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How to Protect Skillet Handles in a Hot Oven

By Cook's Illustrated Published January 2014

We discovered a method for protecting skillet handles from oven temperatures in excess of their rated ovensafe temperatures.

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When we tested nonstick skillets in 2010, the manufacturer of our winner, the T-fal Professional Non-Stick Fry Pan, 12.5 Inches, informed us that the pan was ovensafe to 450 degrees. The company recently updated this limit, stating that the silicone covering on the handle could be damaged if heated above 350 degrees. Since we have recipes that require putting a nonstick skillet in an oven hotter than that, we wanted a method for protecting the handle in ovens running up to 450 degrees.

We tried simply wrapping the handle with a double layer of aluminum foil, but in a 450-degree oven this bought us only a few extra minutes before the handle exceeded 350 degrees. A better approach was to wrap the handle in a double layer of wet paper towels and then cover the towels with a double layer of foil. As long as there was water within the foil jacket (it will eventually boil away), the temperature of the handle couldn’t exceed 212 degrees (the boiling point of water). We found that the handle stayed safely below 350 degrees for a solid 30 minutes in a 450-degree oven and for well over an hour in a 425-degree oven, after which the water boiled away.

This trick will also work with any pot or pan—not just our winning T-fal skillet—that needs to go into a hot oven and has a handle that is ovensafe only up to 350 degrees.

THAT'S A WRAP: Wet paper towels and a double layer of foil can make a skillet handle more heat-resistant.

Use The Best Paper Towels for the Task