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Cutting boards are great for preparing and slicing foods, but when it comes to carving and serving large cuts of poultry or red meat, you’ll want a board that's made for the task and also one that's presentable for a dinner party or holiday setting. Carving boards should always be just as functional as they are visually appealing. Look for design features like juice grooves, carving spikes, and pour spouts, and also take the material of the board (typically wood, bamboo, or polypropylene) into consideration when purchasing. These boards can be an investment piece, but they're incredibly useful and make for lovely serving ware.
To find out which options on the market are up to the task for Thanksgiving and beyond, we sent a handful out to our expert tester, who sliced meats and vegetables on them using various blades, noting any resulting nicks or scents and rating each one on durability, design, size, and value.
Here are our favorite carving boards to buy, based on our tests.
Best Overall: J.K. Adams Maple Carving Board
Juice grooves throughout
Stable and durable
No pouring edge
This board offers high-quality design, functionality, and aesthetics, making it our top pick. It’s a great option for small portions like whole chickens or ribeyes, as well as larger poultry like turkey or duck. The board is reversible, and it features deep channels and a moat around the edge, which can hold 1/2 cup of juices. The opposite side is flat, and it’s designed for daily cutting and chopping. If you want steel spikes to help secure the roast while you carve, some retailers let you add those.
It’s made from edge-grain maple and withstands long-term use, holding up to cutting without sustaining too many knife nicks. Our tester used the flat side for everyday vegetable chopping and the reverse side for carving a roast. She loved the design as well as the deep juice grooves, and even though there is no pouring spout, she was able to funnel the juices into a saucepan easily without spilling. When you’re not using it to carve meats, it moonlights as a serving platter for your next charcuterie board. This board is hand wash only—it will warp or crack in the dishwasher—but it's a worthy investment for its quality, durability, and design.
Size: 20 x 14 x 1.25 inches | Weight: 6.28 pounds
"After significant use, I saw almost no knife marks." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Budget: Royal Craft Organic Bamboo Cutting Board with Juice Groove
Built-in juice groove and handle
Easy to clean
Available in different sizes and shapes
No spikes or grip
Bamboo can show scratches
Most carving boards are quite the investment, but if you’re looking to go a little easier on your wallet, this bamboo board is a great option. While it may not have the sleekest design or bells and whistles that some of the other boards have, it is very functional and durable. Our tester noted that the 18-inch board offered plenty of space for her carving needs, but it’s not so big that you’d need lots of counter or storage space for it. The largest turkey might not fit, but it will handle medium turkeys, roasts, and chickens of all sizes. If you expect to need more or less space, the board is also available in smaller and larger sizes as well as a rectangular or round option.
In testing, the board did its job well and didn't sustain any cut marks, though because bamboo does tend to wear more easily and dull knives more quickly, you may want to limit the amount of chopping you do on it. The built-in drip groove caught runaway juices, but it may be a bit shallow for the juiciest foods. While our tester appreciated the handles on the flat side of the board, which made it easier to lift, note that they do reduce the cutting space. When it comes to cleanup, the bamboo material is easy to wash by hand and non-porous, meaning it shouldn't absorb any excess juices or odors.
Size: 18 x 12 x 0.7 inches (also available in other sizes) | Weight: 3.2 pounds
"I didn't notice any damage, but bamboo tends to show scratches when they do occur, so if this board is going to be used for serving, it might be wise to save it for that and use something else for cutting." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Plastic: OXO Good Grips Carving and Cutting Board
Dishwasher-safe and low-maintenance
Less aesthetically pleasing than wood
Grooved rim is fairly shallow
The OXO Good Grips board is a low-maintenance, lightweight board. It's easy to move around and wash by hand, but if you’d rather put it in your dishwasher, it’s safe to do so. It’s made out of polypropylene, which means that it can resist warping, staining, and odors better than the other plastic boards, and it does not require the diligent care and maintenance that wooden boards need.
