The Best Oven Mitts and Pot Holders to Protect Your Hands
When stocking your kitchen, not only should you consider the best pots, pans and gadgets, but you also have to give some thought to the tools that will help you tackle those stovetop- and oven-based cooking projects.
That’s right, we’re talking oven mitts. It is extremely important to own oven mitts that are not only effective, but are also comfortable, easy to store and aesthetically pleasing.
Oven mitts seem simple enough. A piece of material that is used to insulate your hand when you’re handling a hot item. They’re a dime a dozen, right? Well, the ins and outs of oven mitts are actually a bit more layered than that. Many of the most widely available pairs do not in fact rank among the best oven mitts out there. The tool you select to help out with your daily oven use must be thoughtfully crafted. Instead of picking up the first oven mitt that crosses your path, you should make sure that your selection can stand up to the criteria laid out below. If it does, it will compliment your kitchenware well.
We’ve assessed the features of the best oven mitts and deemed them worthy only if they can withstand some serious heat (the 400-degree Fahrenheit ballpark) for at least 10 seconds, if not closer to a minute. Here’s a category-by-category breakdown, because we know that everyone has that specific something they’re looking for in their cookware accessories.
The best pot holders, your most basic option when it comes to oven mitts, definitely get the nostalgia vote. To some, oven mitts and pot holders are synonymous. It’s easy to conjure up a vision of a childhood kitchen in which a square cotton pot holder hangs from a hook thanks to that handy loop most have sticking out of one corner. In our estimation, nostalgic appeal is not to be overlooked. If something makes you happy, you’re likely to use it more often. So, if memories of grandma’s kitchen inspire you, pot holders may be for you.
The best pot holders are also quite flexible and are easy to stash for on the go use at a barbecue or picnic. They are useful alternatives to trivets when you need a barrier between a hot dish and a table. Plus, the ease of grabbing a pot holder, rather than taking the time required to outfit your hand with even the best oven gloves is a definite plus.
That said, pot holders are probably the least high-functioning of the bunch, as they don’t cover much surface area and don’t encase the hand. For even the best pot holders, there is the issue with the customary cotton material. Regardless of which subcategory you go for – quilted, terrycloth or a poly-cotton blend – you won’t be withstanding high heat for more than a few seconds and you won’t stand a chance against steam or any hot liquids that happen to spill. Though machine-washable, cotton pot holders often begin to unravel at the seams after one too many spin cycles. If you do choose a cotton pot holder, make sure that the fabric is thick.
All in all, pot holders are an extremely affordable option and good for those who like to refresh the oven mitt they use regularly.
If you’re still drawn to the familiarity of cotton but are looking for a bit more coverage, reach for a cotton mitt. Not only do these fit around the hand, covering its side and back, but they often reach up the arm as well, making them a safer bet than pot holders. Especially for handling heavier objects. Cotton oven mitts are also generally made using thick, layered fabric that will stand up to most any kitchen test, rather than the often thinner cotton fabrics uses for pot holders.
The standard glove-shaped oven mitt is between 14 and 17 inches. Despite this protective advantage over pot holders, the cotton oven mitt does present one major problem. Cotton oven mitts have stitched seems and run the risk of holes forming, leading to troublesome spots which can render the mitt useless.
Another option when you’re looking to maximize surface area coverage is the double-handed oven mitt. Not only does the single swath of fabric hang easily from an oven door, but it also gives you full body protection, hanging between your torso and whatever hefty piece of cookware you find yourself carrying. We like these best for handling heavy pots and roasting pans, because they allow you to rest cookware weight on your body for support. As you’d expect, they aren’t the best when it comes to light-fingered tasks that demand dexterity.
Silicone is an optimal choice because of how easy it is to clean. It protects not just against heat, but against steam and hot liquid, too. It is also is the material that stands up best to getting wet once in a while.
Really, silicone’s only drawback is that it does often retain heat for several seconds after coming in contact with a hot pan, so you must be mindful of handling after use. Also, you must be diligent to avoid oven mitts that are made using conventional rubber, which is not as heat resistant. As always, when making any kitchen purchases, be sure to read packaging!
Because of their ability to withstand higher temperatures than traditional cotton, silicone oven mitts are also available in designs with individual compartments for each of your fingers. The best fingered oven mitts will help you move freely and will ease your efforts when it comes to spinning and positioning hot items.
If you like the idea of having a bit of additional dexterity, but would prefer to keep most fingers next to each other, you can also find oven mitts that split your thumb from your other fingers, resulting in a sock puppet-like style. There are even three-fingered options. These sorts of oven mitts with fingers are especially common in silicone because of the material’s resistance to flexibility – it makes sense to afford their wearer as much movement as is possible without asking impossible things of the semi-rigid construction.