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A knife is, arguably, only as good as the cutting board it's being used on. Whether the task at hand is chopping vegetables, carving meat, or prepping a garnish, there's likely the perfect cutting board for it. Plus, these oft-reached-for kitchen tools are versatile: They can act as a serving plate or a layer to protect your table from heat and scratches, for example.
But how exactly do you pick the right cutting board? Well, for starters, it should give you enough room to chop and slice, and it should be relatively easy to clean and store. It should also be able to stand up to stains and odors, as well as handle slippery foods or juicy ingredients. In fact, with diligent maintenance, a quality cutting board may even last you anywhere from 5 to 10 years.
From plastic to wood, flexible to sturdy, here are the best cutting boards.
Best Overall, Wood: John Boos Chop-N-Slice Maple Wood Reversible Cutting Board
Can be used for chopping
Lots of work space
Needs seasoning before use
Must be washed by hand
This John Boos cutting board is substantial, so you won’t feel like it’s slip-sliding around on your countertop, but it isn't heavy or cumbersome. Made from wood, this attractive cutting board is elegant enough to use to serve cheeses and meats but it’s also a workhorse in the kitchen. Since it’s reversible, you can flip it over to use the other side when you need a fresh cutting surface.
This cutting board has a one-year warranty. Since it's wooden, it requires a little additional care to keep it in top shape. It should never be left out wet or washed in the dishwasher, and it will need to be pretreated before you use it. This special care is worth it, according to our reviewer: "Because this board was built with professional use in mind, it should last most home cooks a lifetime if it is well cared for," she says.
Dimensions: 20 x 15 x 1.25 Inches | Material: Wood, Maple | Weight: 9 Pounds
"Considering the long life you can expect from a board like this, the price tag is actually very reasonable." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Overall, Plastic: OXO Good Grips Utility Cutting Board
Features both flat and grooved-rim surfaces
Nub feet keep it off the countertop
Grooved rim is fairly shallow
The biggest advantage of a plastic cutting board is the ability to pop it in the dishwasher after use (a wood cutting board will crack and deteriorate with dishwasher use). One side of this OXO cutting board has grooves around the edges to catch liquids before they run on your counter, plus rubber grips so that the board won’t slide around on your kitchen counter.
Our reviewer especially liked that these grips are designed in such a way that she can easily lift the board off the counter without needing to paw at it or slide it to the counter edge. The other side of the cutting board does not have grooves, but can be used for chopping—a reversible board comes in handy if you’re preparing meat or fish and wish to avoid cross-contamination.
The board is made from polypropylene, which doesn’t retain smells and also guards against the kinds of deep scratches that can occur when you're using a sharp knife.
Dimensions: 10.39 x 14.78 Inches | Material: Plastic | Weight: 1.5 Pounds
"If this board were larger, it would be more difficult to store, and if it were smaller, it would be much less useful. As Goldilocks would say, 'It’s juuuust right.'" — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best for Carving Meat: J.K. Adams Large Reversible Maple Carving Board
Large enough for a turkey
Deep wells to catch juices
You’ll find plenty of features in this cutting board that make it a good match for carving meat—like grooves in the board’s surface and a slight slope to one side so that the juices that release from meat all run down into a single large well. This particularly impressed our reviewer, who typically puts her cutting board into a sheet pan to collect overflowing juices when she is carving; with this board, she doesn't have to. This well also makes it easy to spoon the juices out and use them for sauces or gravy.
When you order the J.K. Adams cutting board, you can even choose to add steel spikes to it, which helps keep the meat locked in position as you carve. This sturdy board has substantial size and weight that's perfect for significant cuts of meat and comes with a five-year warranty.
Dimensions: 20 x 14 Inches | Material: Wood, Maple | Weight: 6.28 Pounds
"We could carve at the table without worrying about staining the tablecloth." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Flexible: Dexas Heavy Duty Grippmat Flexible Cutting Boards, Set of 4
Thin yet sturdy
Grippy bottom prevents slipping
One-sided use only
Juices tend to drip off edges
A flexible cutting board makes transport of chopped up items easy—just lift and fold up the edges to create a handy funnel to send food into a pot or bowl. You’ll get a set of four in bright colors, each perfect for everyday usage. For thin boards, these are relatively sturdy, even while their thinness makes them easy to store in cabinets or drawers. Moreover, grip marks on one side of each cutting board prevent the cutting boards from sliding around.
"We used these on a smooth countertop and a wooden table, and the boards remained in place, with no slipping or sliding as we worked," our reviewer says.
