Whether you’re baking fresh bread or simply oven-baking a frozen meal, it’s wise to have some protection for your hands against the heat. Be it potholders, oven mitts, or handle-holders, each item has its own advantages.
Our guide here will help you discover all the different types of oven gloves available on the market and which ones will suit your needs best.
Types of oven mitts and potholders
There are three types of heat protection you can buy: oven mitts (gloves), potholders, and handle-holders. Each has their purpose, so you may find your kitchen benefits most from having several different types of heat protectors.
Oven mitts and oven gloves
When it comes to oven mitts, you’re likely to run into three common design distinctions: gloves, mittens, and mini-mittens that tend to resemble sock puppets. All three mitt styles come in a variety of designs and materials.
Standard oven mitts cover your hands from the tips of your fingers to your wrists, which means enhanced protection from the heat and oil splatters. These are available in silicone (heat-resistant up to 500° Fahrenheit), heat-resistant cotton (able to withstand up to 200-250° Fahrenheit), and a combination of silicone and cotton fabrication.
However, a few brands also manufacture oven mitts from neoprene, a type of synthetic rubber that’s oil, water, and heat-resistant. If you’re not a fan of silicone or neoprene, you can also opt for terry cloth oven mitts (with a built-in heat/steam barrier).
Oven gloves, on the other hand (excuse the pun), as the name suggests, are built like regular gloves, with compartments for each of your fingers to allow for greater ease of movement. But, that doesn’t mean these offer any less protection from the heat. Many oven gloves make use of Kevlar to withstand temperatures up to 800°F and are cut-resistant to boot. There’s no set rule for size or length for oven gloves, and some provide heat protection up to the wrist, while others stretch to your forearm.
One (very) minor downside to oven gloves? They’re made with functionality in mind, not design. Unlike oven mitts, which come in a variety of cute, stylish designs that you might want to hang for others to see, oven gloves look industrial and practical. They’re extremely useful, but chances are you’ll want to tuck them away in a drawer!
Lastly, mini-mitts look a lot like their namesake, but mini-mitts function more like sock-puppets, i.e., instead of two compartments lining up side-by-side, the slots line up front-to-back. These are also available in silicone and cotton construction and differ in length, ranging from mitts that stretch to the wrist and further.
Features and materials vary a lot, but most oven mitts and gloves have one or two things in common, such as hanging loops. Some are machine washable and others require handwashing, so pay attention to care and maintenance instructions of whichever mitt you choose.
Potholders have come a long way since the early 1900s when they were made from lace or crocheted. Now, you can easily get your hands on potholders that feature cotton or terry cloth with an inner protective layer of thermal insulation material. Silicone potholders are also popular with buyers.
These are most commonly found in a square or rectangular shape, but round and oval shapes are common, too. Due to the varying designs, potholders are available in a range of sizes, with most measuring 7-9 inches in any direction.
One benefit potholders have over mitts is they’re flat and work well for protecting tables and countertops from pots and pans fresh from the oven.
Not a fan of the potholders available commercially? A fun DIY project for kids or yourself might be making your own, thanks to potholder weaving looms. If you plan to use your hand woven potholder in your kitchen, make sure to use cotton loops on your loom, as acrylic and polyester loops will not be as heat resistant. Also keep in mind that cotton by itself is not that heat resistant, certainly not compared to cotton that has silicone or some other flame retardant outside.
Heat resistant handle holders (handle covers)
Heat-resistant handle holders/covers reverse the function of oven mitts and provide a cover for hot pan and pot handles, instead of your hands.
These handle covers are generally constructed from silicone, but can be found in other materials, such as leather. They’re easy to slide on and off the handles of cookware, from stainless steel to cast iron skillets. Most handle-holders available on the market can withstand temperatures from 104 ºF to 450 ºF.
How to choose oven mitts
Now that we’ve gone over the types of heat-resistant items available at your disposal, let’s go over the factors you need to keep in mind when browsing for oven mitts.
The kind of heat resistance your oven mitt will offer will depend mainly on the material it’s constructed from. Generally, commercial oven mitts are made from one of the four following options:
Cotton oven mitts and potholders
Seeing as how cotton on its own isn’t very helpful against heat, oven mitts made from cotton will typically feature a non-stick silicone or flame-retardant shell/coating. These gloves can handle temperatures from 325ºF to 400ºF (depending on the coating) and are available in various sizes.
There are also terry cloth mitts, which is cotton that has been woven with shaggy loops. This slight difference in weave improves the cotton’s heat resistance, allowing it to withstand temperatures up to 400ºF or even 600ºF.
Neoprene and silicone oven mitts and potholders
Neoprene, which is a type of synthetic rubber, and silicone offer enhanced protection from heat sources and can withstand temperatures ranging from 400 to 500ºF.
Silicone and neoprene are often paired with cotton, but there are also many silicone-only mitts, especially among mini-mitts. Gloves or mitts made solely from these materials provide a firmer grip while remaining flexible to use. In general, they’re better than cotton gloves, both in terms of features and protection-wise.
Aramid oven gloves and mitts (Nomex, Kevlar)
Aramid fabrics are synthetic fibers typically used in industrial, military, and aerospace sectors, but they’re also found in the kitchen! Oven mitts or gloves made from aramid fabrics have very high heat resistance over 500ºF.
When looking for a mitt or glove made from these fibers, note that common brand names related to this material include Nomex, Kevlar, and Twaron.
Note that oven mitts from aramid fabrics are often better suited for open-flame cooking situations, such as barbecues or campfires. This level of heat resistance is not necessary for most people’s everyday cooking.
Size, fit, and grip
Other vital considerations for oven mitts include size, fit, and grip. As stated earlier, there’s no set size for oven mitts. However, if you’re looking for mitts that provide coverage to your wrists, then you’ll want gloves that are at least 14 inches in length.
As far as fit is concerned, that’s where you’ll want to pay attention to design and construction. Mitts, whether traditional or sock-puppet style, are typically easier to slide off your hands as opposed to gloves, although gloves offer greater flexibility. If your cooking routine requires more hand movement, such as stirring boiling liquids in a pot, it’s best to opt for gloves.
The grip of an oven mitt is directly linked to safety because slipping hazards are always a possibility when handling hot food items. Oven mitts made from silicone or neoprene will offer a better grip than cotton gloves, thanks to the materials’ rubber-like construction.
Oven mitt starter kit
With so many types of oven mitts available for sale, it can be a little baffling to make a choice. But that’s where our starter kit section comes in handy.
- Get a pair of Aramid Fabric Oven Gloves For Your Barbeques. The Extreme Heat Resistant Oven Gloves by Grill Armor is perfect for all types of open-fire cooking jaunts thanks to M-ARAMID & P-ARAMID fabric insulation and is heat-resistant to 932°F. These gloves are also machine washable, along with being lightweight and flexible. There’s also a silicone ridge design to enhance grip.
- Looking for comfort and safety for regular cooking needs? In that case, you’ll do well to check out Cuisinart’s Silicone Oven Mitts for the protection of your hands. These oven mitts are perfect for all your standard cooking and baking needs, and include a comfy cotton lining and polyester filling for added relief. Plus, these gloves are hand-washable and extremely durable.
- For folks who’re keen to invest in handle-holders, we’d recommend the ZEALFOXE 8 PCS Silicone Hot Handle Holder. This set features 4 separate pairs of handle-holders to accommodate all types of pots or pans, and can offer protection up to 450°F. Apart from being sturdy, these products also feature a non-slip design and are space-saving.