These Are the Best Kinds of Cutting Boards for Your Kitchen
There are more opinions about which cutting board material is the best than there are nicks on a cutting board. And, depending on your priorities — whether you want a cutting board that is made with recycled or recyclable materials, or one that is easy to sanitize, or one that is the kindest to your knife blades — there are different correct answers. Although cutting boards are multifunctional, they are not one size fits all.
So, we’re giving you all the info you need to choose the right cutting board for your kitchen. We cut right to the chase and break down the most important pros and cons of the three most widely available cutting board materials — plastic, bamboo, and wood — so you can decide which to buy. Some are better suited to certain tasks, such as preparing meat, so you may find it useful to have more than one kind in your kitchen. And, if you’re wondering about glass cutting boards: Yes, they exist, but we can’t recommend them because they definitely damage your knives.
Many people believe that plastic is the most sanitary cutting board material, especially since, unlike wood or bamboo, it’s safe to run through your dishwasher. However, while a new plastic cutting board can be easily disinfected, it’s almost impossible to do so manually with a knife-scarred plastic surface.
The bottom line: Clean your plastic cutting boards in the dishwasher, if you can. And, if they’re severely scratched, think about retiring them or giving them a new life).
Bamboo is the choice of many environmentalists. As a hard grass, it’s a sustainable, renewable resource that needs no chemicals to thrive or be harvested. And, because bamboo boards absorb less liquid than wooden boards, many believe they are at least as sanitary as wooden boards.
The drawback? Bamboo is 19 percent harder than traditional maple, which means it’s also harder on your knives. Plus, the small grooves may catch your knife ever so slightly, interrupting a smooth cutting action.
The bottom line: You could do worse than bamboo, and we love it for the bar and small chopping jobs — just make sure to look for boards that use formaldehyde-free glues.
Wood is a renewable resource, although not nearly as easily renewable as bamboo, and many boards are actually made from waste wood (i.e., leftovers at the mill that would have been otherwise thrown away). What’s more, a heavy softwood board is kind to knives and will keep them sharper longer. A good maple or beech cutting board is somewhat self-healing and won’t scar as easily as a plastic board. Our editors’ favorite cutting boards include this one from John Boos and this one from J.K. Adams (you can’t go wrong with any of the boards from either brands).
The bottom line: Regularly oil your board with food-grade mineral oil to protect it from staining or warping, and please don’t put it in the dishwasher. A well-cared-for wood board will last you for years.
What kind of board do you use in your kitchen?