The plastic is both non-porous and non-absorbent. The colors are attractive, and can also help prevent cross-contamination—so you can remember which board you used for which ingredient. To clean, use hot water and soap or just toss the cutting boards into your dishwasher.
Dimensions: 11 x 8 x 0.06 Inches | Material: Plastic | Weight: 10.9 Ounces
Best Design: Sonder Los Angeles Large Multipurpose American Walnut Wood Cutting Board
Padded box for storage or gifting
No juice groove
This board is a showstopper. It’s made from American walnut with decorative accents from cherry and oak wood. You may find yourself leaving this one on your counter, rather than placing it in a cabinet, just to show it off a little. It also is perfect for displaying food—cheese plate lovers will find that the board is perfect for serving cheese and charcuterie. That’s particularly true since one side of the cutting board has a long groove that’s perfect for a baguette or crackers—or, "I particularly liked the way it looked when it was filled with small bright red tomatoes," our tester says.
But this cutting board is also functional. Since it’s reversible, you can use either side of it during food preparations. The indentation on one side is handy for sectioning off one ingredient if you’re chopping up lots of items or keeping round ingredients from rolling off of the board.
Dimensions: 17 x 13 x 1.1 Inches | Material: Wood: Walnut, Cherry, and Maple | Weight: 6.25 Pounds
Regularly oiling your wooden cutting board is a great way to protect the wood against moisture (which leads to warping and cracking). Any food-safe mineral oil is colorless, odorless, and flavorless, making it a great product for the job. You can also use walnut oil (keeping in mind any nut allergies) or beeswax; just bear in mind that the latter is not a vegan option.
Best Small: Thirteen Chefs Villa Acacia Wood Bar Board
Easy to store
Easy to pick up
Some reviewers say it doesn't sit flat
If you only have a small job—mincing up a few cloves of garlic, for instance, or quartering a lime—it can feel like a hassle to drag out a full-sized cutting board. Enter the Villa Acacia wood cutting board: the grain of the tropical hardwood is beautiful, and at just half an inch thick and 12x9 inches in size, it’s lightweight, perfect for smaller tasks, and can be easily stashed away in cabinets when not being used. But it's also large enough to serve as a board for cutting and carving large pieces of meat, many reviewers rave.
The board is reversible, with one side that’s totally flat and another with a juice groove running around the edge. Small indentations on the two sides of the cutting board make it easy to pick up.
Dimensions: 12 x 9 x 0.5 Inches | Material: Wood, Acacia | Weight: 2 Pounds
Best Sustainable: Material The reBoard
Pretty color choices
No grips on bottom
Lacks grooves to collect liquids
If sustainability matters as much to you as function and design, you'll find plenty to love in Material's TheReboard. It offers all the benefits of a plastic cutting board, but it's made of 75 percent recycled plastic and 25 percent renewable sugarcane. Furthermore, this eco-friendly board boasts a modern, minimal design and comes in four gorgeous earthy tones—including "Tide," a soft blue that our product tester says is particularly soothing.
As for performance and versatility, TheReboard doesn't disappoint. It provides an even, flat surface that feels sturdy during everyday kitchen tasks such as slicing fruit, chopping veggies for soup, and trimming chicken breasts. Plus, it doubles as a serving tray for charcuterie or cheese platters. A small caveat: There are no feet or rubber grips to keep the board in place during use (though our tester says it doesn't move around much on her tiled countertop), nor does the board have a groove around the edges to collect liquids.
Dimensions: 14.75 x 10.75 x .6 Inches | Material: Recycled Plastic & Sugarcane | Weight: Leightweight
"This cutting board measures about 15 inches long and 11 inches wide, which fit nicely on my countertops and was easily tucked into cabinets." — Sharon Lehman, Product Tester
Best Set: STGA Flexible Board Grade Plastic Kitchen Cutting Mat with Food Icons, Set of 4
Each labeled with food icon
Textured on the bottom
May slip and slide a bit
If you’re looking to avoid cross-contamination—or live with someone who has dietary restrictions—this set of cutting boards will come in handy. Each one is labeled with a recognizable food icon. There’s one for poultry, vegetables, red meat, and fish. The icons give it an edge over simply having different colors since you won’t have to remember that yellow is for chicken, while green is for vegetables.
This set is made from food-grade silicone and is dishwasher-safe. The cutting boards are smooth on one side, with a textured pattern on the bottom, but some reviewers note that it does still slip and slide around a bit on the counter, so you may want a backup way of securing the board down.
