Types of Chopping Board and Their Uses

By The Kitchen Hacker | Cutting Board Tips & Tricks

types of chopping board and their uses
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Chopping boards are essential pieces of equipment that will help avoid damaging your work surfaces when cutting up different ingredients in the kitchen. Knowing the different types of chopping board and their uses will help you make the right choices when it comes to equipping your kitchen correctly.

Once you know what type of chopping board you need, you then have to consider what material you want it to be made out of, as each has its own pros and cons depending on how you use and maintain it.

People commonly own several different chopping boards to offer better suitability in different situations and to help avoid cross-contamination of bacteria and taste. Keep reading to find out more about the different types of chopping boards to help you decide which ones you should be using in your kitchen.

Types of Chopping Board and Their Uses

Regardless of the materials used in construction, chopping boards can generally be broken down into five distinct types, as listed below. Each one is generally better suited for chopping different kinds of foods, with the cutting board being the most popular and versatile by far.

1. Cutting Board

A cutting board will most likely be found in every kitchen across the world. More often than not, they can be identified in the kitchen as smooth rectangular pieces of wood, but they can vary greatly in size and shape. Depending on personal preference, various materials can also be used for construction other than wood (more on the materials below).

Many people own at least one cutting board and use it to cut anything and everything from meat to vegetables. To avoid cross-contamination, you can employ color-coded boards, or board edges, to keep your meat cutting separate from your salad and vegetables.

Having a variety of cutting boards for different types of food can help prevent the spread of bacteria. It will also help you avoid taste-contamination, so you don’t accidentally end up with a garlic-flavored fruit salad.

Ideally, a cutting board will be heavy enough or have a non-slip feature to provide a stable cutting surface. At the same time, it has to remain portable so that you can move it around from countertop to countertop with ease.

2. Bread Board

If you prefer to cut your own bread at home so that you can choose your bread slice thickness to suit each meal and appetite, then a bread cutting board is an essential type of chopping board to have in your home.

A bread cutting board will typically be much longer than a normal cutting board to accommodate the length of a loaf of bread or baguette. It is also designed longer so to catch all of the crumbs when you’re slicing the bread up.

3. Butcher Block

Butcher blocks are much thicker and heavier than cutting boards to ensure that they stay put when you’re handling a sharp cleaver. The last thing you want when you’re butchering meat and bones is your board slipping around on your work surface, so the weight of a butcher block is vital in these situations for safety reasons.

A good butcher block can last a lifetime but is only really necessary if you butcher a lot of meat. Most people won’t find much use for a butcher block as they buy meat that has already been butchered to the appropriate size.

To achieve the weight and stability needed, butcher blocks will often be made from denser and heavier woods, such as maple. They got their name “block” due to their depth or thickness. It is a very heavy and cumbersome board to move around and clean.

4. Carving Board

Carving boards can be easily identified as they look very much like cutting boards. However, they have an indent or trough cut into the edges to catch meat juices when carving to save on countertop mess.

Of course, these boards don’t exclusively have to be used to carve meat and can be used like normal cutting boards, but the catchment trough is especially handy when chopping up particularly juicy foods and fruits.

5. Chopping Mat

Chopping mats are durable and flexible pieces of plastic that protect your countertops from cutting marks. They can be picked up easily and rolled up so that the contents are easily funneled into cooking pots without any spilling.

Chopping mats are ideal if you’re chopping up food into small pieces. Instead of wasting time trying to scoop all the pieces up off the board, or have to try to accurately scrape them off the edge into a pan or bowl, you can just roll the mat up at the edges and simply pour your small food pieces into the pot you want them to go quickly and easily.

types of chopping board and their uses

Chopping Board Materials

Once you know what type of chopping board you want to buy, you will need to give some consideration to the material it is made from. The material used for your chopping board will affect many things, including price, availability, portability, durability, and even how often you’ll have to sharpen your knives when using it.

Here, we list the most common materials used for chopping boards, along with their main pros and cons. As you’ll see, some materials just aren’t suitable to be used for cutting boards and should be used more for show than anything else.

Wood

Wooden cutting boards possess a classic and timeless appeal, but apart from that, what else do they have to offer?

Pros

  • Made from a renewable source and is very easy to find in stores
  • Softer woods will mean you won’t have to sharpen your knives as much
  • Durable material which will last for years to come

Cons

  • Strong smells can permeate the wood, and you can experience taste cross-contamination even when washed in between uses
  • More expensive than bamboo and plastic chopping boards
  • Requires some care in the form of oiling from time to time to protect the wood from warping and staining
  • Not dishwasher-safe

Bamboo

Bamboo is a cheaper material than wood; does that make bamboo cutting boards better or worse than wooden cutting boards?

Pros

  • A lightweight material that makes it extremely portable
  • The hardness of bamboo makes it slightly more hygienic than wood as it will absorb less moisture
  • A renewable source that is the most environment-friendly option of all the materials listed here

Cons

  • The hardness of the bamboo will dull your knives more quickly than a wooden chopping board, which means you’ll have to sharpen them more often
  • Small cuts in the surface will cause the knife to catch in the groove, which can interrupt your cutting action
  • Some bamboo chopping boards are made with formaldehyde-based glue, which you should avoid
  • Not dishwasher-safe

Granite and Marble

As we all know, granite and marble are materials that are very expensive. Although they do look fantastic, not many households can afford to buy a cutting board made of granite and marble.

