Start with a quality chef’s knife and a durable cutting board, and you’re well on your way to a fully equipped kitchen.
But did you know that, when it comes to preparing raw meat, there are cutting boards that you should never use?
In my decade of professional kitchen experience, I’ve had the opportunity to use every type of cutting board imaginable.
And I’ve narrowed those choices down to three stellar options, and three runners up for special situations.
In this article, I’ll guide you through my decision making process for choosing a cutting board for meat. By the time you’re finished reading, you should have a clear idea of what makes each cutting board suited to your specific kitchen & food prep needs.
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Best Overall: Sonder Los Angeles End Grain Walnut Cutting Board
End grain wood is fairly well the gold standard for wood used in cutting boards. It’s exceptionally dense, takes an absolutely gorgeous color, and will last for decades with only minor care and maintenance.
In short: If you want the best cutting board that money can buy, it has to be end grain.
But Sonder Los Angeles goes even a step further with this cutting board, adding non-slip grips and a juice groove to complete the functional package.
That’s paired with an easy-carry handle that makes it quick and efficient to set up this thick and heavy duty board.
Flip the board over to its other side, and you’ll find three convenient compartments built into one edge. This makes the board doubly functional: As a cutting board on one side, and as a serving board for cheese and charcuterie on the other.
Overall, Sonder Los Angeles is offering this top quality cutting board at an entirely fair price. I’d be happy to have this in any kitchen, and give it my highest recommendation.
- END GRAIN DURABILITY – Alfred is an end grain constructed board. This construction type is known to be extremely durable, to withstand heavy duty chopping, and is highly desired for its 'self-healing' properties. Each knife cut goes between the wood fibers, rather than cutting through them. These fibers close back up after the knife exits, keeping your knife's edge sharper for longer. Finished safely. Free of BPA, phthalates, and formaldehyde.
- DEEP JUICE GROOVE – No more messy countertops from liquids running off your board. Our juice groove holds up to 3.5 oz of liquid to prevent water, juice, and grease from overflowing during meal prep and serving. Perfect for cutting up fruits, vegetables, and carving meats like brisket, roast, prime rib, etc.
- VERSATILE SORTING COMPARTMENTS – No need to off-load your diced onions, garlic, etc. onto extra dishes. Simplify meal prep as you dice and slide into the compartments to clear your workspace and continue chopping. Try using the compartments for serving nuts, fruit, olives, and more as part of a charcuterie board.
- RUBBER FEET FOR STABILITY – Our 1.5 inch thick butcher block style board comes with removable rubber feet on both sides for extra stability while chopping and slicing and the integrated finger grips make it easy to lift, flip or transfer from kitchen to table.
- PROUDLY MADE IN AMERICA – Crafted right here in the USA with our selection of sustainably sourced Black Walnut. When cared for correctly, with proper cleaning (hand wash only) and oiling every 3 weeks, this board will outlast most items in your kitchen.
Best Value: OXO Good Grips Utility Cutting Board
If looks are less important to you than affordability, a plastic cutting board is a much less expensive alternative to a hardwood cutting board. And among producers of affordable kitchen equipment, OXO is consistently at the top of my list.
Their Good Grips line is made specifically for easy handling, with tacky grips that stay safe and stable even when your hands are covered in oil.
The OXO Good Grips Utility Cutting Board has been a staple of professional kitchens that I worked in. At under $20, it’s the densest board I’ve found, and has both non-slip handles and feet for maximum stability. And at roughly 10 by 15 inches, it’s big enough to prep an entire meal on with room to spare.
Being dishwasher safe is a big added benefit of going for a plastic cutting board, too. Especially when you’re cutting and prepping a lot of meat, having the high temperatures and chemicals of a dishwasher can fully ensure that you’re sanitizing your board.
I’d recommend this board to anyone looking to set up their home kitchen on a tighter budget, as well as anyone who’d prefer a lightweight and easy to clean board.
- Large 10.39-in x 14.78-in Utility Cutting Board is ideal for big meals
- Double-sided, non-porous surfaces resist odors and won't dull knife blades
- Soft, tapered edges form comfortable handles for carrying
- Integrated drip-catcher and easy-pour corners minimize messes
- Non-slip feet keep board in place while chopping and slicing
Best Upgrade: John Boos End Grain Maple Reversible Cutting Board
Though a bit pricier than my best overall cutting board featured above, the John Boos End Grain Maple Reversible Cutting Board is also just bigger in every way.
