Best Cutting Board Guide to Choose The Best Material and Care Tips

by Emma Shaw

A cutting board, also called a butcher block or chopping board, is a kitchen tool used as a surface where you can cut food with knives. Cutting boards on the market are commonly made of wood, plastic, glass, silicone, stainless steel, bamboo, or stone.

Before purchasing a cutting board, it is best to consider the following factors:

  • Purpose: What is the use of the cutting board? How many boards do I need?
  • Size: What size should I buy? Will the food roll off during cutting? Does it fit my countertop? Can it be washed in the dishwasher?
  • Material: What is the material of the cutting board? Is it hard or soft? Does it have a self-healing surface? Will it dull my knives?
  • Design: Does it have a hole for hanging? Is there a handle or build-in groove?
  • Clean: How to clean it? Can I wash the cutting board in the dishwasher? Is it easy to clean and dry? What should I use to clean it?
  • Maintenance: How to store it when not in use? Does it need regular care with board oil? How to protect it from mildew and cracking?
  •  Budget: How much is it?

cutting board with food

Dedicated Purpose for Foods

Generally, you can cut vegetables, fruit, meat, or bread on a cutting board. These foods can be divided into two types: raw food and cooked food.

Raw food refers to foods that need to be cooked, such as raw beef, pork, fish, chicken, vegetable.

Cooked food includes those that can be eaten directly such as roast chicken, fried pork, bread, cake, salad vegetable, fruits, etc.

Due to hygiene reasons, you should purchase at least two chopping boards to prepare food because dirty chopping boards can cause food cross-contamination. It’s important to use and clean the chopping board properly.

If you are a baking lover, it is necessary to have one more dedicated pastry board. A pastry board should have a flat and smooth surface. The material must be mildew-proof, easy to clean, and fast dry. So you can roll out your dough without sticking any dirt.

Normal chopping boards for cutting food are not suitable for rolling dough. As there are knife marks and scratches on the surface, where has more or less residue and bacteria.

Best Size and Shape to Fit Your Countertop

When it comes to cutting board size, even though some kitchen experts suggest that the most popular cutting board is around 12×18” (30×45cm). You’d better choose the best size and shape that best suits your countertop.
No matter if the cutting board shape is rectangle, round, oval, or square, the rule of wood cutting board size is “the thicker, the bigger, the better”.

The minimum thickness of the cutting board should be greater than 1 inch (2.5cm).

Larger and thicker cutting boards provide greater stability, allowing you to cut freely without rolling off food from the board. But it cannot be washed in the dishwasher.

If you prefer washing the cutting board in the dishwasher, it is best to measure the mouth of your dishwasher and choose the smaller size.

Good Designs Makes Better Uses

A hole of hanging is a must for any type of cutting board. Hanging in the air can dry it faster.

If you prefer to use the cutting board as a meal serving board, then you need a cutting board with an appropriate handle length.

A built-in drip groove can hold some juice and water for a neat cutting surface.

Material is The Key Point

The main purpose of a cutting board is to protect your countertop and provide a safe surface for your knives to be used on. It must be easy to clean and resistant to bacteria and mildew because it’s used in preparing food.

Wood

walnut wood cutting board

Source: Amazon Sonder Los Angeles

As a renewable resource, wood has been a traditional cutting board material for many years.

There are two types of wood for cutting boards: hardwood and softwood.

Hard and dense wood has a very durable surface that prevents liquids and residues from entering into the board. But it may dull your knives quickly. The harder the cutting board, the easier to dull your knife.

Softwood like cypress is very friendly to knives but will have scratches easily after cutting. These scratches will absorb liquids, stains, and odors, which bring greater food safety risks.

The most popular cutting board wood is maple, walnut, teak, beech, etc. They have durable and self-healing surfaces which can withstand daily heavy use and repel liquid and residue from entering. They are easy to clean and can stop bacteria from growing and living. Moreover, the hardness will not damage the edge of knives.

However, high-quality wood cutting boards require frequent maintenance. Mineral oil, plant-based oil, or beeswax are recommended to prevent cracking and warping.

Wood chopping boards are recommended for chopping up raw meats unless you are willing to give them a good soapy scrub afterward. They are not dishwasher safe, also can still show signs of scoring after repeated use.

Bamboo

bamboo cutting board

Source: Amazon Royal Craft Wood

Bamboo cutting boards are considered a good alternative to wood cutting boards. Because bamboo boards are lighter but more durable. It can resist scratches somewhat. Bamboo is a kind of renewable hard grass that grows faster than regular wood and does not require any replanting and chemicals to regrow or harvest after it is cut. Bamboo is a sustainable and easy-to-clean cutting board material because it absorbs less liquid, stains, and odors than regular wood. In addition, bamboo has a natural resistance to bacteria. This makes the bamboo cutting board safe and easy to prepare food.

