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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, we've got you covered. Here's a list of top-rated cutting boards to help you decide what's best for your needs.
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.
"Considering the long life you can expect from a board like this, the price tag is actually very reasonable." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
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.
"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
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.
"We could carve at the table without worrying about staining the tablecloth." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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
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.
Won't slide around on your counter
Integrated handles make it easy to transport or use as a serving tray
Not dishwasher safe
If you want to have the feel of butcher block counters without having to replace your existing kitchen, this heavy wooden cutting board is a great choice. Not only is the striped dark and light wood grain aesthetically pleasing, but the board is heavy enough (a whopping seven pounds!) that it won’t slide around on your countertop when you’re trying to chop something.
Thankfully, with all that bulk this board is still easy to move around because of the built-in handles. This means it can go from chopping block to serving board without missing a beat. At less than $50, this is also a great bargain for such a solid wooden block, and it holds up in terms of quality as well. Consumers sing this cutting board's praises even after months of consistent use. Plus, at two inches thick it can also be helpful for tall cooks who find their countertops a bit on the short side. Even adding those extra inches can make preparing dinner less of a chore.
Just keep in mind, that this board should never go in the dishwasher (we’re not sure it would fit, to be honest). Too much exposure to water can cause swelling, shrinking, and eventually warping of the board. Hand-washing followed by regular care with an oil or paste meant for wooden boards is recommended to keep it in top shape for the long haul.
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.
Juice catches at the edge
Comes in different sizes
Will eventually garner scratches that won't come out
These no-frills white cutting boards do the job at a budget-friendly price. The set includes three boards in different sizes, so you always have the one you need, whether you’re cutting tomato for a sandwich or chopping cabbage for a slaw.
The polypropylene surface is non-porous while being gentle to knives. Each board has a handle and a full-surround cavity that contains juices. The set includes one 7 x 7-inch board, one 8.5 x 11-inch board, and one 11 x 16-inch board. They are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
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.
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.
Wood Grain Styles
While this consideration only applies to wood, it’s something to keep in mind if you’re leaning towards purchasing a wooden board. 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).
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
As mentioned previously, wood is the premium material when it comes to cutting boards. Not only is it the most aesthetically pleasing, but it is also more durable (when cared for properly) and gentler on your knife’s blade. 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 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. 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 to simply wash your board with warm, soapy water and dry it thoroughly before storage. It is also a good idea to occasionally wash down your boards with a diluted bleach solution to kill any remaining bacteria. 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.
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.
While somewhat of an up-and-coming brand, F52's signature board offers sleek design, a clever smartphone holder, expansive yet manageable size, and a reasonable price point. The smartphone holder isn’t for everyone, but can be a highly useful function if you find yourself referencing your phone while cooking.
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. Generally speaking, you should avoid soaking your wooden boards in water and definitely don’t put them in the dishwasher. Make sure that your board is dry before oiling it, and gently apply the oil with a paper towel in an even layer. Allow the oil to soak in (overnight, ideally), and then wipe off any excess after it has soaked. Any food-grade mineral oil is great, but you can also use beeswax or board cream. 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 as a wooden board, 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 afterwards. 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.
The size of your kitchen will likely determine how you will store your cutting board. Cutting board wall mounts and racks are a great way to keep your board in an easily accessible spot in your kitchen; however, these may not be a great option for thick or heavy boards. Make sure that you store any wooden board in a dry area because moisture can promote cracking. Always store a wooden cutting board on its edge so that any remaining moisture can dry off.
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