The board is cleverly designed with a juice groove and easy-pour corners. These features are convenient for slicing juicy fruits and veggies as well as chicken, roasts, and more. The non-slip rubber grip makes this board ultra-secure, so no need to worry about it sliding around as you’re using it. During testing, our reviewer also found that the grips make it easy to lift the board off the counter, which is not the case for some other handle-less options.
Although it doesn’t have the same stunning visual appearance as some of the other boards on this list, it’s still a kitchen workhorse that will help you accomplish your cutting and carving needs. If you do opt for this board, think about buying a separate serving platter so you don’t have to present meats on this for your guests.
Size: 14.34 in x 21.11 inches | Weight: 3.43 pounds
"The nubby feet, non-slip side grips, flat and grooved sides, and durable surface are just a few reasons I love this cutting board. All those features, wrapped in a very affordable price, make it a clear winner for hard-working kitchens." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best With Spikes: John Boos Reversible Carving Board with Spikes
Removable spikes allow for secure slicing
Large enough for big cuts
Comes with corks to cover spikes and cream to protect the board
Darker colors of meat can cause stains
You shouldn’t have to worry about your food sliding off the carving board as you’re slicing or serving. This gorgeous board, made of durable northern hard rock maple with heavy-duty spikes, is the solution to that problem. It will easily secure your roast to the board with built-in spikes for quick and easy carving.
These removable spikes (taken off by pulling the metal pins from the sockets) pierce the bottom of the food being carved, holding it in place. In testing, we found that the spikes are just as easy to remove, so the flat side of the board can be used for serving or for carving non-juicy foods. The board also came with four small corks that fit over the spikes to keep them safe in storage, but our tester found it easier to just remove the spikes. A small pack of Boos Blocks Board Cream was also included—a nice touch since regular maintenance is a good idea for any wooden cutting board. Before using the board, our tester oiled it and then applied the cream for protection.
This board has an outer juice groove as well as an inner tree groove, which directs the juices to the outer groove. It’s a generously sized board, so you’ll have more than enough space to comfortably carve, slice, and cut, even if a large turkey is on the menu. Plus, its weight matches its size, so it didn't slide around during use. Its large size may pose a challenge for smaller sinks during cleanup, but our tester managed. She did note that it's easier to clean the board with the spikes in, then remove them and give it another rinse.
Size: 20 x 15 x 1.25 inches | Weight: 9.83 pounds
"I didn't notice any damage and don't expect any to appear right away. Eventually, the board will show wear, but that patina isn't a problem. If there are deep gouges for some reason, that's what sandpaper is for." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best End Grain: John Boos Maple Butcher Block
Large and sturdy
Gentle on knives
Comes with cream for maintenance
No juice grooves or spikes
Heavy and hard to wash
If you’re going to use the board for lots of prepping and cutting, it might be a good idea to go for an option with an end-grain design—a choice worth the splurge. This Boos butcher block is highly functional, offering a good amount of space for whatever you’re carving, and has a beautiful checker design. At nearly 20 pounds, the board is quite heavy and clunky, but our tester found that the handles cut into the sides make it easier to move. Not only can this be used as a cutting board, but it’s also durable enough for chopping with a cleaver. It’s sturdy, durable, and a true centerpiece that can be used for serving, too.
Our tester didn’t love the weight when moving the board around, but that weight kept it stable on the counter and it was a pleasure to use. The end grain is also a bit more gentle on knives and when testing was done, we didn’t see any cut marks at all. Keep in mind that there are no grooves or spikes, but you can always place the board on a large baking sheet to collect juices that run off the sides.
This board will cost you a pretty penny, but the extra money will be worth it if you find yourself cutting on it frequently. Your wrists and your knife blades will thank you; end grain provides a nice give as your knife blades move through it.