Pros

  • Looks awesome on your countertop
  • Can double up as a trivet to protect your countertop from hot pans and dishes

Cons

  • This incredibly hard material will dull your knives extremely quickly
  • Not very portable
  • Could smash into pieces if you dropped it on the floor

Glass and Stone

Along with granite and marble, another set of good-looking materials to use as a cutting board are glass and stone. Aside from its looks, though, does a glass and stone cutting board offer anything else?

Pro

  • Aesthetically pleasing on your countertop

Cons

  • Dulls your knives extremely quickly
  • Textured patterned surfaces can harbor bacteria
  • Fragile material that will smash into pieces if you drop it
  • Not very portable
  • Slippery surface will make you more accident-prone

Plastic

Plastic cutting boards are common around households all across the globe. After all, they are cheap and readily available. What are the advantages and disadvantages of using one?

Pros

  • Inexpensive material that is easily replaceable
  • Can be color-coded to prevent cross-contamination
  • Dishwasher-safe

Cons

  • Over time, your knives will leave scratches on the surface, which can harbor bacteria unless properly disinfected or replaced often
  • Not an environment-friendly option

Silicone

Similar to plastic cutting boards, these are lightweight and flexible, which means that you can easily dump diced vegetables to any pan or dish. Do you think this is what your kitchen needs?

Pros

  • Slightly cushioned material protects your blades, which means you won’t have to sharpen your knives nearly as much as with other boards
  • Can be color-coded
  • Dishwasher-safe
  • The surface isn’t porous and therefore resists the growth of bacteria
  • Non-slip surface offers fantastic stability
  • More durable and environmentally friendly than plastic

Con

  • Not as attractive as wooden and bamboo chopping boards
types of chopping board and their uses

Chopping Board Features

By now, you should confidently be able to narrow down your options as to what type of chopping board you want and what material you want it to be made from.

In addition, you may want to consider whether you would like any of these extra features that can be built in to make your kitchen even more organized.

Color Coding

A universal color-coding system is employed in professional kitchens to avoid the cross-contamination of food and bacteria. Familiarizing yourself with the colors used is vital for food safety at work but is also handy to use at home.

Professional kitchens employ six different color boards, but for home use, many people just have a separate chopping board for raw meat. The universal color-coding system is detailed below, and we’ve also provided some handy tips to help you remember them.

  • Blue: Raw Fish and Seafood (blue is the color of the ocean they swim in)
  • Yellow: Raw Poultry (yellow is the color of chicks and ducklings)
  • Red: Raw Meat (red is the color of most raw meat that isn’t poultry)
  • Brown: Cooked Meat (most cooked meat is brown or tan in color)
  • Green: Vegetables and Fruits (green is a fresh vegetable color)
  • White: Dairy (dairy products are made from milk, which is white)

Juice Catchment

The juice catchment trough was originally introduced to catch meat juices on a carving board. However, people found it so handy to catch all sorts of juices that it quickly caught on and became a popular feature to have on other types of cutting boards.

Dishwasher-Safe

For those who love to be able to sling everything in the dishwasher at the end of a meal, plastic and silicone cutting boards reign supreme.

All wooden chopping boards should be washed by hand as they will be prone to warping under the extreme heat of a dishwasher, but plastic and silicone chopping boards can withstand the heat. For this reason, they are often considered safer for you and your family.

Having said that, plastic chopping boards with deep cuts in them should be replaced as bacteria can still hide out and grow within the deep grooves.

Handles

Having handles on one or both ends of your cutting board make it easily portable around your kitchen with just one hand. A handle also allows you to hang your cutting boards on the walls of your kitchen to make them more easily accessible.

Over-Sink

These chopping boards are great for people who have waste disposal units and want to make cleaning up as easy as possible. If you can find a chopping board that is big enough to sit over your sink, then you can push food scraps and waste directly off the edge of the board into the sink, saving you time on cleaning up later.

You can also encourage juices to run off into the sink, saving you from more cleaning if you’re chopping up juicy foods such as cooked meat or soft fruits.

Size

Another feature to consider is the size of your chopping board. It’s really handy to have several different sized boards available to you. In fact, for that reason, they are sometimes offered on sale in sets.

You can choose a smaller board if you just wish to cut an apple, or a larger board if you have lots of salad or vegetables to chop at once.

Choosing Your Chopping Board

There are many different types of chopping board and their uses vary wildly from being more suited for chopping meat to slicing bread. This is the reason why most people choose to own several chopping boards, allowing them to choose an option that is most suited to their needs at a particular time.

Grab a cutting board with a juice catchment for slicing up that watermelon, and then use a silicone chopping mat for dicing your salad and veggie items into small pieces and tossing them easily into a bowl. Plastic cutting boards are great for dishwasher owners, but a wooden cutting board will always be a favored classic that is kind to your knives and look great on your kitchen counter.

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