A good chopping board is essential in the kitchen, but which is right for you? We guide you through the choices taking into account cost, aesthetics and durability.
Lakeland chopping station
This three-piece set is perfect for those who prefer to use boards comprised of various materials. The wooden board is weighty and grips tightly onto the work surface so ideal for larger chopping tasks whereas the smaller boards (which, it must be said, have less grip) are better suited to the quick chopping of fruit and veg. The two smaller boards slot neatly inside the larger one which is useful to save precious storage space. We looked out for boards that resisted scoring and after rigorous testing, using a number of sharp knives, all three boards were left relatively unscathed.
Best wooden board
Stellar beech woodware chopping board (30x25cm)
This sturdy wooden board feels weighty but isn't too heavy to handle. It cleans easily in hot soapy water and has a loop in the outer corner – convenient for hanging on a hook. In terms of size, it is handy for prepping larger meals or for cutting up raw meat, however it's not so vast that it can't be conveniently stored. It's worth noting that this board from Stellar comes in five sizes. Overall, we reckon it's a chopping board you can rely on.
Available from Harts of Stur (£19.50)
Best non-slip board
Von Shef 3-piece firm grip chopping board set
If you’re buying for someone going off to university, this set should be your first choice. The three boards vary in size for prepping different ingredients and storage-wise, it ticks many boxes due to its lightweight materials as well as the slenderness of each board. Being plastic, they're dishwasher-safe, too. Various design elements have been thoroughly considered in terms of the user's convenience; each board comes with its own measuring ruler, which is useful for chopping veg uniformly. Each board also comes with rubber grips fitted on each corner to ensure maximum safety when chopping.
Best board set
Joseph Joseph Index chopping board set
As well as avoiding cross-contamination, buying a nest of chopping boards for different purposes is a good way of getting around storage issues as they usually come in a compact holder. This version by Joseph Joseph has coloured boards marked for different ingredients – very cheffy. Each board has a clever special feature, too; so the meat board has a moat, the fish board has grippers, and there are crumb catchers on the cooked food board. Having a set also means less washing up between tasks!
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A good chopping board will be your best friend in the kitchen. A bad chopping board will crack under pressure (quite literally), warp in heat, spill juices all over your work surface and harbour nasty bacteria if you’re not careful when washing it. But as our review reveals, you don’t need to spend a small fortune to get a quality chopping board, and when you think of how often you slice, dice, cut and carve ingredients, spending time considering your choice of board is a no-brainer.
What should I buy?
There are myriad chopping boards to choose from. Many people like a solid wooden board, some of which are good-looking enough to double as a serving platter. Wooden boards are great for bread and carving meat – they often have a little moat for catching juices. However, they’re more likely to absorb odours and stains than plastic chopping boards, although hard wood is less absorbant than soft. A wooden chopping board shouldn’t be exposed to lots of water as it might warp or crack, and if you’re a real geek you should treat it with oil to keep it in shipshape.
Our food editor-at-large and chief tester Barney rates teak as a wood type, but equally as important is the style of chopping board – one solid piece of wood may be more likely to withstand the test of time than a board made up of lots of layers or pieces of wood joined together.
Plastic (polypropylene etc) chopping boards are seldom as attractive as their wooden counterparts, but they win on hygiene (and often price) as they can be colour-coded for particular tasks, as seen in professional kitchens (red for raw meat, blue for raw fish and so on) and can withstand rigorous washing and sanitising. Clever new designs include chopping boards with folding sides, to funnel your chopped food into a pan or bowl. Bamboo chopping boards are excellent and often quite reasonable, so we included them in our test. Whichever board you choose, remember to consider the tasks you’ll be using it for, where you’ll be storing it, whether you want a handle on your board to hang it up, and whether it’s non-slip, as you don’t want your board skidding all over the place.
What we looked for:
The Good Food Drop Test: Reasoning that over its lifespan, a chopping board suffers lots of knocks and scrapes in a household kitchen, Barney and I set out to give the kit a bit of rough and tumble – the Good Food Drop Test. We think a chopping board should be able to withstand being dropped from knee height although we were surprised by our findings.
Extra functions and aesthetics: Boards come in all shapes and sizes – some with spikes to secure meat, others with knife sharpeners and folding sides – so we rated the extra functions on whether they're worth the extra money. We poured water over boards with moats to check whether the groove captured all the liquid – in an everyday kitchen, a substandard moat equals wasted meat juices.
No marks: We put each board through a rigorous test of chopping and hacking with a sharp knife to check whether the surface was left with irremovable marks. Chopping boards naturally suffer wear and tear as they’re constantly exposed to sharp edges, but we wouldn’t expect them to damage easily on first use.
Ease of washing: We used beetroot during testing to check whether the board would absorb colours and odours that can’t be removed with warm soapy water.
How we tested: We tested 15 plastic and wooden boards. Each chopping board was subject to the Drop Test, plus we used our sharpest knives to test for markings and subjected the boards to water.
What didn’t make the cut: Barney’s many years of experience in professional kitchens taught us to discount boards with ‘feet’ as while they make the board non-stick, it stops them from being reversible. Moreover, rubberised feet might mark light work surfaces. We didn’t test glass chopping boards as they’re impractical and can blunt knives, plus badly-designed moats take up valuable board space, only to spill liquids all over your nice clean work surface – not good enough! Barney's gruelling Drop Test proved interesting as the most expensive board tested completely split in two.
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This review was last updated in March 2018. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at email@example.com.