How we tested
Do you really need an extra piece of equipment to protect your countertop, or will a heavy cloth suffice? Using a hot Dutch oven, large rimmed baking sheet, and 12-inch skillet, we tested eight counter protectors (some were raised trivets, others had a flat design) in materials that ranged from old-fashioned braided cloth to wood, cast iron, and silicone. Our finding: Models made with silicone perform best. They resisted skidding and kept the pan from sliding, cleaned up easily, prevented a buildup of condensation on the counter (a problem with braided cloth), and even doubled as potholders. Magnetic counter protectors were our least favorite, as they stuck to cookware too well—a tester nearly burned her hand trying to remove one that had attached itself to the edge of the pan instead of the bottom. Our favorite protector had a large silicone pad that withstood the heat of a 500-degree pot.