Just like a quality knife, a good cutting board is a kitchen essential. But if you’ve ever shopped for a cutting board, chances are the numerous choices have left you scratching your head. From wood and plastic to glass, bamboo and composite — how do you know which one is right?
First things first, cutting boards serve two main purposes:
- Protecting your knives from wear and keeping them sharp
- Protecting your countertops from damage
So with those two simple goals in mind, why on earth are there so many choices? Essentially, it comes down to personal preference — but there are pros and cons to each. But before we get into the good stuff, let’s be clear about what you should not be cutting on: glass. Or any other hard, unyielding surface for that matter. Why? Because you’ll dull your knives faster than you can dice a tomato, and a dull knife does not make for a happy life.
Plastic, Wood and Bamboo, Oh My!
Many people believe plastic cutting boards are the most sanitary option, and the fact you can clean them in the dishwasher is a huge perk. Another bonus — unlike wood, they don’t hold on to the pungent flavors of foods like onion and garlic as much as other materials.
+ They cost a fraction of the price of wood
+ They’re thinner and lighter and come in all shapes, sizes and colors
– While the plastic is soft enough to not dull your knives, these boards scar easily and are more susceptible to staining and therefore harboring bacteria
Wooden boards are far more aesthetically pleasing. In fact, they can be a downright statement piece for your kitchen counter. Heck, we were so inspired by its natural beauty that our dining tables feature wood butcher block tops. Check them out the next time you’re at your local Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen!
+ A heavy, softwood board is your best bet for happy knives as it yields to the sharp edges and won’t scar as easily as plastic — maple, end-grain boards are considered the crème de la crème
– The downside is they’re more porous, so they tend to absorb the smells of what you’re cutting
– You can’t throw a wooden board in the dishwasher, but they’re fairly easy to maintain and if well cared for, can last you a lifetime
The big benefit of bamboo boards is that the surface is non-porous and naturally resists water penetration — so your board won’t warp or crack as easily as normal wood. These boards also won’t absorb any juices from raw meats and will resist staining.
+ Bamboo is often dense enough to resist knife scarring, keeping your board prettier for longer
+ Made from a sustainable, renewable resource, these boards are more eco-friendly
– A drawback is bamboo is nearly 20% harder than traditional maple boards, and therefore harder on your knives
The Choice is Yours
When it comes to choosing the right cutting board, the best thing is, there’s no reason to take sides. Feel free to mix and match different types of boards — after all, you’ll likely want a variety of sizes since mincing garlic and carving a full roast require different amounts of chopping space. Just remember to stay away from hard surfaces like glass, granite and steel.
And if you don’t feel like chopping, slicing and dicing today, let us do it for you! Visit your local Cheddar’s for a made-from-scratch meal that just may re-inspire you to bust out your boards.