A great deal of grilling and meat-smoking tasks require you, the cook, to put on heat-resistant gloves so you don’t remember Sunday’s barbecue with third-degree burns.
Tasks such as holding your chimney starter and pouring the red-hot coals into the kettle. Or reaching over the grill’s grate to flip those steaks or burgers to the other side. Or grabbing hold of that steaming brisket in the smoker’s cooking chamber. I could go on, and on, and on, but you get the picture.
The thing about BBQ gloves, which you probably know since you’re reading this roundup of ours, is that not all of them are created equal.
The good ones insulate your hands from the heat without making you feel like a character from the funny papers. The bad ones are so stiff that they render your hands useless. And worse, despite the claims of their manufacturers, many offer little-to-no heat protection at all.
So, as we at Barbehow like to do, we spent hours upon hours sifting the good grill gloves from the bad. Then, we rounded up our favorites to help you choose your next pair.
Rather than give you a dozen or so options with no clear recommendation—as many of our peers do—we have chosen one pick for each of our three categories: leather gloves, rubber gloves, and synthetic fiber gloves.
These, in our opinion, are the best grill gloves on the market:
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See below for details on our picks, and keep on reading for our buyer’s guide and words of caution.
Best Leather Gloves
Made of 1.2mm thick cowhide leather and lined with sweat-absorbing cotton, these grill gloves are heat-resistant, scald-proof, and have heat protection up to 932°F (500°C).
The Ozero Cowhide Grill Gloves are so good, they give you superpowers. (Don’t say we didn’t warn you!) The fact that you can use them not only for grilling and smoking meats but also for welding metals and fighting fires should speak for itself.
These gloves are made of split cowhide—the cow’s natural skin with hair and the same type of leather used to make jackets, shoes, belts, and wallets—making them as durable and heavy-duty as grill gloves get.
The inside is made of 100% cotton. It’s nice and soft and feels like polar fleece on your hands. And the aluminum insulation between the leather and the cotton keeps you from feeling most of the heat for a reasonable amount of time, even when holding the chimney starter or reaching over the grate to flip that steak.
The Ozero Cowhide Grill Gloves are one of the many leather grill gloves out there. But you can rest assured that they are among the best. (Oh, and before I forget, they’re sold at a reasonable price that makes them a real bargain.)
Best Rubber Gloves
These gloves are made from food-grade neoprene rubber and lined with 100% cotton. They're heat-resistant and scald-proof, and they offer protection at temperatures of up to 932°F (500°C).
If you’re on the hunt for a new pair of BBQ gloves, but don’t want them made of leather, neoprene gloves are one of your best options. The Rapicca Neoprene Grill Gloves, in particular, provide good and inexpensive protection from the heat of outdoor cooking.
The exterior of these gloves is made from FDA-compliant neoprene rubber approved for food contact. The rubber is pliable and sticky, and the gloves have textured palms that help you grip (and hold on to) even the slickest of foods.
The interior is lined with soft, sweat-absorbing cotton. The gloves themselves go up ¾ of the forearm and are as easy to take off as they are to put on. And cleaning is a cinch—just rinse under the sink with lukewarm soapy water.
All in all, the Rapicca Neoprene Grill Gloves are a great option for working on and around the grill or smoker.
Best Fiber Gloves
These gloves are made from aramid fibers, a strong, heat-resistant synthetic fiber that's capable of protecting you at temperatures of up to 932°F (500°C).
If you’re looking for heat protection but you want to compromise as little dexterity as possible, put the Grill Heat Aid Aramid Fiber Grill Gloves at the top of your wish list.
These gloves are made of aramid fibers, short for aromatic polyamides, a family of strong, heat-resistant fibers that can protect your hands at temperatures up to 932°F (500°C), the heat of red-hot charcoal briquettes.
They’re thick, yet soft and lightweight, so you retain maximum flexibility when wearing them. Even when holding something scorching hot in your hand, it takes a few seconds for the heat to penetrate and be felt on your skin.
The Grill Heat Aid Aramid Fiber Grill Gloves are also a great choice for readers with small hands looking for gloves that protect them from the heat and fit them well.
What to Look For
Everyone’s eager to tell you that the best glove should fit snugly around the hand.
That’s great advice and all, but the problem is that most grill gloves are sold in one size fits all. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve yet to find a single man or woman that the regular glove would fit! So temper your expectations and expect to have some wiggle room.
The key to safety and comfort, as you can probably guess, is to keep that wiggle room to a minimum. If you’re shopping online, take the measurements of your hand with a tape measure and look for a pair with a size that’s most likely to fit well. (Besides, you can always return them if they don’t.)
Long Sleeves to Protect the Forearms
Now, a lot of people think that only their hands need protection, but this simply isn’t true. Whenever you’re reaching over the hot grates to flip a steak or burger, or you’re raking the coals over to a new configuration, your forearms need protection, too.
So it’s wise to choose long-sleeved grilling gloves that go most of the way up to your arm if you have the option.
The Right Material for Your Needs
When selecting grill gloves, one of the most important things to consider is the material.
At the heart of your selection process is a trade-off between protection and flexibility. Gloves that offer better protection have less flexibility, and those that offer flexibility have less protection. There is no right and wrong here; the choice is down to budget, preferences, and what’s available at the store.
Leather, a formidable insulator from heat, is the most traditional material for making grill gloves. Most are made from cowhide, a type of leather that makes an inexpensive and relatively durable pair of gloves.
The outside skin is called grain leather, and the inside skin is called split leather or suede. Gloves made from grain leather are more durable and dextrous than split leather, but they’re a whole lot more expensive.
Split leather falls into one of three categories: belly split, shoulder split, and side split (the “side” is the area of the cow where the ribs are). Of all split leathers, side split leather is the best.
Neoprene is a special type of rubber that’s temperature-resistant and water-proof. It’s chemically inert, which means it won’t react to the things that come into contact with it, and it insulates well.
Neoprene is soft, sticky, and porous, so neoprene gloves adhere well to food and don’t slip as much as silicone gloves do, for example. Look for gloves with textured palms, just like our pick, for extra grip.
Fiber gloves are generally fine, especially if you’re looking for gloves that fit snugly and dont’ feel stiff. Most fiber grill gloves are made of aramid fibers, or aromatic polyamides.
Most of us know this material as the brand name Kevlar, a trademark of DuPont, the company that developed it. But other companies can produce materials similar to Kevlar, although not as good as the original, with different names.
So how do you choose? It’s simple, really:
- For maximum protection, buy leather.
- For hassle-free cleaning, buy neoprene rubber.
- For comfort and dexterity, buy aramid fibers, a.k.a. aromatic polyamides.
In terms of toughness, leather gloves are heat, water, and cut-resistant. Neprene gloves are resistant to heat and water, but rarely to cuts. Aramid fiber gloves are resistant to heat and cuts, but seldom to water.
You cannot grill, smoke, or cook in the great outdoors without a good pair of BBQ gloves. (Who am I kidding… Of course you can! But it’ll be much harder, if impossible, to protect your hands from burns.)
These gloves come in all shapes and materials. And we hope that, with our product selection and this buying guide, we’ve helped you get one step closer to making the right decision for your needs.
Don’t be a stranger, now!