Are Wooden Cutting Boards Bad?

Are Wooden Cutting Boards Bad?

Most of us will chop, slice, and cut veggies, meats and fruits at least once a week for our entire adult lives. 

That's why it's so important to have the right surface.

If you're as serious about cooking as we are, you'll get yourself a nice chopping block and at least one smaller paddle board to get the job done. 

We put together a short article and a bunch of helpful links, so you can check our research yourself. 

Now - with all this talk about plastic, is it even safe to use a wooden cutting board any more? 

Of course it is. 

In fact, plastic boards are unsanitary, annoying, and disposable.

Wood is antimicrobial, enriching, and dependable. 

Here are five things to consider as you venture into the rewarding (and dangerous!) world of cutting boards. 


1. Hardwood cutting boards are safer than plastic.

Did you know that Maple and Walnut cutting boards (among a few others) are actually bacteria-killing surfaces? That's right - hardwoods have a natural antimicrobial defense mechanism (as a once-living organism), which traps bacteria and starves it to death. In fact, in one study, a test group of wooden boards were saturated with raw meat juice, and after a measly 30 seconds, they wiped the surface off, and there was no retrievable bacteria left in the board to sample. The wood killed it all! This was across several different species. Take that, bacteria.

You probably guessed this, but plastic cannot do that. In fact, plastic boards have the nasty habit of becoming frayed, chipped, or gouged, and then holding onto particles full of bacteria. The only way of truly cleaning a plastic board is to baste it in harmful chemicals. Great - now you have a bunch of BPAs and Chlorine in your brisket tacos. 


2. You need a set of boards

Still a little skittsh? That's where your second board comes into play. If you're cooking a big meal, keep a second (or third) board on hand and separate the raw meat from the veggies and fruits. That's what we do. 

Scrub the board down with hot soapy water when you're done and let it dry completely before you put it back in the cupboard. We keep ours out on the main island countertop in our kitchen with a vase of fresh flowers on top, because ours is a Brazos :)

A word to the wise - don't even think about putting your wooden board in the dishwasher. It'll split, crack and turn into little more than a giant coaster in minutes. But you probably already thought of that. 

3. Hardwoods last longer than any other surface (and so will your knife)

Why did you buy your last cheapo plastic board? Because it was cheap! We all do it. But then after a few short weeks it develops this oddly white, fuzzy spot that you just ignore every time you pull it out of the cupboard. You might think that soft, forgiving plastic or composite board is going to save your knife, but it actually offers too much friction for the blade to handle, and dulls the thing. That makes for a harder work experience, and more dull knives. Not to mention that weird fuzzy spot. I wonder what lives in there?

Consider the alternative. With a beautiful, freshly oiled hardwood like our Black Walnut Collection, you're going to get a unique set of characteristics. A well-made edge-grain board like the ones we use in our homes will offer the perfect mix of hardness and grip for your knife so you get the ultimate experience without all the damage (and absorbency) of synthetics. 

4. Natural boards are extremely gratifying

Ready for a little experiment? Go ahead and tap your dinner plate with a fork. That shrill "tink" sound is the normal result of banging two synthetic materials together. Now, if you've ever had some rice in a wooden bowl. Remember that warm, muted knock of your spoon against the sides? It almost faded into the background, giving you the warm fuzzies. You can't help it - it just feels like home. 

Cutting with a thin plastic sheet is not going to sound much better than that high-pitched "tink" from the dinnerplate. It's the kind of sound that wakes up even the heartiest toddlers from their nap. If you understood that last sentence, you're already thinking about a wood board. 

If you're like us, you cook every night. My wife and I, like many professionals, appreciate the sturdy "grippyness" or "stick" of the knife to the hardwood at the end of every stroke. It's what gives you excellent control of your cuts. Once again, Plastic simply cannot live up to the old school. 

Another thing - a freshly oiled board is marvelously rich in color, and iridescent, like many other precious things in nature. Take a look at anyone with un-dyed hair when they're standing in the sun. It shimmers! It's almost like simple natural things are better... 

5. Don't take our word for it

Look - at the end of the day, this stuff is on you. What do we suggest? Grab a pack of wooden boards, oil 'em up and see for yourself. 

Here's your list of links so you can make an informed decision.

The USDA says Wood is Good for restaurants as well as homes

New York State says Get on Board

The New York Times Agrees

America's Test Kitchen says a sturdy wood chopping block is a no-brainer. 

Is it Bad? explains

Serious Eats are pretty serious about wood. 

Get some of our boards right now. 

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