However, bamboo cutting boards are stuck with bamboo strips and glue. Make sure you look for boards made with formaldehyde-free glue.

After cutting raw or cooked food on the bamboo cutting board, it is important to wash the surface immediately with dish solutions. Proper drying and storage can make it last longer.

Plastic

plastic cutting board

Source: Amazon Farberware

Plastic cutting boards are more affordable than other materials. They are easy to use and safe to be washed in the dishwasher. A new cutting board doesn’t require too much maintenance except completely clean after each use.

However, there are also some drawbacks. The plastic surface can be scratched by knives. It is difficult to clean the bacteria and residue in the crevices. These bacteria can be spread to food and cause food-related illnesses.

Hard plastic can also do harm to the edge of knives. When you find a plastic cutting board full of cut-scars, that indicates it can be retired.

Rubber

rubber cutting board

Source: Amazon Notrix

Rubber cutting boards are great options if you want to keep your beautiful, sharp knives. They can absorb knife strokes instead of dulling the blades. In the long run, you don’t have to hone and sharpen your knife edge.

Rubber cutting boards are denser and heavier than wood, bamboo, and plastic boards of the same size. They can be stably placed on the smooth countertop without slipping off. Moreover, they will not absorb liquids as wooden boards do.

The dense structure makes bacteria and stains nowhere to hide, and it is super easy to clean up with soapy and water. Most rubber boards are dishwasher friendly and they don’t need special cleaners.

Unlike wood and bamboo boards, rubber cutting boards will not dry out, crack or become warped over time without the need for additional care. You can sand it as often as necessary to keep the surface fresh.

Never put your rubber cutting board into the dishwasher, otherwise, it will get warped in hot water.

When not in use, storing the rubber cutting board in a dry and cool place can make it last for a lifetime.

Stone

marble cutting board

Source: Amazon Fox Run

Natural stone cutting boards are durable and resistant to odor, scratches, and heat. They are usually placed on a countertop for preparing all kinds of food. Due to their hardness, they are used to protect the countertop surface from being cut. The smooth and hard surface is very easy to clean and store. However, the hardness will dull knives quickly.

They can withstand the heat of hot pans and water, hence, they can be cleaned in the dishwasher with regular dish soap.

As a type of stone cutting board, marble is cool and non-stick. Therefore, it is ideal for pastry work. You can knead, roll, and shape pastry, and even use a dough-cutter—just avoid too much knife-on-marble contact.

Stainless Steel

stainless steel cutting board

Source: Amazon KORVOS

Stainless steel is a kind of durable and versatile metal for kitchen utensils. Because it is resistant to bacteria and rust.
Stainless steel cutting boards are unique, durable, and long-lasting for dicing meat and vegetables because it is non-absorbent and easy to clean. Well, they also show scratches from sharp knives and heavy cuttings.

They are versatile for any countertop.  When it is not in use on the countertop, it matches well with other household appliances.

You can also knead, roll and cut dough on a stainless steel board without sticking. It is a good alternative to the breadboard and a great gift choice for baking lovers.

Tempered Glass

tempered glass cutting board

Source: Amazon Farberware

Tempered glass cutting boards usually come with two sides. The smooth side is for chopping and rolling dough, etc. The rough side is for stable placement.

The smooth side has a non-porous surface. After cleaning, there is no food residue. It is more hygienic than a wooden cutting board, as a result, it is less likely to spread foodborne illness. However, this doesn’t mean that glass cutting boards are suitable for chopping. Because the hardness of glass will definitely dull your knives. In addition, you will have no grip when chopping on the smooth surface, it will slip and slide all over regardless of whether you cut meat or vegetables.

Glass boards are best for kneading dough, rolling out pie crust, or cutting cookies because they’re smooth enough that you can use them instead of waxed paper on the counter. Plus, that keeps your countertop cleaner.

Clean Cutting Board Makes Healthy Food

There may be many solutions for cleaning the cutting board. But the most effective way is to use hot soapy water. No matter what you just cut, what the material is, you can gently scrub the cutting board with a sponge or brush and hot soapy water. If there are any stubborn stains, let it sit for there minutes and then brush. Rinse with water and air dry.

Mild unscented dish soap, salt, or baking soda are effective ways to remove most stains and odors.

In order to prevent the cutting board from warping and to have a flat surface, it is best to clean both sides after each use, even if you only use one side.

Final Words

Choosing a cutting board is somewhat a matter of personal needs and preferences. It is not the end after you choose the best cutting board with good size, design, and material at a reasonable price. The most important thing is proper to use and maintain. After all, the cutting board is the surface on which you prepare food. It is vital to make sure the cutting board is far away from bacteria and molds that cause foodborne illness.

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