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Are Bamboo Cutting Boards a Good Choice?

By trk

Last Updated: October 19, 2023

bamboo cutting boards, best bamboo cutting boards, cutting board review

Bamboo cutting boards are inexpensive, durable, and sustainable. But are they the right choice for your kitchen? Our detailed review will help you decide.

The Best Bamboo Cutting Boards

There are hundreds of bamboo cutting boards on the market, and they're all similar, so it can be hard to choose the best ones. We tested several of the highest rated bamboo cutting boards on Amazon and these are how we rated them.

Cutting Board

Features

Best Large Prep Board: McCook End Grain

See McCook End Grain board on Amazon

McCook End Grain Bamboo Cutting Board 17x12

-Organic end grain bamboo

-17" x 12"

-1.0" thick

-Juice groove

-Recessed handles

-About $40.

Best Small Board: Top Notch End Grain

See Top Notch End Grain board on Amazon

Top Notch End Grain Bamboo Cutting Board

-End grain bamboo 

-10.6" x 9.3"

-1.9" thick

-Rubber feet for grip

-Juice groove

-Recessed handles

-Pre-oiled and ready to use

-About $45.

Best Price (Large): Smirly

See Smirly cutting board on Amazon

Smirly Large Bamboo Cutting Board

-Edge grain organic bamboo

-17" x 13"

-0.8" thick

-Recessed handles

-Juice groove

-Pre-oiled and ready for use

-About $20.

Best Variety of Sizes: Greener Chef

See Greener Chef cutting boards on Amazon

Greener Chef Bamboo Cutting Board

-Naturally sourced organic edge grain bamboo

-Small - 4XL sizes (large is 18" x 12.5")

-0.7" thick

-Meat carving board options

-Juice groove

-Fair labor practices certified

-About 22$ for the large (18" x12.5") size.

Best Set: Kikcoin Set of 3 Cutting Boards

See Kikcoin cutting boards on Amazon

Kikcoin Set of Bamboo Cutting Boards

-End grain bamboo 

-17"x12", 14"x10", 10"x7" (L, M, S)

-1.0" thick

-4 layers

-Pre-oiled

-Juice groove

-Recessed handles

-Silicone feet included (packaged separately)

-About $50 for 3 boards.

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What Is Bamboo?

Bamboo plants

Contrary to what some people think, bamboo is not a type of wood. It is a grass that grows rapidly and is therefore a sustainable material. 

In fact, bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world. It is not only a replacement for wood, it's also edible and can be used for cloth, flooring and roofing, biofuel, and more.

Bamboo is one of the most sustainable resources on the planet.

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Is Bamboo a Safe Material for a Cutting Board?

Yes, bamboo is a safe material for cutting boards. It is also an environmentally friendly choice because bamboo is a fast-growing, highly renewable resource. 

However, there are a couple of precautions to know about before you buy.

First, look for organic and/or naturally sourced bamboo for the safest, most sustainable choice.

Second, make sure a bamboo cutting board is made with food grade glue. Some brands can be made with formaldehyde, which may leach into your food over time.

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Edge Grain Vs. End Grain Boards

Smirly Large Bamboo Cutting Board

Edge grain bamboo: you can see the grain running through it.

McCook End Grain Bamboo Cutting Board 17x12

End grain bamboo: made up of small blocks of vertically cut bamboo glued together.

As with wood cutting boards, you can go with edge grain or end grain

Edge grain, also called long grain or side grain, is cut with the grain. An edge grain board shows the natural grain pattern of the bamboo (or wood). 

Edge grain boards need less oiling than end grain boards and allow less moisture in. They are also less expensive because they require less labor to make.

However, edge grain boards are harder on knives and will show more knife marks than end grain boards.

End grain, also called end cut or block cut, are cut against the grain, exposing the bamboo (or wood) fibers. End grain cutting boards are easy to identify by the checkerboard pattern, made by small blocks of bamboo (or wood) glued together.

End grain boards are more durable than edge grain boards and can tolerate heavy duty chopping. The end grains work with a knife rather than against it, as edge grain boards do. That is, knife blades are cutting with the fibers rather than against them, so they are easier on knives and also show fewer cut marks. 

End grain boards also have the ability to "heal" their cuts, so they show fewer cut marks than edge grain cutting boards.