Dimensions: 15 x 12 x 0.03 Inches | Material: Plastic | Weight: 11.4 Ounces
Best Bamboo: Totally Bamboo 3-Piece Bamboo Cutting Board Set
Beautiful bamboo grain
Slim profile makes storage easy
Handle cutouts for holding or hanging
Needs seasoning before first use
Must be washed by hand
These bamboo cutting boards come in three sizes, so you’ll likely always have one available in the size you need. (Or, if you’re working on a big meal, you can have several cutting boards available with different ingredients at once.) Plus, you'll want to show the boards off by using them as cheese or appetizer serving boards, our reviewer says. "From the grain of the bamboo to the rectangular shape with rounded edges, these boards want to be seen," she raves.
Since the boards are thin, storage is easy. All three of the boards are reversible, so you can use either side or flip them over to avoid cross-contamination between raw and cooked ingredients. As with a wooden cutting board, you’ll want to avoid soaking them during your cleaning process. Unlike a plastic cutting board, wood—or in this case, grass—cutting boards require a bit more care between uses and will crack or splinter if they're cleaned incorrectly.
Dimensions: 13 x 9.5 x 1 Inches | Material: Bamboo | Weight: 1.88 Pounds
The John Boos Chop-N-Slice Maple Cutting Board is our top pick because of the large amount of space available to cut your food. Plus, it's sturdy enough for hardcore chopping. If you're in the market for something thinner and easier to store, go for the Dexas Heavy-Duty Grip Mat: it's both flexible and sturdy.
What to Look for When Buying a Cutting Board
by Sara Tane
The most defining feature of any cutting board is the material that it’s made of. Boards are available in a variety of materials, such as wood, bamboo, plastic, and rubber. Wooden boards are typically more expensive and can oftentimes be bigger and heavier, which can make them more difficult to clean and store. But they are the most forgiving to your knife’s blade, and when oiled properly, will not absorb liquid.
Plastic boards are easier to clean, not only because they tend to be smaller (though not always) and weigh less, but because most are dishwasher-friendly. They may be slightly tougher on your knife’s blade than a wooden board, and they may not have the stunning designs that some wood boards do, but they are practical for daily home cooking. Bamboo boards, while aesthetically pleasing and very durable, have a reputation for being extremely tough on your knife’s blade. Rubber boards, which are sometimes flexible, are similar to plastic in that they are on the cheaper side of the spectrum, yet they’re hard on a knife’s blade and are highly prone to cuts and scratches.
When it comes to cutting boards, considering the size is very important. Assuming that space isn’t limited, bigger is generally better, but do keep in mind that large boards can be heavy and bulky, making them difficult to lift, wash, and store. When it comes to thickness, you want a board that offers some elevation, but boards that are too thick can be uncomfortable to use, depending on your height.
If you have small counters, make sure to measure how much space you have because it’s extremely unsafe to have your board hanging over the sink or the edge. Similarly, consider the size of the knives that you use. If you frequently use a 12-inch chef’s knife, a board that’s any smaller than this dimension will not be safe or sufficient for your needs. Before you dismiss small boards as useless, however, consider that they can be quite handy in smaller living quarters (e.g., dorm rooms, camp trips, and beginner kitchens). While it could become inconvenient to prep large batches of vegetables on a tiny board, it can be great for smaller-scale prep, like peeling garlic, slicing berries, or cutting up lettuce, tomato, and onion slices for a quick sandwich.
Grooved or Flat
One defining feature of a cutting board is whether it has a groove around the edge or whether it’s completely flat all around. The purpose of a groove is for collecting meat juices, or anything else that might expel liquid when you’re chopping it, like tomatoes. The downside of a groove is that it will inevitably cut down on how much available space you have on your board for chopping. If you are going to be carving meat often, a groove may best suit your needs. Flat boards are ideal for chopping dry ingredients like herbs, nuts, cheeses, and veggies.
There are many different features that boards can possess aside from a grooved edge. Some boards are reversible, meaning that you can chop on both sides, which is a great way to avoid cross-contamination. Some boards are outfitted with non-slip grips on the edges or the bottom of the board to ensure that your board is secure on your counter while you’re chopping. You will find handles or tapered edges on some boards, which helps with easy lifting. Some newer versions of cutting boards even offer an indentation in the corner that you can use to prop up your smartphone while you prep. When it comes to wooden boards, there is obviously a lot more room for creative design: some boards have a checkerboard pattern, while others have a striped pattern. The type of wood will impact the color of the board.
