inexpensive DII Terry Pot Holders, made from quilted terry cotton, did an excellent job at protecting our hands from high heat. In our tests, we could hold the handle of a 400 °F cast iron skillet for roughly 11 seconds. Our testers found these no-frill pot holders to be extremely flexible and comfortable to hold. They come three to a pack and are available in 20 different colors.
The DII pot holders provided enough coverage with no risk of our testers touching the side of a hot pan or skillet. However, unlike our upgrade pick, the DII pot holders don’t have a pocket to protect the back of your hand, and they aren’t waterproof (so you should avoid using them if they get wet). But we’re willing to forgive these drawbacks since they’re so inexpensive. Also, since they’re so cheap, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to purchase extra DII pot holders to have on hand for big holiday gatherings—or as backup in case some get wet or splattered with sauce.
The DII Terry Pot Holders have a convenient loop for hanging and are machine-washable (we recommend letting them air dry to avoid shrinkage in the dryer).
If you have large hands, you may find the DII pot holders a bit too small. If that’s the case, we suggest getting the larger 8-by-8-inch Choice Terry Cloth Pot Holders, which are cheap, and cheaply made, but able to get the job done.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $10.
The OXO pot holder has a silicone loop for hanging and a magnet sewn into the lining so it can be attached to a fridge or an oven door. While it’s a bit stiffer than our main pick, the DII Terry Pot Holders, our testers were still able to grasp pot lids with ease. The OXO pot holder is water-resistant and machine-washable, too.
Some of our testers with smaller hands felt the pocket on the OXO pot holder was slightly too large, but they didn’t think it was a dealbreaker. One of our testers with larger hands found the opening to be a bit too small, which restricted the full extension of his thumb. That said, we still think the OXO pot holder will provide a comfortable fit for most people.
As with all OXO products, the pot holder is backed by a “satisfaction guarantee.” If for some reason you aren’t happy with it or encounter issues with its performance under normal household use, contact OXO for a replacement or a refund.
The Grill Armor gloves are 80 percent M-Aramid (similar to Nomex) and 20 percent P-Aramid (similar to Kevlar) with an inner lining that’s 100 percent cotton. According to the manufacturer, they’re heat resistant to 932 °F for 12 to 14 seconds. However, in our tests, we were only able to hold a 400 °F cast iron skillet for an average of 8 seconds using these gloves (about 3 seconds less than our main picks). They also take longer to slip on compared to a traditional oven mitt or pot holder, which isn’t ideal when making a mad dash to the stove to rescue a saucepan from boiling over.
Cookbook author Kate McDermott told us in a phone interview, “I’d rather have a glove than a mitt or a pot holder…I don’t like using a side towel because it can slip. You’re more likely to burn yourself.” Keep in mind that the Grill Armor gloves won’t protect your hands if they get wet. Also, most of our testers had room to spare in the finger slots when wearing these gloves, but they said it didn’t impede their dexterity.
McDermott recently purchased a pair of the Grill Armor gloves and told us in a follow-up email, “I’ve actually gotten rack burns from [the Grill Armor gloves] too as I had to get my arms in the oven further to get a good grip with my fingertips on the edges of the pie pan.” She told us her solution was to pull the oven rack out slightly before retrieving an item from the oven to avoid burning her forearms.
The Grill Armor gloves are machine-washable (but should be air dried only). Grill Armor offers a lifetime replacement warranty and a full refund if you’re not satisfied (contact Grill Armor for support). If you purchase your Grill Armor gloves through Amazon and need a replacement or refund, contact Amazon customer service at 1-888-280-4331.
Our former pick, the San Jamar 17″ BestGrip Oven Mitt enabled us to hold a 400 °F cast iron skillet for nearly 30 seconds. However, we’ve read reviews that indicate the stitching unravels. We’ve also noticed that the neoprene begins to smell and smoke well below its advertised maximum heat-safe temperature of 500 °F.
In a new round of testing, our former pick, the San Jamar 17″ BestGrip Oven Mitt, began to melt and smoke markedly lower than its advertised maximum heat-safe temperature of 500 °F.
Though the San Jamar 15″ Cool Touch Oven Mitt (Cook’s Illustrated’s top pick) allowed us to hold a hot skillet for 13 to 15 seconds, our testers complained it was too bulky. Additionally, it has been low in stock over the past year.
The Phoenix 17″ Nomex Conventional Oven Mitt withstood temperatures of 400 °F for about 14 seconds. However, we dismissed it because it was too bulky and difficult to remove pot lids in our tests.
The Phoenix 17″ Terry Conventional Oven Mitt only allowed us to hold a 400 °F skillet for a mere 6 seconds. The mitts were also poorly constructed, unraveling at the seams.
The stiff stitching around the perimeter of the Williams-Sonoma Oven Mitt made it difficult to grasp the handles of a roasting pan. It also gave off an acrid smell when heated and began to melt slightly well below its advertised maximum heat-safe temperature of 500 °F.
The Mastrad OrkaPlus silicone mitt was awkward to use and provided limited maneuverability.
The Triumphant Chef Super Flex Silicone Oven Mitt is too short and doesn’t provide enough forearm coverage.
The Choice Terry Cloth Pot Holders are slightly bigger than the DII Terry Pot Holders we recommend in this guide, so they’re a great option if you have large hands. However, we noticed some of the seams were unraveling, so their quality isn’t on par with our main pick. We still think they’re a great bargain (at the time of testing, they cost $3 for a pack of three).
Our previous pick for pot holders, the San Jamar 7″ × 7″ UltiGrips Hot Pad allowed us to hold the handle of a 400 °F cast iron skillet for roughly 15 seconds. However, after long-term testing, we noticed that the neoprene-like material smells badly when holding hot items. It also melted slightly and began to smoke well below its advertised maximum heat-safe temperature of 500 °F.
Our testers unanimously disliked the San Jamar EZ-Kleen Hot Pad, which has a sticky, grippy outer coating that feels similar to flypaper. The wrist strap was also too wide for nearly all of our testers’ hands.
In our tests, we could hold a 400 °F skillet for about 8 to 10 seconds using the Ritz Basic Potholders (Cook’s Illustrated’s choice), which was a few seconds less than our main pick, the DII Terry Pot Holders.
The G & F 1683L Dupont Nomex & Kevlar Heat-Resistant Gloves were only able to protect our hands from heat for about 6 seconds. These gloves also have less silicone coating compared to our main pick for oven gloves, the Grill Armor Extreme Heat-Resistant Oven Gloves.
Since the Michael Jackson–style Ove’ Glove isn’t as long as some of the other oven gloves we tested, it offers less forearm protection.
Kate McDermott told us she has been happy using the Trudeau 09911024 Kitchen Gloves because they are easy to put on quickly. However, we opted not to try them because they were low in stock at the time of testing.
We opted not to test the Grill Heat Aid Grill Gloves because they received a low customer review accuracy rating on Fakespot.com.
(Photos by Michael Hession.)