A good wood chopping block is a fantastic kitchen tool and will have a direct impact on the quality of your food (not to mention the quality of your health). How do we find the best chopping block? And what should we be looking out for?
1. The Importance of a Chopping Block
Gosh, I love cutting boards.
That might seem like a weird thing to say about a tool whose sole function is to serve as a cutting surface. But there’s just something about them – the wood, the design, the ruggedness of a surface that is designed to withstand repeated direct strikes by a sharp knife. There’s a lot to enjoy there.
I think it also has to do with our natural tendency to root for the underdog. If you think about it, the wooden cutting board (also known as chopping block) is one of the unsung heroes of our daily kitchen tasks. We’re all so busy showering knives with so much attention (and, to be fair, for good reason – knives rule) that we forget to sing the praises of the tool that is often at the receiving end of a vigorous chop.
Having a good chopping block is important. It shouldn’t be an old dented-up relic you’ve been holding on to for years beyond its actual usefulness. This isn’t a matter of aesthetics (although aesthetics definitely matter), but safety. Think of the risk of food-born illness that comes with a cracked, scratched-up cutting board. This is the surface you use to prep all sorts of raw meat as well as vegetables. You need to make sure you’re using a good one.
And yes, a good cutting board can last years, even with heavy use. But only if you choose it wisely. Pay for a low-quality chopping block and you will definitely feel it. You’ll be frustrated with it. And cooking shouldn’t be frustrating, right?
So let’s talk about chopping blocks.
2. Different Types of Chopping Blocks
There are actually a few different types of cutting boards you can go with.
Plastic cutting boards
No. They’re bad. Don’t do it. Plastic chopping boards only have a couple of things going for them: they’re cheap, and they’re dishwasher friendly. Beyond that? It’ll scar up super quickly, and it’ll be latched on to by hitchhiking bacteria. Not only that, but plastic cutting boards just look and feel cheap. It’s not worth it.
Bamboo cutting boards
These are a fantastic alternative for someone who wants to be environmentally friendly. Bamboo is a hard grass, which makes it a sustainable and renewable resource that requires no chemicals to be harvested. They look good, they feel good, they don’t crack or warp easily.
The big drawback? Bamboo is a very hard material, so it can very quickly dull your knives. These are definitely better than plastic cutting boards, but if you want to protect your kitchen equipment, maybe look at a different option.
Glass cutting boards
Tempered glass is very aesthetically pleasing, so I fully understand the drive to purchase this one. But, put simply, these will not only damage your knives but break very easily. Glass cutting boards are extremely fragile and prone to accidents.
Wooden cutting boards
The classic. And sometimes there’s a reason why a certain material will win out above the rest. It’s not just tradition. In terms of looks, performance, and sturdiness, nothing beats the wooden cutting board. They’re extremely durable, able to withstand heavy daily use.
And wooden chopping blocks are also safe. Recent studies have shown that scratches that accumulate over time on wooden cutting boards aren’t substantially harmful when compared to the bacteria that accumulates on a plastic board. This is because the bacteria gets so far down into the wood that it cannot reproduce, and it dies off. So just keep your wooden cutting board clean and you’ll be golden.
3. How to Choose the Best Chopping Block for Your Kitchen
So what should you look for when you search for a wood chopping block for your kitchen? We’ll try to narrow it down as much as possible.
A great wooden cutting board shouldn’t be prone to easy cracking. This one is particularly hard because wood is naturally prone to warping and cracking. It’s inherently imperfect as a material (this is one of its great strengths as well). Those imperfections put it at a risk of failure.
A great wooden cutting board should not damage your knife’s blade. Different chopping blocks will fare differently on this one, depending on their construction as well as the wood they’re made from. Your chopping board should be your knife’s ally, not its enemy.
A great wooden cutting board should be spacious enough. What do we mean by “enough”? We’re leaving that one purposefully vague. At the end of the day, everybody’s kitchen space is different, as is everybody’s specific cooking habits. Some people need more space than others. So there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for the matter of countertop real estate, but it should definitely be at the top of your mind when you’re searching for your new cutting board.
- A great wooden cutting board should look good. That’s right, the main idea is for it to be functional, but you also want your tools to look and feel good. There’s no shame in picking out a cutting board based on how it looks. Just make sure you take all the other criteria into consideration as well.
4. Care and Maintenance for Your Chopping Block
If we want our cutting boards to last, we need to look after them. This is as much about protecting the cutting board as it is about protecting your own health. So follow these basic tips for taking care of your wood cutting board.
Always wash your cutting board by hand. You can easily wipe things off if you’re, say, cutting bread. But anything that’s moist, sticky, or pungent (as most good foods tend to be) will require you to wash and rinse your cutting board.
You can use liquid dish soap to wash your cutting board. Wipe it dry after washing, and then let it air-dry on its side.
Do not soak your cutting board. Yes, you can submerge it in water, but only for a quick dunk. If you submerge for long, you may cause the board to warp.
Do not put your wooden cutting boards in the dishwasher. They’re not meant to withstand that level of heat or the chemicals from the dish detergent. You’re going to damage the wood.
As you work, wipe the surface of the cutting board frequently. Use a washcloth to ensure that it’s always clean. This will also help you with post-cooking cleanup.
- After prepping any type of raw meat, sanitize your cutting board. You can use white vinegar for this, or a solution of 1 ½ teaspoons bleach in 4 cups of water.
5. The Best Chopping Blocks to Buy
This awesome teak wood cutting board is designed to maximize your counter space by fitting snugly in a corner. It’s a high-quality kitchen tool that not only performs great, it looks and feels great as well. It’s designed a bit like a shield, which gives it a wonderfully odd, unique look.
- Looks better and better with age.
- Handcrafted with 100% natural teak wood.
- Moisture and bacteria resistant surface.
- Cleverly designed to save space.
- Think about where you’ll be using it before purchasing, as its unique shape may not perfectly fit in some parts of your counter.
- When it comes to aesthetics, some folks may not be fans of the “shield” design.
This cooler-than-cool wood-fiber cutting board is an excellent choice. Not only does it look amazing in its sleek obsidian black, it’s also a highly functional and practical tool with a durable and lightweight design.
- Features non-slip silicone feet to stay well grounded for cutting action.
- Premium G10 serving handle, which is ergonomic and comfortable.
- Easy to use, clean, and store.
- Fantastic tool for chopping, slicing, and serving.
- This cutting board is made of wood fiber as opposed to being an actual full-on wooden cutting board. If that’s what you’re looking for, check out some of the other options in this list.
- Its shape and color may not be to the liking of some home cooks.
Now this is quite something. The word “colossal” is in the title, and it fits that description perfectly. This cutting board is made of sustainably surfaced tropical teak wood with satin-finished steel handles. It has a slip resistant surface that absorbs impact, helping keep your knives healthy. And it is LARGE. No countertop juggling for this one.
- Quite sizable and thick, resistant to warping.
- Has two steel handles on either side for easy transporting.
- The end-grain fabrication consists of fibrous wood grain in alternating directions, for added durability.
- Looks fantastic.
- This is a large, high-quality cutting board, designed for some serious heavy-duty use. Ask yourself if you need something this large, or if maybe the smaller version of this same cutting board (listed below) would suffice.
- Because this is a high-quality, premium product, it’s also the most expensive item in this list. It’s worth it, but it might be a dealbreaker for some home cooks.
This is the smaller version of the Colossal listed above. It’s still pretty large in its own right, with the looks and performance of its larger older brother. Teak is a luxury wood that is naturally resistant to water, bacteria, and stains, so this makes it a fantastic tool for the daily cooking enthusiast.
- Meticulously hand-crafted from end-grain wood and filled with rich moisturizing oils.
- Slip resistant surface absorbs impact and helps your kitchen knives last for longer.
- Because it has two steel handles on either side, it can be used as a serving board.
- An incredible value at the price.
- This cutting board is very much in the “Goldilocks” zone of “just right” when it comes to size, but if you’re needing something larger, try the Lionswood Colossal | Teak Cutting Board listed above.
6. Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best type of chopping block?
Wooden cutting boards are the best choice for home and professional cooks alike, with great looks and performance as well as low maintenance.
What is the chopping block called?
Chopping blocks are also widely known as cutting boards or carving boards.
What wood is used for butcher blocks?
Butcher blocks are usually made from pieces of wood such as hard maple, teak, walnut wood, or birch.