The Best Cutting Boards to Use with Quality Knives
Glass, plastic, rubber, wooden–which cutting board should you use with your knife? Here is a list of the best cutting boards you should consider.
The Best Cutting Boards to Use with Quality Knives
Whether you're an experienced chef or somebody who just enjoys cooking day-to-day meals, one thing everyone needs in the kitchen is a cutting board. From making a simple peanut butter sandwich to whipping up a three-course meal, a cutting board is one thing you probably use Monday to Sunday.
But with such a variety of types of cutting boards – varying in materials and more – it can be difficult to know what's right for you. We're going to have a look at all the options, ranging from the main options with regards to different materials, to specific types of boards within these subsections. Of course, the other thing you need to consider is how to look after your cutting boards as well as a few of the additional features you may be able to enjoy – both of which are factors when considering the best cutting boards to use with quality knives.
What is the Best Cutting Board Material?
Some people may have a firm favorite when it comes to specific materials, but others believe that it comes down to what you're using it for.
Here are the most common materials cutting boards are made of, and some features and benefits of each.
Glass Cutting Boards
Starting off with the least preferred material, glass cutting boards are not ideal if you're going to be cooking with high-quality knives. As much as they may look attractive, the surface is incredibly hard and has the potential to dull and chip your knives quite quickly.
In fact, it's not just glass - you also ought to avoid using your knife on surfaces made granite, marble, and ceramic. Much like glass, these materials are significantly harder than the steel from which the blade of your knife is made - thus, it'll end up weakening and chipping your knife's edge. Unfortunately, this isn't only something that'll happen over a long period of time - even a quick slice on a ceramic dinner plate, a marble cheese boards, or a granite countertop can dull your knife significantly.
Plastic Cutting Boards
Generally, plastic cutting boards are known for a few positive specific features that stand out – namely, they're affordable, and many people consider them one of the safer options to use.
Unfortunately, however, along with affordability comes some negative features. First, plastic cutting boards have the potential to harbor bacteria as the grooves that are cut into the boards are permanent. Therefore, no matter how much you clean them, it's really difficult to completely get rid of that bacteria.
Second, their shape often distorts when washed in hot water – thus, you'll either end up with a convex board or you'll need to spend extra time taking special care of your plastic cutting board.
Third, they don't last particularly long. Once your board has a significant number of noticeable grooves and stains, it's time to get a new one. Unfortunately, because of these grooves and just the material in general, plastic cutting boards tend to stain quite easily and they simply cannot be repaired. Thus, plastic may be cheap, but in the long run, it may not be the best investment.
Finally, while plastic cutting boards aren't necessarily considered the worst culprit when it comes to dulling knives, do bear in mind that hard plastic cutting boards can actually dull your knives.
However, it's worth noting that not all plastics are necessarily the same and some are better than others. Indeed, if you're looking for the best option when it comes to plastic cutting boards, keep an eye out for high density polyethylene (HDPE) as opposed to standard polyethylene. It's softer than the standard type of plastic used for cutting boards, so not only is it a bit more gentle on your knives, but it's also far more durable!
Top tip: When it comes to cleaning plastic cutting boards, avoid using warm water. Not only does it affect the shape of the board, but it can cause the plastic to soften (depending on the type of plastic) and create a film over the bacteria which is unsanitary and definitely not preferable.
Rubber Cutting Boards
You may be surprised to find out the rubber cutting boards are one of the best types of cutting boards you can use. They're far more gentle on your blades, and unlike plastic, they don't allow for deep, permanent grooves - thus, they end up being more sanitary, easier to clean, and they're far more durable.
Unfortunately, there are a few downsides to rubber cutting boards. First, they're surprisingly expensive - far more expensive than their plastic counterpart. However, they're more durable and some of them can even be resurfaced by sanding them, so in the long run, the once-off expense is probably worth it if you have the money.
The other con is that they don't look particularly attractive on your counter, so you're not likely to want to use a rubber cutting board as one that is permanently displayed.
However, rubber cutting boards come in two different forms, mostly based on their thickness. If you're looking for a less expensive option that still offers the pros of rubber (such as being easier on your knives and more sanitary), you can go for the thinner, bendable version. They're cheaper and they're also dishwasher safe and can be bleached.
Conversely, the more expensive version of rubber cutting boards - the creme de la creme, so to speak - are the thick ones. They're about half an inch thick and these are the ones that can be resurfaced - thus, it may be viewed as a bit of an investment for your kitchen.
Wooden Cutting Boards
If you're looking for the best possible option that'll allow you to protect your knives and not have to worry about bacteria build up, you're going to want to go with a wooden cutting board.
