Best Cutting Board of 2021
The Sonder is, we think, the best overall cutting board on the market. Handcrafted in Los Angeles, CA, Sonder pulls out all the stops to produce an incredible product for your kitchen. Its end-grain wood construction offers an anti-microbial design that should help keep your cooking space germ-free. Secondly, it doesn't simply rely on its heft to stay in place; this board comes with little rubber "feet" which minimize any chance of slippage. Its hardwood construction is more knife-friendly than other bamboo options, and we love its deep juice groove that keeps even the messiest jobs from spilling onto the counter. Neither overwhelmingly large nor too small to be useful, our testers found the dimensions to be ideal.
Its primary downside is its price, as it costs nearly double of other high-end hardwood boards and several times more than many bamboo or plastic contenders. The other downside is its lack of storability. At 1.5 inches thick and roughly 10 pounds, this board will feel hefty for folks who are used to thinner bamboo or plastic boards or those with limited storage. It comes highly recommended and is best for those seeking a top-rated wooden cutting board with an anti-slip grip and a beautiful finish.
Two plastic models that stood out from the pack were the HOMWE Kitchen 3-Piece Set and the OXO Good Grips Carving and Cutting Board. While both models are well designed and solid, the HOMWE Kitchen edged out the OXO Good Grips as our favorite plastic board. Three great sizes provide plenty of versatility, and all our testers love the rubberized pads that help keep it in place. The textured surface proves to be more blade-friendly than many other plastic options, with tough and durable plastic. We appreciate that it's dishwasher safe, and its handles make pulling it out of deep cabinets as easy as it gets.
While we can appreciate this model, there are a few downsides to plastic in general. It's more durable, but it will dull knives faster, necessitating more frequent blade sharpening than hardwood and bamboo options. We also don't love that the knives will produce cuts on the board, which can harbor bacteria. This means that a model needs to be replaced more often. This is true in our testing with this product. Still, if you're in the market for a low-priced plastic design, this value pack is a wonderful option to consider.
If you want to buy one of the best bamboo boards you can get for the least amount of money, look no further than the Royal Craft-Bamboo series. These are solid all-around options regardless of price; however, this model is difficult to beat when you consider the low cost. All of our testers loved the deep juice grooves and recessed handles, which made it easier to pick up off of smooth surfaces.
Like most other bamboo options, this model does need some maintenance; however, generally speaking, it needs to be oiled less than once a month and less overall than most other bamboo or hardwood options. It is not dishwasher safe and needs to be hand-washed, and in our experience, some things (like strawberries) will leave stains. Fortunately, it does share the same superior anti-microbial properties as other hardwood and bamboo products. It's tough to beat for the price, and we'd take this board every time over nearly any plastic version. It's great for folks wanting to try out something other than plastic but who aren't willing to commit a bunch of money for something they might not prefer.
The Epicurean is versatile, easy-to-clean, and boasts a low-profile design. It's made of a durable and ultra-hard composite material that resists warping; it held up better than any other composite or plastic material we tested. One of the primary advantages of the hard-cutting surface is that the board will have fewer gouges in its surface over time, offering fewer places for bacteria to hide. Additionally, unlike nearly all of its wood counterparts, it is dishwasher safe, making for easy cleanup. The board is constructed from impressively strong material considering how thin it is, and this thin design allows to easy storage, practically disappearing in your cabinet when not in use.
The downsides are mostly related to its hard material. While it's ultra-tough, regular cutting on such a hard surface will dull your knives at a much faster rate. With that said, this model is far more durable, anti-microbial, and thinner than many plastic models and only a little less knife-friendly than other plastic or bamboo options. The Epicurean is perfect for those desiring something stronger and more durable than plastic but who don't want to deal with the bulk and maintenance required of a hardwood model.
In recent years there has been a noticeable increase in the number of bamboo models offered on the market. The reasons behind this proliferation are as plentiful as the options. Many bamboo boards share the same positive characteristics as their hardwood counterparts, such as being naturally anti-microbial and durable but are also thinner, lighter, and significantly less expensive. After directly comparing several of the highest-rated and most popular bamboo models, the Green Chef was our review team's favorite. It resisted staining and splintering better than any other bamboo option and was thinner and easier to store.
The main downside is that it isn't nearly as blade-friendly as hardwood options (though still not as harsh as a composite board). As with any wood board, you should oil your board around once a month, but we found this model was more forgiving in this regard. The Green Chef is perfect for someone who wants something more anti-bacterial than a plastic board but doesn't want to deal with a thick, heavy, expensive hardwood model.
