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Cutting boards are essential kitchen gear, so it’s no surprise they’re much disputed among cooks. You heard plastic is safer…or is it wood? Does it matter what type of wood? And what’s the deal with glass? A lot goes into choosing the best board for your needs, and it doesn’t help that the market is saturated with options. But, friend, that’s where we come in to help.

Think of cutting boards like mattresses. The model you love is probably going to differ from the one your mom/friend/coworker swears by. And since you’re going to spend *a lot* of time using it, you want to make the right choice.

But first, a quick primer on cutting boards:

best cutting board
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What cutting board material is best: plastic or wood (or glass)?

The good news? We can narrow down your selection right away. Glass cutting boards are, in our humble opinion, the worst. They’re easily breakable and hard to clean, they make a noise akin to nails on a chalkboard when your knife hits them, and they destroy your knives. If you value a sharp knife, don’t use a glass cutting board. That leaves you with two main options: plastic or wood.

The bad news? The answer isn’t as cut and dry as you might assume. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. You’ve probably heard that wood is better for the longevity of your knives, and that’s true. But wood cutting boards are more expensive and heavier, and also require regular upkeep (i.e., oiling) to ensure they last. You also can’t put them in the dishwasher. On the other hand, plastic cutting boards are usually pretty cheap, don’t take up a lot of space and can be tossed into the dishwasher for easy cleaning. But they’re not as gentle on your knives and they don’t last as long as wood cutting boards do.

Within the wood category, there are a few options too. End-grain boards (with the ends of the wood facing up, like a cross-section) are gentler on knives, more resistant to cuts and will hold up better over time, but they are pricier and prone to cracking without proper care. Edge-grain boards (with the edges of the wood facing up) are more affordable, but they’ll wear down a knife blade faster and show scratches.

There are also bamboo cutting boards, which, for our purposes, we’ll group within the wood category, even though they’re technically grass. (More on those later.)

What cutting board is best for raw meat?

For a long time, plastic cutting boards were the gold standard for raw meat, fish and poultry, because they’re less porous and easier to clean and sanitize. But studies have since debunked this myth: A new, smooth plastic cutting board is easy to clean, yes, but once your knife leaves deep grooves and nicks, it’s a lot harder to get rid of lurking bacteria. A University of Wisconsin-Madison study found that hardwood surfaces (like maple) actually trap bacteria beneath the surface, where it dies instead of multiplying on the surface.

The USDA confirms that “consumers may use wood or a nonporous surface for cutting raw meat and poultry,” so as long as you’re thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing your wood cutting board (and/or using a separate one for raw veggies), it’s perfectly safe to use for prepping raw meat.

With that in mind, we ultimately prefer wood cutting boards over plastic (largely for aesthetics and durability), but there are a few plastic cutting boards we’d recommend, which you can find below.

How to take care of your cutting boards

No matter the cutting board, you’ll obviously want to keep it clean. Plastic cutting boards can go in the dishwasher, but wood cutting boards must be hand-washed (otherwise they’ll split and warp). Hot, soapy water will do the trick for everyday cleaning; to sanitize, use a dilution of a quaternary ammonium–based cleaner, like Mr. Clean. (Psst: This NC State University article is a good primer on proper sanitation of both wood and plastic cutting boards.)

If you’re investing in a wood cutting board, you’ll want to maintain that board so it lasts for years. Luckily, it’s not difficult: Wood cutting boards require seasoning with oil, kind of like cast-iron pans. A food-grade mineral oil, such as John Boos & Co. Mystery Oil, will do the trick. After cleaning or anytime your cutting board looks dry, saturate all surfaces with the oil and rub it in with a soft cloth. Let the oil soak in overnight, then wipe off any excess the next morning.

How can you tell if your board is properly seasoned?

If liquid beads on the surface, you’re good to go. This will prevent your wood cutting board from warping, splitting or cracking. Any accumulated scratches can be sanded out, but if it cracks or splits, it has to go. The same rules apply for bamboo boards.

Now that you know the basics, you can choose the best cutting board for your needs. Here are 15 options we love.

