The type of wood greatly impacts the quality of a cutting board.
In the world of cooking, there are dozens of cutting boards, all made out of different types of wood.
Each has its own unique characteristics that can make it better or worse at performing the task of chopping and slicing food.
The right cutting board can last a lifetime, and it can also help extend the longevity of your knives.
There's a myth that plastic cutting boards are easier to clean, and simpler to keep sanitary. This isn't the case.
In fact, wood cutting boards are much easier to clean, and the quality of wood cutting boards is unmatched.
Plastic cutting boards are not only bad for the environment, but they're not as effective when it comes to chopping meat, vegetables, and fruit.
In this article, we discuss what wood is best for a cutting board. We assess the unique features of each wood and explain the pros and cons of using that material.
So, if you want to learn all about the best wood for cutting boards, continue reading!
What's Vital In A Quality Cutting Board?
A good quality cutting board has certain characteristics. Below, we will discuss the characteristics of a quality cutting board.
The Difference Between Hardwood And Softwood
When buying wood, you need to check whether the type of wood is hardwood or softwood. Hardwoods are considered the better type of material for cutting boards, compared to softwood.
Softwood is not suitable for cutting boards. They are not durable or sustainable options. Many individuals have cutting boards that are made out of softwood. This is for two reasons.
The first is that it's much cheaper to make cutting boards out of softwood because it's considered to be less quality material.
Second, because it's cheaper to make cutting boards out of softwood, it means they're sold at a cheaper price.
Individuals often think they are getting a bargain because cutting boards made out of softwood can still aesthetically look grand. In reality, softwood is not a durable option, and won't last for years.
In comparison, cutting boards made from hardwood are far more durable. This means that not only will the cutting boards last longer, but the cutting boards will not scratch, or dent, as easily.
While they are more expensive, they do last much longer, which means in the long run -- they can be more economical, depending on the price, and the quality.
Chefs have a preference for hardwood cutting boards, not only for their durability but because it's easier to use a chef's knife on a hardwood cutting board.
It should be noted that some types of hardwood are not necessarily the best for cutting boards.
Porosity And Cutting Boards
When you use a cutting board, you're going to be slicing through food items. It's important to consider what food items you will be using the cutting board for.
Do you have a different cutting board for meat, and vegetables -- or do you plan on using the same one, and cleaning the cutting board every time?
While it might not seem significant, the porosity of the board, and the type of food used, is critical to good hygiene in the kitchen.
You don't want any gaps between the surface of the cutting board and the food item. These gaps allow bacteria to enter the food, which could lead to illness, and it can also shorten the lifespan of the cutting board.
Now, when a cutting board has high levels of porosity, it means that it is much easier for any liquid, or moisture, to seep into the pores of the wood.
This means that bacteria can grow. It's more of a concern for cutting meats and fish.
If you're still not convinced, data from the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) may surprise you.
In an experiment, the NSF discovered that 18% of all cutting boards tested, contained harmful bacteria, such as E.coli and Salmonella.
This not only means that individuals must clean their cutting boards sufficiently, but it also speaks to the fact that different types of wood have different levels of porosity.
The Best Wood For Cutting Boards
In this section, we discuss a variety of different types of wood, and assess their quality for the function of a cutting board. You will also note that we have supplied examples of good-quality chopping boards that you can purchase online.
Maple is one of the best types of wood for a cutting board. It's a closed-grain wood, which means that it's more difficult for bacteria to seep into the pores of the wood. This makes maple one of the best woods for bacteria resistance.
Likewise, maple wood is a type of hardwood. It's a very durable material, which can last a long time. This is crucial for a cutting board, especially since some people use cutting boards daily.
The hardness of maple is around 1,450 lb. This makes maple one of the strongest woods on the market. It's vital that knives are sharpened occasionally because they will almost certainly become blunt when used often on this sturdy type of wood.
Generally, maple wood tends to be a light and neutral color. This is great for many kitchen designs, as it tends to go well with a range of different kitchen aesthetics and color schemes.
The only issue with this is that ingredients such as beetroot, or turmeric, should not be cut on maple. They will likely stain the chopping board, which will cause discoloration.
There are lots of varieties of wood, and lots of varieties of types of woods. With maple, a buyer should choose either sugar maple or hard maple. It's the most popular, and most efficient choice.
Never purchase a cutting board that is made out of red maple. Red maple is a toxic material, which means it is not food safe.
OUR TOP PICK
John Boos Block Chop-N-Slice Maple Wood cutting board is an excellent option, for those looking to buy a maple wood cutting board.
