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Why Are BBQ Gloves Black?

Why do all those pitmasters wear black BBQ gloves – and can I get me some to wear in the yard when I fire up the grill? Well yes you can, so let’s dive into this!

BBQ gloves are black to hide sauce, grease marks, soot, rub, pizza sauce, wood ash and charcoal dust. Black Nitrile gloves are also a favorite of BBQ pitmasters, and many people want to emulate this look at home. Nitrile gloves are contaminate and additive-free, and are FDA and HACCP certified too.

Follow along with me as I consider the many reasons why BBQ gloves are black, and look at what other types of materials are used to make them. We can then see what’s the best option to choose if you want to imitate those BBQ pro’s in your own backyard.

Why Do Barbecue Pitmasters Wear Black Gloves? (And You Should Too)

Why do pitmasters wear black gloves? Is it science? Physics? 

Nope. Not! It’s because the color black hides super messy BBQ stuff: sauce, greasy grates, soot, rub, pizza sauce, wood ash, and charcoal dust. It’s logical. But let’s be honest.

The real reason pitmasters wear black is because black is – awesome. Yippe ki yay, badass, awesome. This author likes the black gloves with the red flames shooting from the fingertips. Whimsical AND badass.

A pitmaster is defined as the person in charge of the pit, grill or smoker. They are experts. They can tell whether the grill is too hot and when the meat is perfect. One of the rules of pitmastery is – practice, practice, practice.

Grilling gloves serve different purposes: to move hot coals or hot metal grates, to hold grilling utensils firmly over a hot fire and to hold greasy, slippery, and piping hot meats. BBQ gloves can be made of silicone, leather, fabric and synthetic. 

Although grill glove manufacturers may claim otherwise – there is no one glove to rule them all. 

Instead, narrow down your needs. Do you need to move hot stuff? Try fabric gloves – like the ones made of Kevlar. Are you burning your forearms over the kettle grill? Try heavy leather “gauntlets”. 

Do you need gloves to help you cut steaming hot meats? Waterproof gloves? Gloves that resist ripping and will protect your hands from hot meat juices? Try nitrile gloves. Black nitrile gloves.

Nitrile gloves are a favorite in BBQ restaurants. Here’s a video from How to Barbecue Right. Worn over a pair of cotton gloves to help with the heat, nitrile gloves mold to your hands. They are comfortable, flexible, and super easy to clean. And you’ll look – awesome.

Are Black Nitrile BBQ Gloves Food Safe?

Absolutely yes. In fact, nitrile gloves are the food gloves of choice.

Nitrile gloves are contaminate-free and additive-free. They are certified by the FDA and HACCP (a NASA space program). Experts say nitrile gloves are the safest and strongest for food handling.

Experts recommend nitrile gloves above the other materials for safety and durability. Nitrile gloves come in several thicknesses (in millimeters). For grilling, choose the heaviest to protect your hands from heat, sharp bones, and knives.

You can buy nitrile gloves in bulk, along with cotton gloves. The nitrile exterior cleans up easily or can be disposable. The cotton gloves on the inside make it easier to handle hot meats. 

What is The Difference Between Blue & Black Nitrile Gloves?

These days, nothing but the color.

Nitrile gloves come in all colors. Traditionally, orange nitrile gloves were used by auto mechanics. Medical facilities use blue gloves. Black gloves are used by postal workers, law enforcement officers and – pitmasters.

Sometimes two different colored gloves are worn, for example a red glove under a grey glove, to help identify punctures or rips.

Black BBQ gloves

Black Nitrile Gloves Vs Other Types of Gloves For BBQ’s

100% Silicone

Silicone is a great go to material for cooking. Many cooking utensils, bake ware, bowls, lids, and colanders are made from silicon. Silicon cookware is freezer safe and oven safe – up to 428°F.

There are lots of BBQ gloves made of 100%, food-grade, BPA-free silicon. Silicon is non-toxic, non-biodegradable and non-recyclable. Nothing sticks to silicon, so clean up is a breeze. 

Silicon is waterproof, so you are safe from hot juices, boiling water, and steam. You can wash these gloves in your washing machine.

100% silicone grill gloves are rated up to 500°F. Silicon is good for handling hot meats and some pans, but they are not temperature rated high enough for coals and grates. Most gas grills and charcoal grills easily exceed 500°F.

Other silicon gloves downsides are – they can be slippery and rubbery. And, since they are molded and do not stretch, they can be floppy and clumsy to use. Silicon does not breathe, so hands can become clammy and sweaty.


Heavy leather gloves are great for protecting you from the heat that grilling generates. They are perfect for handling grilling tongs and knives. They come in extra-long sizes (“gauntlets”) to protect your forearms. Very cowboy chic.

Leather is a long-lasting and traditional material. It is pliable and comfortable. Your hands won’t be sweaty. 

Most leather grill gloves are temperature rated up to 500°F. You can move very hot, heavy things like grates, but – quickly. Leather gloves do not protect you from really hot stuff, like hot metal, burning coals or logs. 

Leather is not waterproof and gets stiff if left in the rain. It does not wash well, so leather gloves are not good for handling meats. 


Fabric gloves are made of super tough, high-heat resistant materials – think, Kevlar. Other common grill glove fabrics are Nomex and Aramid. Often, they have strips of silicone for extra grip.

Fabric gloves are flexible and comfortable. The fit is great for all hand sizes. They are great for handling hot utensils. In addition, they are excellent choices for handling hot metals like grates, hot logs, and charcoal.

Some fabric gloves are rated to crazy high heats – over 900°F. Many of these fabrics will not melt. Inside, they keep your hands cool and not sweaty.

Fabric gloves are not good for wet situations. If fabric gloves get wet, they lose insulation. Fabric gloves can be washed in the washing machine, but they are sticky with food. They are not designed to handle meat directly.


Synthetic gloves can have silicone, neoprene, vinyl or nitrile exteriors on a cotton or rayon lining. Synthetic gloves are best for handling hot meats. Some gloves are a solid synthetic material, like nitrile, worn over cotton gloves.

Synthetic gloves are best at handling meats. Your grip won’t slip handling knives and utensils. These gloves are worn by pitmasters in BBQ restaurants while cutting up steaming hot pork shoulders, ribs, or brisket.

Synthetic gloves are easy to clean in your washing machine. They are dexterous and comfortable. They might resemble dish gloves but are much thicker and heavier.

Of all the synthetic glove exterior materials, experts recommend nitrile. Nitrile gloves come in a heavier weight (4 mil) than vinyl. The heavier weight makes nitrile gloves more puncture-resistant than vinyl.

Synthetic gloves are heat-resistant up to 475°F, which means they won’t be good for handling hot metal grates or pans. They won’t be good for hot wood or charcoal. Generally, fabric gloves can withstand high grilling temps for only 20 seconds.

Are Nitrile BBQ Gloves Safe On My Skin?

Years ago, some nitrile gloves (blue ones) were non-latex for people with latex allergies. All other colors had latex. Today, all colors of nitrile gloves are allergy, latex and powder-free.

If you have sensitive skin, look for nitrile gloves that have been certified safe by the Skin Health Alliance.

In Conclusion

So if you’re itching to emulate your local BBQ pitmaster and look like a real professional behind that grill, get yourself some black Nitrile gloves.

Not only are they certified by the FDA and HACCP, but they are also contaminate and additive-free.

Black Nitrile gloves also hide all those BBQ byproducts, such as grease, sauces, rub, soot, ash and dust.  

Most importantly though, your new black BBQ gloves will make you look cool 🙂

Mark H.

Homeowner and property investor Mark H. aspires to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >