Top 2 Cast Iron Skillet Handle Cover Options to Protect Your Mitts
Following in the theme of my last post about cast iron skillets, it is important for me to address a common problem that occurs once you start cooking with cast iron cookware on a regular basis. And of course I'll be sharing many tips for correctly implementing these solutions along the way :)
The Problem: Since cast iron is extremely good at retaining and emitting heat, not only does the cooking area of the pans heat up while cooking, the handles do too!! Unfortunately, most of us (myself included) learn this lesson the hard way...but you don't have to!
If you are interested in saving your precious hands and fingers from dangerous burns, read on to find out the 2 best solutions I've come across. Each one is simple to use, costs less than $10, and is well worth its weight in gold to insulate your hands from a hot skillet handle! These products work well for both cast iron and stainless steel pans, as well as on any similar cookware.
How it Works: These handle covers slip over the handles of your cookware creating a cool, comfortable layer for you to grab instead of the hot pan. Pretty simple, right? Now let's dig into the details of the best solutions.
Best Skillet Handle Covers Summary
1. The Silicone Handle Holder
A relatively new material to be found in the kitchen, silicone rubber has many great applications for consumer products used in cooking. One of the crucial applications of silicone rubber is as a handle holder for cast iron cookware.
Lodge is a household name that has come to be synonymous with quality cast iron products.
Not only do they make one heck of a skillet, they also make many great accessories including the best-selling silicone potholder on Amazon!
These potholders are stylish, easy to use, and are heat-resistant up to 450 degrees! Not to mention all of the colorful options available to add some flare to your kitchen!
These silicone holders fit Lodge skillets that are 9" diameter and greater. They are dishwasher safe, which is a must for easy cleanups. I love the variety of colors available (my favorites are the red and lime green).
One advantage they have over the cloth covers (below) is that you can leave them on your pan when using gas burners. You need to be more cautious with the cotton cloth covers with gas due to fire concerns.
Tip: These holders have a hole on the bottom side near the end. Be sure to put the covers on with the hole side up so that you can see the hole. Otherwise you are likely to grab the pan and inadvertently burn a finger by touching the pan through the hole. Ouch!
Since these silicone holders follow a "one size fits all" approach, they won't fit perfectly snug on every pan and might have a loose grip with your pan. With this loose grip, you just need to be aware of it so that the holder and pan don't slip out of your hand. Not a huge deal since you will get accustomed to the looser grip but certainly something to be aware of.
Do not put these in the oven! While they are heat-resistant up to 450 degrees, that doesn't mean you can bake them along with that tasty cornbread in your oven. They will get hot if left on a pan in the oven, so remove the cover before placing a pan in the oven and slip it back on to take the pan out. I've found that it is easier to just use a conventional potholder to remove the pan from the oven and reserve these silicone covers for stove-top use.
Bonus: The Silicone Assist Handle Cover
If you are going to buy one of the silicone handle covers from above, I recommend getting a matching assist handle cover as well. These are especially useful when you need to maneuver a skillet full of deliciousness! Like the regular handle holder, be sure to use it with the hole side up (as shown in the picture below) to avoid burning a finger!
Note that unlike the rainbow of colors offered for the regular handle covers, the assist handle covers only come in black, blue, and red...something to think about if you are OCD like me about having matching appliances and tools around the house!
These Lodge Assist Handle Holders are lifesavers when it comes to lifting a heavy pan or trying to pour out bacon grease.
I'm no macho-woman, so my arms and forearms need all the help they can get when it comes time to move, tilt, and clean my cast iron skillets.
Use the same principles from the regular silicone handle covers above for the assist handle holders. Don't put them in the oven and they are machine washable as well.
Since the assist handles are not as long as the big handle, they get very hot! The best way to utilize these holders is to only put them on the skillet when you need to use them. Otherwise, they get way too hot!
2. The Potholder-Like Handle Holder Mitts
While not quite as cool looking as the silicone covers, the handle mitts are very effective at protecting your hands from intense heat. They are basically a combination of a potholder and a sock that slides over the handle of your cookware.
Offered as a set of one red and one black with white stripes, the Lodge Handle Holder Mitts are like the little brothers and sisters of your regular potholders.
They have the sole purpose of protecting you from a hot handle.
Designed for a generic handle, they are more versatile than the silicone covers and will fit a wider variety of pots and pans. This is especially helpful if your cookware is a hodge-podge of different brands.
These handle holders fit Lodge skillets as well as just about any brand of cookware you have sitting around in the kitchen. They come in a set of two so you will have a backup set handy!
If you are used to using a cloth potholder, you will be very comfortable with and accustomed to the grip provided by the mitts. I've found the grip to be tighter and overall better than with the silicone handle covers.
Tip: Many users have reported scorching at the end of the mitts (particularly with gas stoves) since the mitts are long and can extend all the way to the pan. To avoid scorching, only put the mitts on when moving the pan, especially if cooking at higher temps. It may be okay to leave them on when cooking at less than medium heat, but use common sense and be aware of this because they could catch fire if you are not careful!
They are only heat-resistant up to 350 degrees, which is 100 degrees less than the silicone covers above. However, Lodge also offers a heavier duty Max Temp Handle Mitt which is rated for higher temperatures up to 450 degrees. And like the silicone covers, these are not meant to be put in the oven either.
As mentioned in the tip above, the mitts are not fire-resistant and have been known to get scorched at the end closest to the pan. As long as you follow the tip above and are cautious during use, you will have no problems cooking over a gas stove!
Bonus: Homemade Handle Covers
Don't like any of the options available on Amazon? Have some sewing and crafting skills? Then making your own handle cover might be your best bet! Not only are they easy to make, but you can also make personalized covers and are not limited to the patterns or colors above.
I've found a couple of great how-to guides for making your own handle covers. For the extra crafty person there is the guide from So Sew Easy, which shows how to make a colorful handle cover from scratch (shown in the picture to the left)
Another great tutorial is from Stephanie Lynn and shows you the process for transforming a regular, plain potholder into a customized mitt, similar to the ones from above. It also shows you how to layer heat transfer material.
As with the Lodge mitt handle covers, be wary of the scorching potential of these homemade options, especially if they are made without fire-resistant materials.
Get (or Make) One of These Cool Covers for Your Hot Handles!
Due to my rekindled love of cast iron cookware, I needed something to protect my hands from the intense heat of these mighty pans especially since I use them on such a regular basis now. I've found the handle holder mitts to be my favorite, although the silicone covers are starting to grow on me as well.
Whichever type of cover you use, just follow the tips provided on this post to get the best and longest use out of your new covers! Get cooking, and keep your hands burn-free my friends!