The best cutting board winners at a glance:

  1. Best Overall: OXO Good Grips Utility Cutting Board
  2. Best Wooden: John Boos & Co. End-Grain Maple Chopping Block
  3. Best Bamboo: Five Two Bamboo Cutting Board
  4. Best Plastic: Material the reBoard
  5. Best Flexible: Dexas Heavy Duty Grippmat Flexible Cutting Boards
  6. Best Value: J.K. Adams 17-Inch-by-14-Inch Maple Wood Kitchen Basic Cutting Board
  7. Best for Meat: Dexas Heavy Duty PolySafe Home Chef Board
  8. Best for Serving: etuHome Vintage-Inspired Reclaimed Wood Footed Serving Board
  9. Best for Chopping: Teakhaus Wooden Cutting Board
  10. Best Looking: Williams Sonoma Striped Cutting Board, Maple & Walnut
  11. Best for Gifting: Decorative Name & Initial Butcher Block Cutting Board
  12. Best Heavy Duty: Catskill Craftsmen Wood End Grain Cutting Slab
  13. Best Set: OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Everyday Cutting Board Set
  14. Best Round: John Boos & Co. Round Edge-Grain Walnut Cutting Board
  15. Most Versatile: Lipper International Bamboo Cutting Board with Inlay Mats

RELATED: I’m a Food Editor and These Are the Only 3 Knives You Need in Your Kitchen

1. OXO Good Grips Utility Cutting Board

The Best Overall Cutting Board

We’re Team Wood Cutting Boards, but we recognize they can be pricey and time-consuming to maintain. That’s why we think the OXO Good Grips Utility Cutting Board is an all-around winning choice: It’s inexpensive and easy to clean, and it comes with a bevy of appealing add-ons that make it stand out. The soft, grippy sides ensure it won’t slip beneath your knife, the nonporous BPA-free material won’t pick up onion or garlic odors over time (and it won’t immediately dull your knives) and the juice groove keeps liquids from spilling over the edges. Its 10½-by-14½-inch surface area is big enough for slicing and dicing without taking over your entire countertop, and it will easily fit in your dishwasher for cleanup.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Stain-resistant
  • Doesn't slip
  • Dishwasher-safe

Cons:

  • Shallow juice groove

Buy it ($18)

2. John Boos & Co. End-Grain Maple Chopping Block

The Best Wooden Cutting Board

If you’re ready to take the plunge (read: buy a wood cutting board), this John Boos beauty will serve you and your knives well. The end-grain maple design is particularly gentle on all kinds of knives and won’t show marks over time, and while we’re not shallow, we admit it looks pretty damn cute on the counter. We especially love that it feels sturdy and stable, is reversible and will develop an attractive patina as it ages.

Pros:

  • Gets better with time
  • Doesn't slip

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Requires maintenance

Buy it ($202)

3. Five Two Bamboo Cutting Board

The Best Bamboo Cutting Board

Bamboo is an eco-friendly alternative to plastic (it’s technically a grass) that behaves similarly to wood without the hefty price tag. This Five Two cutting board is reversible, like our wood choice, but it has a juice groove on one side and a handy smartphone slot on the other, so you can follow along with the recipe while you make tandoori cauliflower bowls. It’s large but lightweight, so it can be stowed away when you’re not cooking. Care for it like you would a wood cutting board (that means regular oiling and no dishwasher).

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Unique features like a pour spout and smartphone slot
  • Doesn't slip

Cons:

  • Requires maintenance

Buy it ($59)

4. Material the reBoard

The Best Plastic Cutting Board

If the price and upkeep of wood isn’t a fit, but you want to avoid plastic for environmental reasons, Material’s reBoard cutting board is the ultimate in eco-friendly. Instead of virgin plastic, it’s made from a BPA-free combination of recycled plastic scraps and renewable sugarcane, so it’s not just a workhorse, it’s a sustainable workhorse. The lightweight material is soft on your knives and dishwasher-safe, plus it comes in four stain-resistant ’70s-chic, beachy colors (Deep, Sand, Coral and Tide). We’re stocking up with a few for every meat, veggie and seafood task.

Pros:

  • Made from sustainable materials
  • Chic color options
  • Dishwasher-safe

Cons:

  • Juice can run off the surface

Buy it ($35)

RELATED: We’re Replacing All Our Wooden Cutting Boards with This Recycled Plastic One That’s Actually Chic

5. Dexas Heavy Duty Grippmat Flexible Cutting Boards (Set of Four)

The Best Flexible Cutting Board

Maybe you want a wood cutting board for everyday prep, but you also like options (or maybe you’ve been burned by the perma-stink of garlic in the past). These handy plastic mats take up very little space but can be whipped out at a moment’s notice for cutting multiple foods at once and make an ideal companion to an all-purpose wooden board. The flexible material can be rolled up for funneling chopped veggies straight into the skillet, and multiple colors help you avoid cross-contamination (we like using yellow for poultry, red for beef and green for stinky alliums).