With such a wide range of price points, it may be hard to decide whether you want to go the cheaper route or splurge on a cutting board. Like most purchases, it really boils down to what you’re looking to get out of your cutting board. If you are looking for an aesthetically pleasing board that you can use every day in your spacious home kitchen, then it may be worth the investment to opt for a higher-end large wooden board. If the cutting board is for a more temporary situation (e.g., vacation home, dorm room, camping) where you simply need something to put on your counter for basic chopping needs, it may make more sense to save a few bucks and opt for a cheaper plastic board. It should be more than sufficient, especially if design and aesthetics are not a top priority.
Types of Cutting Boards
Most wood boards are made from hardwoods, such as cherry, mahogany, maple, oak, and teak. Hardwoods make for better cutting boards because those trees tend to grow more slowly than softwoods, making them denser. Teak and bamboo are known for being aesthetically pleasing yet extremely hard, and therefore tough on a knife’s blade. Wood boards also offer eye-catching designs and features (such as checkerboard, stripes, handles, and grips) that boards made of other materials do not.
The way that trees are sliced into planks and then pieced together to form a cutting board varies, meaning that different grains of the wood end up being the surface of the board. There are three types of grains: face grain, end grain, and edge grain (this diagram is a helpful way to visualize the different cuts).
Face grain is the broad cut side of a vertical plank of wood from a tree, and edge grain is the narrow, vertical cut side of those planks. Face grain and edge grain boards both offer long, clean strips of vertical wood with fewer seams than end grain boards, making them less likely to crack or warp. The advantage of an end grain board, however, is that because the ends of the board are pieced together, the board is much easier on your knife blade because it’s hitting the natural vertical wood fibers. Cut marks are not as visible on an end grain board, making this grain highly desirable (and oftentimes more expensive than other wood boards).
The drawbacks of wood are that it does require a bit more care (hello, hand washing) than plastic or flexible boards do. Furthermore, some wooden boards can be extremely heavy or bulky, making them a bit more difficult to store and clean. If the board acquires any cuts or scratches, these can be sanded, or sometimes they can even heal on their own.
While they may not have the elegant, sleek look that wood boards do, there are plenty of reasons to consider a plastic cutting board. First of all, they’re typically cheaper. They’re also thinner and lighter, making them a much more ideal option when it comes to handling, cleaning, and storing. As far as maintenance, you don’t have to worry about sanding or oiling them, and after you use it, you can wash it in the dishwasher.
The downsides of plastic are that the surface is a bit tougher on your knife’s blade, and scratches, stains, and grooves tend to develop as you use the board. This means you’ll likely need to replace it after a couple of years (depending on how frequently you use the board). The most common types of plastic that are used for boards are polyethylene and polypropylene, the main difference being that polyethylene is softer and offers more flex, whereas polypropylene is harder and more likely to shatter.
Not only are these boards the least expensive variety, but they can also serve a very practical purpose. They occupy very little storage space and are extremely light and compact; plus, they are dishwasher-safe. They are commonly sold in sets, so this is a great way to assign one board to raw meats and one board to everything else. Like plastic, this material is prone to scratches, so don’t plan to hold on to this board for too long, as you’ll likely have to replace it within a few years (potentially months, depending on how frequently and aggressively it’s used). It may not be the most stunning piece to look at in your kitchen, but it’s a useful board if design isn’t a priority.
We would highly recommend you stay far away from cutting boards made of glass or ceramic. Not only are they prone to breaking and shattering, but they’re also brutal on your knife’s blade.
Oxo offers a wide variety of durable, plastic, double-sided cutting boards with grips and grooved edges for cooks of all levels. Available at a very reasonable price point, these boards are very popular in home kitchens, restaurants, and culinary schools. The brand also offers sets of plastic boards if you’re looking to outfit more than one kitchen.
A staple brand in the world of high-quality wooden boards, J.K. Adams offers boards that are ideal for everything from cutting to carving to serving. Its end grain cutting boards are popular, as well as its edge grain carving boards. Its cutting boards are priced in the mid-range; however, J.K. Adams also offers cheaper serving boards if you want to keep your cutting board and your serving board separate.
This brand offers a wide variety of extremely low-priced, food-safe plastic cutting boards that are perfect if your kitchen is short on space. The boards come in a wide variety of fun colors, shapes, and styles.
