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Cutting boards are one of the unsung heroes of the kitchen.
They don't always get a ton of recognition, but you'd be hard-pressed to be able to make any meal without one (that is if you want to keep your countertops scratch-free and your knives pristine).
When it comes to choosing a cutting board, plastic and wood tend two be two of the most common materials. Plastic is usually more affordable, but the latter has some benefits that the pros appreciate.
"Wood cutting boards are great because the surface isn’t as hard as others made out of different materials, like plastic, that can dull your knife blade," Adrienne Cheatham, chef at the Institute of Culinary Education, told Shop TODAY. "Wood also has a little give to it. Your knife won’t cut into the surface deeply, but the softer top won’t damage the blade every time it chops down onto the wood."
There are a few things to look for in a wood cutting board. You want a thick, good quality wood — if the board feels flimsy or cheap, it probably is, and won't last that long, Cheatham said. "The cutting board should have a completely flat surface. If there’s a crack in the wood, it can rock your knife blade in a different direction and you run the risk of cutting yourself."
With that in mind, we rounded up a handful of expert-approved and popular options to add to your kitchen. And we got all the details from Cheatham on how to properly care for yours, so it will last you for years to come.
How to care for a wood cutting board
You want to avoid exposing the board to too much water, as the wood will swell up and warp, so you never want to leave it in the sink to soak, Cheatham said. "When I’m cutting dry ingredients, I just use a damp cloth to wipe it and rub any debris off instead of washing it completely. If you do need to wash the board, make sure to dry it right after and leave the cutting board on its side so the larger surfaces can air out," she said. And if you need to tackle a more stubborn stain, she recommends taking an abrasive sponge and scrubbing your board under running water.
The wood can dry out, so you want to keep it well-oiled to prevent cracks. There are specific wood oils that you can use, but Cheatham said that basic extra-virgin olive oil will do the job just fine. "You don’t need to oil it after every use — it really depends on how much you use the board — but I’d recommend doing it once a month," she said. Apply the oil when the board is a little damp, so it can soak in.
Expert-approved wood cutting boards
John Boos & Co. is a big name in the cutting board space, and for good reason. "Boos blocks are thick, durable, well-constructed and last a long time," Cheatham said. "The wood comes pretreated, making it easy to care for."
The boards are used in a lot of professional kitchens, she added, so you know they're the real deal. This one comes in small, medium and large sizes to fit in a variety of kitchens, and while it has a high price tag, it's built to last through years of use.
For a lighter (and more affordable) option, Cheatham likes Epicurean's nonslip boards. Each one has rubber corners to keep it from sliding around. "These are great quality and last a long time," she said. Plus, thanks to the small size, they're easy to store.
More popular wood cutting boards
This cutting board set includes three boards of varying sizes, so you can cover all your bases, whether you need to quickly chop up a few veggies or prep a big family dinner. They're made from smooth bamboo, which is sturdy, but lighter than other wood materials. And each one has a drip groove around the edge to catch juices and prevent mess.
This board is built to last, so according to the brand, it's "the last board you will ever need." It's made from teak, a moisture and stain-resistant wood, so it won't split or warp.
Chop up vegetables, meat and more on this bamboo board. "(It's) large enough to be truly useful for cutting and prep jobs large and small, yet not so large and heavy that it can't be easily moved," wrote one verified reviewer. "Truly happy with this cutting board."
This hardwood board has cushioned "feet" on the bottom edges which will keep it in place as you're cutting. Get the smaller 11- by 14-inch option to save counter space, or grab the larger 16- by 20-inch board which has grooves along the edges to catch juices.
This dark wood cutting board has a rustic and beautiful look, so it can easily be used as a serving platter or as a base for charcuterie. Though the sturdy acacia wood material makes it an ideal surface for cutting, mincing or dicing.
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