Perhaps you’ve chosen a stylish and elegant butcher block or cutting board to prepare your meals and cut your meats. You may have selected it because it was made from some of the best wood for a cutting board and you’d like your new purchase to last a long time. Most people are likely already aware of the importance of properly cleaning a wooden cutting board to avoid cross-contamination. However, not everyone understands that cleaning is only half the job of caring for and maintaining a butcher block or a wooden cutting board.
If you want to keep your new butcher block or wooden cutting board protected and looking its best, then you’ll need to find the best cutting board oil to maintain its sleek and stylish appearance as well as its durability. In this guide are several important considerations to keep in mind as you shop for cutting board oil and explore the selections of some of the best cutting board oils available today.
- BEST OVERALL: Thirteen Chefs Food Grade Mineral Oil
- RUNNER UP: CLARK’S Cutting Board Oil
- BEST CONDITIONER: Howard Products Butcher Block Conditioner
- ALSO CONSIDER: Sanco Industries Premium Pure Food Grade Mineral Oil
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Cutting Board Oil
When choosing the best cutting board oil for your needs, it’s essential to look at the main ingredients that make up the oil, its consistency, how it is applied to the board, and any other additives that may be included. Keep in mind the following considerations as you shop for the best cutting board oil.
The primary purpose of using cutting board oil is to protect the surface of a butcher block or cutting board to prevent cracks, splits, and overall dryness. Each of these problems could result in fissures in the wood’s surface that allow bacteria to flourish and give off that rancid, sour smell that plagues old butcher blocks and cutting boards. Mineral oil is one of the best and most common ingredients to keep the wood in peak condition.
Some might be surprised at this fact, due to a misconception that mineral oil is only used for industrial purposes. However, food-grade mineral oil is very safe, odorless, and tasteless. It has been used as a laxative and skin softener for generations. It penetrates, seals, and hydrates wood to prevent it from cracking, drying, and even rotting due to prolonged contact with water. It also reduces the chance of staining if wine is accidentally splashed on it.
Another common ingredient is walnut oil, which gives a brilliant sheen to a butcher block or cutting board while simultaneously protecting it, but it may shorten the wood’s lifespan compared to mineral oil. Citrus oils like orange and lemon have certain antimicrobial properties that help combat bacteria on the wood’s surface, in addition to leaving behind a pleasing scent.
Liquid vs. Spray
Oils, by their very nature, are messy. This is particularly true for oils that are designed to coat an object. Cutting board oil is available in two consistencies: liquid and spray. The advantage to liquid cutting board oil is that you can apply a fair amount of protective coating to the wood relatively quickly. The disadvantage is if you happen to knock over or squirt the oil on something other than the butcher block or cutting board, it is challenging to clean up. It can also stain fabrics if you don’t treat them fairly quickly with an absorbent material, followed by an acidic solvent like rubbing alcohol.
Spray cutting board oil provides the advantage of being able to better control the amount of oil you apply at any time—which helps to avoid the above-mentioned messes. The disadvantage is that it will likely take longer to apply the right amount of oil to the wood compared to liquid oil, which means a relatively quick task takes more time to accomplish.
Any wood product subjected to repeated washing and use will eventually break down and need replacing, including butcher blocks and cutting boards. An advantage to any wood conditioner is that you can further maintain the appearance and durability of a butcher block or cutting board by adding another layer of protection from the elements. In addition to mineral oil, cutting board conditioners include added ingredients like beeswax or carnauba wax to help seal in the rejuvenating effects of the oil application. These extra wax layers can add more luster to the wood’s appearance and extend its lifespan.
To apply cutting board oil, pour or spray a generous amount onto the board’s top surface to start. Using a clean rag, rub the oil into the entire top surface area, including the juice groove if there is one. Use the same rag to make sure the board’s edges are wiped down with oil as well. If the edges are very thick, as with a butcher block, it might be necessary to add more oil to the rag. Wait 20 minutes, then apply a second coat of oil on the top and sides. After another 20 minutes, use a clean rag to wipe off any excess oil. If the board is double-sided, repeat the same process, minus the edges.
If treating a large wooden area like a countertop, apply three or four coats of oil and wait one hour between each coat to allow the oil to soak into the surface.
Our Top Picks
Taking into consideration all the above criteria, the top picks represent a selection of some of the best cutting board oils on the market to help maintain your wooden treasures for years to come.
Food-grade mineral oil is one of the safest products to use on wood and bamboo cutting boards and wooden utensils, countertops, salad bowls, and other wood products. From Thirteen Chefs, this American-made oil seals, hydrates, and penetrates deep into the wood to prevent drying and cracking. It features a push applicator top and an easy squeeze container to ensure easy maintenance of a butcher block or cutting board.
This cutting board oil from CLARK’S penetrates deeply into the grain of wooden kitchen tools—from butcher blocks to salad bowls and utensils—preventing drying, splitting, and cracking. With lemon- and orange-scented oils infused with natural food-grade mineral oil, the CLARK’s product offers a fresh-smelling take on ordinary wood cutting board maintenance. Besides a pleasant scent, these citrus oils also contain antimicrobial properties to combat bacterial growth.
It’s essential for a wood butcher block or cutting board to be washed regularly in order to prevent bacterial growth and contamination. However, all that soap and water can dry wood out within a short time—unless a cutting board oil is used to seal and protect the wood. If the wood does dry out, reach for a conditioning product like this one. In addition to a pure, food-grade mineral oil enhanced with vitamin E, the Howard Products conditioner also contains Brazilian carnauba wax and genuine beeswax. While the mineral oil penetrates the wood, the water-resistant beeswax and carnauba wax help restore the wood and combat dryness.
Sanco Industries offers an entire gallon of this American-made, food-grade mineral oil for a fraction of the cost of most other cutting board oil products. Not only is it a great choice for maintaining the look and longevity of a butcher block, but it also has hundreds of other household uses.
Besides maintaining any wooden kitchen surface or utensil, colorless, odorless, and tasteless mineral oil can be applied to stainless steel appliances and kitchen knives, preventing rust and acting as a protective barrier. Mineral oil can also be used to enhance the beauty of soapstone sinks and countertops or to seal and refurbish slate and granite countertops.
FAQs About Cutting Board Oil
If you have further questions about using cutting board oil on a butcher block, cutting board, or other wooden surfaces, keep reading. The answers to several of the most frequently asked questions below will explain how to use cutting board oil to keep those wooden surfaces looking and functioning their best.
Q. What kind of oil do you use on a cutting board?
Food-grade mineral oil is the most common oil to use on a butcher block or cutting board. Other popular options include walnut oil, and, in the case of cutting board conditioner, beeswax and carnauba wax.
Q. Is coconut oil good for cutting boards?
Yes and no. Conventional coconut oil can go rancid after a certain period of time, but some distilled versions can accomplish the desired effect on a cutting board.
Q. Do you oil both sides of a cutting board?
If a cutting board is double-sided, apply oil on both sides, including the edges, to prevent cracking, warping, and drying.
Q. How often should you oil a cutting board?
Oil a cutting board every two to four weeks, depending on how often you use it. However, there’s no harm in oiling it more frequently, if desired.