When it comes to high-end butcher block cutting boards, Boos is a top competitor. These boards are notoriously thick (2 inches or more) and boast high-quality woods and gorgeous, checkerboard (end grain) designs. At a higher price point, you’re getting functionality, design, aesthetic, and durability.
Diligent maintenance is required to get the most years out of your wooden cutting board. After each use, you should wash down your board with warm, soapy water. Regularly oiling your wooden board will prevent cracking and warping, while keeping the surface strong, glossy, and protected. If your board starts to rack up any unwanted scratches, you can also take to it with a little bit of sandpaper to smooth out the surface.
Plastic boards do not require as much TLC, especially because they’re dishwasher-friendly. If you start to notice knife marks and scoring, you can use a steel scouring pad to smooth out the board. If any discoloration starts to occur, you can make a simple bleach solution and wipe the board clean. Make sure to rinse the board extensively with hot water afterward. Plastic boards are naturally non-porous, so you don’t have to worry about any bacteria build up as long as you’re regularly washing it. While they require less maintenance, it’s important to note that at a certain point, the board will acquire scratches and stains that don’t come out, at which point it may be time to get a new board.
How do you clean a wooden cutting board?
Wooden cutting boards should be washed by hand to avoid warping or cracking from the excessive heat of a dishwasher. Regular dish soap, hot water, and a regular sponge or soft scrubby will do a great job cleaning your board. After rinsing thoroughly, allow your board to dry on its side so excess water can drain off.
If you’ve used your cutting board to handle raw chicken, fish, or any other meats that you’re concerned about, you can disinfect your board after washing with a bleach or sanitizer solution before letting it dry. To make a bleach solution, mix 1 tablespoon of bleach with a gallon of lukewarm water.
How do you clean other cutting boards?
Bamboo cutting boards should be washed the same way as a hardwood cutting board. Plastic and rubber boards that are labeled as dishwasher safe should be washed in the dishwasher for the thorough heat sanitizing the dishwasher provides.
How do you oil a cutting board?
Before oiling your wooden cutting board you should thoroughly clean it and allow it to dry completely. That way oil can completely absorb into the wood without competing with water or food residue. When you’re ready to oil, use natural mineral oil, beeswax, or an oil formulated specifically for cutting boards. Steer clear of olive oil, avocado oil, or any other oils that may turn rancid quickly.
Apply the oil to a heavy-duty paper towel, or a soft fuzz-free cloth, and begin rubbing it into the wood with the grain of the board. Continue to do so until the entire board has been covered (including the sides, and even the bottom if necessary). Apply additional coats of oil if your board is especially dry or continues to absorb oil quickly. Leave the cutting board to soak up the oil overnight before using it again.
Are wooden cutting boards safe?
There is some discussion about whether it is food-safe to handle raw meat on a wood cutting board because the thinking is that porous wood could absorb harmful bacteria. This theory has been disproven by the Department of Agriculture, which suggests simply washing your board with warm, soapy water and drying it thoroughly before storage. If you are concerned about cross-contamination, it’s a good idea to have two boards: one for raw meats and one for everything else.
Wooden cutting boards are safe to use and are generally more forgiving on your knives than other board materials. While they are more absorbent than the non-porous plastic alternatives, that is actually the safety benefit of wood. Bacteria from food remains stagnant on the surface of a plastic cutting board where it can multiply quickly and unchecked if not regularly and thoroughly cleaned—just imagine a petri dish. Wood, on the other hand, absorbs bacteria, which then sinks into the board instead of pooling on the surface where you’re preparing your food. Once it’s dropped into the board and dries out, it dies.
With that said, you should still obviously wash your board completely after every use. After washing, make sure your board is able to dry completely to prevent bacteria growth.
How should you store a cutting board?
The way you store your cutting board is an essential part of keeping it clean. While it might seem like you should stack your cutting board flat, it’s going to dry faster and more thoroughly if you store it on its side. That way the largest surface areas of the board can easily air dry and you run less of a risk of debris falling onto the board’s surface while it’s not in use—keeping your board healthy to use for years to come. Make sure that you store any wooden board in a dry area because moisture can promote cracking
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
The Spruce Eats writer Madeleine Burry has compiled several kitchen-focused roundups for us, including the top dry food containers, nonstick cookware sets, and dinnerware sets.
Sara Tane wrote the "What to Look for When Buying a Cutting Board" portion of this piece. Sara is a private chef and food writer that has contributed to The Spruce Eats since October 2020.
The FAQ portion of this piece was written by Jenny Kellerhals, a food writer and professional pastry chef based in Queens, NYC.