The wooden cutting board is the kitchen’s unsung hero. Knives tend to garner the most admiration for their plethora of options, embracing all shapes, sizes, and so on to contemplate. However, a great knife won’t be very useful if the surface it is being used on interferes with it. There is a danger of getting sick from bacteria on a cracked and heavily scratched cutting board, so it is wise to be careful when selecting one.
A durable wooden chopping board can stay as your go-to cutting area for an extended period of time, even if it is used a lot. But if you make an unwise purchase, you’ll regret it every time you slice an onion with it.
We tested a selection of different wooden boards composed of different materials, built in a variety of ways, and coming from a variety of brands to determine which ones are worth the cost.
Why Is Wood Better Than Other Cutting Board Materials?
It is generally agreed among professionals in the culinary world that wooden cutting boards are preferable over bamboo, plastic and other similar surfaces when selecting a cutting surface. But why? What advantages do wooden boards have over other materials?
- Wooden chopping boards are hygienic and antimicrobial, offering food safety. This is because the cellulose that is naturally present in wood will actively destroy bacteria on the surface and fibers.
- They work great for all types of foods, from bread to meat.
- A wooden chopping board is highly durable and can almost last a lifetime when properly maintained.
- Wood will endure heavy, everyday use, even in the busiest kitchen.
- This material is friendlier to the edge of your knives than others.
- Cutting boards made of wood are heat resistant so you can rest pots and pans on them.
- Wood cutting boards are beautiful, with a unique elegance that never goes out of style.
- They are available in different woods (maple, beech, birch, teak, walnut, pine) as well as finishes, shapes, and prices.
Wooden Cutting Boards vs. Plastic Cutting Boards
Plastic cutting boards may not be able to provide the same level of food safety that wooden boards can. Plastic boards can be easily scratched on their surface when cutting, which provides a place for bacteria to multiply.
Plastic boards don’t last long and tend to lose their attractive look and quality quickly. Nobody desires to spend their time purchasing disposable boards repeatedly.
Wood has the advantage of being much sturdier than plastic. You should be careful when using a knife close to your fingers since any sudden movements can make the cutting board slide, possibly leading to an injury. Although this may seem overdramatic, it is a very real possibility.
Wood vs. Bamboo (and glass, and ceramic…)
To tell the truth, a bamboo cutting board is a wise selection. They are ecologically responsible, and a top-grade bamboo cutting board can also assure food safety and cleanliness. Unfortunately, a bamboo cutting board is more challenging and can make knife blades lose their edge. This holds true for other materials used for creating cutting boards, such as glass and ceramic. Even if it is primarily for selfish reasons, wood is still the most beneficial choice.
End Grain vs. Edge Grain
We should make it clear that cutting boards come in two primary types of wood grain – end grain and edge grain.
Edge grain cutting boards are the most traditional. This design of wood graining is accomplished by laying out and fastening the borders of multiple strips of wood together. Edge grain boards that are made from hardwood types such as maple or cherry tend to have attractive patterns on their surfaces.
However, signs of scratches and cuts are plainly visible on the end grain of the wood.
If wooden boards are the ideal option, then end grain cutting boards are the top choice out of the top options. They construct the ends of multiple short wooden pieces by putting them together vertically. Therefore, the ends of the cutting board present a checkered pattern, and in some cases, the growth rings of the tree are also visible.
End grain cutting boards are amazing in that they possess the ability to “self-heal,” in that the wood fibers will seal themselves together once they have been cut with a knife. The edges of your knife remain gentler as well, maintaining their sharpness for a greater amount of time.
Best Wood Cutting Boards
The BoardSmith Maple Carolina Slab Butcher Block
I have had my end-grain maple cutting board from The BoardSmith for three years now and it is becoming increasingly attractive as time passes. The board that is sent from the maker is slick with oil, indicating that it has been taken care of up until the moment of being packed and transported.
It is clearly clear that the job was done neatly; the wood has been smoothed down, the sharp corners and edges have been delicately rounded off, and the pieces of wood are all unblemished, prevailing without any major splits, chips, bruises, or knots visible. Coming in at a substantial two inches thick, it is extremely reliable.
The BoardSmith provides different sized maple cutting boards, beginning at 12″ by 18″ and expanding to the oversized 18″ by 24″. I would recommend most individuals buy a 16-by-22-inch board, unless the kitchen is either very large or very small.
Due to its relatively small size, The BoardSmith can craft boards to individual specifications, such as different dimensions and varieties of wood. A cutting board with an added perimeter groove to hold liquids when cutting meat may be requested (for an additional fee); however, the user should be aware that this will decrease the total area of the board that can be utilized.
By default, The BoardSmith sends out their cutting boards with rubber feet attached to only one side. My home board has the items I asked to be left off the one I bought to examine for this review. I’m torn on whether to recommend them.
The feet confer a couple advantages. Firstly, they remove the piece of wood from the top of your counter, allowing air to move freely. This stops moisture from accumulating at the bottom of the board, thus avoiding it from distorting or facing any other issues. The board is raised to make it simpler for the fingers to get underneath it and transport it.
The base of this cutting board limits the top side to be used, so while one side will wear away over time, the other side will remain untouched. Ultimately, this could result in uneven erosion of the board. The board may also deform because of gravity which affects it from one side only. The board I have at home from BoardSmith is curved a bit in the middle, perhaps because of the feet, but the dip isn’t substantial and is barely visible when in use.
If you feel certain that you would take proper care of a cutting board, for example by coating it often with oil and holding it upright with the sides exposed, then it might be a better choice to purchase one without feet. If you think you are likely to be inattentive and leave the cutting board at the same height of your kitchen countertop for a while, you should pick up a cutting board that has feet, which will reduce the effects of your negligence.
