One of the most important items in a chef’s arsenal is the cutting board. You can own all the fancy kitchen gadgets in the world, but if your cutting surface is stained, stinky or just won’t stay in place, then it might not be the onions you’re chopping that are making you cry.
We examined, sliced and diced on, stained, washed and abused (like any good chef would) 17 wooden, plastic and composite cutting boards to determine which ones made the cut.
Best wood cutting board: Teakhaus Professional Cutting Board ($95.90; amazon.com)
The Teakhaus Professional is a cutting board made from teak, a wood that stands up to heavy use, is resistant to stains and knife cuts, cleans up easily, is heavy enough to stay in place while you work and is reasonably priced compared to other wooden cutting boards of similar quality. Plus, it’s beautiful enough to earn a permanent spot on your kitchen countertop.
Teak is more resistant to moisture and shrinkage than other hardwoods (like maple), so it makes for a board that’s easier to care for while preserving the other benefits of wood. The Teakhaus Professional we tested is made with edge grain construction (boards glued together lengthwise), which is a more moisture-resistant method than end grain construction (board segments set on their ends, as seen in butcher blocks).
In our testing, after chopping up many fruits, vegetables and meat, we found few noticeable marks. When we ran our hand over the wood, we felt a few, but none deep or noticeable to the naked eye, thanks to the combination of the hard material and the dark finish, which is not only lovely but should hide everyday stains over time.
The Teakhaus Professional arrives pretreated with mineral oil and beeswax for extra moisture resistance (while teak is more durable through repeated wetting and drying cycles than other hardwoods, the manufacturer recommends re-oiling often to keep the board working and looking new), and we found that it did not stain easily. After cutting beets and leaving beet juice on the board, all coloring washed away with ease, and we found no residue or stains.
The board is heavy enough that it stayed put through all of our chopping and slicing. And since it’s reversible, the board lets you chop on both sides during a single prepping session to avoid cross-contamination between raw meats and vegetables.
The Teakhaus Professional is also an excellent price compared to many of the other high-end cutting boards. Although the board we tested didn’t have juice canals (which are great for collecting juices from meats, tomatoes and the like while prepping), that option is available at no extra charge from Teakhaus, in both the medium and large sizes of the Professional.
Best plastic cutting board: Oxo Good Grips Cutting Board Set ($19.14, originally $20.95; amazon.com)
The Oxo Good Grips is an ideal plastic cutting board option, especially at right around $20 for a pack of two. These sturdy, well-designed cutting boards are available in many sizes and combinations, letting you pick the perfect board for your needs.
The dual-sided board offers a juice canal on one side and a completely flat surface on the other. There’s no hand grip, but the contoured edges let you easily lift one side of the board in order to sweep waste into a sink or trash bin. Rubber edges and feet kept the extremely lightweight board securely in place as we chopped and sliced.
Out of all the plastic boards tested, this board was the sturdiest. After chopping many vegetables, we could feel some knife marks, but they were not visible. In fact, we have continued to use this board quite often since our testing period concluded, and we’ve seen only minimal marking. The board also proved resistant to stains even after chopping up highly pigmented vegetables.
Best budget cutting board: Ikea Skogsta Chopping Board ($14.99; ikea.com)
If you’re on a tight budget and want a high-quality cutting board, then we strongly recommend the Ikea Skogsta. Made of acacia, a moisture-resistant hardwood, the Skogsta is easy to care for, is pleasant to work on and looks good enough to keep out on your counter.
Both surfaces of this reversible board are incredibly smooth (and you can cut on either side), although the edges aren’t sanded or contoured as carefully as some of the high-end cutting boards we tested.
The Skogsta is pretreated with a wax finish (which can be reapplied periodically, as with any wooden cutting board), and it washed up easily for a wooden board. Excess juices sat right on top and then beaded off, and the board dried almost immediately after washing.
Cutting left minimal knife marks. The finish, a mix of contrasting dark and light boards, also helps hide any marks or blemishes that the board might pick up over time.
Best all-purpose cutting board: Epicurean Gourmet Series Cutting Board ($49.95, originally $54.99; amazon.com)
The Epicurean Gourmet Series looks like wood, but it cleans up like a plastic board, offering a compromise that’s good for daily use preparing any kind of food.