It’s thicker, with larger dimensions on each side and a hefty weight that can easily make it a centerpiece on your kitchen island.
Most notable, however, is the fact that John Boos’ board is made from sustainably sourced Northern hard rock maple wood. This is the limousine of cutting board materials, with an unbeatable density that can actually sharpen your knives while you’re cutting.
It’s incredibly durable, making this board an investment that you’ll be able to pass down to your kids one day.
You’ll want to purchase the John Boos Board Oil and Board Cream to go along with this. Applied together, they create a seal that will keep your board in like-new condition year after year.
- Food preparation accessory helps you prepare ingredients efficiently, perfect for chopping meats, fruits, and veggies
- Offers ample space for chopping essential ingredients, measuring 20 inches in length, 15 inches in width, and 2.25 inches in thickness; Crafted from hand-selected American hard maple wood with end grain design
- Versatile design and solid construction, this reversible cutting board gives ample space for slicing, dicing, and chopping, and recessed finger grips allow for easy lift and transport
- Luxurious oil finish provides a protective barrier that enhances the natural beauty of the wood which requires hand washing and regular treatment with John Boos Mystery Oil (sold separately)
- Since 1887, the American-made line of John Boos gourmet products has been trusted in the world’s finest kitchens and workspaces by renowned chefs and restaurateurs; Be it wood or stainless steel, our dedication to custom, precision craftsmanship is unwavered
While the three cutting boards listed above receive my highest recommendation, there are three others worth mentioning. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
Do you love the look of hardwood, but cringe at the price? Consider buying an edge grain cutting board like this one from Mevell.
It’s still made from extra dense walnut, and has a beautiful, rich color. And while it won’t keep your knives sharp like an end grain board does, it’s still quite durable and looks great in any kitchen.
Look in any commercial kitchen, and you’ll find at least a few of these Farberware plastic cutting boards lying around.
They’re by far the most affordable cutting board for meat — and even though they have a tendency to dull knives faster than hardwood or other plastic boards, they’re so cheap that you don’t have to worry about replacing them when they become worn.
Non-slip corners are a nice touch, too. Basically, if you need a cutting board that you don’t have to worry about getting damaged, this is the one for you.
- QUALITY MATERIALS: This cutting board is made of polypropylene plastic. The poly material is non absorbent, nonporous, and will not harbor stains. It is gentle on knives, keeping their blades from getting dull quicker
- REVERSIBLE: This cutting board is reversible for double the cutting surface and features a hand hole for added control and stability
- VERSATILE: This plastic cutting board Is Ideal for Cutting, Slicing and Chopping Meats, Poultry, Fish and Vegetables
- MEASUREMENTS: 11 inch long by 14 inch wide by 0.25 inches thick
- EASY TO CLEAN: This cutting board is dishwasher safe for easy cleanup and trouble free maintenance
The super-thin blades of Japanese knives, like those from Shun, require a different type of cutting board to maintain their edges.
That’s why Shun makes their own line of Japanese cypress cutting boards, which have more “give” to them than other hardwoods. If you’re a fan of Japanese cutlery, getting a Japanese cutting board to match is the best choice.
- LARGE CUTTING BOARD: The Shun Large Hinoki Cutting Board is the perfect cutting surface for all your Shun knives. The medium-soft wood "gives" as you cut, helping to preserve your knife edges.
- PERFECT SIZE: At 17.75 by 11.75 inches, this wooden cutting board is perfect for all general-purpose food preparation tasks.
- HIGH-QUALITY CONSTRUCTION: Made from hinoki, a type of Japanese cypress renowned for its beauty as well as its delicate, natural fragrance. Forest Stewardship Council Certified for sustainable forest management practices.
- CARE INSTRUCTIONS: Wet before each use to resist staining. Wash with mild detergent, towel dry, then air dry away from direct sunlight. Clean stains by rubbing a cut lemon across the stain.
- TRADITIONAL, ARTISAN CUTLERY: Inspired by the traditions of ancient Japan, Shun knives are handcrafted by highly skilled artisans to produce blades of unparalleled quality and beauty.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Cutting Board for Meat
There’s a lot that goes into choosing the perfect cutting board for your kitchen. In this section, I’ll take you through exactly what I think about before buying or recommending a specific board.
