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Maybe surprisingly, there are actually a lot of things to consider when picking out the best cutting board for your needs, whether you’re an enthusiastic home chef or a strict 20-minute-meal kind of cook.
At its core, the best cutting board is just a hard surface on which to chop vegetables without damaging the countertops. But a cheap or poorly-made cutting board can become warped and uneven to work on, create deep grooves in the surface that collect bacteria and breed food borne illness, or just refuse to grip satisfactorily to the counter and slide around while you’re trying to work.
That said, a cutting board doesn’t need to be extraordinarily fancy to get the job done. It just needs to be reliable enough to provide a safe and durable work surface for your kitchen.
What to Look For In a Good Cutting Board
Materials: Cutting boards are almost always made of a thick hardwood, or lighter rubber or plastic. Hardwood cutting boards are heavy, durable and reliable. Many come with grooves along the side to collect juices, which is a convenient feature, and can double as an attractive appetizer tray. They are not dishwasher-safe, however, making them somewhat less convenient than their rubber counterparts, which are often lighter and easier to store, but less durable, less attractive, and more varied in quality.
Size: The size of a cutting board is almost as important as its durability. We like oversized, expansive cutting boards that provide plenty of room whenever we’re prepping a big meal, though they present their own storage challenges. Smaller cutting boards are best when you just need something quick and at the ready, like cutting up a couple of veggies for a salad.
Quantity: Many cutting boards come in packs of multiple sizes, taking the size decision out of the equation altogether.
Functionality: We like cutting boards that take into account small nuisances and more longterm issues. This is why we look for products that grip reliably to the surface to prevent slipping, feature details like grooves around the edges to catch juices, and whose surfaces are durable enough not to damage knives or create potentially dangerous grooves.
Cleanup: If dishwasher-safe is your number one issue, we don’t blame you. In our list we included both dishwasher-appropriate cutting boards and hardwood versions that need to be washed by hand. Ideally, a well-stocked kitchen will include a few of both.
1. Gorilla Grip Original Oversized Cutting Board
We like this set of three Gorilla Grip cutting boards because they come with pretty much every thing on our list.
They are made from extra-thick, non-porous rubber which makes them not only dishwasher-safe, but also durable, long-lasting, and safe to use with all knives. The largest of the set measures 16 x 11.2 inches, certainly large enough to provide ample room for all the veggies you’ve chopped up for a stir fry. We also appreciate the juice grooves around the edges.
The manufacturer notes that these cutting boards’ particular advantage is the durable TPR border which helps keep them in place on clean and dry surfaces — a huge consideration for anyone who’s ever lost control of the board while trying to saw through a butternut squash or spatchcock a chicken.
Pros: Durable and convenient rubber material that stays in place.
Cons: Some people claim their knives left grooves.
2. Organic Bamboo Cutting Board with Juice Groove
If you prefer the heft and long-term reliability of a hardwood cutting board to a rubber one, we don’t blame you. We recommend this three-piece set which is made from organic bamboo. Bamboo is known to absorb very little moisture and is resistant to bacteria, making it an ideal and popular choice for cutting boards.
This set of three also comes with a juice groove, and according to the manufacturer, is particularly gentle on knives, which keeps them sharp and feels nice to cut on. The largest of this set is slightly smaller than our top pick, at 15 inches rather than 16, but it’s by no means a deal-breaker.
They are, however, considerably more attractive than rubber cutting boards, and come equipped with handles on the side, which make them great for charcuterie boards if cheese and wine is your thing (and we don’t know why it wouldn’t be).
Pros: Durable, anti-microbial, and great for serving.
Cons: Not dishwasher-safe.
3. Commercial Plastic Cutting Board for Kitchens
If you’re planning to filet, say, an entire whole salmon or the shoulder of a particularly large pig and you need something truly huge — we mean like, prep kitchen-caliber — we’ll point you in the direction of this 30-inch commercial-grade beauty of a cutting board.
NSF and FDA-approved, this plastic cutting board is good for professional food service kitchens but will work just as well in your own — assuming you have enough room to store it. Weighing in at eight actual pounds, it is made of high-density poly which resists stains, warping, and cuts, as well as being dishwasher-safe. The grip textured surface prevents slipping.
It is, in fact, so large, that people with extraordinarily tiny kitchens with no counter space at all have found it useful as a backup work surface when balanced on the stove, making it, ironically, a space saver.
Pros: Professional-grade and large and durable enough for big, tough jobs.
Cons: Large size can make storage a challenge.
4. HHXRISE Large Organic Bamboo Cutting Board
This extra-large organic bamboo cutting board isn’t quite as enormous as the above, but we find it is still big enough for practically all cutting board needs. Plus, we like the heavy-duty hardwood, which is almost an inch thick and gentle on knife blades.
It also includes a juice groove and, as a bonus, three built-in compartments for stashing already prepped ingredients. The handles carved into the sides make this cutting board another great serving tray alternative.
Pros: Large, with a juice groove and built-in prepping compartments.
Cons: Not dishwasher-safe.