When it comes to barbecue and grilling, gloves are almost as important as salt and pepper.
We use them to handle tongs, hot grates, hot food, pizza stones, and even burning hot logs and coals. There are literally dozens of gloves available. Some manufacturers (or, more likely, their marketing departments), claim their gloves can handle it all. Really? To find out, we put them to the test.
Synthetic. A silicone or neoprene exterior, sometimes with a cotton or rayon lining. Synthetic gloves work best for handling hot food, grills, grates, pans, and pots, or for protecting yourself while deep frying. They’re also fairly easy to clean. Just put them on and wash with soap and water like you wash your hands.
Leather or Suede. Leather, suede, or a combination on the exterior, usually with a cotton or rayon lining are best for hot pans, grills, moving logs, lighting or moving charcoal, and handling hot chimney starters. They are the most comfortable gloves. If you handle food with them, they are difficult to clean. They can be washed with soapy water, but that tends to make them stiff over time.
Fabric With Silicone Patches. Kevlar or Nomex-based fabric with silicone pads. Fabric-based gloves are best for hot pots, pans, grills, grates, chimneys, lighting charcoal, and moving burning logs, briquets and coals. They offer flexibility and moderate dexterity. They can be washed in a clothes washer. We recommend you let them air dry. But do not use them when wet, the water conducts heat rapidly.
100% SIlicone. There are literally hundreds of 100% silicone heat resistant gloves available from various retailers. Many of these grill gloves are actually clones and appear to be from the same manufacturer (see the note below following the reviews). They are extremely easy to clean, but they are clumsy and slippery.
Some gloves promote their heat “rating”, so I contacted several companies and asked how they determined temperature ratings for their gloves. Predictably, I ran into a bunch of stone walls. Either they didn’t know how the ratings were done, claimed they’d get back to me, or said that it was “proprietary information.” Their suggested ratings are given in the reviews below, but we think the heat tests we performed will be reasonably accurate. One distributor of premium BBQ products, Man Law, did share the methodology behind their heat rating. Here it is, straight from their manufacturer:
Check the temperature of the internal part of the glove.
Set a testing cylinder to 572°F (300°C) and then press it down on the palm of the glove for 10 seconds.
Check the temperature of the internal part of the glove again, the increased temperature should not be more than 54°F (30°C).
Our tests involved:
Heat resistance. This is probably the most important test. After all, we pick up hot metal grates, pots and pans with gloves expecting the gloves to protect us from the heat. But for how long? To find out, I inserted a high quality digital thermometer probe in the palm of each glove and then heated a cast iron pan to 500°F. I placed the hot pan on the palm of the glove and measured how long it took for the thermometer to reach 113°F, the temperature at which NASA deems metal to be too hot for astronauts to handle. If that temp is good enough for astronauts, it’s good enough for pitmasters! I lifted hot pans, skillets and Dutch ovens, and dipped some of the 100% silicone gloves in 350ºF deep-frying oil and in boiling water.
Dexterity. While wearing the gloves, I picked up and used barbecue tongs as well as a knife.
Comfort. I noted whether or not the gloves felt comfortable, tight, loose, or sweaty; whether the fingers were fully bendable; and how the gloves felt after being worn for 20 to 25 minutes over a hot grill.
Food handling. For the gloves intended to handle food, I carried pork butts, a slab of ribs and a beef brisket directly from the hot grill to a holding box.
Cleaning. I also tested how easy they were to clean.
Among the fabric gloves we tested, Grill Armor gloves came out on top. The outer layer is insulated with M-ARAMID & P-ARAMID fabric (the same as DuPont Nomex & Kevlar) and the manufacturer claims the gloves “Will Not Catch Fire Or Melt When Exposed To An Open Flame.” They have a lifetime replacement warranty.
Like other fabric gloves, the Pit Mitt Pro Heat Resistant Gloves can only be used on dry items and therefore cannot be used to handle food. Once they are wet, you can get burned or scalded. However, with dry items, they are said to be heat safe up to 450 degrees F. These gloves use Aramid Fibers in the outer layer.
Made from genuine grain cowhide and suede with a cotton lining, The G and F Premium Grain Leather Gloves are an excellent option when seeking high heat gloves though prolonged contact with direct flame is not advised. The gloves have 14.5 inch sleeves to protect your forearms and can be washed with soap and water.
On the exterior, the Grill Beast heat resistant BBQ and grilling cooking gloves are constructed of a thick fabric layer of 1313 Aramid (a Kevlar fiber) covered with a design of silicone patches, and on the inside they are lined with polyester and cotton. The manufacturer claims that they are heat safe to 662 degrees F.
The Mr. Bar-B-Q gloves and Steven Raichlen gloves are the least expensive gloves we tested and both appear to be from the same manufacturer. Mr. Bar-B-Q’s gloves are shiny black (above) while Raichlen’s are shiny grey. Both are intended “For Food Handling Only and Not Intended for Hot Grills.”
The fabric Weber Premium Heat Resistant Gloves are 13" in length and come in two sizes, S/M and L/XL. They are made from 100 percent Aramid with silicone strips on the palm of the glove to aid in gripping hot cooking pans, pots and implements. The lining is 80 percent cotton and 20 percent polyester.
The suede Texas Irons Personalized BBQ Grilling Gloves are some of the best-looking gloves I tested. They feature full grain leather in a soft suede finish with an “air-cushioned” soft cotton lining and 16 inch sleeves. To dress them up even more, the manufacturer offers a nice touch of free three letter etching.
Ekogrips BBQ Oven Gloves come in One-Size-Fits-Most (for hands 7" to 9.5" long), L/XL (for hands 9" to 11" long), and XXL (for hands 13+" long). They are all approximately 6" wide and have a unique pattern of silicone bumps or buttons on the outside shaped like flames.
Arres XL BBQ Grilling Gloves come in two sizes: extra-large (13" long and 6.5" wide) and regular (9.5" long x 7" wide), are available in black only, and are constructed of a thick silicone material, and thus are not that dexterous.
The great looking Steven Raichlen Extra Long Suede Gloves have two contrasting colors: A smooth black suede upper, and a rougher textured tan colored glove and fingers. At 17.5 inches, these gloves are the longest ones we tested. They are lined with cotton, said to be heat safe to 475 degrees F.
The flexible waterproof neoprene coating on the Rapicca Griller BBQ Heat Resistant Insulated Cooking Gloves makes them resistant to flame, grease, oil, and water. The gloves are lined with double layer of sweat-absorbing cotton and come in one large size and are said to be heat safe up to 450 degrees F.
These gloves are said to have a whopping heat rating of 662 degrees F. They have a thick 100 percent insulite cotton lining and are constructed of cowhide with double patches of leather in sensitive areas, with double thick leather in some locations. The only size is large, so they may not be suitable for small hands.
The synthetic Pitmaker High Heat Meat Handling Gloves come in one large size and are said to be safe to 450 degrees F. While intended for handling food, we have also seen them used to move charcoal and burning logs (briefly). The cotton lining on these gloves feels very comfortable and they are slip resistant.
The Man Law BBQ Products High Heat Gloves are the most unique-looking gloves we tested. They come in three sizes, are said to be heat-resistant up to 572 degrees F, and are 13" in length. The gloves are lined with 100% rayon/cotton for a comfortable feel, and the exterior is constructed of food rated silicone.
Fortune Grilling Gloves come in one size that "fits all" and a thin poly-cotton inside is fairly comfortable. The manufacturer lists them as being safe to 425 degrees F. They are FDA approved as being 100 percent BPA free and are textured on both the front and back with heart-shaped silicone bumps for improved grip.