End grain boards dry out more easily, so they need more frequent oiling (at least once a month for bamboo end grain boards). They are also more labor intensive to make, which means they're more expensive. In fact, end grain wood boards are some of the most expensive cutting boards you can buy.

Which is better? End grain boards are the obvious choice when we're talking about bamboo in particular. Bamboo is harder than wood, meaning it's harder on knives. End grain bamboo largely solves that problem, and it isn't much more expensive than edge grain bamboo boards--so go with an end grain bamboo board unless you're on a super tight budget.

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How to Care for Bamboo Cutting Boards

If you go with a bamboo cutting board, you must learn how to care for one, because if you don't give a bamboo board the love in requires, it won't last and you'll have to deal with warping, splitting, and splintering.

Washing: Bamboo boards are not dishwasher safe, so they have to be washed by hand. Use warm soapy water, rinse thoroughly, wipe off excess water, and let air dry, with as much of the board exposed to air as possible. Sitting in moisture can cause a bamboo board to warp, so don't let that happen.

When you wash an edge grain board, try to stroke against the grain to avoid splintering the board. Keeping the board oiled properly will also help prevent splintering.

Oiling: Just like wood, bamboo requires oiling to keep it from drying out and possibly cracking or splintering. In fact, bamboo is a grass, so it's even more prone to drying out than wooden cutting boards. 

So you need to oil your bamboo cutting board regularly. Most sources recommend monthly oiling, and some even say that you should oil every day, or at least after every use, to keep it supple and soft. (If you live in an arid climate, this is probably a good idea.)

Oiling is extremely important to keeping a bamboo cutting board in good working order. Most negative reviews about bamboo boards splitting and splintering are almost certainly due to a lack of oiling. People don't realize that bamboo needs it even more often than wood.

To oil a bamboo cutting board, use a food grade mineral oil, olive oil, or cutting board oil. Slather oil generously over the board and let the board absorb the oil for a few hours. Then wipe excess oil off the board and store it where it can't get wet. 

Disinfecting: Boards may need occasional disinfecting, such as if they're retaining food odors or if you've used them for raw meat. 

To disinfect, first wash the board with warm soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Then pour white vinegar over the board and rinse thoroughly. 

Alternatively, you can scrub a bamboo board with lemon and salt, just as you do with wood boards: sprinkle a damp board with salt, then use half a lemon to work the salt into the board. This will lift food particles and scrub all the odors out of the board. When done, rinse thoroughly, wipe off excess water, and let the board air dry with as much of it exposed to air as possible.

These instructions apply to both edge grain and end grain boards, however, end grain boards need more frequent oiling than edge grain boards because the fibers are more exposed.

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Bamboo Cutting Board Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Durable
  • Inexpensive
  • Sustainable, renewable material (great for the environment)
  • Lighter than wood
  • Antibacterial surface
  • Resistant to odors
  • Attractive.
Cons
  • Harder than wood, so not great for knife blades
  • Not dishwasher safe
  • Surface can get soft over time, becoming more porous and less antibacterial.

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What to Look for in a Cutting Board

Cutting boards are a simple yet important kitchen tool. You may be overwhelmed by all the choices you have.

Here are the features we think are important to look for in a cutting board (any material). The features that are important will vary depending on what you're looking for: a primary cutting board for prepping work, a board for raw meat, a board for charcuterie and serving, etc. 

The right features for you will also vary depending on your personal preferences: Do you value sustainability over knife friendliness? Do you prefer easy maintenance (plastic, laminated) over more labor-intensive boards (wood)? Do you want a large board or a small board? And so forth. 

Material

You have a lot of options for cutting boards, including wood, plastic, glass, rubber, bamboo, and laminated materials (like Epicurean). If you want wood, you can choose from a variety, including walnut, teak, cherry, oak, acacia, beech, maple, and more, plus you can choose from both edge grain and end grain, which we discuss above, with pros and cons to each.

Different materials are good for different foods, so most cooks like to have two or three different materials for cutting boards. For example, wood is great for veggie prep, but plastic is better for meat because you can throw it in the dishwasher. 

Avoid glass cutting boards because they're terrible for your knives. If you like the look of them, use them for presentation, but don't cut on them. 

Size

One of the most important features is the size of a cutting board. If you are buying for your main prepping board, you want the largest size that fits your counter because a big board makes prep work a lot easier.

