In this article:
- Best cutting boards of 2023
- How we evaluate cutting boards
- Buying guide
- How to care for your cutting board
For a home chef or mixologist, kitchen tools don't get more essential than the cutting board, and you likely won't get too far in any recipe before you need to haul one out. In fact, most home cooks will stock the kitchen with a few different boards as some will be better for various jobs. Large, sturdy blocks and boards are best for banging out a full recipe, while smaller, lighter, quick-wash cutting boards are better for small and simple chopping tasks.
There are other considerations to make such as the material your cutting boards are made from. Wood and plastic are the two most commonly used and I personally like having a few of each around. But, then, which wood is best, and how large and weighty should they be? How much you spend on a cutting board is yet another decision to make. There are affordable cutting boards that do the essential task well and other splurge-worthy boards that are lovely to look at and crafted to last.
Read more: How to Care for a Wood Cutting Board
I've tested dozens of cutting boards over the last several years, and many of them for several months. The truth is, there are tons of great options out there but below are the best cutting boards I've sliced and diced on so far.
Best cutting boards of 2023
This simple and sturdy John Boos maple board is hefty enough to stay in place but not so heavy that it's a chore to move in and out of wherever it's stored. The 18- by 12-inch size is great for most slicing and dicing jobs. Although, if you have a large number of vegetables to chop, you might lose a few off the side. (There's a slightly larger size available if you feel you'll need it.)
There are no grooves in this model so it's also not ideal for carving cooked meat or juicy vegetables, but it's both durable and easy on knife blades. It also clocks in at a reasonable $60 which is good value for a dependable board that should last you years if cared for properly. And John Boos boards also have a high standard when it comes to sustainable forestry and manufacturing practices.
There's a lot to like about this versatile, plastic cutting board. The rubber feet will keep it from slipping and sliding around the counter and a built-in drip tray allows you to easily dispose of or incorporate any juice that dripped out during the chop. It's made from a softer plastic and so will be easier on your knife blades, but that also means it'll show wear faster than other boards. The good news is it's also affordable at just $19 for the 10.39- by 14.78-inch model.
If you're looking for an affordable cutting board, bamboo is the way to go. Be aware that bamboo may not last quite as long as maple, beech or acacia but it's sturdy enough to withstand a regular onslaught from your best kitchen knives. This 18- by 14-inch board has grooves to catch dripping juices and a corner reservoir to easily pour them out.
This is decidedly not a budget buy but the Stella Falone board, made from dense West African ebony, is a true work of art. It's produced with the same wood used to make Taylor guitars in case you're looking for some bragging rights.
Because of the dark wood, this board also shows fewer stains than other wooden cutting boards I've tested. You can go crazy cutting beets and blood oranges without fear of altering the board's striking appearance. This board is heavier than most and on the big side of average so perhaps not the one you'll reach for every day. That said, it makes a perfect serving vessel for cheese and meats and it's made from the same wood as Taylor guitars in case you're looking for bragging rights.
As a bonus, partial proceeds from the sales of Stella Falone boards go to supporting a community-based replanting program for ebony trees in Cameroon.
For serious home chefs with loads of chopping to do, a portable butcher block will make prep a whole lot easier. Viking's sturdy (and heavy) 20- by 14-inch acacia chopping block has a large surface area and three 1-cup receptacles for holding chopped foods and keeping them out of the way while you work on the next batch. The reverse side of the board has juice grooves, making it ideal for carving cooked meats or dicing juicy summer tomatoes.
If you fancy playing bartender at home, a small board for slicing lemons, limes and oranges is nice to have around. This board and knife set with two citrus-slicing knives from J.A. Henckels is a steal at $16. The wooden board is petite at 5.5 by 7.75 inches, but it'll fit anywhere and rinses clean in seconds. The carved-out grooves keep citrus juice from spilling, making cleanup a snap.
How we evaluate cutting boards
Before choosing the best cutting board options for 2023, I used each board for typical chopping, slicing and dicing jobs. I also ran several more formal tests on each to measure balance, surface strength and resistance to staining.
One of the most important functions of a cutting board is to stay put while you're doing your thing. I put each board to a vigorous rocking test ensuring it's designed and crafted with a flat, even surface on both sides with no discernible wobble. It's worth noting that wood boards run the risk of warping over time, which is why treating them to the rubdown of mineral oil and drying them thoroughly on their side after washing is essential for maintaining shape.
Chopping onions on each board gave me a good sense of the cutting board's surface integrity. If a board is not finished properly or made from sub-standard wood, you'll see immediate, deep blade marks -- not what you want -- and a board that's too soft will wear out much faster than those built from quality materials. This test is most applicable to wood boards since plastic models will almost always see wear faster and need replacing every few years (don't worry, they're cheap!), whereas a good wooden board should hold up for much longer.
Both plastic and wood cutting boards can hold stains from fruits and vegetables with dark juice and meat drippings. I diced a beet on each cutting board which left a stain in every instance. Next, I hand-washed each cutting board with soap and warm water to see how easily the stain came free.
Buying guide: How to pick the perfect cutting board
Wooden vs. plastic
There's a healthy debate about wood versus plastic cutting boards and strong arguments can be made for both. There's no doubt that wooden cutting boards look and feel nicer but they're also heavier and require more diligent cleaning and care. Light and versatile plastic cutting boards are excellent for fast jobs so I always recommend stocking one or two. But, in truth, when I start a recipe, I often find myself reaching for the wood board. Plus, most wood models double as serving vessels for an assortment of cheese and meats.
Cutting boards are made from all types of wood. While there are some industry standards, some wood boards may make a better fit than others for your budget and cooking style. Popular woods used for cutting boards include sturdy maple, light and sustainable bamboo, acacia, camphor, beech and ash.
While plastic boards are typically softer, neither material should do any significant damage to your knife blades. There are some less popular cutting board materials including tempered glass but for this list, we've kept it to wood and plastic only.
Cutting board size and weight
Choosing the size or your cutting board – or boards – will depend a bit on how much counter space you have to work with and the types of cooking you normally do. If you're starting from scratch, one large board -- 18 by 12 inches or so -- and one smaller board will likely be all you need. There are also extra large boards akin to chopping blocks which may be a good option if you have the counter space.
Features: Grooves, rubber feet and trays
Depending on the type of cooking you do, there are some features you might want your cutting board to include. Grooves around the edges come in handy when you're slicing foods that release juice such as tomatoes and cooked meat. Others have built-in trays or receptacles for storage which is nice when you've got an assortment of different food items to chop.
Cost and value: How much should you spend on a cutting board?
Cutting boards are one of those kitchen tools that you can definitely get away with a budget buy but you might end up having to replace it sooner. We have a few options on this list under $20, in fact, and they should be more than suitable for your culinary projects. Spend a bit more, particularly on a wood board, and you'll get an upgrade in areas like wood quality and appearance.
How to care for your cutting board
Properly cleaning and caring for your cutting boards, especially the wooden ones, will give them a significantly longer life. If you're planning to spend some money on a quality board, and even if you're opting for a budget pick, read CNET's guide to cutting board care to get the most bang from your block.
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