We had nothing negative to say about this board; it isn’t a bad choice to put your money into.
Price at time of publishing: $325.
- Available sizes: 12 x 18 x 2 inches; 16 x 22 x 2 inches; 18 x 24 x 2 inches; and custom orders
- Average weight (after oiling): 9-10 pounds (12 x 18); 18-19 pounds (16 x 22); 23-24 pounds (18 x 24)
- 45-degree angle photo of the BoardSmith’s end-grain maple cutting board
- Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik
- Another Great End-Grain Cutting Board: Brooklyn Butcher Block End-Grain Maple
Brooklyn Butcher Blocks End-Grain Maple Cutting Board
We were equally impressed with the cutting boards from Brooklyn Butcher Block and The BoardSmith. We tried both an end-grain and an edge-grain maple chopping board from them (more information on the edge-grain is discussed below), and both pieces were incredibly well-crafted. It comes produced to the highest gloss of all the boards, with beeswax and mineral oil added to give it a splendid gleam before being sent out. The BoardSmith board appears to be of high quality in the sense that its wood is magnificent and there are preciously carved edges and corner angles.
The exquisite smoothness of Brooklyn Butcher Block’s woodwork creates a gorgeous glittery effect as the light reflects off the painstakingly buffed surfaces.
The maple end-grain cutting board is not customizable like The BoardSmith and it only comes in one size of 12 by 18 inches. It’s also slightly thinner, at about 1 3/4 inches. However, much like The BoardSmith, Brooklyn Butcher Block is open to accepting customizable requests. For this reason, if you’re looking for a larger or thicker product, you could communicate with them to make these modifications.
Other features such as a juice channel and recessed side grips may be accessible for a slight extra fee.
We weren’t fond of the fact that this board was only provided in one size.
Price at time of publish: $250
- Size: 12 x 18 x 1.75 inches; custom orders also available
- Average weight (after oiling): 8-12 pounds
- 45-degree angle shot of Brooklyn Butcher Block’s end grain maple cutting board
Brooklyn Butcher Blocks Long Grain Maple Cutting Board
We found Brooklyn Butcher Block’s edge-grain board to be cost effective and of great construction. Edge-grain cutting boards have a standard size of 12 x 18 inches which is thinner than end-grain boards which are 1 1/4 inches thick. This is because edge-grain boards are not as likely to warp, so they don’t require as much sturdiness.
I experiments to determine how long my knife would stay sharp involved 300 five-inch strokes of 4.5 pounds of force. After that amount of pressure was applied to the blade, I could detect that it had become slightly less sharp. This implies that using the side-grain option for sharpening your knife will wear it out faster than the end-grain option. However, in regular conditions where you wouldn’t be pressing so hard while sharpening repeatedly, it would take even longer for it to become blunt. This means that even without the protective benefits of an end-grain cutting board, you can still get plenty of use out of it before your knife begins to show any signs of wear. Compared to an end-grain board, the lower price of this product makes it an attractive choice.
We did not appreciate that it was only available in one size.
Price at time of publishing: $120.
- Size: 12 x 18 x 1.25 inches; custom orders also available
- Average weight (after oiling): 6-9 pounds
- A 45-degree angle photo of Brooklyn Butcher Block’s edge grain maple cutting board.
Cutting Boards And Food Hygiene
Constant monitoring is necessary for all cutting boards, no matter what materials are used in their production, to ensure cleanliness and safety. Here are some important points:
- Cross-contamination: foods like raw meat contain bacteria (meant to be eliminated later during the cooking process) which could contaminate other types of food like bread or fresh fruits and vegetables. To avoid this, it is advisable to use different cutting boards for each. A non porous surface like a wood cutting board is better for raw meat, poultry and seafood.
- Cleaning: wash cutting boards with warm or hot soapy water after every use. It is important not to let food juices and liquids rest on the wooden surface for too long (especially true with the liquids coming from raw meat)
- Sanitizing solution. For additional hygiene, you can sanitize your boards every now and then with a special cleaning solution. For wood cutting boards, you can use an ammonium sanitizer, which is better for organic materials.
- Dry. Bacteria thrive in moisture, so after washing your cutting boards, it’s important that they dry completely. Air dry or use a paper towel (avoid tea towels).
- Replace. We recommend doing a visual inspection of your cutting board every once in a while. If your cutting board shows deep and visible grooves, it’s time to be replaced. This applies to cutting boards of all materials, but if you choose a high quality wooden cutting board, this is not going to happen frequently (which may be the case with, say, a plastic cutting board).
How do you clean a wooden cutting board?
It only requires hot water and dish soap to scrub a wooden chopping board. Clean the cutting board with a sponge or a soft brush. Rinse it off completely, then use a cloth or paper towel to soak up any extra moisture. Put the board in an upright position while it is drying in order to stop it from becoming warped or having water accumulate in one area.
What oil should you use for a wooden cutting board?
There are numerous varieties of oil, wax, and oil-wax blends available to shield your cutting board made of wood, but food-grade mineral oil is always a superb selection. Applying a protective oil to your chopping board will not only keep it in great condition, but it will also work as a defensive layer against marks and smell buildup.
Are wooden cutting boards safe?
As long as sanitation measures are taken and the wooden cutting boards are allowed to dry completely, it is safe to use them. If you want to make sure that there’s no risk of any food ingredients getting mixed up, there’s nothing wrong with having different chopping boards and allocating one only for meat products. If your wooden cutting board is showing signs of cracking, splintering, or cracks and scratches that are hard to clean, it is time to get a new one.