The great aspect about this cutting board is that it's lightweight, which means it's easy to move. It's also a sustainably sourced material, which is incredibly important for the environment.
The only downside is that this chopping board does need oil and a cream to be applied to ensure the longevity of the board.
Great color, suitable for all kitchen colors
Lightweight, not difficult to move
Sustainability sourced - environmentally friendly company
The cutting board requires oil, and cream, to ensure the longevity of the board. These oils and creams are bought separately.
Teak is an excellent option for a cutting board. It is a closed-grain wood, which means it's great at preventing bacteria from seeping into the wood.
Not only this, but the natural oils of teak also contribute to Teak's bacteria resistance, making it difficult for bacteria to affect the pores of the wood.
Moreover, Teak is prized for its grand color. It tends to be dark brown with an orange hue, which is ideal for a kitchen cutting board. This is because it's unlikely to develop stains from fruits and vegetables.
Even with ingredients such as turmeric and beetroot, it's unlikely that they will stain a teak cutting board. This is a very important characteristic, as many people discover that with lighter shades, the cutting boards become discolored over time.
However, teak is a closed-grain material, which means it is ideal for a cutting board. This means that the chances of bacteria contaminating the pores of the wood are unlikely.
Teak is also a durable material. It contains a high content of silica, which is the substance found in glass and sand. The hardness of the teak tends to be around 1,070 lb.
It's an incredibly scratch-resistant material, which means that this cutting board will preserve its aesthetic quality over time.
The only issue with Teak is that it can lead to knives becoming dull over time. As teak is an exceptionally strong material, it means it's more likely for knives to dull.
However, this isn't too much of a problem if you sharpen your knives occasionally.
The DALSTRONG Teak Wood Cutting Board is a great choice for those looking for a teak cutting board. This teak cutting board is made from a sustainable material, making it a great environmental choice.
The DalStrong teak cutting board has a lifetime guarantee, which means that if the cutting board does end up breaking, you'll be able to get a replacement, for free.
Good quality teak wood cutting board -- long-lasting;
Lifetime guarantee -- DalStrong will offer replacements if it breaks
Sustainable material - made from environmentally friendly materials.
It is prone to small cracking, so it requires oil to maintain longevity.
Okay, bamboo is not a type of wood, it's actually a type of grass. The reason we are including bamboo is that it behaves like wood, and is often used in products to replace 'real' wood.
In fact, bamboo is stronger than a lot of varieties of wood. The hardness of bamboo is 1,380 -- making it almost as strong as Maple, and stronger than Teak.
Bamboo also has a high level of silica, which is a contributing factor to the durability of the material.
The great thing about bamboo is that it is pretty resistant to scratches, and it's also water-resistant.
This means that there are fewer chances of moisture of liquid seeping into the pores of the bamboo. It behaves similarly to a closed-grain wood.
Bamboo is becoming a highly popular material. It's incredibly sustainable, which means it's great for the environment. Bamboo grows incredibly fast.
Bamboo can reach maturity within three to six years, compared to a minimum of thirty years for an oak tree to reach maturity.
Much like Teak, bamboo cutting boards can cause knives to dull. This, again, is not too much of an issue, providing that knives are occasionally sharpened.
This Extra Large Organic Bamboo Cutting Board by Royal Craft Wood is an excellent bamboo cutting board.
Not only is this cutting board cheaper than most cutting boards, but it is high in quality.
This cutting board is designed to be used for cutting meats and cheeses, making it a very durable chopping board.
- Bamboo is a very sustainable material - making it good for the environment;
- Much cheaper than other materials;
- Durable - ideal for cutting meat and cheese.
- Bland design
Beech is a pretty reliable choice for a cutting board.
Beech is stronger than teak, but not quite as strong as maple and bamboo. It has a hardness of 1,300 lb, which means it is an incredibly durable material.
Beech is another material that is closed-grain, which means there's less of a chance that bacteria will seep into the pores of the wood.
Not only that, but the grains are tightly arranged, which makes beech an even better option. This is due to the fact that tightly arranged grains will help prevent water absorption, and it'll also prevent the cutting board from warping.
The great qualities of beech do not end there. If you hate sharpening knives, then beech might just be the ideal material.
While beech is incredibly durable, it's not known to damage knives. While all knives need to be sharpened sometimes, beech won't dull knives as frequently as other types of wood.
The odd aspect about beech is that it will shrink over time. There are ways to combat this, however.
Beech should be cleaned after use. It should also be conditioned once a month, and a stain-resistance layer (suitable for beech) can be applied. This will ensure that the beech does not shrink.