If you are after the best flexible cutting surface, look no further than the IMEKO TPU. While it's on the pricey side, we think any serious home cook will appreciate this board. It makes a terrific complement to a primary board that you don't want to use for particularly messy and more bacteria-ridden jobs, such as cutting raw chicken. The IMEKO is easy to clean, as it is very easy to wipe down and is dishwasher safe. It also resists getting cut up significantly longer than any plastic cutting board we tested, either hard or soft. It doesn't get deep cuts, limiting places for bacteria to grow and allowing your run-of-the-mill dishwasher to clean it thoroughly.
While we absolutely love this model as a secondary board, some key aspects keep it from being our review team's pick for an all-around board. It doesn't tend to stay in place as well as some and tends to stain. However, while it's not our first choice for a kitchen's primary cutting surface, it's an easy-to-clean option for poultry or any other messy kitchen job.
Boos Block is one of the most recognizable names when it comes to cutting boards, and the BBQBD Reversible Maple Wood Edge Grain is one of their most popular. Made in Illinois, this workhorse of a cutting board is among the most anti-microbial and knife-friendly. Its juice grooves are deep enough for even the messiest watermelon or brisket meals. While it doesn't feature any special rubber molded pads, its hefty design more than helps keep it in place.
Its downsides are that it's heavy and bulky, and those with smaller kitchens will find this 1.5-inch thick model (weighing 10 pounds) takes a little getting used to. The other downside is that it takes a bit of maintenance; the maintenance is basically spreading Boos Mystery Oil (or something similar) on it once a month. While most folks who are into cooking won't find this to be a big deal, it's more than the zero maintenance required of plastic or composite boards.
The OXO Good Grips was a very close runner-up for our best plastic model. It only barely missed out on the HOMWE model, which was just a little more knife-friendly. The OXO has rubberized feet, making it the most stable plastic cutting surface we have ever seen. We also appreciate its price point and durability.
While we loved many things about this board, it wasn't quite as knife-friendly as the HOMWE model. However, it stayed in place more securely for those who prioritize stability and is available in larger sizes. As we found most things about this model fairly comparable with our top plastic board, we think both can be good options for someone not wanting to deal with the hassle of a wooden board.
The Totally Bamboo is not only a very functional cutting board, but it also provides a fun and beautiful representation of major cities, National Parks, and other notable sites for states and a handful of other Territories Countries, and Canadian Provinces. While most people will buy this model for its unique shape, it should be noted that it's a very functional board. It easily proved to be among the most durable, resisting slices and cuts as well as any other top-performing model. It also comes with a hefty pre-treatment, and we found it needed to be oiled the least frequently of any model we tested. Like all other bamboo models, it's more sanitary and anti-bacterial than plastic options because of bamboo's naturally anti-microbial characteristics.
The big downside is you should really avoid cutting on the "art" side. While this board is durable, consistently chopping on the side with laser-etched landmarks may ruin the artwork. The other downsides are the same as other bamboo options, in that it is less knife-friendly than hardwood options and should not be put in the dishwasher. Regardless, this very functional cutting board makes for a great gift or a commemorative piece to show state pride or teach your children about your state's geography.
The Gorilla Grip boards offer solid all-around performance at a good price. They stand out for their knife-friendly design, and the tacky material that lines the perimeter of the board helps keep the board in place, reducing slipping. Gorilla Grip also opted to make this board thicker than many other plastic options, which helps it reduce warping, even after repeated cycles in the dishwasher.
The softer plastic gets cut up quickly and thus needs to be replaced more frequently than other top-tier plastic models. We think this makes this board perfect for folks who care a lot about the sharpness of their knives but still want a plastic board. It's also ideal for folks shopping for their kitchen's secondary board for certain meals or other applications where it won't be used as a primary board.
The Farberware cutting boards are some of the longest-produced and most popular plastic models on the market. They are inexpensive, dishwasher safe, resist staining, and are easy to clean. They are also made of a very hard material. This hard material contributes to their durability, which resists deep slices better than many plastic options.
That same very hard material makes the Farberware boards some of the least knife-friendly of any model on the market. They also don't resist warping in the dishwasher as well as some. It isn't that they will start to warp on the first wash, but in our experience, they will generally start to warp after repeated washes. The Farberware remains a solid option for those on a tight budget furnishing a second home or just want a second or third cutting surface for those messy jobs.
