Best Wood For Cutting Board: Softwood vs. Hardwoods

11 wooden cutting boards arranged together in different sizes and shapes

Cutting boards are in kitchens all around the country and the world. Some people have a stack of cutting boards in their kitchens. Others may have a single cutting board they use every single day. While those cutting boards may seem similar, they are most likely all made from different materials. Some may be wooden cutting boards. The others may be plastic, acrylic, or even tempered glass. All those different cutting board materials lead us to wonder which one is the best. And if it is wooden, what is the best wood for a cutting board

What is the Best Material for a Cutting Board?

First, let us begin with what the best material for a cutting board is. Hands down, the best cutting board material is always going to be wood. Obviously, some woods are better than others. However, a wooden cutting board will also provide better results than a plastic cutting board, or a cutting board made from other materials. Wooden cutting boards won’t dull your knives. And they won’t get scratched or cut as easily as cutting boards made from other materials will. 

Wooden cutting boards also last much longer. At least they will if you purchase a quality cutting board and take care of them properly. 

What are the Healthiest Cutting Boards to Use?

Now that you know that wood is the best material for cutting boards, let talk about the healthiest cutting boards. Any cutting board made from nonporous materials is going to be your healthiest option. Since the material is nonporous, bacteria cannot stick around and grow. Wooden and stainless-steel cutting boards are two of the healthiest cutting boards available. 

It is important that you choose your cutting board carefully, especially from a health standpoint. Depending on where your cutting board was made, or what it was made from, it may contain toxic materials. The one thing you don’t want all over your food is toxic chemicals. 

So, read the description of the cutting board you are considering purchasing to ensure no chemicals or other harmful ingredients were added to the material of the board during manufacturing. 

What is the Most Sanitary Material for a Cutting Board?

Stainless steel cutting boards are actually the most sanitary cutting boards available, which is why they are also considered the healthiest. However, you won’t see too many of them in kitchens around the world. So, if you want the next best thing, we recommend turning to wooden cutting boards. 

The wood used for most cutting boards is anti-microbial. That means germs won’t spread as quickly on wooden cutting boards. This is due to the fewer scratches in the wood compared to the numerous scratches found on plastic cutting boards. 

If you are looking for the most hygienic cutting board, we recommend using teak. 

Our Top Choice 

Any hardwood can be used to make a cutting board. But when you are looking for the wood that will make the best cutting boards, we will always direct you towards walnut. Yes, teak is more hygienic, but walnut will last years longer. 

Walnut is a dark hardwood. It is not too soft or too hard, which is perfect for all the dicing and chopping you will be using it for. 

There are four main reasons why walnut is the perfect choice for your next wooden charcuterie or wooden cutting board. They are: 

  1. Durability
  2. Antimicrobial Properties
  3. Elegant Appearance
  4. Versatility

All those reasons are why you are starting to see more walnut cutting boards in kitchens. 

What Woods are Not Good for Cutting Boards? 

There are a few woods that you definitely cannot use for cutting boards. Oak is one of the woods that is not good for cutting boards. The reason you never want to use oak for cutting boards is it absorbs moisture quickly. Bacteria can also grow rapidly on oak, which is something you don’t want with a wooden cutting board

You also don’t want to purchase a cutting board made from any softwoods. Douglas fir, cedar, and pine scratch easily. This type of wood also contains resin, which can transfer to any food you place on the cutting board

What is the Safest Wood to Use for Cutting Boards?

The safest wood to use for cutting boards is definitely going to be walnut, maple, birch, or beech. They are all hardwoods that have smaller pores. Bacteria cannot hide within the surface of these wooden cutting boards like they can in other cutting board materials. 

Is Teak Good for Cutting Boards?

As we mentioned above, teak is a hardwood that can be good for cutting boards. It has a tight grain, which is perfect for preventing bacteria buildup. This hardwood also produces natural water-resistant oils. This means you won’t need to add an oil finish to your cutting board as often as you would if you had a cutting board made from a different type of wood. 

Is Beech a Good Wood for Cutting Boards? 