The Architec Gripperwood Cutting Board in Beech wood is a great option for those looking for a practical beech wood cutting board.
Unique to this cutting board is the addition of non-slip gripper feet. These ensure that the cutting board does not move, meaning it's much safer and more practical to use.
The beech wood is sustainable and is derived from beech wood in a sustainable forest.
- Non-slip gripper feet -- safer cutting board;
- Sustainable beech wood -- good for the environment;
- Set of 2 -- good value for money.
- The product should be conditioned once a month to maintain durability.
Walnut is a very different type of wood. It's arguably one of the softest closed-grain woods. Like all the other woods on the list, it is a hardwood -- it's just a much softer material.
While walnuts are soft, they're still pretty durable. Walnut has a hardness of 1,010 lb, making it a strong material indeed.
Walnut is liked for its aesthetic value. It's a very rich and dark wood that always looks expensive. One reason it's prized for its aesthetics is that walnuts are very difficult to stain.
As it is a rich dark brown, it means that it is more difficult for stains to appear.
The issue with walnut is that it can develop more dents and cuts, compared to other materials.
This is because it is a much softer wood, which means it's easier to cause a dent in the wood.
The good news is, that if you're not rough with chopping, then it's unlikely that walnut wood will develop a dent.
However, it's not that practical, given that certain vegetables or meat can be difficult to chop.
The Mevell Walnut Wood Cutting Board is an excellent choice for those looking for a walnut cutting board.
This product is handmade in Montreal, using authentic American black walnut wood. This means that the cutting boards are unique, and all have a slightly different design.
This product is reversible. The front cutting board is used for carving and cutting meats.
Plus, it has juice grooves, which means any liquid will drop into the grooves, instead of the surface.
The other side is ideal for chopping fruits and vegetables, meaning you only need one cutting board.
- Reversible cutting board - one side is designed for meats, the other side designed for vegetables;
- Handmade, using American black walnut wood -- authentic, each product is slightly different;
- Juice grooves -- no liquid spilling on the surface.
- The product will develop cuts and dents unless regularly treated with oil.
Woods That Aren't Ideal For Chopping Boards
Below are a few examples of types of wood that are not ideal for chopping boards. We explain below the reasons why these woods do not work well.
Oak is a hardwood, which is technically a good characteristic for a chopping board. The issue is that oak is an open-grain wood.
This means that oak has very large pores, which means that it's very easy, and common, for oak chopping boards to develop bacteria growth.
They're not a good type of wood to use as a chopping board for this reason and should be avoided.
Pine is a type of softwood. This immediately means it is more prone to damage than a hardwood material.
It means that pine cannot withstand the same amount of chopping as other woods, which will result in the pine cutting board either breaking or having many dents.
On the surface, buying a cutting board seems like an easy mission. After all, most people assume that as long as a cutting board is sturdy, it's probably safe to use and a good investment.
That is not true. The type of wood used to make a cutting board can drastically impact how the cutting board works.
Some types of wood, such as teak, are closed-grain wood. Other materials, such as pine, are open-grain wood.
While objectively both teak and oak seem fine to use as a cutting board, the reality is, oak will break easier. Plus, it's more likely to carry bacteria. This is explained further later on.
However, at the very least, you want to look for a cutting board that is made out of wood. You don't want to buy a plastic cutting board.
Plastic is not meant to be used as a cutting board. It's not sustainable, and it's much more hygienic to clean a wooden cutting board.
You want to look into the quality of the cutting board. A high-quality cutting board will last longer and will hold up better over time.
There's no point buying a cutting board if the quality of the cutting board is poor.
In this situation, it could be that the company is producing cheap, ineffective products. Always make sure to review product reviews when possible, to ensure that the wood used is authentic.
If there are complaints about the quality of the wood, then you know that the company isn't making high-quality products.
When buying a cutting board, you need to look at the size of the cutting board. If you plan on using the cutting board for both veggies, then you'll likely not need a large cutting board.
If you plan on using the cutting board for meats, then you'll need a cutting board that is large.
It's pretty easy to cut broccoli on a medium-sized cutting board, but it's not so easy carving a turkey on a medium cutting board.
Below, we will explain why the porosity of wood is important, especially in regard to cutting boards.
Porosity: Open-Grain Wood, And Closed-Grain Wood
Earlier, we discussed the impact that porosity has on the sanitary of wood. In this section, we will expand on that.
There are two main types of hardwood. These are ring-porous and diffuse-porous woods.
It should be noted that these types of wood are also either open-grain or closed-grain. Open-grain refers to wood that is ring-porous, while closed-grain refers to wood that is diffuse-porous.