Why You Should Trust Us
Ian Nicholson is the lead tester for this review, and his enthusiasm literally can not be overstated. Before the selection and review process, he spent hours discussing cutting boards with professional chefs and other food service professionals. Ian himself is a passionate home chef and long-time reviewer who prides himself in taking great care throughout the entire testing process.
For this review, we analyzed over 50 of the best options in the market. After carefully considering many options, we purchased the best 11 models and put each one through our signature extensive testing process. We chopped, minced, and diced our way on each contender, testing each one based on a series of metrics. The result is a high-quality collection of cutting boards in which there is sure to be something for every chef.
Analysis and Test Results
We thoroughly researched over 100 models before settling on what we felt were the best eleven options available. We purchased all eleven and analyzed each one, comparing metrics like cutting, resistance to stains, ease of cleaning, and how knife-friendly they are. We also evaluated bigger-picture performance characteristics like longevity and versatility.
Ease of Cleaning
For our ease of cleaning metric, we placed a similar-sized portion of barbeque brisket on all of the boards for 30 minutes and then compared how easy it was to clean them. To further compare ease of cleaning, we left six sliced strawberries on each board for exactly two hours before removing and cleaning them. We compared how well each model resisted staining (as strawberries are one of the more notorious foods for staining cutting boards). We then scrubbed each with the same sponge and soap, focusing on the same overall effort. For our scores, we did boost our ratings if they could be cleaned in the dishwasher.
Starting and ending your food prep with a clean cutting surface is essential. A major contributing factor to this is how the board's material wears and if it's naturally resistant to harboring bacteria. A nice hard material with minimal knife grooves can simply be washed clean by hand, while a soft board with tons of gouges may need to be regularly sanitized.
It is common to think that plastic options are less likely to harbor bacteria and are easier to clean. Several studies, including the definitive study done by Dr. Cliver at the University of California at Davis and another by the University of Illinois, found the contrary. Once plastic options are used in the slightest, they are far more likely to harbor germs than wooden or composite cutting boards.
Studies have shown that several types of bacteria can actually hide inside the sliced plastic and even survive dishwasher cycles. This means that while brand new plastic models are bacteria resistant, as soon as they have a significant number of grooves, they become an excellent habitat for bacteria to grow and thrive. We found the most sanitary and easiest to clean plastic models to be the flexible IMEKO TPU, which resisted deep cuts. If you are going to buy a hard plastic board, we'd recommend the HOMWE or OXO models, as they were some of the hardest plastic we tested. They also resisted getting deep grooves and were safely cleaned by hand or in a dishwasher.
Hardwood and Bamboo
One of the upsides of wood is that it's said to be naturally anti-microbial with several anti-bacterial properties. For example, wood is very porous, and in this environment, bacteria are pulled inside the end grain wood and bamboo designs and cannot survive. Studies show that wood also contains naturally occurring enzymes that kill bacteria.
Of all the hardwood options we examined, we think the end grain designs are best due to their anti-microbial properties. Our favorite end-grain models include the Sonder and Boos Blocks, as both resisted getting deep cuts. The Green Chef stood out for how easy it was to clean by hand among Bamboo products. We also appreciate that it resisted deep cuts during our extended test period. A downside of all wood models is that they can not be washed in a dishwasher and must be washed by hand, unlike plastic options. In addition to hand-washing, it's important to periodically sanitize your wooden boards or any cutting surface you're not putting through the dishwasher.
Composite cutting boards are made of a blend of hard materials, which allows them to be a sanitary option. This is because their hard material makes it difficult to put deep cuts or gouges; unlike wood, they can also be washed in the dishwasher. These characteristics make composite products some of the easiest to keep clean. The Epicurean was by far our review team's favorite composite model.
We broke out our knife sharpener and got all of our blades razor-sharp. We then dedicated a knife to each board for a week at a time before re-sharping and swapping boards.
We found some differences in how fast bamboo models dulled our blades, but there was a significant difference between plastic models. There was no question that composite boards were the hardest of all materials and the ones that dulled our knives the quickest; however, we didn't find any difference between models of this material. If you are preparing a significant portion of your meals at home, how blade-friendly, or how quickly (or slowly) a cutting surface will dull your kitchen knives is nearly as important as hygienic factors. While the type of material the board is constructed from will have the biggest impact on this metric, we still found significant differences between models of the same materials.