Cutting Board Material
Choosing the right material for your cutting board is absolutely essential if you’ll be using it to prepare meat.
That’s because some cutting board materials are more porous than others; choose the wrong one, and it can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
With that in mind, here are the best materials for cutting boards for meat, in order:
- End grain hardwood
- Edge grain hardwood
End grain wood combines the best of sanitation, stability, and good looks. Plastic is easier to clean and maintain, but it’s rarely a very attractive option. Edge grain wood is cheaper than end grain, but it will dull your knife faster.
So what materials should you not use for a cutting board for meat? Any wooden cutting board made of softwood (i.e., pine) is a definite no, as it’s too porous.
That goes for a bamboo cutting board as well, since it has both hard and soft areas.
How big should your cutting board be? That’s a tough one to answer without seeing your kitchen and how much counter space it has (especially if building an over sink cutting board).
But in general, the larger the cutting board you can fit, the better. That will give you more room to work as you’re preparing your meals.
As an added bonus, the larger the board, the heavier it will be — and the heavier it is, the more slip resistant it will be.
Just be sure that you have a place where you can store your cutting board while it’s not in use, and you’ll be good to go.
I usually take measurements for the cabinet I’ll be storing a cutting board in, and then look for the largest size that will fit.
I see a lot of cutting boards in people’s kitchens that are obviously the least expensive piece of equipment they own.
Even professional chefs will often skimp on the quality of their cutting boards — while having a collection of multi-hundred-dollar kitchen knives!
But I always, always recommend that you invest a little bit extra in a high quality cutting board. My reasoning is two-fold:
First, spending a little extra on your cutting board will ensure that it lasts much longer. Buy a cheap cutting board, and you can count on replacing it in about a year.
Invest in a better board and maintain it well, though, and you’ll have a piece of kitchen equipment that last for decades.
Second, cheap cutting boards will actually dull your knives faster. That’s because their materials aren’t as dense, and may even have the chance of making small chips in your knife while you cut.
Pricier boards are made of harder and denser materials, and will maintain your blade’s edge much better.
Do you have a particular aesthetic that you’re looking for in your kitchen equipment? This is where your choice of cutting board really comes down to a matter of personal preference.
I love the looks of a nice wooden board made of hardwood and hate the plastic option, but that’s just me. If you’re more about function than form, a plastic cutting board for meat can be a much less expensive way to get a quality board.
Do you need a set?
Professional kitchens often have color-coded cutting boards to aid in maintaining food safety standards. This means that you’ll find a white board for vegetables, a blue one for fish, a yellow one for chicken, and a red one for read meats.
But outside of a commercial kitchen, this kind of setup is more likely to lead to clutter than cleanliness. That’s why I recommend investing in one really good cutting board, rather than a set of sort of good ones.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cutting Boards for Meat
To round things out, let’s take one final look at the most common questions about using cutting boards for meat. This should tie everything together and clear up any lingering questions.
What cutting board is best for meat?
End grain wood cutting boards and dense plastic cutting boards are the best for meat. Both of these feature tightly packed materials that help to keep your knife blade sharp at the same time they prevent the development of bacteria in the board. Avoid softer cutting boards, as these can end up with small grooves that harbor bacteria.
Are wood cutting boards safe for meat?
Hardwood cutting boards are safe for meat, but softwood and bamboo boards are not. They’re not dense enough to prevent the development of bacteria, making them hard to get fully clean and sanitized.
Is it better to cut meat on wood or plastic?
Both wood and plastic cutting boards can be effective for meat. As in the above questions, it’s a matter of choosing a very dense wood or plastic board. Check out my recommendations below for fine examples of boards made from both wood and plastic.
With all of that in mind, which is the best cutting board for you? Is it the Sonder Los Angeles End Grain Walnut Cutting Board, with its gorgeous color and relatively affordable price for a hardwood board?
The super affordable OXO Good Grips Utility Cutting Board? Or perhaps you’d like to splurge on the heavy duty John Boos End Grain Maple Reversible Cutting Board? No matter which way you slice it, these three definitely represent the best cutting boards for meat.