A large cutting board is typically around 18 x 24 inches; a medium around 10 x 14 inches, and a small one about 8 x 10 inches. An oversized cutting board will run about 20 x 30 inches.

For a main cutting board, the minimum size we recommend is 10x14 inches. If you have room for a larger board, you will almost certainly appreciate the extra room.

If you're looking for a cutting board for meat, you want a board that will hold a whole roast or chicken (or better yet, a turkey) easily--and also one with grooved edges.

You can go with a smaller board if you want it for cheese, fruit, or presentation, or want a secondary board to use when your main board is dirty or in use.

If weight is a concern for you, bamboo is an ideal material because it's much lighter than wood, so you can get a large bamboo board that is still easy to move, wash, and store.

Durability

Durability is definitely a consideration, especially if you invest in a high-end cutting board. You can get durability in inexpensive materials too, such as bamboo. 

On the other hand, you may want a few cheap, throw-away cutting boards such as flexible plastic boards, which can also be handy in the kitchen: they're great for veggie and fruit prep because you can carry them right to the bowl or pan. They aren't meant for longevity--they'll last about a year--but they're convenient.

So durability can be important, but it really depends on what you're looking for.

Bacteria Resistance

Some materials have better bacteria resistance than others. Wood (especially hard woods like maple and walnut) and bamboo both have excellent natural bacteria resistance. Plastic is one of the least bacteria resistant materials--but they're also dishwasher safe, which kind of makes up for it. 

Whatever type of cutting board you buy, be sure to wash it after every use, particularly if you use it for raw meat. This is the best way to avoid cross contamination and the possibility of food-borne pathogens getting into your food.

Design

What style cutting board are you looking for? Here are some features to consider.

Weight: Weight is important to consider if you'll be moving the cutting board or using it to transfer food right into a pan or bowl. A lighter cutting board is also easier to wash and store. Weight is less important for a primary cutting board that will sit on your counter most of the time. If you're young and strong, then you probably aren't concerned about weight, but if you're older or have any ergonomic issues, then light weight will be a primary consideration. 

Bamboo is great here because you can get the size and feel of wood at a much lighter weight.

Thickness: Thickness (or height) is important because thicker boards are going to hold up better and warp less easily. On the other hand, shorter people may want a thinner cutting board that doesn't add a lot of height to their counter. 

Grooved Edges: If you're going to use the cutting board for carving meats, then a grooved edge is important because it will prevent the juices from spilling onto your counter or table. If the board isn't for meats, a grooved edge is less important and will reduce the usable size of the cutting board.

Handle: If the board is heavy or if you'll be moving it around frequently, handles can be a helpful feature. Handles can simply be indentations in the side of the board for you to grip, cutouts, or a long handle on one end.

If you want to hang the cutting board, then look for one with a hole for hanging.

Rubber Feet: Rubber feet are a nice feature because they prevent a board from sliding around while you're using it. On the other hand, they usually make a board usable on just one side, so if you want to use both sides of a cutting board (e.g., one side for veggies, one side for fruits or meat), rubber feet may not be a good feature.

If you get a cutting board without rubber feet, you can prevent sliding around by placing a damp towel or paper towel underneath it. 

Ease of Maintenance

This basically means is the cutting board dishwasher safe? Plastic, laminated, and glass boards can go in the dishwasher, while wood, bamboo, and most rubber boards can not. 

However, washing wood and bamboo boards is not difficult. Warm soapy water does the trick so unless your board is too big to fit in your sink, basic cleaning is easy regardless of what type of cutting board you have.

Woods boards, as well as some bamboo boards, also need to be oiled occasionally so they don't dry out and split. This is also a simple process that you'll have to do a few times a year: just rub the board with food grade cutting board oil. Doing this will help your wood or bamboo cutting board last for many, many years.

Rubber boards require washing like a wood board, but they don't require oiling, so they are easier to maintain than wood and bamboo.

So, ease of maintenance shouldn't be a consideration unless you are particularly averse to such upkeep (as a lot of people are).

Hardness (Knife Friendliness)

Hardness is an important feature because it will affect your kitchen knives. If a board is too hard, it will be hard on your knife edges, meaning you'll have to sharpen them more often. 