Made of Richlite, a composite material made from recycled paper in a matrix of resin, this cutting board is a single piece, like a plastic board, so it won’t split over time. It also doesn’t require oiling or waxing like a wooden board, so it requires no maintenance.
Plus, the material can withstand temperatures of up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, so not only is it dishwasher-safe, but you can use the board as a trivet as well. It also dries quickly after hand-washing too, so it’s great for constant use in a busy kitchen.
Richlite does have a couple of downsides. It’s extremely hard and can dull knives more quickly than solid wood or plastic cutting boards, so it might not be the best option for your finest cutlery unless you’re willing to sharpen often. And Richlite is so lightweight, it moves and spins easily, although it stays in place with a towel underneath. If this is a concern, then the Epicurean is also available with nonslip corners, and comes in a range of shapes, sizes and colors too.
Best cutting mats: Dexas Mini Grippmat Flexible Cutting Boards ($9.99, originally $16.18; amazon.com)
This Dexas Mini Grippmat pack of four flexible color-coded cutting mats helps you separate your chopping to stay organized — and prevents cross-contamination.
The flexible mats are extremely thin and lightweight, although not flimsy at all. The backside has a textured surface to keep the mat from slipping, and after a day of chopping, we saw no cut marks on the work surface. Once you’re done chopping your vegetables, the mat easily lets you funnel the food into a bowl or container, reducing your overall mess, by rolling up its two sides.
These are the perfect mats to keep in the cupboard and bring out if you need to quickly chop some vegetables. Since it’s only 8 inches by 11 inches, it’s not suitable for a big dinner prep or even meats and cheese, but it is perfect for a small chopping need or even on the go. However, you can also purchase them in a few different sizes, such as a slightly larger 11.5 inches by 14 inches or 14-inch square version, which will increase your chopping surface.
The only downside we found is that, unlike some similar products, there’s no image on the different mats to help you remember which mat to use for each type of food category.
Even though this is a great mat for the kitchen, we will absolutely be bringing it on our next camping trip as well. The mats are extremely durable, flexible and appear as though they will stand up to any cooking situation.
Everything you need to know about cutting boards
Cutting boards are available in a wide range of materials — bamboo, composite, glass, plastic, stone and wood. While super-hard materials like ceramic, glass or quartz will quickly demolish your knives (don’t, by the way, ever cut directly on your quartz countertop, or on a dinner plate), the other materials all have their strengths and weaknesses.
Wooden and bamboo cutting boards look great, can be thick and heavy (making them stable and secure) and are versatile, making them useful for anything from chopping vegetables to serving a roast — but they require regular maintenance. Plastic and composite cutting boards are easy to clean and care for but can be harder on knives and don’t last anywhere near as long. Read on for more specifics.
Traditional wooden cutting boards can last a long time and really be quite useful around the kitchen. You might organize a nice cheese platter on them for appetizers, or slice up a nicely rested grilled steak with the juices still dripping. While it’s commonly thought that plastic boards are more “sanitary,” wooden boards are actually fine for any use in the kitchen, and common bacteria have been shown to not survive as long on wooden cutting boards as they do on plastic.
While it depends on the hardness of the species your board is made of, wooden cutting boards tend to be easy on your knives as well. Since wood will “heal” naturally, you’ll be less likely to notice big cuts on the surface of the cutting boards. They also don’t stain or discolor the way plastic boards will, and given the texture of wood grain, you might not even notice the stains.
One thing to remember is that wooden cutting boards are not dishwasher-safe and running them through can ruin them, causing splits and ultimately ruining the board. The proper care requires oiling (or applying a mixture of oil and wax) your board on a weekly or monthly basis, depending on how often you use your board. And if you use a thick butcher block board, should it get stained or damaged, you can easily sand it flat, reapply the oil (or the oil and wax finish) and get many more years of use out of it.
If you don’t want to be bothered with extra work, then you might want to steer clear of a wooden board — especially an expensive one. But, with the proper maintenance, you should have a long-lasting kitchen tool.
Bamboo, which is technically a grass and not a wood, offers a lot of the same traits as wooden cutting boards but is harder than the wood species typically used in cutting boards and may not be quite as kind to your knives.
Like wood, you shouldn’t put bamboo in the dishwasher, and long-term care requires a bit of oiling to keep the surface free from warping.
