Which wood cutting boards are best?
Cutting boards consist of many different materials, but one of the best options is cutting boards made from wood. Not only are wood cutting boards aesthetically pleasing, but they also are reliable, durable and easy to maintain.
Wood cutting boards can be rectangular or round. They may also have a handle or other features that make them unique or convenient to use. For a simple, rectangular cutting board that’s also reversible, check out the John Boos Maple Cutting Board.
What to know before you buy a wood cutting board
Wood vs. plastic cutting boards
Regardless of material, the surface of a cutting board could have minuscule gaps in it where bacteria can grow. However, according to NC State University, wood cutting boards are generally more sturdy, meaning they don’t get as many deep scratches that can become breeding grounds for bacteria.
Plus, cutting boards made from cheap plastic are more likely to chip or scrape off under a sharp blade. If this happens, tiny particles could make their way into food. While not all plastic cutting boards have harmful additives or chemicals, they could still be toxic if ingested.
The type of wood does matter when choosing a wood cutting board though, as does the overall design. Deep crevices could still harbor bacteria, but with proper sanitization and nonporous wood, wood cutting boards are usually pretty safe.
Typically, custom wood cutting boards are made from hard maple or other hardwoods. These woods are resistant to bacteria and durable. With the right finish, they can also be elegant.
Many different custom designs for wood cutting boards exist. Some may be personalized with the recipient’s first initial or last name. Others may be shaped into something the recipient loves, such as a set of puzzle pieces or football. Ultimately, a custom wood cutting board is the perfect option if you’re giving the cutting board as a celebratory gift.
Whether they’re made from wood or plastic, cutting boards come with different features.
For example, some cutting boards have what is known as a juice groove. This groove is located near the edges of the board and is meant to collect any liquid from fruit, vegetables and meat.
Another feature of wood cutting boards is nonskid feet. This help prevent the cutting board from moving about while you’re using it. To ensure the cutting board doesn’t move around at all during use, choose one that’s on the heavier side.
Meanwhile, some wood cutting boards are extra thick. This is not just for durability purposes. It’s also for taller people since it makes them more convenient to use. Conversely, thinner boards exist for shorter individuals as well.
Many wood cutting boards are coated with beeswax or food-grade mineral oil. This coating keeps the board smooth even after frequent use, as well as water-resistant to prevent mold or bacteria growth.
Lastly, some wood cutting boards have handles. A handle can be helpful when it comes to transporting a cutting board full of food, but small, chopped ingredients may find their way into the gap.
What to look for in a quality wood cutting board
Shape and size
Most wood cutting boards are round or rectangular, but some are custom-made to be in whatever shape you desire.
As for size, there are several different common sizes to choose from, including:
- Small: 8 by 10 inches
- Medium: 10 by 14 inches
- Large: 18 by 24 inches
- Extra-large: 20 by 30 inches
With a large enough cutting board, it’s easier to chop multiple things at once and still have space. However, if the cutting board is too big, it may just take up unnecessary space on the countertop. That’s why smaller boards are useful, too. Plus, smaller cutting boards are easier to store on top of larger ones.
Both wood and plastic cutting boards come packaged individually and in sets. If you don’t have a cutting board at home yet, or if you’re replacing old ones, consider getting a set with several different sizes to suit all your needs.
Wood type and durability
Most wood cutting boards are made from hardwoods like cherry, maple, mahogany or oak rather than softwood. This is because hardwood is usually more durable and more difficult to damage.
Softwoods like pine, hickory or cedar may start to chip or become brittle under the constant wear and tear from a sharp blade. Not only are softwoods less hardy, but any small recesses made by the blade could create a place for bacteria to grow.
Keep in mind that extremely hard surfaces could easily dull a knife. This is true of plastic, stone and wood cutting boards alike. If your knife starts to become dull, use a honing rod or good knife sharpener to keep it in tiptop shape.
End grain vs. edge grain
The grain of a cutting board is the size, surface and direction of the wood’s fibers. These fibers contribute to the board’s smoothness and make a difference in how porous the surface is. For a cutting board, smaller pores is best since it can help prevent the wood from absorbing liquids and contributing to bacteria growth.
Some wood cutting boards have edge grain, meaning the wood was cut with the grain. This type of cutting board shows the long wood fibers on the surface. Edge grain boards are often more affordable than end grain options, but they may dull your knives more easily.
End grain cutting boards, meanwhile, usually have a checkerboard pattern on their surface. These boards are typically a few inches thick and are considered more resilient than edge grain. The downside is that end grain cutting boards often have several wood pieces that are glued together, so they are more susceptible to retaining moisture.
Regardless of the wood variety, always thoroughly clean and dry the cutting board after every use to prevent future issues and extend its longevity.
How much you can expect to spend on a wood cutting board
Small, cheaper wood cutting board sets are around $20 and are a good starting point for casual or new home chefs. However, if you’re looking for a higher grade wood cutting board, expect to spend closer to $80-$200.
Wood cutting board FAQ
Are wood cutting boards sanitary?
A. Wood is naturally antimicrobial, meaning it is resistant to the growth of harmful microorganisms. Hardwood cutting boards are the most durable and sanitary option. But, with proper care, it’s possible to ensure your cutting board remains safe and sanitary for years.
Can you cut meat on a wood cutting board?
A. Although some people prefer to use plastic or stone cutting boards when preparing meat, it is safe to cut meat on a wood cutting board as well. Just make sure the cutting board is smooth and has a sealed surface so it doesn’t absorb any of the raw juices. Sanitize and let the board air-dry.
What are the best wood cutting boards to buy?
Top wood cutting board
What you need to know: This extra-large, reversible wood cutting board is durable and large enough for chopping any type of ingredient with ease.
What you’ll love: The integrated handles of this cutting board are carved into the sides to prevent messes from occurring while transporting ingredients. With edge-grain construction and hard maple wood, this cutting board is meant to last.
Top wood cutting board for the money
What you need to know: At 17 by 11 inches, this teak wood cutting board is durable, high-quality and nontoxic.
What you’ll love: The cutting board is coated with beeswax and natural oils that prevent the wood from absorbing water or other liquids. Plus, the board comes with extra wax to keep the surface smooth. Besides, since it’s an end grain cutting board, it is less likely to dull your knives than an edge-grain option.
What you should consider: Despite the end grain, teak is still a hardwood that may dull your knives over time.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: Made from all-natural bamboo, this cutting board set is hard, durable and comes in three different sizes to meet all your food preparation needs.
What you’ll love: These rectangular cutting boards have deep juice grooves that are useful for preventing messes. Due to their size and shape, these cutting boards are also easy to store when not in use. Besides being resistant to wear and tear, the bamboo is also less likely to dull the blades of any knife you’re using.
What you should consider: Over time, the bamboo may start to crack or splinter.
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Angela Watson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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