Wood offers several benefits that other materials don't. Firstly, wood is soft enough to protect your knives' blades but also hard enough to allow you to chop effectively. Secondly, unlike plastic, the cut marks on some types of wooden boards aren't always permanent – when it comes to end-grain wooden cutting boards, the wood is actually able to heal itself over time.
However, wooden cutting boards do require a specific kind of cleaning and maintenance, so you ought to bear in mind that you'll need to put a little bit of extra time into them than other materials. Another thing to consider is that there are actually a few different types of wood cutting boards, so it's best to know the difference between them before you settle on something for yourself.
Different Types of Wood Cutting Boards
There are many different types of wooden cutting boards, differing in construction, type of wood, and the type of grain used.
With regards to the construction, you get butcher block cutting boards, or face and edge grain strips. In terms of the type of wood, the main (and best) varieties are maple, walnut, and cherry, closely followed by teak and acacia. But the main way in which these boards made from wood differ is in the type of grain in the wood – horizontal or vertical. Here are the three different types.
Face Grain Cutting Board
Face grain cutting boards have horizontal grains, which is often considered an attractive feature. However, they tend to show faster knife marks and are not recommended for regular chopping, so if you're wanting a day-to-day board, this may not be the one for you.
Edge Grain Cutting Board
Edge grain cutting boards also have horizontal grains, but they're more durable than face grain boards. The grains of the wood aren't exposed, so the board won't absorb as much moisture, making it more durable. In addition, face grain cutting boards are often thicker than face grain boards which gives them a bit more body.
Edge grain cutting boards are better than face grain but not quite as good as end grain – however, it's worth noting that they're closer to end grain in quality and require less maintenance and less laminated pieces which tends to make them cheaper.
End Grain Cutting Board
Unlike the previous two options, end grain cutting boards have vertical grains and are, hands-down, the best option when it comes to wood. They don't show knife marks nearly as much as face and edge grain boards do, and they won't dull your knives as quickly either. As previously stated, end-grain wood is also able to heal itself.
Unfortunately, however, they take more time to produce (making them more expensive) and they require more upkeep than both edge and face grain boards.
Of course, end-grain cutting boards can be made from many different types of wood and in a few different styles - finding the right combination for you is what's really important. It's also important to consider what you need the board for.
So, if you need a high-quality product that can be used for cutting up large pieces of meat, we'd recommend a butcher block cutting board made from maple or walnut that is at least 1.5 inches thick. When it comes to standard cutting boards - that is, for everyday use with all types of ingredients - our top recommendations would be an end grain maple cutting board or an end grain walnut cutting board. Of course, these aren't the only two options when it comes to wood, but they're generally considered the top two materials - and for good reason.
How to Maintain and Sanitize Your Wood Cutting Board
The first thing to know about cleaning your wooden cutting board is that you absolutely shouldn't put it in the dishwasher.
To make sure the board is not damaged too much, buy use, climate and time, it's best to hand wash the entire board in warm soapy water and reapply oil and or wax every 1 to 3 months depending on use and climate. This keeps the board hydrated and resilient. Make sure to wash all the board since the wood needs to swell evenly when exposed to moisture.
If you only wash one side of the board, use hot water, or put it in the dishwasher this can cause the board to warp. If the board warps, it damages its structural integrity and can cause issues later. You can use antibacterial dish soap to disinfect the board, or for lighter clean up, you can use a small amount of coarse salt and lemon juice. I use Clarks cutting board soap made with organic Castile soap, with scented essential oil's that are food safe and antimicrobial. Check more Clarks Wood Care products here.
Another way to keep your wooden cutting board in tip-top shape for added years of use, is to resurface it by sanding it down. That way, you get rid of any bacteria that may have built up on the surface in the grooves, and it'll be fresh and beautiful as ever. Be sure to season your board after resurfacing.
How to Season Your Wooden Cutting Board
Seasoning a cutting board sounds really exciting, but it's actually just about oiling and waxing the wood to help look after it and make it last longer. This should be done at least once a month, and you should use an oil fit for human consumption, rather one that contains fat. If you use the latter, this may result in the fat turning rancid and your board becoming smelly and discolored. Mineral oil is a great base as well as coconut oil for those that prefer a nonpetroleum product. Another great product to keep your board protected and looking beautiful between oiling is board wax. Board wax comes in both mineral oil and coconut oil bases, with Beeswax added for a protective luxurious finish.
Final Thoughts on the Best Cutting Boards to use with Quality Knives
If one thing's sure, it's that all cutting boards are not the same. They differ in material, style, cost, and so much more.
It's really important, however, when you're looking to buy a new cutting board to look at all the possible aspects of it – how much it costs, how long it'll last, how to clean it, how to maintain it, how it'll treat your high-quality knives.
With this in mind, you should be ready and able to make a well-informed decision based on your cooking needs, whether you're a pro or a complete novice, because, let's be honest, we've all got to eat!