Models with end-grain hard construction are by far the best, as the knife blade can slip in between the fibers without much damage to the board or the knife. This is why the two most knife-friendly models we tested were the Sonder and the Boos Block, which allowed our blades to remain sharper than when using others in our testing fleet.
Bamboo and wood are generally similar but are a bit tougher on knives than end-grain hardwoods. We found the Imeko TPU and the HOMWE to be the most knife-friendly. The textured surface of HOMWE helps prevent food from slipping around on the surface and reduces wear on the blade. The Imeko TPU struck the best balance for plastic boards, as the blade could penetrate its surface ever so slightly, reducing wear on the blade without making slices too deep (which results in harboring bacteria).
The least knife-friendly options are composite models like the Epicurean. Typically these types of boards are comprised of an ultra-hard material with no give, which can end up dulling the thin edge of a kitchen knife much faster than soft plastic or wood. The primary advantage of composite boards is that they are more bacteria resistant than plastic, and unlike wooden boards, they're able to handle a spin through the dishwasher.
Staying in Place
To test how well each model could stay in place, we pushed each board directly from the side — with five pounds of pressure — to see how much and how easily it was to move them. We also tested this category by aggressively chopping and monitoring how much each model moved as well; we also cut one-handed.
The last thing you want is to have your cutting board move while you're chopping thick butternut squash, quickly dicing garlic, or cutting larger pieces of meat. Typically, manufacturers help boards stay in place with one of three design aspects. Often there are rubberized feet or pads to help grip your counter. Some might depend on the weight of the board itself, while others make the entire board out of a tacky, grippy material.
Hands down, the most stable board we tested was the Sonder; it was a hefty 10 pounds and featured rubberized pads on both sides of the board. This was one of only a small handful of hardwood models to also feature rubberized pads, and it proved rock-solid (and counter friendly). Among plastic models, we loved the OXO, thanks to its super-grippy rubberized feet. While the HOMWE was decent, it just couldn't compare to the OXO.
Durability and Longevity
To ensure longevity, hardwood boards require good care, such as oiling them once a month. Thus, while models like the Boos Block and the Sonder are 2-4 times the price as many in our fleet, they will easily last that much longer. The Epicurean is also extremely durable and resists warping far better than most plastic options. The Green Chef was the most durable bamboo board we tested, making it our favorite overall bamboo model. While costly, it resists slices, staining, and warping better than any other bamboo option.
In general, we found that plastic boards are the least durable and should be replaced every so often. However, the difference between longevity and durability (among plastic options) is where we found the most significant differences. The OXO and the HOMWE are easily the toughest plastic cutting boards in our fleet. No other plastic contender could match them regarding their resistance to excessive cuts or warping, even after repeated washings.
Lastly, no other plastic model came close to the Imeko TPU. While it's more expensive than other flexible cutting surfaces, it blows anything else we have ever tried out of the water. It stays flexible, resisting deep slices, and did not warp during our testing period.
Ease of Storage
Regardless if you store your cutting board on your countertop, in a pull-out drawer, or tucked away vertically in a cabinet, cutting boards can take up a great deal of real estate when not in use. Since nearly all of these boards are available in multiple sizes, we mostly focused on how thick they were. The thickness of models varied greatly. We measured the thickness of all of these boards ourselves to ensure accuracy.
While some folks have a cutting board that may live on the counter all of the time, few people have their collection displayed on the counter at all times. We often encourage people to get a bigger board than they think they need, though the downside is finding a place to store it when not in use.
Since nearly every model we tested is available in multiple sizes (most from 8 x 10" to 18 x 24"), we didn't find it helpful to compare their actual surface area. Instead, we focused on their thicknesses, as most people stack them flat in a drawer or vertically in a cabinet or pantry. We also noticed the softer boards not wanting to stand up if stored on end, typically falling over.
Ease of storage is where the Epicurean really stood out. The same ultra-hard material that makes it so resistant to cutting also lets it be ultra-thin. In fact, you can stack two Epicurean boards in the same space it takes to store one bamboo board or 3-5 inches of a hardwood board.
We truly put our all into this review, testing each board and highlighting the top performers. We've discussed the pros and cons of each model, discussing their specific uses. Whether someone is a newfound culinary aficionado or a full-on professional, our review team made this the most informative and comprehensive review for folks of all levels and needs.
— Ian Nicholson