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Testing Oven Mitts for Kids

By Lauren Savoie Published

Cooking is all fun and games—until someone gets burnt.

Heat is an essential part of cooking and one of the biggest safety considerations when kids are in the kitchen. Standard oven mitts are too big for most children, and an ill-fitting mitt can make many kitchen tasks dangerous. While we prefer to leave really hot jobs—such as pulling pans from a blazing oven—to the adults, kids still require protection for moderate-heat tasks such as removing a lid to stir a pot of food, putting baking sheets in the oven, and holding on to a warm pan while transferring food onto a platter or cooling rack.

We wanted a pair of mitts that would be comfortable, durable, and above all, safe, so we surveyed the options and found four products specifically designed for children. (We also considered adult mitts that come in an extra-small size, but even those were far too large for kids.) The products in our lineup were made of cotton or neoprene and priced from $7.74 to $39.90 per pair (some are sold individually).

Senior editor Lauren Savoie grabs a pot of boiling water to test how long a pair of kids’ oven mitts withstands the transfer of heat.

Adults Do a Preliminary Safety Check

Before we let the kids into the kitchen, we performed a variety of tests to make sure the mitts were indeed safe for children. We rigged wire thermometers to the inside of each mitt, at the thumb and middle finger, and squeezed our hands inside. We then used the mitts to carry metal baking sheets and glass baking dishes that we heated to a surface temperature of 350 degrees. We timed how long it took for our hands to get unbearably hot, which we’ve found in previous tests to be when the interior of the mitt reaches about 190 degrees (this may differ for children). Then we repeated the test with sheets at 400 degrees. We also used each set of mitts to grip a hot saucepan while draining boiled pasta, again timing how long our hands stayed comfortably cool. Finally, we stained the mitts with 2 tablespoons of tomato soup, washed and dried each mitt five times according to manufacturer instructions, and repeated the heating tests to make sure washing didn’t affect fit or performance.

To test stain resistance, we covered the oven mitts in tomato soup and let them sit before washing them.

Kids and adults agreed—the pair from Williams Sonoma was comfortable, felt safe, and was the easiest to use.

With the exception of one cotton mitt, which failed to keep our hands cool for more than 14 seconds, all the products were comfortable for at least 30 seconds when we held a 350-degree baking sheet—long enough to move the sheet from the oven to a cooling rack or to drain pasta from a pot into a colander. The mitts didn’t perform as well when we repeated the test with 400-degree sheets—most averaged only about 12 seconds until they were too hot—but since we’d never ask a child to handle anything that hot alone, we gave much less weight to that test.

The neoprene mitts provided a bit more protection when we held the 400-degree sheet, but they performed on par with cotton mitts when used with the 350-degree sheet. Neoprene was also a bit easier to clean, since the gloves can be washed in the dishwasher as well as the laundry machine, but ultimately we were able to get tomato stains out of all the mitts.

The Kids Make the Final Call

We eliminated the pair that lasted only 14 seconds and gave the remaining three models to a panel of six kids, ages 8 to 11. After a quick lesson about oven safety, we had the kids try on the gloves to assess fit, pick up eight room-temperature pots and pans to evaluate grip and dexterity, and load, rotate, and remove baking sheets from a 350-degree oven to get a read on how safe they felt using the mitts. (Don’t worry-—adults were standing by, ready to grab any wayward sheets.)

While all the kids liked the extra grippiness that the neoprene mitts provided, this pair was far too small for all but the youngest tester. Instead, the kids preferred the two remaining cotton models: a shorter multicolored pair that stopped at the wrist and a longer black pair that covered part of the forearm. All the kids thought the shape and fit of these gloves provided better dexterity (or in their words, “felt better”). Their top pick, the Williams Sonoma Junior Chef Oven Mitt ($7.95 per mitt), was our adult testers’ favorite, too. It was roomy and thick, with a soft lined interior (“Ooh, it’s so fuzzy,” said one kid tester). The shape was great for smaller hands, and the longer length helped keep forearms safe, too.

Equipment Review Oven Mitts for Kids

Cooking is all fun and games—until someone gets burnt.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.