Beech is one of the better woods for cutting boards. This is another hardwood. Beech is quite durable, as well as a more affordable option. This is a wood that is slightly more porous than others. However, not porous enough where it will become waterlogged and cracked anytime soon. Especially if you take proper care of your beech cutting board

Can You Use Exotic Wood for Cutting Boards? 

Exotic woods are not as common when it comes to using them for cutting materials. A few of the more exotic woods include mahogany, jarrah, bamboo, Padauk African lumber, purple heart lumber, ebony, and Burmese blackwood. 

Out of that entire list, only bamboo is used as a cutting board material. It is important to note that while this is an exotic wood, it actually falls into the grass category. 

Bamboo doesn’t absorb too many liquids. Since it is hard, it can handle a lot of use without getting scratched and damaged. There is a downside to using bamboo cutting boards. The downside is knives can lose their sharpness quickly due to the hardness of the board.

Bamboo is also one of the most sustainable cutting board materials available. This is why this option is growing in popularity. 

What is the Best Wood for End Grain Cutting Boards?

Many people prefer end grain cutting boards, because they are resistant to nicks, cuts, and scratches. They also look so much nicer in a kitchen. Of course, end grain cutting boards are more porous than other cutting boards. You must care for these types of wooden cutting boards carefully. That means washing, and thoroughly drying, them immediately after use. And applying oil regularly to ensure the cutting stays in excellent condition for many years. 

If you are looking for an end grain cutting board, we recommend walnut or maple. We prefer walnut, due to its darker color. But maple will work just as well if you want a lighter wooden color. 

Can I use Wood I Buy at the Home Improvement Stores?

You can use wood you purchase at a home improvement store, as long as you choose the proper wood. We recommend you make sure the wood you are purchasing is not pretreated with any chemicals. You should also keep in mind the different woods that are best for cutting boards when making your purchase. 

It is also important to note that the quality of wood at some home improvement stores is not as good as wood you can find elsewhere. If you want to make sure you purchase the best wood for a cutting board, we recommend going to a cabinet shop or mill. Those two places always seem to have better quality wood without any toxic chemicals. 

Can I Use Reclaimed Wood?

Reclaimed wood can be an excellent option for cutting boards if you do your research. A lot of reclaimed wood contains lead paint, chemicals, hidden nails, and possibly a lot of moisture within the wood. If you decide to use reclaimed wood, it is best to work with an antique lumber supplier. They can make sure the reclaimed wood you are using is safe to use for food prep. 

Most of the time, these companies will kiln dry reclaimed wood to remove any toxins.

Can I Use Wood from Pallets or Old Fencing?

Cutting boards shouldn’t be made from pallets or old fencing. These types of wood often have plenty of nails that need to be removed. There are often numerous splits, cracks, and stains on the wood that can prevent you from having a safe wooden cutting board to use. Those splits and cracks can harbor bacteria, which will continue to spread with use. 

What is the Best Finish for Wooden Cutting Boards? 

The best finish for wooden cutting boards is always going to be a food safe product. Food grade mineral oil always tops our list, because it is non-toxic. Simply apply the mineral oil, allow to dry, buff out, and dry again. It is important to apply mineral oil to wooden cutting boards regularly, so they do not dry out or crack. 

Beeswax is another option for finishing wooden cutting boards. Some people prefer this product, because it gives the cutting board extra protection. Since this is a wax, you should never place anything hot on your wooden cutting board if you use this finish. The wax can melt off easily and get stuck to whatever you placed on the cutting board

Now you know what the best wood is for cutting boards, as well as a ton of other information about this often-used kitchen item. If you don’t have a wooden cutting board in your kitchen yet, or yours needs to be replaced, you have the information you need to purchase the perfect one. Our best advice to you is to never try to save a few bucks while purchasing a wooden cutting board. Spend the extra money to purchase a quality wooden cutting board today and pass it down to future generations. 

1 thought on “Best Wood For Cutting Board: Softwood vs. Hardwoods”

  1. For those who are wanting to purchase a cutting board, this site is an excellent and helpful resource. It offers useful details on the best type of wood and material to use for cutting boards. However, I would like to know what kind of upkeep is necessary to keep wooden cutting boards, especially those made of walnut, in good condition.


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