Since bamboo is lighter than wood, it’s easy to move around; on the other hand, you’ll want to make sure the board you choose doesn’t slide around too much on your counter. Given how light it is, make sure you find an option that sits well on your counter and doesn’t slide around much. You will also likely pay a lot more for a thicker, slab-like bamboo cutting board than you would for a wooden board of similar dimensions.
When it comes to plastic cutting boards, the options are seemingly endless. You can find everything from thick, heavy slabs of plastic to cutting mats that feel as if they’re no thicker than a few slices of paper. Most plastic cutting boards are dishwasher-safe, making cleanup a breeze. Definitely check with the manufacturer before just tossing it into that magical machine, though, as high heat might not be good for all brands. Fortunately, all the plastic cutting boards that we tested are dishwasher-safe.
Compared to wooden and bamboo boards, however, plastic boards are disposable; even with proper care, they’ll wear out relatively quickly. Knife cuts will damage plastic cutting boards over time. Eventually you will see wear and tear, as plastic is not “self-healing” like wood, and it’s inevitable that, at some point, you will need to replace the board. As you see more nooks and slices, it will become harder and harder to clean or sanitize, as food residue and bacteria get trapped in the scars.
Composite cutting boards look like wood but are made of a paper-based material (Richlite, used in the Epicurean board we tested, is a paper-and-resin composite) and have a fairly strong cutting surface that make them great for everyday use. These cutting boards often are dishwasher-safe, can withstand high temperatures and won’t stain or damage easily, making them a solid easy-care option.
How we tested
To help find the best options for you, we picked out 17 of the most popular and well-reviewed cutting boards, ranging in price from an incredibly low $2.99 up to approximately $180, and put them through the paces of everyday cooking. This means we did a lot of chopping and slicing of different types of fruit, vegetables, meats, breads and cheese. We spent a few weeks testing the boards, rotating them in and out of our own kitchen meal prep as we compared everything from overall performance when we sliced and diced to usability, aesthetics and maintenance.
We also cut beets on every board to see which boards could handle this rich-colored vegetable without staining.
So, after a lot of prepping and chopping, we used the following criteria when testing each model to find the winners:
- Everyday cutting damage: We wanted to see how much damage was done to each board from everyday cutting.
- Dull knives: Although we only tested the boards for a few weeks, we wanted to see if any boards dulled the knives in that short time frame. Fortunately, all knives were still intact at the end of our testing.
- Healing/scarring: Did the cutting boards retain scars, or did the knife cuts heal themselves after a period of time?
- Staining: We put the boards to the ultimate test by chopping beets on each board and letting them sit for five minutes. This helped us determine which boards stained and which ones didn’t.
- Odors: We included onions and garlic in our chopping lineup to see if any board would retain odor from these foods. Fortunately, we found that none of the boards picked up odors over the course of our testing.
- Warps or imperfections: We checked to see if the surface was regular and noted if any boards had any warps or imperfections that affected the chopping process.
- Slippage: Did the board slip at all while cutting? If so, we then put a towel underneath to see if that mitigated the issue.
- Juice canals: Did the board come with juice canals or grooves to collect juices from running off the board and causing a mess?
- Hand grips: Are hand grips present? If so, are they useful?
- Overall build of the board: We examined the overall build of the board to see if it was sturdy and looked as if it would hold up for many years.
- Aesthetics: Was this board one you’d want to keep out on your countertop as a statement piece or tucked into the cabinet?
- Imperfections: Were there any imperfections in the surface or on the edges? Were there any gaps, cracks or poorly sanded surfaces?
- Dishwashable: Can the board be put into the dishwasher to be cleaned, or is it hand-wash only?
- Staining: Even after washing the board — either in the dishwasher or by hand — did the board retain color of highly pigmented foods?
- Odor: After washing the board, did the board retain any odor?
- Soak up oil/waxes: For wooden boards, did they soak up the oil/wax well?
- Warping/cracking: With repeated washing, did the board warp or crack?
- Cost: What was the cost of the board?
Other cutting boards we tested
Gorilla Grip Oversized Cutting Board ($19.89; amazon.com)
This Gorilla Grip set offers three different sized cutting boards, all with the same extremely sturdy but lightweight construction, including rubber edging that keeps slippage to a minimum while chopping. One side has a juice groove, while the other side is plain, and a large hand grip makes it easy to hold on to while moving from counter to table or washing in the sink.
