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There’s almost no kitchen item that gets used more than a cutting board, which is why finding the best wood cutting board has been a priority of mine.
In my house, we tend to keep our trusty board out on the counter for the constant meal prep that keeps us running. Up until recently, I had a basic plastic cutting board I thought got the job done — but, as it turns out, my plastic board was causing more harm than I realized.
According to a new study by researchers at North Dakota State University, every time we make a chop on a polyethylene (plastic) board, we are releasing microplastics into our food. That’s… horrifying. Especially when you consider that microplastic exposure has been shown to lead to endocrine disruption in humans linked to various cancers and reproductive disorders.
Since plastic cutting boards are definitely out of question, wooden cutting boards are the swap you need to make in your kitchen. The world of wooden cutting boards can be a bit overwhelming, though. Edge grain vs end grain? What’s the best wood to choose? And how the heck do you clean them properly? We did the grunt work of chopping, dicing, and mincing our way to discover the five best wood cutting boards on the market in 2024 for every situation.
But first: When it comes to wooden cutting boards, a few pieces of terminology are helpful to know, especially the difference between end and edge grains, which refer to how a wooden cutting board is constructed.
End grain vs. Edge grain
An end grain cutting board uses the end pieces of lumber, which are cut so that the grain’s fibers are exposed. This results in a unique, checkered look from where the pieces of wood are bonded together. Wood for edge grain boards is cut with the grain’s edge, which creates long, horizontal strips of wood with more of a striped pattern. Both end and edge grain are excellent choices for wooden cutting boards. Edge grain boards tend to be less expensive since they are less labor-intensive to make, but they aren’t quite as durable as their edge grain counterparts and are a bit tougher on knives over time. The investment you choose to put in now will depend on how long you hope to have your cutting board for, how much you’ll use it on a daily basis, and what your budget is. You can’t go wrong with a high-quality wood cutting board, though, no matter the cut.
Best wood for cutting boards
There are many different types of wood that will work well for a cutting board (and a few to avoid). In general, the most durable cutting boards will be made from hardwoods with tight grains and small pores. This makes them stand up well to sharp knives and less likely to harbor bacteria. Walnut, maple, teak, birch, and acacia are all excellent options. Stay away from softwoods like pine and cedar as well as very porous woods like oak.
Our 5 picks for the best wood cutting boards in 2024
Wood cutting board care
Another thing to keep in mind about wooden cutting boards is that they do require a bit more maintenance than you might be used to, but it shouldn’t feel overwhelming. The best way to care for your wooden cutting boards and avoid warping is to wash it after each use with warm, soapy water and make sure that you are letting the board thoroughly dry (with air flow on all sides) before storing. Use a mild dish soap and make sure to scrape off any debris or crusted-on material. Every month or so (depending on the type of wood your board is made from), you’ll need to oil your board with a food-grade mineral oil or beeswax, like this butcher block wax from Clark’s or this oil and cream set from John Boos that also includes an applicator. Oiling your board should only take a few minutes, but make sure you leave a few hours for the oil to fully soak in before storing.