Size: 20 x 15 x 2.25 inches | Weight: 19.56 pounds
"This is technically a chopping board that can handle using a cleaver to whack chickens or other meats apart, so it's a tough, durable, thick board. In normal use, this should last long enough to pass down to the grandkids." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Set: Kikcoin Bamboo 3-Piece Kitchen Chopping Board
Built-in handles and juice grooves
Handle cutouts take up cutting space
Small juice grooves
If you’re in the market for a set of boards, this three-piece purchase will cover all your needs. The oil-treated bamboo is visually appealing and can handle plenty of chopping and washing, but of course, regular seasoning can be useful. For added strength, the boards are constructed with three layers of bamboo, which helps prevent cracking and warping.
Each board is designed with juice grooves around the edges, but they’re fairly shallow. Built-in handles make the boards easy to lift, but they also take away space on the smooth sides of the boards. The boards are 10 inches, 14 inches, and 17 inches, so you’ll have the right size for whatever it is that you’re carving or serving.
In testing, these performed well. Our tester used the largest board for carving (the only one large enough for a turkey) and found the second and third boards helpful for arranging the food for serving. Note that bamboo is tougher than normal wood so it doesn’t show wear as easily, but it’s also less gentle on knives.
Size: 17 x 12 x 0.7 inches; 14 x 10 x 0.7 inches; 10x 7.1 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 6.69 pounds
"These boards would be fine for any meat as well as for general use. They aren't expensive, so if they get stained or damaged, they can be replaced easily." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best for Red Meat: Virginia Boys Kitchens Walnut Wood Cutting Board
Walnut is beautiful and hides stains
Grooves collect juices
Takes time to season
Carving red meat can be difficult when your roast is too big for your basic cutting board, so it’s wise to have a large cutting board in the arsenal. Since red meat can stain, a dark board like this one can hide those stains better than lighter wood, but with any wooden board, seasoning with oil can protect it from stains of all kinds. While the walnut finish looks attractive, our tester found that it took multiple washes and oil treatments before she stopped seeing the wood stain on her cleaning cloth.
Once she had seasoned the board, the deep walnut color looked quite attractive and much different than typical wooden cutting boards. The size is also noteworthy, with enough space to carve or serve, no matter what’s on the menu. The juice grooves along the perimeter of the board can collect plenty of liquids, while the flat side is handy for chopping herbs and vegetables.
Size: 24 x 18 x 1 inches | Weight: 8.8 pounds
"This board is humungous. I can't imagine a turkey that would be too big for this board, and it can handle pretty much any other meat, too." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best With Pour Spout: J.K. Adams Maple Reversible Pour Spout Carving Board
Effective pour spout
Center oval well cradles roasts
Large and reversible
Juice grooves are great for collecting the liquids from food, but then what? Pouring it into a pan can be messy. That’s where this board really shines: It has a pouring spout that worked very well in testing.
This elegant maple board from J.K. Adams is similar to the best overall pick, but with a few differences. Besides the pouring spout, it has an oval-shaped well in the center of one side, which can cradle the food to keep it from slipping or rolling. It worked well when we carved a small turkey during testing. The center well also collected some juices, so our tester could save every drop.
The opposite side of the board has outer juice grooves but is otherwise flat, so it’s great for slicing meats right down to the board, like the turducken we carved on it. This style of board is available in three different sizes, so you can find the perfect size for the roasts you make and the storage space you have available. Like any wooden board, seasoning with mineral oil or a board oil is a good idea.
Size: 20 x 14 x 1.25 inches | Weight: 6.28 pounds
"I didn't realize how much I would like that well until I used it to pour juices and I didn't end up spilling all over the counter, stove, and floor." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
How We Tested
We sent these boards to our expert product tester, who used them to carve turkeys and hams, chop vegetables, and more. She used both serrated and straight blades on each one, noting how well they stood up to nicks and scratches and whether or not they absorbed scents or flavors. Cleanup was also considered, as we paid special attention to how easy each board was to move from the counter into the sink without liquid running off and how quickly they scrubbed clean. After testing each carving board's individual features, including material, juice grooves, and spikes, we rated them on design, durability, size, and value.
