A chopping board is, without doubt, a kitchen essential. The best chopping boards should see you through all your culinary adventures, no matter how tough they may be. It’s a faithful companion for all your slicing and dicing needs and a good board will not only make your life in the kitchen easier, but it should also last you for years.
Although a bad chopping board will still get the job done, it won’t survive for long. In fact, a poorly made board could end up harbouring harmful bacteria, becoming warped and stain-ridden or even blunt your knives.
To make life in the kitchen a little easier and safer, we’ve selected some of the best chopping boards that we thing tick the boxes for durability, design, budget and other key factors. Check out our quick glance list below or read on for the full reviews and our guide to choosing the right board for your kitchen.
Best chopping boards: At a glance
How to choose the best chopping board for you
Are wooden chopping boards unhygienic – or is that plastic?
In the past, food hygienists have recommended plastic chopping boards, which are usually made of polypropylene. The thought was that the porous nature of wood meant that it would harbour harmful bacteria; this wouldn’t be an issue with a plastic board.
However, since then scientists have found that wood can help resist harmful bacteria, turning food hygiene orthodoxy on its head. In 1994, Wisconsin University researchers infected plastic and wood boards with E.coli, salmonella and listeria, finding that the wooden boards retained 98-99% less bacteria than plastic. Plastic was said to become an even worse breeding ground for bacteria once it’s scarred with knife marks.
That’s not to say a wooden chopping board will be self-cleaning – you’ll still have to wash it. However, it possesses anti-microbial properties that make it somewhat more resistant to bacteria than plastic.
So I should buy a wooden board, then?
Not so fast. Plastic boards are easier to clean than wood, not least because you can slide them into the dishwasher and sanitise them using chemicals and bleach, which rinse off plastic far more easily than wood.
What’s more, the retention of bacteria isn’t really the problem. The biggest hygiene risk in any kitchen comes from cross-contamination between different types of food, such as raw meat, fish and dough. It hardly matters the material on which you prepare these foodstuffs, as long as you use different surfaces for each food type – and keep them clean.
What are the pros and cons of other materials?
There are plenty of other considerations to make when shopping for a chopping board, including durability and weight, as well as materials such as silicone, bamboo and glass…
Pros: A thick wooden chopping block will look magnificent in your kitchen, and its sturdiness has practical benefits, too. You can hack hefty cuts of meat and slice giant loaves of bread (using different sides of the board, of course) without the block budging while you work. Wood also won’t blunt your knives, especially if you go for an “end grain” board that effectively absorbs knife marks. And even when it is covered with knife marks, your wooden chopping board will continue to look great – unlike plastic.
Cons: That cheap wooden board you picked up from your local pound shop is likely to fall apart far quicker than a similarly priced plastic board. In addition, a wooden board is harder to keep clean than plastic. Wood absorbs odours and stains more easily than plastic, but you can’t put it in the dishwasher for a clean or even let it soak. Large wooden blocks are also fairly heavy to be easily portable when you’re moving around the kitchen.
Pros: Even cheap polypropylene boards are dishwasher-safe and can withstand rigorous abuse from chemicals, hence their popularity in pro kitchens. They’re lightweight and easy to manufacture in different colours, so you can buy a colour-coded set to avoid cross-contamination.
Cons: Plastic boards warp more easily, especially if cleaned in a dishwasher regularly. Their light weight also makes them prone to slipping, which isn’t ideal when you’re using sharp knives. A knife-marked plastic board will quickly look tatty and harbour bacteria unless bleached to smithereens. As such, your plastic board will need to be replaced fairly often, which isn’t exactly eco-friendly.
Pros: Silicone may one day end the wood/plastic debate by out-doing both materials. Pro chefs already love its knife-cushioning and non-slip properties, its lightweight versatility and ease of cleaning. Designers love silicone, too, because it’s flexible enough to morph into pourers, funnels and even bowls.
Cons: Silicone’s soft surface is easily damaged by knives. Very high-end thick silicone boards are better at resisting damage, but they’re expensive. And no matter how much you spend, silicone is hopeless at resisting stains.
Pros: Bamboo is a strong, lightweight, affordable alternative to end-grain hardwood. It grows fast and is cultivated without pesticides, so it’s more eco-friendly than wood or synthetic materials. And since it’s so light, a huge slab-style bamboo board will remain easy to lift.
Cons: Bamboo is harder than any hardwood, and its grain doesn’t offer much “give”. As such, it will dull your knives faster than wood, plastic or silicone. Wash it and it will warp, so you’ll have to wipe it instead – and oil it to keep it looking ship-shape.
CHOPPING BOARD MATERIALS THAT DESERVE THE CHOP
Glass: Fine as a worktop-saver; terrible as a chopping board. Glass blunts blades faster than almost any other surface – except marble.
Marble: Stays cool, so it’s ideal for rolling pastry and dough, but it isn’t designed for chopping; it will completely ruin your knives. Oh, and if you expose marble to acidic foods, such as tomatoes and fruit, it will dissolve.
READ NEXT: Stay sharp with our pick of the best kitchen knives
The best chopping boards to buy
1. Lakeland Oak chopping board: Best heavy-duty chopping board for bread
Price: £29 | Buy now from Lakeland
When a thin chopping board won’t do, this solid, end grain oak chopping board from Lakeland is a must-buy. It looks great on pretty much all worktops and at 40cm across, it’s big enough to accommodate plenty of food.
Not only is it super high quality, it also comes with four rubber non-slip feet to ensure it stays in place even when you’re slicing tricky foods like crusty bread and butternut squash. We were taken back by just how heavy this chopping board was when it arrived and can safely say that for the price, you’ll struggle to find much better.
Key specs – Material: End-grain oak; Colours available: 1; Sizes available: 1
Buy now from Lakeland
2. Joseph Joseph Index Large Chopping Boards: Best chopping board set
Price: £60 | Buy now from Amazon