The downside of this cutting board was that, after testing, we found noticeable knife marks — more than on any other plastic cutting board we tested. The Gorilla Grip boards do, however, carry a 10-year warranty, so, if you ultimately don’t like how the board holds up, the company will replace or refund your board for you for any reason.
The ReBoard Cutting Board ($35; materialkitchen.com)
If aesthetics matter — and you’re looking for a plastic cutting board — then the ReBoard from Material comes in seven colors, making it easy to match with your kitchen scheme (the slightly smaller mini ReBoard offers four colors).
The ReBoard has a textured, reversible surface that hid knife marks well in our testing. We saw no deep grooves, only expected wear and tear during the test period. We didn’t like that the board doesn’t stay in place well while cutting. The instructions mention to put a towel down underneath, but we didn’t actually find that this helped much.
If you like the look, then Material does offer a 60-day trial to see whether or not the board works for you. And, if you’re looking to purchase multiple boards at once — as presents for friends or family — then the brand offers a decent discount where you can purchase three of them for $80.
Ikea Legitim Chopping Board ($2.99; ikea.com)
At such a low price, you can’t go wrong with this classic, dishwasher-safe plastic cutting board from Ikea. It doesn’t stay in place well (we had to place a towel underneath to keep it steady), but it held up well to knife use. And, as with all Ikea products, you have 180 days from the date of purchase to return an opened item if you aren’t 100% satisfied.
Williams-Sonoma Antibacterial Synthetic Cutting & Carving Board ($27.95; williams-sonoma.com)
The Williams-Sonoma Antibacterial is an all-purpose, synthetic cutting board, which is infused with an agent that inhibits bacterial growth. It was the largest plastic cutting board we tested, measuring 16 inches by 12 inches by .625 inches. We found this to be a perfect size — not too big — letting us chop all testing items with no issue at all.
We didn’t like how slippery the polypropylene surface was, however, and we had to place a towel beneath it when working to keep it stable. The material also picked up visible knife marks during our testing, though not deep or wide grooves. And the indented handles aren’t deep enough to use confidently.
Joseph Joseph Chop2Pot Foldable Cutting Board ($18.71, originally $19.99; amazon.com)
By far the most unique plastic cutting board we tested, the Joseph Joseph Chop2Pot Foldable is the perfect cutting board for chopping up vegetables, though probably not for other cutting tasks.
We found that the foldable sides make it extremely easy to slide chopped-up food into a storage container or bowl, which is more efficient than scraping the vegetables into the container with a knife, and limits the potential mess.
Rubber pieces on the bottom surface kept the Joseph Joseph Chop2Pot stable, and the textured work surface didn’t reveal any cut marks after use. However, due to the flexing of the mat, we do question how long it will last before it breaks or doesn’t stay fully flat.
Lipper International Bamboo Wood Cutting Board With Inlay Mats ($50; amazon.com)
Want both a wooden cutting board and plastic cutting mats? If so, then this Lipper International set includes a hollow bamboo cutting board and six color-coded polypropylene cutting mats that store within it.
The mats are meant to be used on top of the wooden board, giving you an easy-to-clean surface that also avoids cross-contamination, and the rubber feet on the bottom of the wooden board help ensure there’s no movement while chopping (though we didn’t experience any slippage, even when using the mats directly on the countertop).
Since the board is hollow, it’s extremely lightweight for a wooden cutting board, which makes it easy to move around or carry to the sink for cleaning. The downside is, the plastic mats are pretty flimsy compared to the Dexas Mini Grippmats. Knife marks were apparent and deep after use, and it’s hard to put the Lipper International mats away in the board’s storage area after use.
John Boos Block Cutting Board ($134.95; amazon.com)
The John Boos Blocks are cutting boards that come in a variety of sizes, stains and features, but for the testing process, we tried out the extra-large 24-inch-by-18-inch-by-1.5-inch size of the Maple Wood Edge Grain Reversible Cutting Board With Juice Groove. It’s big for general use but a perfect size for serving.
While it’s quite heavy, the side handles make it easier to carry. And since it’s dual sided, you can select from using the juice grooves or not, depending on what you’re chopping and serving. While the light-colored maple is eventually going to pick up stains and coloration as you use it, out of the box it was very resistant to moisture and staining in our tests; we left strawberries sitting on it for several days and the residue washed away easily, leaving no staining.
