While we credit a great knife with being essential to cutting up fruits and vegetables, a cutting board plays a big role in chopping. A cutting board provides a sturdy flat surface to prep all your citrus and other garnishes on while protecting your counter or bar top from scratches. A cutting board can also double as a place to leave hot pots and pans—perfect for making simple syrups.
But not all cutting boards are made equal. There are boards made of plastic and wood, chunky butcher blocks for big jobs, and slim boards for small citrus. There are show-worthy cutting boards made of luxury materials perfect for keeping on display. And, there are small cutting boards perfect for whipping out to quickly cut up a lemon or orange for garnishing drinks.
Here are our favorites, the best cutting boards to get right now, perfect for every situation.
John Boos Reversible Walnut Cutting Board
“At home, I use John Boos cutting board, specifically the black walnut version,” says Ethan Carter, the bar manager of La Boheme in West Hollywood, Calif. “Not only does it have great quality for a wood board, but is very stylish. It's treated and finished with mineral oils which allow for easy and quick cleaning, along with keeping the board from warping with its constant exposure to liquids.”
Melissa Lambert, the general manager of L.A.’s Piccalilli Bar, agrees. “Our favorite all-around cutting board is Boos’ solid wood boards. They also come in several different sizes and really hold up to the wear and tear of a professional kitchen or bar. They are more on the expensive side, but are very high quality and will last you a long time.”
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Farberware Bamboo Cutting Board, Set of 3
“I always prefer a bamboo cutting board,” says Ellen Talbot, the lead bartender at Nashville’s Fable Lounge. “They last a really long time and won’t leave any residue on your garnishes. They also look the prettiest behind the bar!”
This set of three bamboo boards are sized for every occasion: a small one (5.5 by 8 inches) for cutting citrus or serving up cheese, plus a medium-sized (8 by 10 inches) and large-sized board (11 by 14 inches). They work well as a cutting board, plus they double as a serving board for charcuterie or other noshes. Note these boards require careful handwashing with warm water and soap.
NoTrax Sani-Tuff Premium Rubber Cutting Board
“The NoTrax Sani-Tuff cutting board is the best bar cutting board behind the bar!” recommends Pete Stanton, the head bartender at Ai Fiori at The Langham in New York City. This durable cutting board is made with a high-density rubber compound that is easy to keep clean.
“While it will not win any beauty contests,” continues Stanton, “It’s the most functional for cutting bar garnishes. The soft rubber material is ideal for preventing slips from juicy citrus and bar fruit. This material is also great for keeping your fancy bar knife in good shape by allowing some give, thanks to a softer surface than a traditional cutting board.” If the board starts wearing down, simply resurface it by sanding down the top layer.
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OXO 2-Piece Cutting Board Set
“At work, I like to use a cutting board that prioritizes efficiency; especially with the high volume of a rooftop bar,” says Brooks Frost of Hot Tin Bar in New Orleans. “Medium-sized plastic cutting boards with rubber grips—like OXO—work well. They do not take up a lot of space near our wells and don't move when you use them! Plus, they're easier to clean in our fast-paced environment.”
This everyday prep board is durable and versatile, perfect for everything from chopping lemon wedges to trimming vegetables or preparing meats. If doing the latter, the board is double-sided to avoid cross-contamination. A thin row of drip catcher around the outside of the board traps liquid and minimizes mess, while a non-porous surface will keep funky odors at bay.
John Boos Maple Butcher Block
John Boos’ gorgeous wood butcher's blocks are pricey but well worth the splurge considering each is made by craftsmen in Effingham, Ill. “Depending on what you’re looking for, the Boos Butcher Block boards are my favorite!” says Gavin Humes, the food and beverage director of Scratch Bar & Kitchen. “They’re maybe a bit large to sit behind a bar, but certainly at home, it handles the knife work I need to do exceptionally well. It needs a bit of care with some mineral oil on a regular basis, but it’s not tough to handle, and the reward is a beautiful and high-quality board.”
While Frost prefers a plastic board at work, “Home's a different story: The pace is obviously more leisurely, so I can use a wooden cutting board. It takes longer to clean and dry, but the texture is better to withstand usage.”
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Epicurean Kitchen Series Cutting Board
“When I’m working in the kitchen, my favorite cutting board is the Gourmet Series made by Epicurean,” describes Paul Fieg, the founder of Artingstall’s London Dry Gin and a bonafide cocktail nerd. “It’s a real workhorse that I’ve chopped decades' worth of food on and which will probably last forever.” It’s a reliable cutting board, and an equally excellent trivet: the cutting board can withstand temperatures of up to 350 degrees.
Made with a non-porous wood fiber composite, this cutting board is low-effort: no need to oil it or take special care. Simply place it in your dishwasher or rinse it with soap and water to clean. In between uses, a hole in the corner of the board lets you hang the board to dry.
Final Touch Non-Slip Bar Cutting Board & Ceramic Knife
For Fieg’s home bar, he prefers something more versatile. “I like something both smaller and more fun. So, for me, the perfect bar cutting board for home is the non-slip bar board from Final Touch. It takes up no room on my workspace and has a rubber backing that grips the bar when I’m trying to cut through a particularly tough lime. The plastic cutting surface can stand up to the sharpest knife and is very easy to clean.” The non-slip board is crafted from stain-proof BPA-free plastic and comes with a matching precision bar knife.
“It also comes in a lot of poppy colors, bringing some much-needed fun to my bar area,” continues Fieg. “Because, hey, shouldn’t making drinks be as much fun as drinking them? The answer to that is a big yes! Happy cutting!”
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Best for Bartenders
Crafthouse by Fortessa 4-Piece Bar Tool Set
While other options on this list are designed for kitchen use, this set was designed by bartender Charles Joly to be the perfect cutting board for drinks enthusiasts. Not only does this kit come packed with a really solid cutting board, but the set also includes a matching peeler, channel knife and bar knife.
Each tool and cutting board is finished in a handsome dark-stained wood that can be buffed up periodically with mineral oil. Note the trench around the exterior of the board, designed to catch the juice from citrus and stop it from flowing on your counter or bar top—no more sticky messes. A brass-finished handle lets you transport and store this cutting board with ease. To tie it all together, the set comes packed in a gift-ready box.
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Kate Dingwall is an experienced spirits writer and glassware collector. She has been writing about the bar and spirits world for five years, from the best glassware to the best beer cocktail recipes.
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Food and Drug Administration. Bisphenol A (BPA): Use in food contact application.