In general, the best cutting boards are the ones that work the most efficiently in your personal kitchen setup. However, when it comes to meat, poultry, and seafood preparation, it’s essential to also consider food safety and presentation when choosing the best cutting board for your needs.
The Meat and Poultry Hotline (run by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service) explains that consumers can use wood or any nonporous surface for cutting raw meat and poultry. For optimal safety, though, it’s best to consider using a specific cutting board for produce and bread and a separate one for meat, poultry, and seafood. This separation will prevent bacteria on a cutting board used for uncooked meats from contaminating other ingredients, especially ones that will be consumed raw, like lettuce.
Presentation can also be a significant factor when choosing the best cutting board; a fancy roast presented on a dingy cutting board will diminish the dinner party. With so many available sizes, sets, and materials from which to choose, how do you know the most significant criteria? In this guide are things to consider when selecting the best cutting boards for meat and poultry.
- BEST OVERALL: OXO Good Grips 2-Piece Cutting Board Set
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: HOMWE Kitchen Cutting Board (3-Piece Set)
- BEST BAMBOO: Royal Craft Wood Extra Large Bamboo Cutting Board
- BEST PROFESSIONAL: Norpro Professional Cutting Board, 24 in x 18 in
- BEST FOR SERVING: Sonder Los Angeles, Large Multipurpose Cutting Board
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Cutting Board for Meat
Keep in mind several important factors as you shop for the best cutting board for meat or poultry. These factors include the material used to craft the cutting board, the size and shape of the board, the type of knives with which you’ll be using the board, the versatility of the board, and the specific features of each board, such as the presence of juice grooves and handles. Read on to learn more about each of these considerations as you search for the best cutting board for you.
People often think that plastic cutting boards are more sanitary than wooden cutting boards, but studies have shown that isn’t the case. Having said that, when you are cutting and preparing meat products, it’s crucial to clean wooden cutting boards carefully and thoroughly. You have to wash a wooden cutting board by hand and be sure to use an adequately diluted ammonia-based solution. Plastic cutting boards have the handy advantage of being dishwasher safe, which makes for easy sanitation. However, the aesthetics of wooden cutting boards are considered to be significantly superior to plastic.
Bamboo cutting boards are generally more rigid and less porous than other hardwoods. Bamboo absorbs little moisture and resists scoring from knives, making it naturally more resistant to bacterial growth than other woods. An appropriate conditioning oil can ensure any type of wooden board will last longer and look better. Avoid choosing a cutting board made of ceramic or glass, as these materials will quickly wear down your knives.
Size and Shape
A rectangle is the most common shape for a cutting board. As opposed to a disk, the straight edges of a rectangular board make it much easier to grip and transport. Straight edges can also be useful for sliding meats or vegetables off the board and into a pot or pan. Board sizes vary, but standard cutting boards are 18 inches by 12 inches, while professional chefs generally use larger cutting boards that are 24 inches by 18 inches.
The size of the cutting board you choose will greatly depend on personal preference and what kind of meat or poultry you’re looking to prepare. For example, frequent meals for one person will likely only require a small board.
Owning the best kitchen knives is essential to having a well-functioning kitchen and preparing the best possible meals. Keeping those knives as sharp and well-maintained as possible is just as essential. A cutting board works hand-in-glove, so to speak, with your knives, so they play a significant role in the success of your meal preparation.
If your cutting board is too soft, there is danger of scoring or cutting permanent grooves into the material. These grooves then become a prime location for raw meat particles to become lodged or uncooked juices to become trapped. In either case, a board used for raw meat or poultry preparation can then be a source of bacterial growth. This contamination usually results in an offensive smell on the board or, in a worst-case scenario, a possible source of food poisoning. On the other hand, if the cutting board is made with a material that is too hard, like glass, marble, or ceramic, then your knife blades will quickly become dull or even damaged.
No one likes a messy kitchen. Having a clean surface on which to work will make your meal tasks much easier and faster, both during preparation and afterward. The chopping and dicing of various cuts of meat and poultry will inevitably produce a fair amount of juice and debris. Cartilage and sinew pieces will have to be separated from the meat. For those who are watching cholesterol intake, fat and chicken skin are frequently removed as well.
These juices have to go somewhere, which usually means all over your countertop or perhaps even onto your floor or clothing. Handling meat juices, especially those that might contain salmonella or other harmful bacteria, requires more vigilance against contamination, in addition to a bigger cleanup job. The juice groove on a cutting board is one of the easiest ways to contain those juices and keep your preparation space safe and clean. A juice groove does not have to be that deep—the surface tension of liquids will often create a raised barrier for extra protection. If your cutting board does not feature a juice groove, it won’t affect the other benefits of the board, but you’ll need to be more mindful of how to safely discard these potentially dangerous juices.
A popular aspect of a cutting board is its overall versatility. Food preparation is usually the first purpose that comes to mind for most people, but a cutting board can meet several other needs.
When presenting a roast or a platter from the barbecue, either at a dining table or a buffet table, it’s crucial to have a solid and reliable cutting board underneath the meat to avoid damaging the table, staining the surface, or ruining your knives.
You can also use a cutting board as a presentation platter for crudites, cheese, and deli meats. A cutting board is a fitting way to present a more extensive charcuterie board, which—in addition to meats, cheeses, and crudites—can feature breads and crackers, dried and fresh fruits, nuts, and even chocolate. Especially in these instances, while any cutting board should protect your table and counter surfaces from cuts and heat damage, the elegance and style of a cutting board should also be a consideration.
