The Best Cutting Boards To Have In Your Kitchen, According To Chefs
Cutting boards were originally created to protect kitchen counters from getting scratched or scuffed up, but we now know that they play not only a key role in food preparation but also food sanitation. As such, a well-stocked kitchen should have several different cutting boards for the multitude of things you’ll need to cut. And while you can get a cutting board in a number of different shapes, sizes and materials, the best cutting boards allow you to cut everything from vegetables and bread to raw meat, fish and chicken safely and properly.
In terms of material, wood is a good option for a cutting board. Naturally anti-microbial and often attractive enough to be used as a serving piece, wooden cutting boards are sturdy and can last a long time if cared for properly (one pitfall of wooden cutting boards is that they’re not dishwasher safe and so need to be hand washed thoroughly to sanitize and treated regularly to prevent warping or cracking). Bamboo is another good option for a cutting board as it’s also anti-microbial, though it’s slightly harder than other wood options and a little harder on your knives as a result.
And then there’s plastic. While lots of folks think that plastic cutting board options are most sanitary because they are dishwasher safe, crevices and knife scars found in plastic cutting boards can actually trap and spread bacteria if they’re not cleaned properly. So no matter the material you choose—and different materials are good for different things—always be sure to properly clean your cutting board when you’re done using it.
Beyond that, the type of cutting board you use is a matter of preference. Tim Hollingsworth, chef and owner of Otium, CJ Boyd’s and Free Play in Los Angeles likes to get pieces of wood from lumber yards and make his own. For him, the best cutting board should be durable. “I’ve had the same wood board for over 20 years now, he says. “Every once in a while I sand it down and oil it.”
And according to Tiffani Faison, the Boston-based chef and restaurateur behindBig Heart Hospitality, no matter what type of board you use, you should always invest in a cutting board mat, like the San Jamar Saf-T-Grip Board-Mate ($14.99) to place under it. “It lasts forever and keeps your board completely still,” she says.
Here, Hollingsworth and Faison share the boards they’ve used and loved during their culinary careers. From anti-microbial rubber to a stunning maple wood option that will last for decades, these are some of the best cutting boards to have in your kitchen.
Best Cutting Board For Most People
Notrax Sani-Tuff Premium Rubber Cutting Board
The Notrax Sani-Tuff Premium Rubber Cutting Board is made from an antimicrobial compound that is easier on your knife and holds less bacteria than any other cutting board, says Faison. “I haven’t seen them gain traction outside of professional kitchens and I’ve always wondered why,” she says. “The board is great for cutting anything—vegetables, meat, whatever. It cleans easily and can take a good bleaching. They don’t chip or break and they last forever.”
Best Wood Cutting Board
John Boos Walnut Wood Edge Grain Reversible Round Cutting Board
John Boos Walnut Wood Edge Grain Reversible Round Cutting Board
Both Hollingsworth and Faison are fans of John Boos & Co wood cutting boards. “I have been using this brand for many years and just love its durability, look and feel,” says Hollingworth. Faison says they’re great for everyday use, but she also loves the look of the boards. Hard woods, like maple and walnut, are better at resisting bacteria. John Boos & Co. makes an 18-inch reversible round walnut board (which also comes in cherry and maple) that is a workhorse in the kitchen and a stunner on the table at dinner parties.
Best Eco-Friendly Cutting Board
The Epicurean Kitchen Series
“The Epicurean Kitchen Series is an awesome cutting board made of a paper composite material (a combination of recycled paper, plastic and FSC certified papers),” says Hollingsworth. “I love using this board to cut onions, garlic or anything that would perfume your board because unlike a wood board the scent washes right off.” Available in four different sizes, Epicurean boards are dishwasher-safe and temperature resistant to 350°F, so they’re super handy and can be used as trivets as well.
Best Cutting Board For Meat Or Fish
John Boos Maple Cutting Board With Juice Groove
“John Boos & Co. makes a reversible maple cutting board that has grooves on one side which is useful when cutting meat or fish because it catches all the juices so you avoid a big mess when moving around your board,” says Hollingsworth. Made from sustainably sourced American hardwood, it won’t blunt your knives and it’s extra thick for added stability. The other side features a flat surface so it can double as a cheese or charcuterie board.
Best Plastic Cutting Board
Carrollar Flexible Plastic Cutting Mats
Carrollar Flexible Plastic Cutting Matsare lightweight and dishwasher safe while still being more durable than most plastic boards on the market. Made of BPA-free material, they curl to an angle so you can easily pour chopped ingredients into a pan or pot. Color coded and labeled with food icons (red for meat, green for vegetables, blue for fish, yellow for fruit), these boards help home cooks avoid cross contamination or mixing food flavors, and they’re affordable enough to replace after a substantial amount of use.
Best Bamboo Cutting Board
Traeger Magnetic Bamboo Cutting Board
“Traeger Grills makes a Magnetic Bamboo Cutting Board that is super handy to have when using your outdoor barbecue grill because it attaches to the shelf next to your grill,” says Hollingsworth. Made of eco-friendly bamboo, it won’t slip when you slice meat or dice veggies. You can clean it by hand washing with warm water and mild soap. And it will last longer if you occasionally rub it with mineral oil.
What Type Of Cutting Board Is Best?
When it comes to chopping and dicing in the kitchen, the best cutting board is large, sturdy and easy to maintain. If you have to choose one cutting board, wood is the way to go. Wooden cutting boards are designed to endure the sharpest of knives. Plus, they’ll last you several years without having to get a replacement so it’s a worthy investment. However, a plastic cutting board is easy to clean and store and more affordable. The short answer is the best cutting board really depends on what you’re looking to get out of it.
Which Type Of Cutting Board Is The Most Hygienic?
According to the FDA, both plastic and wooden cutting boards are hygienic as long as they are cleaned often and replaced in a timely manner. Both wood and plastic have their perks when it comes to hygiene. Plastic can easily be placed into the dishwasher to be cleaned, however, wood is naturally anti-microbial so there’s potentially less opportunity to miss those nooks and crannies where bacteria may be collecting.
Is It Better To Cut Meat On Wood Or Plastic?
It depends. As a general rule, it’s better to cut meat on plastic because it can be cleaned more thoroughly and doesn’t soak up as much of the juices. Unlike wood cutting boards, plastic can also be placed into the dishwasher for a deep clean and sanitization to prevent contamination and bacterial growth.
The problem is that plastic cutting boards are less resilient than wood cutting boards and can develop scratches and crevices over time. When this happens, it makes it more difficult to properly clean and makes it easier for bacteria and other pathogens to hide out and multiply. The bottom line is: Both types are OK for meat, just make sure you’re cleaning and sanitizing it properly.
Can you put raw meat on a wood cutting board?
It’s commonly believed that you can’t put raw meat on a wood cutting board, but you actually can. The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline advises that using a wood cutting board or any other non-porous cutting board is safe. However, it’s highly recommended to have one cutting board for meat and poultry and another for produce to prevent cross contamination.