Every chef needs a reliable cutting board. Non-wood cutting boards are better for working with meats, but a wood board is a classic option that can pull double duty as a serving tray. A properly sized board for your needs is important and allows you to work comfortably and safely.
Some boards are simple to use and can be cleaned in the dishwasher, while other cutting boards -- usually of higher quality -- should be washed by hand and treated with oil. Our favorite recommendation, a thick maplewood cutting board from John Boos, is a prime example.
Considerations when choosing cutting boards
Plastic cutting boards are ideal for meat since they are less likely to allow bacteria to thrive and are easier to clean. They may not be as decorative as wooden boards, but most kitchens will need two boards: one for meats and one for vegetables. Plastic boards can usually be cleaned in the dishwasher, which helps the board reach the high temperatures necessary to kill bacteria from raw meats.
Wooden cutting boards are a classic choice and can be made of a variety of woods. Maple and teak are two popular options, though teak is often a better choice since it is less likely to absorb fluids and therefore collect bacteria. Wooden cutting boards should be oiled about once a month (mineral oil is a good choice) to keep them clean and looking good.
Bamboo cutting boards are a popular choice due to the sustainability factor of bamboo and the look and feel of a bamboo board. Though they're a bit harder (and therefore may dull knives faster) than wood, they're also less likely to absorb fluids. Just like a wooden board, bamboo cutting boards should be oiled regularly to increase their lifespan.
Size and other considerations
Selecting the right cutting board size for your kitchen is important, but in most cases, bigger is better. A small cutting board is nice for cheese platters or chopping up an apple, but the space and safety that large cutting boards offer is rarely too much. As long as you have the space for it, an extra-large cutting board is helpful in just about any kitchen.
Features like handholds or juice grooves can make transporting your food without spilling anything easy, and rubber grips and feet can prevent slippage.
Cutting boards can be found for as low as $8 to $15, though you should make sure they meet your safety standards and are made of quality materials. At this price, most cutting boards are plastic.
In the $15 to $50 range, cutting boards are often made from high-quality wood or bamboo. Even at moderate prices, you can find boards that will last you for years if treated properly.
In the $50 to $150 range are professional cutting boards that look stunning and won't hurt your knives. These usually need to be treated, but they're often worth the price and hassle.
Q. How do I oil my cutting board?
A. After cleaning the board with soap and hot water, apply an even layer of mineral oil using a cloth or paper towel. Allow the oil to soak into the wood board for several hours before wiping off any excess.
Q. Can I use a wood cutting board for meats?
A. Though plastic is your safest option, it's possible to use a wooden cutting board for raw meat as long as you clean and oil the board as necessary. However, you may want to use one board for meats and another for vegetables.
Cutting boards we recommend
Best of the best: John Boos Maple Wood Edge Grain Reversible Cutting Board
Our take: This double-sided cutting board is made of high-quality maple wood that will stay bacteria-free.
What we like: Two sides means half the wear, and the ample length of 24 inches offers plenty of room to work with.
What we dislike: The price is on the high end, and this board must be oiled after each use.
Best bang for your buck: Epicurean Prep Series Cutting Boards
Our take: Three decent cutting boards in one package is a great deal.
What we like: That these cutting boards are heat-resistant, dishwasher safe, and different sizes makes them convenient and versatile.
What we dislike: A few customers note a slight chemical smell.
Choice 3: Greener Chef
Our take: The lifetime warranty of this affordable organic cutting board adds to its already impressive value.
What we like: This attractive bamboo board is kind to knives and has a drip groove on one side.
What we dislike: Some customers note that the bamboo may splinter or crack. Fortunately, Greener Chef can easily replace the board for you.
Peter McPherson is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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