Single Board vs. Set
Kitchen space seems like it’s always at a premium. When preparing a meal, it may feel like you lack the necessary room to prepare when your countertop is cluttered with appliances and other items. While a cutting board is one of the most important tools of the trade for meal preparation, it also has the potential to take up quite a bit of counter space. Purchasing a set of cutting boards in a variety of sizes allows you to portion your available space, prioritizing your meal preparation needs accordingly.
Conversely, owning a single cutting board can work just as well for most kitchens and meal preparation requirements. If the board is double-sided, then your available work surface potentially doubles. It’s important to remember, however, to have a dedicated cutting board for meat and poultry kept separate from one used for other types of foods, especially raw fruits and vegetables. Consider choosing a cutting board with a distinct look or style for meat and poultry so there’s no risk of inadvertent cross-contamination.
Our Top Picks
Considering all the above-mentioned criteria, the top picks represent some of the best cutting boards for meat and poultry available on the market. Additionally, these products take into account several of the most common consumer preferences, such as bamboo boards, professional-grade boards, and boards designed for serving. Bon appetit!
This OXO cutting board set features a straightforward pair of high-grade plastic prepping surfaces for all your culinary meat needs. These cutting boards are double-sided to give you twice the cutting surface and help avoid cross-contamination. Each cutting board is composed of nonporous, odor-resistant polypropylene—a durable material that resists deep scratches yet won’t dull your best kitchen knives. Both boards measure 10¾ inches by 7¼ inches.
The surrounding drip catcher groove keeps even the juiciest foods off your counters and is beveled at the corner for easy disposal and cleaning. Both boards feature tapered, soft-grip handles for easy lifting that also serve as nonslip supports for added stability while you cut. Both boards are dishwasher safe, allowing for added cleaning convenience without sacrificing health and safety.
One of the best ways to avoid cross-contamination during meal preparation is to designate a specific cutting board for each task. When cutting meat and poultry, you don’t want to take the chance that bacteria will contaminate your other foods—nor do you want tastes and flavors to unintentionally intermix. This economical set of three variable-sized cutting boards provides the versatility and flexibility to choose the best-sized board for the task at hand. Plus, at a cost-per-board ratio, this set is the one to beat. From small to large, the board sizes are 10 inches by 5.8 inches, 12.5 inches by 7.8 inches, and 15.8 inches by 9.5 inches.
Each of these sturdy cutting boards is fashioned from heavy-duty, BPA-free, and latex-free plastic that will protect your countertops from cuts, stains, and contamination. Each board also features a handy juice groove for keeping messes to a minimum as it catches and separates excess liquids. Nonslip handles on the boards help keep them in place while cutting meat and poultry with your sharpest knives.
Featuring a high-caliber bamboo design, Royal Craft Wood brings style and functionality to the kitchen with this knife-friendly cutting board. The durable bamboo fibers are tough enough to prevent grooves from being scored in the surface where bacteria can grow. Yet, they are also soft enough to protect your best knives from being dulled or damaged. A more robust material for cutting boards than most other woods, bamboo also possesses natural antibacterial properties and is eco-friendly for sustainability concerns.
The 10-inch by 15-inch reversible board is the ideal size for nearly any kitchen countertop. It provides convenient side handles and a deep juice groove for capturing meat, chicken, or seafood liquids, whether they’re cooked or raw. Alternatively, this stylish bamboo cutting board will work just as well for chopping vegetables, cutting loaves of bread, or even as a serving tray for crudites or as a fancy barbecue platter.
Norpro has created a durable, nonporous, and odor-resistant professional cutting board that won’t dull your best knives and is a snap to clean. This larger cutting board is double-sided and measures 24 inches by 18 inches—a spacious surface area for you to work your kitchen magic. Fashioned from a thick, high-density polyethylene, it is dishwasher safe for easy and thorough cleaning. A deep juice groove surrounds all edges for mess avoidance.
Appropriate for professional chefs, the cutting board is approved for both commercial and industrial use. One indicator of its professional quality is the approval by the National Sanitation Foundation, one of the most respected organizations in the food service industry. There are also four smaller sizes available for compact kitchens, each featuring a convenient handle for more effortless mobility.
This 17-inch by 13-inch wooden cutting board from Sonder Los Angeles features edge grain construction—meaning the rings of the wood are exposed, giving the board a stunning, classic look as well extra durability and resistance to unwanted moisture and stains. Every board is fashioned and constructed by highly skilled woodworkers, then finished with a 100 percent food-grade mineral oil. The walnut, cherry, and maple hardwoods used to create this cutting board not only make an attractive surface for serving meats and other foods, but they’re also more suitable for meat processing.
This cutting board is also reversible. Either side provides an ideal chopping or prepping surface, but one side also features a multipurpose, built-in well for catching veggies as you slice or for holding crackers when the board doubles as a serving platter for meats and cheeses. Indented handles on both ends make it easy to transport and hand-wash this board.
FAQs About Cutting Boards for Meat
If you have any further questions regarding cutting boards for meat and poultry, check out some of the most frequently asked inquiries below. Chop to it!
Q. What is the most sanitary type of cutting board?
According to the Meat and Poultry Hotline, both wood and nonporous surfaces like plastic are sanitary for cutting raw meat and poultry. However, it recommends using one cutting board for fresh produce and bread and a different board for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
Q. What is the standard size of a cutting board?
A 12-inch by 18-inch board is the standard size, but whatever size works best for your culinary needs and your available space is the size you should choose.
Q. What cutting board do chefs use?
Master chefs have recommended using any large wood cutting board that is nonslip and offers minimum dimensions of 24 inches by 18 inches.
Q. How long should you keep a wooden cutting board?
All wooden and plastic cutting boards eventually wear out. Once a cutting board becomes excessively worn or develops hard-to-clean grooves, you should replace it.