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What is a Trivet?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 16, 2024
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A traditional trivet is usually a small three-legged metal tray placed on a dining table to protect it from hot food containers. It should suspend the hot cookware or plates at least 1 inch (2.54 cm) above the surface of the table to allow air to flow underneath. Metallic designs can range from the purely functional to the ornate, although they all perform the same duty. Some trivets are custom-fitted to specific cookware, such as gravy boats or teapots.

Other materials may also be used to create a trivet. One common woodworking project uses a small wooden frame and heat-resistant ceramic tile pieces. The woodworker first creates a square framework from a denser wood like ebony, and then attaches small ceramic tiles with a heat-resistant silicone glue. One made this way can be very decorative indeed, since there are literally hundreds of different tile pieces from which to choose.

With the advent of new heat-resistant materials such as silicone, a modern trivet may not use any metal for structure. Many cooks will use oven mitts or silicone pads in place of a traditional metal tray. Any material that can absorb heat safely and protect the surface of a finished table could be considered an informal trivet. The heat generated by microwaved meals can be enough to cause serious damage to a dining table, so a protective layer should be used whenever possible.

When shopping for a trivet, consider both form and function. It can be kept on the table between meals, so some decorative elements may be appreciated. A metal trivet for casual use is usually on the plain side, although some may feature ornate designs on the legs. Ceramic ones can be very decorative, and it may be possible to find one that fits your kitchen's overall color scheme or style. Those made of silicone may be available in different colors, but they are more functional than stylish in most cases. Potholders can also be used as informal trivets, so you might find an appealing design in that area of the store.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to DelightedCooking, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
By heath925 — On Feb 19, 2011

I recently invested in a decorative trivet to keep on my kitchen table at all times. I had never seen the need for one because I usually keep all of my hot pots right on the stove. Usually I don't even use serving dishes on the table -- I just dish up the food right out of the pot.

But I recently cooked a frozen meal in the microwave, took it out, and set it on the table. It ended up damaging the surface of the table, and I might have to have it refinished.

Now I keep the eye pleasing trivet on the table at all times, so it's there even when I don't expect to need it. I didn't think something I cooked in the microwave could damage my table, but I learned my lesson.

By reader888 — On Feb 18, 2011

If a trivet should keep the hot container an inch above the surface of the table, is it a bad idea to use a pot holder instead? A potholder just lays on the table, so no air can flow beneath the hot container.

By Tufenkian925 — On Feb 17, 2011

Trivets today have aesthetic value, even if their functionality is obsolete. This is the same with many household items, such as chinaware and even books. Soon we will cherish many modern items because of their nostalgic value, and that will be their only purpose.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to DelightedCooking, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide...
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