A wood that is ring-porous and open-grain, has the highest levels of porosity.
It has larger pores than semi-diffuse porous, and diffuse-porous woods. When a ring-porous wood is used as a cutting board, it means that it's much easier for bacteria to grow.
This is especially true with regard to raw meat. It can lead to food poisoning, but it can also shorten the lifespan of the cutting board.
This is because, over time, the bacteria will also destroy and wear down the wood.
This doesn't mean that a ring-porous wood shouldn't be used. There are many situations in which certain woods will not greatly impact the quality of the wood.
For instance, a ring-porous bread would be fine for slicing bread, or vegetables with a low percentage of water.
Now, closed-grain wood and diffuse-porous wood is the ideal type of wood for a cutting board.
A closed-grain, diffuse-porous wood is more efficient at preventing liquid and moisture from seeping into the pores of the wood.
This means it's more effective at preventing bacteria from entering the surface of the wood. Due to this, it also means that closed-grain woods tend to experience fewer stains and less wood warping.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Are Plastic Cutting Boards Considered Bad? Aren't They A Cheaper Option?
The answer to this question is simple. Plastic cutting boards have been around for decades. They've been around long enough to see their benefits and drawbacks.
The major drawback of plastic cutting boards is that they are worse for growing bacteria.
While wood is more porous than plastic, wood can also develop scratches -- the scratches in plastic will get worse with time.
In some cases, scratches on wooden cutting boards can be sanded out. Scratches in plastic cutting boards mean it's much easier for bacteria to latch onto the board.
While a lot of you might wonder what about wooden cutting boards? It's very different.
That's because in most cases, the bacteria that is absorbed into wood will stay inside the wood until the bacteria dies.
Now, if the wood is open-grain, then the number of bacteria that can develop will be high, which means bacteria will become a problem for the wood.
However, with strong closed-grain wood, it's much more difficult for the wood to become affected by the bacteria.
Do Wooden Cutting Boards Need To Be Maintained?
Yes, all wooden cutting boards need to be maintained.
Some types of wood, such as maple, need to be maintained much less than other types of wood, like beech.
While both types of wood require maintenance, the frequency of the maintenance depends on the type of wood, and the quality of the wood.
You should ensure that you are using the right oil. Some types of wooden cutting boards may need an oil that is specific to the type of wood used.
If you don't maintain your wooden cutting board, then it could warp, crack, split, or even rot. It's much more economical to invest in oil for a cutting board than it is to purchase a new cutting board.
When Should I Throw A Wooden Cutting Board Away?
Wooden cutting boards are made from natural materials, so they're meant to last for years.
If you notice any signs of damage, don't throw the cutting board out right away. If there are only a couple of scratches and dents, then try to sand the cutting board, and ensure that you are applying oil to the cutting board.
If the cutting board has severe dents and cracks, then it's probably time to get a new wooden cutting board.
Another major sign is if the wooden chopping wood is creating a lot of splinters. This is not safe, and the product should be thrown away.
However, you'll want to make sure that you're disposing of the board properly, and not just throwing it in the trash.
Some wooden cutting boards can be recycled, so check whether the cutting board can be recycled before it's thrown away.
How Expensive Should A Wooden Cutting Board Be?
This question is a bit difficult. It's like asking how much a pair of shoes should cost. There's no real wrong or right answer.
You don't need to spend two hundred dollars on a pair of shoes, but if the shoes cost ten dollars? They're probably not the best quality.
With wooden cutting boards, if the product is very cheap, then it means that the quality is probably very cheap.
However, with products like bamboo, it's much easier to get a cheaper cutting board.
This is because bamboo does not take a long time to grow, which means there are a lot of bamboo products available. Usually, this means that products made with bamboo can be lower in price.
The great news is, bamboo is a great material for a cutting board. It's stronger than some natural wood cutting boards. The only real issue with bamboo is that it is not as striking as other types of wood.
Bamboo is a lot more neutral and bland. For some people, that's not a problem. Other people prefer a cutting board that has more character.
Generally speaking, a cutting board price between $50-$200 dollars will likely be a good quality. The real issue is, that it really depends on the quality of the individual product.
There are cutting boards that only cost around $30, which are far better quality than cutting boards on offer for $70. It's really important to know what types of wood, work well as a cutting board, and know the signs of quality.
There are dozens of wooden cutting boards on the market. At first, it might seem like all cutting boards are the same, but this couldn't be further from the truth.
The type of wood used to make a cutting board has a huge impact on the quality of the cutting board, and how long the cutting board will last.