What to Look for in a Carving Board
Cutting boards are available in a variety of materials including wood, bamboo, man-made composites, and plastic. For a meat carving board, look for wood or plastic, the latter of which can usually be cleaned in the dishwasher. Usually, looks aren't as important as function, but since carving boards tend to come out of the cupboards for the holidays and can double as serving dishes, you might want to pay more attention to aesthetics.
"Going with a darker-toned wood, such as cherry or walnut, may provide a bit more forgiveness against staining and visible carving marks over time,” says J.K. Adams Creative Director Sean Osborne.
Specific features that you’ll want to pay attention to are dual sides, spikes, and juice grooves.
"Juice grooves are immensely helpful for those who grill or roast often, as the juices from your favorite foods can overflow into these wells, without getting all over the counter," Osborne explains. "Spikes are helpful for those who host Thanksgiving, or who roast in the oven regularly."
Grooved cutting boards are more useful than flat boards for carving meat (and juicy produce such as tomatoes or watermelon) because they are able to catch juices that run off as you’re slicing. Some boards are double-sided, though, so you can get the best of both worlds.
"If you find yourself using foods with juice overflow, look for a pour spout on the board.” — Sean Osborne, Creative Director at J.K. Adams
The larger the proteins you plan to carve on this board, the larger your board will need to be. For the most part, a 20 x 15-inch board can fit any full-sized bird with enough room to spare.
“For red meat and roasts, having an ample carving surface is important, so size is likely a key factor," Osborne says.
Of course, as convenient as the big boards are, they’re also harder to wash and store. Plus, you’ll need extra counter space when you use them.
The edge of the wood that faces out on your board will indicate how it performs and lasts. “Edge grain” means the carving board is made from parallel pieces of wood that have been fused together. This style of board is recognized for durability and lower price. “End grain” boards usually have a checkered pattern, as the board is made from end pieces of wood. They are known for their "self-healing factor" as some wooden boards may be subject to splitting, splintering, warping, or cracking without proper care. But end grain boards come with a much higher price tag.
Most wooden carving and cutting boards must be treated first. That hairy, rough feel is the reaction of a new cutting or carving board's fiber raising. The fibers between its grain will rise when wet because it's new. Most wooden boards must be oiled regularly to maintain their finish, but we promise it’s low labor to maintain a great board in the long run. “If a board has started to warp, split, or crack, it may be time to start looking for a new one," says Osborne.
How do you clean a wooden carving board?
The best way to clean a wooden carving board is hand washing in the sink with very warm water. It is fine to use a gentle soap and clean with a brush or sponge. Rinse the board and immediately towel dry it in order to prevent any warping, cracking, or splitting. Always use a lint-free cloth to dry it, and store the board in a place where it has air ventilation from all sides.
Should you season a wooden carving board?
Seasoning your carving board from time to time can prevent unwanted splintering or warping. It also keeps the board visually stunning. To do this, use food-grade mineral oil and allow it to soak for 30 minutes. Next, apply a beeswax finish to seal in moisture while simultaneously creating a water-repellant barrier on the surface. Avoid using vegetable or olive oils, as these can go rancid with time.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Sara Tane has written dozens of buying guides for The Spruce Eats, understanding what consumers and cooks need to consider before making a new purchase for their culinary adventures. She is a professionally trained chef, food writer, and recipe developer. She understands the importance of having a reliable, sturdy, and easy-to-clean carving board. She researched different carving boards and their materials and interviewed Sean Osborne, the creative director at J.K. Adams, for this piece.
Donna Currie, our expert kitchen product tester, carefully evaluated all the boards featured on this list, carving turkeys, chopping veggies, and rating them on durability, design, size, and value.