There’s a lot of debate among home cooks about which cutting board material is best. There’s plastic, which can go in the dishwasher but is likely to get deep grooves that can harbor bacteria. Then there’s glass, which we do NOT recommend (it’ll dull your knives incredibly quickly!), rubber, and composite. And there’s wood.
For this post, we’re just going to be talking about wood cutting boards, but even then, there are a lot of options: maple, walnut, acacia, teak, bamboo, end-grain, edge-grain, etc! We’ll try to cover the differences (there’s seriously so much to say!), and then we’ll take a look at the wood cutting board recommendations from other websites. And we’ll weigh in with our final two cents.
Ready to move on? Chop, chop!
The Best Wood for Cutting Boards
First of all, despite what most people say and even though they can’t go in the dishwasher, wooden cutting boards are actually easier to clean and keep sanitary than most plastic boards. (Because of those deep grooves that plastic boards can get!) How much care your board needs depends on what kind of wood it is. It used to be that maple was the darling material in the world of cutting boards, but many experts have since become teak converts. Teak fights off moisture better than maple (and other woods) and it doesn’t need to be oiled as often. That means teak is less likely to split, crack, or warp. In case it wasn’t clear, it’s our opinion that teak is the best material for a wood cutting board. One thing worth noting, though: Teak contains silica, which can wear down knife blades faster than other types of wood, but it’s not super noticeable and honestly not enough to deter us from standing by this pick.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, there are two main types of cutting board: edge-grain and end-grain ones. Edge-grain boards are made of wood that’s been cut vertically and they’ll look like they’re made up of the sides of a 2-by-4. (The photo at the very top of this post features an edge-grain board!) End-grain boards are made of the cross section of the trunk and look like they’re made of little blocks. (The photo with the carrots features an end-grain board!)
The best explanation we’ve seen comes from Brooklyn Butcher Blocks and uses a paint brush as an example. If you lay the paint brush down, the bristles resemble the wood of an edge-grain board. If you stand the paint brush up, the bristles are like the wood of an end-grain board. Get it?
They both have their pros and cons. For example, an edge-grain board will be even less likely to crack or split and is easier to clean. End-grain boards are easier on knives and are often described as self-healing. We’d vote for a teak edge-grain because it’s more likely to last, but more on that below.
The Best Wood Cutting Board, According to Wirecutter
Proteak Teakhaus Rectangle Edge Grain Cutting Board with Hand Grip, $119 at Walmart
Size: 15-by-20-by-1.5 inches
After years of research, the folks at Wirecutter tested nearly 30 wood, plastic, composite, and rubber boards. They picked this one as the best wood cutting board because it’s beautiful, eco-friendly, feels good under a knife, and is easy to maintain compared to other wood boards. (It retains its satin-y finish extremely well.) It’s an edge-grain board that’s heavy enough to stay in place (12 pounds) but not so heavy that you’ll struggle to move it around your kitchen — and it has handles on the side to help.
The Best Wood Cutting Board, According to Cook’s Illustrated
Size: 24-by-18-by-1.5 inches
We’re not even going to try understand the pricing here. Cook’s Illustrated picked a similar board to Wirecutter’s pick (also Teakhaus), but this one is slightly larger and a few bucks cheaper. This edge-grain board continues to win the top spot each time Cook’s Illustrated revisits their testing because it’s smooth, perfectly hard (not too hard and not too soft), reversible, large yet light enough to move around, easy to maintain, and more. It’s durable and resists cracking, warping, and staining (again, because it’s teak).
The Best End-Grain Wooden Cutting Board, According to Serious Eats
The BoardSmith Maple Carolina Slab Butcher Block, $215 at The BoardSmith
Size: 16-by-22-by-2 inches
The editor who wrote the cutting board review post at Serious Eats has used this maple end-grain board board at home for more than three years, so he’s got lots of experience with it. The key wins for the board? It’s thick and just super solid. He says that, with proper care, it can really last. It comes with feet attached, but you can ask the company to leave them off, and you can make other customizations too (add a juice groove, for example!). If you prefer an edge-grain board, Serious Eats suggests this Long Grain Maple Cutting Board from Brooklyn Butcher Blocks for just $80.
The Best Cutting Board, According to Reviewed
Size: 14.5-by-11.5 inches
The author of Reviewed‘s post has had this winning cutting board in her own kitchen for more than five years. She notes that it had the best feel and balance of all the boards they tested. Testers liked that it’s bamboo, noting that it’s a sustainable, renewable resource (although many people say it’s not as eco-friendly as we think). While some people say that bamboo is too hard and can dull your knives, the Reviewed testers didn’t find any noticeable dulling.
The Bestselling Wood Cutting Board on Amazon
Kitchn’s Thoughts on the Best Wood Cutting Board
See what we mean? There’s a LOT to unpack when it comes to wooden cutting boards! Again, we prefer a teak edge-grain cutting board and we agree with Cook’s Illustrated that the Teakhaus Large Wooden Rectangle Carving Board with Hand Grip is best. (Or this one, if you want one that has a juice canal.) It requires minimal care, is large but not too heavy, and checks the two main boxes (is teak and edge-grain). While we realize that a lot of people are going to say they prefer end-grain because it’s better for your knives, we have found no major dulling issues with our tests. That said, Teakhaus does also make an end-grain board that we love.
Your turn! What sort of cutting board do you prefer? Discuss in the comments below.
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