However, out of the box, the board was dry and needed oiling right away. This was not necessary with the other high-end cutting boards we tested and not necessarily something the average cook knows to do, even though directions are included in the purchasing description. Even after oiling, we also felt that the surface was rough and needed some sanding.
Brooklyn Butcher Block Cutting Board ($180; brooklynbutcherblock.com)
Right out of the box, this cutting board from Brooklyn Butcher took our breath away. We really wanted to love this block — and we did, until the final test. The cherry board is by far the most beautiful board we tested and serves as a stunning “counterpiece” right next to the sink. The surface is incredibly smooth and, due to the thickness of the board, it hardly moved when cutting. To top it off, we noticed only minimal knife cuts after our chopping tests.
The disappointment came after we chopped up beets and (as we did with all of the cutting boards tested) left them on the board for approximately five minutes, after which we immediately put some elbow grease into washing the board.
While most of the wooden boards did not stain at all or picked up only slight coloration, the beets left a very noticeable red stain, visible even given the darker cherry wood. Brooklyn Butcher Block recommends — as do all of the wooden board makers — that you treat the board regularly with mineral oil and beeswax, but it seems that, out of the box, it isn’t treated thoroughly enough to resist staining with highly pigmented foods.
It is a beautiful board, but we would recommend that you make sure to oil and wax thoroughly before use. At $180, however, those who are looking at it mostly for aesthetics and don’t like the lived-in look of a well-used cutting board should know this may pick up stains and will need regular care.
J.K. Adams Co. Takes Two Cutting Board ($29.99; bedbathandbeyond.com)
The J.K Adams Co. Takes Two is a reversible cutting board ideal for those looking to dedicate one side for meats and another side for vegetables; it comes with clearly printed symbols on either side so you won’t mix them up.
While the Takes Two ships with a mineral oil finish applied, out of all of the wooden cutting boards that we tested, this was the only one that came with two small samples of mineral oil and wax. Because of this, you can immediately treat the board right out of the box if it does feel dry, or retreat after the first few weeks of use, without having to go out to pick up more.
The Take Two’s wood grain hid all knife marks. Unfortunately, though, the factory finish wasn’t enough to resist picking up a stain in our beet-chopping test. The board stained slightly — visible, though not nearly as much as the Brooklyn Butcher Block — and the stains remained after we washed the board several times. We also found the board moved around a lot on the counter while we worked.
Ikea Aptitlig Bamboo Cutting Board ($9.99; ikea.com)
While the Ikea Aptitlig bamboo cutting board might sound appealing given its low price, this is one of those boards where you get what you pay for. Although it’s aesthetically pleasing with its slanted sides and it could serve as a nice serving platter for veggies or cheese, it took the worst cut marks of all of the wooden boards we tested.
The rough construction is apparent straight out of the box; we could feel splinters on the edges of the board. While we didn’t notice stains on the board itself, after the wet Aptitlig sat on our countertop, we noticed that it left brownish marks on our counters.
Ikea Proppmatt Cutting Board ($7.99; ikea.com)
This inexpensive solid beechwood Ikea Proppmatt cutting board also looked its price. The board was poorly sanded out of the box (making for a rough surface), and it was built cheaply enough that we could feel the seams between the joined wooden boards. Our test model also had a large imperfection in the wood.
The rough surface isn’t treated thoroughly enough from the factory either. After leaving cut beets on the board for five minutes, we found a number of stains that we could not remove. With so many other inexpensive, high-quality boards, including Ikea’s own Skogsta, the Proppmatt is one we’d take a pass on.
Royal Bamboo Cutting Board Set ($21.22, originally $24.97; amazon.com)
The Royal Bamboo cutting board comes in a three-pack with three different sizes, although there are options to purchase a four- or five-pack if you’re looking to increase your cutting board count in your cabinets. And it has juice grooves and side handles, which are useful features.
But as we found with the inexpensive IKkea bamboo board, the surface of the Royal Bamboo is rough and we worry about it splinting over time if not properly maintained.
This cutting board also stayed wet the longest after we washed it — something to keep in mind if you’re hoping to store the board away soon after use. We also noticed that the board left a brown residue on our countertop after it was washed.