Pros:

  • Portable
  • Easy to store

Cons:

  • May move around a bit
  • Not reversible

$20 at Amazon

6. J.K. Adams 17-Inch-by-14-Inch Maple Wood Kitchen Basic Cutting Board

The Best Value Cutting Board

One of the downsides of wood cutting boards is the cost, but it is possible to find an inexpensive wood cutting board that’s still high-quality. Case in point: This J.K. Adams board, which offers almost all the same benefits of a pricier board. The trade-offs? The edge-grain construction will show knife marks more than an end-grain board will, and it’s not as thick as other wood boards, but with proper care it will make a worthy substitute. What’s more, it features a lifetime guarantee, so if anything does go wrong, the Vermont-based company will replace it, no questions asked.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Dries quickly

Cons:

  • Shows knife marks
  • Requires maintenance

$32 at Amazon

7. Dexas Heavy Duty Polysafe Home Chef Board

The Best Cutting Board for Meat

While wood cutting boards have been proved safe for cutting raw meat, it’s kind of a pain to clean a heavy board in between tasks. Instead, you can designate a separate board for meat-related cutting to save time and reduce the risk of foodborne illness. This Dexas PolySafe cutting board is thicker and denser than most plastic options, so it will withstand cutting and chopping for longer without warping or accumulating giant gashes. It’s also dishwasher-safe (a must), nonporous, nonabsorbent and made from a special bacteria- and odor-resistant material to reduce the spread of germs.

Pros:

  • Large size
  • Durable
  • Can be used for both meat and veggies
  • Dishwasher-safe

Cons:

  • Shallow juice well

Buy it ($25)

8. etuHome Vintage-Inspired Reclaimed Wood Footed Serving Board

The Best Cutting Board for Serving

Sometimes you need to thinly slice seven shallots, but sometimes you just need to display a stunning cheese spread. This gorgeous, vintage-inspired board—made from 19th-century reclaimed wood—is for the latter. With both a handle and feet, it can move effortlessly from kitchen to living room during cocktail parties and function as a trivet for warm dishes and pans. It’s also totally safe for cutting and slicing.

Pros:

  • Attractive
  • Portable

Cons:

  • Not for everyday use
  • Potentially hard to store if you're short on cabinet space

Buy it ($215)

9. Teakhaus Wooden Cutting Board

The Best Cutting Board for Chopping

Aside from its good looks, we like this teakwood cutting board for its strength and durability. Teak is known for being water-resistant and long-lasting, and unlike maple, walnut or cherry cutting boards, will require less maintenance. (Think oiling once or twice a year versus a few times a month.) It’s worth noting that while this board can take a beating, it can also dull your knives faster than other wood options, so it’s best suited for intense chopping (like breaking down a butternut squash). We also appreciate that the striations in the wood will hide stains and marks more than some wood cutting boards on the market.

Pros:

  • Less maintenance than other wood cutting boards
  • Water-resistant

Cons:

  • Potential to dull knives

$91 at Amazon

RELATED: Here’s How to Cut a Butternut Squash Without Hurting Yourself

10. Williams Sonoma Striped Cutting Board, Maple & Walnut

The Best-Looking Cutting Board

The reality of owning a wood cutting board is that it’s probably going to sit out on your counter even when you’re not using it—they’re just too heavy to move back and forth from a cabinet all the time. This striped number, however, will make you want to put your board on display. According to the brand, the edge-grain construction is made from sustainably harvested walnut and North American hard rock maple, sourced locally in the United States, and it’s designed to resist warping and buckling over time. The side handles make for easy lifting and storage, and it’s beautiful enough to double as a cheese board if you’re into that sort of thing (which we are). It’s almost too pretty to use. Almost.

Pros:

  • Attractive contrasting dark and light woods
  • Side hand grips for easy lifting

Cons:

  • Moderately expensive

Buy it ($155)

11. Decorative Name & Initial Butcher Block Cutting Board

The Best Cutting Board for Gifting

You know what makes a really good wedding/housewarming/anytime gift? A fancy cutting board. This footed end-grain board is already a major upgrade from the cheapo one your friend has had for years. The real kicker is the personalization, which can be placed in the center or corner of the board. The two-inch-thick construction feels weighty and substantial for heavy-duty chopping, and the hardwood feet are slip-resistant. To really seal the deal, wrap it up with a bottle of board oil. They’ll owe you a home-cooked dinner the next time you come over.

Pros:

  • Personalization
  • Sturdy

Cons:

  • Some reviewers have experienced cracking

Buy it ($100)

12. Catskill Craftsmen Wood End-Grain Cutting Slab

The Best Heavy-Duty Cutting Board

Maybe you’re breaking down a whole chicken (how very Ina Garten of you) or chopping a lot of dense sweet potatoes, or you just know you’re aggressive with your knife skills. A thicker end-grain wood board will hold up to almost any kitchen task and can be sanded down if scratches accumulate on the surface. Since it’s an end-grain board, it will absorb those heavy knife marks better than its edge-grain counterparts, and a three-inch thickness is impervious to warping. FYI, it clocks in at a hefty 27 pounds, so it’s not going anywhere on your counter, for better or for worse.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Warp-resistant

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Hard to wash

Buy It ($134)

13. OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Everyday Cutting Board Set

The Best Cutting Board Set

When buying plastic cutting boards, it can never hurt to have a few in your kitchen. This set has everything we love about the single OXO Good Grips cutting board, multiplied by three: reversible, juice groove, dishwasher-safe material, nonslip edges, easy on your knives. Each board has different colored grips, so you can assign one for fruits and veggies, one for meat and one for everything else (for us, that’s bread and cheese). Not to mention, buying in bulk is economical. The size is slightly smaller than the original, so they’re easy to store in a cabinet and won’t overtake a tiny apartment kitchen.

Pros:

  • Colors help prevent cross-contamination
  • Odor-resistant
  • Dishwasher-safe

Cons:

  • On the small side

$40 on Amazon

14. John Boos & Co. Round Edge-Grain Walnut Cutting Board

The Best Round Cutting Board

We have a confession: We don’t think there are any major advantages to a round cutting board other than appearances. That being said, if you have the storage space and think you’ll use one, it can be a nice addition to your collection, especially if you know it’s going to be on display. This walnut one from John Boos is particularly handsome. The darker wood will hide potential stains, plus it’s reversible and ready for an efficient mid-recipe flip (or dedicating a side for meat and a side for vegetables). Another reason we love this circular board? It makes a good gift and doubles as a charcuterie board.

Pros:

  • Makes for a pretty cheeseboard
  • Reversible

Cons:

  • Not a lot of workspace

$168 on Amazon

15. Lipper International Bamboo Cutting Board with Inlay Mats

The Most Versatile Cutting Board

If you’re just too indecisive to choose from the plethora of options listed above, this bamboo-slash-plastic cutting board offers the best of both worlds. It comes with six inlay mats similar to our flexible cutting board pick that hide away inside the board, so you can still avoid cross-contaminating raw proteins and veggies. The bamboo board will be relatively gentle on your knives, is eco-friendly and has a recessed surface to contain the interchangeable mats. It’s not going to last as long as a higher-quality wood board, but at that price, it’s pretty hard to beat.

Pros:

  • Versatility
  • Eco-friendly
  • Affordable
  • Built-in storage

Cons:

  • Won't last as long as other wood cutting boards

$24 at Amazon

Still can’t decide what’s the best cutting board for you? Here are some tips:

Choose a plastic cutting board if…

  • You’re on a tight budget
  • You don’t want to keep your cutting board on display
  • You hate cleaning

Choose a wood cutting board if…

  • You want a cutting board that will last for years
  • You care immensely about the sharpness of your knives
  • You want a board that’s beautiful and functional
  • You don’t mind treating your cutting board like a low-maintenance pet

Choose a bamboo cutting board if…

  • You like the idea of wood, but not the price tag
  • You’re concerned about environmental friendliness
  • You want to store your board sometimes but not always

Remember, both plastic and wood cutting boards are safe for preparing raw meat, provided you clean and sanitize them properly. Ultimately, the choice you make will come down to your cooking habits and lifestyle, and with the help of our recommendations, we don’t think you’ll go wrong. Unless it’s glass…*shudder.*

RELATED: 5 Kitchen Essentials, According to PureWow’s Food Editor

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