Different materials have different hardness ratings, and some of them are hard enough to be bad for your knife edges. Glass and steel, for example, are both terrible for knives (as you can probably imagine). Some woods can also take a toll on your knives, although wood is generally the most knife-friendly material. In general, the most knife-friendly woods are cherry, maple, and acacia; the least knife friendly are super hard woods like mohogany, teak, and rosewood.

Bamboo is a fairly hard material, making it less knife-friendly than most woods. However, it's better than plastic, and it has other features that make it desirable, like sustainability.

If knife friendliness is the most important factor for you, then you should go with a good quality wooden board or possibly a rubber one. If ease of maintenance and/or sustainable manufacturing are more important to you, then bamboo or a laminated board is the right choice.

Ease of Storage

A thick, heavy board is harder to move and store, and many people leave their large wooden boards on the counter permanently. They can really look great, but if you have limited counter space, this might cause a problem.

Bamboo is a great choice if you want a large board that's still light and easy to move and store. 

Heat Resistance

If you're going to use your board as a trivet (or want the option to), it should be made of a  heat resistant material. Wood, bamboo, and laminated boards are all good choices for heat resistance.

Warping

Thin cutting boards warp more easily than thick ones, so to avoid warping, you should get a fairly thick board.

Bamboo is a great choice because it's thick and durable and will probably never warp unless mistreated (such as left soaking in water). It's especially good for people who want a large board without the weight of wood, because bamboo is much lighter than wood.

Thinner boards of any material are going to be more prone to warping. This includes wood, bamboo, laminated boards, and plastic.

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Bamboo Cutting Board Recommendations

Here are the reviews of the boards we recommend.

Best Large Prep Board: McCook End Grain Cutting Board

McCook End Grain Bamboo Cutting Board 17x12

See the McCook cutting board on Amazon

Size: 17" x 12" x 1"

About $40

Features:

  • Organic end grain bamboo
  • Juice groove
  • Recessed handles.

What we like: This McCook cutting board is beautiful and functional. At 1 inch thick is has a good heft but is still light enough to move easily. The recessed handles are deep enough to grab the board easily. Both sides are usable as it doesn't have any feet.

We loved cutting on this board. It had the feel of a high-end wood cutting board. It felt a lot easier on knife blades than edge grain bamboo.

It gets great reviews, too. And at about $40, the price is good for an end grain board.

What we don't like: This board has a shallow juice groove, so may not be the best choice for carving meats. And it did slide around a little on a granite counter, so it works best with a damp towel or paper towel underneath to keep it in place.

McCook Bamboo cutting board with salmon

buy McCook End Grain Cutting Board:

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Best Small Board: Top Notch End Grain Cutting Board

Top Notch End Grain Bamboo Cutting Board

See Top Notch board on Amazon

Size: 10.6" x 9.4" x 1.9"

About $45

Features:

  • End grain bamboo
  • Rubber feet for grip
  • Juice groove
  • Recessed handles
  • Pre-oiled and ready to use.

What we like: This smaller cutting board is great for small kitchens, for use as a secondary board, or for cheese and charcuterie presentation. The end grain is better for your knives. The nonslip feet are a nice feature for safer cutting, although this board is almost 2 inches thick, so it wouldn't move around much even without feet (it's heavy). The recessed handles are nice and deep so it's easy to grip and move this board.

Cutting on this board felt just like cutting on an end grain wood cutting board, meaning it had a really nice feel to it. It's too small for a main prep board for most people, but even so, this board was great for veggies, herbs, fruits, and meats (but is way too small for a meat cutting board).

Because it's so thick, this board will probably never warp, even if you never oil it (but please oil it for the best performance and longest use).  

What we don't like: This board is small, so unless you're looking specifically for a small board, you may not like the size. If you want to use both sides, you may not want a board with rubber feet; you can work around them, but you have to be careful to not cut into them. 

The juice groove is pretty shallow, but this board isn't large enough to carve most meats on, so it may not make a difference to you.

Most of the negative reviews were about the small size, which is silly because the size is clearly given. There were a few comments about splinters--keep the board oiled to avoid this.

And finally, the price is quite a bit higher than most other bamboo boards, especially for the smaller size. But the quality is very good.

Top Notch bamboo cutting board with peppers

buy Top Notch end grain small cutting board:

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Best Price: Smirly Cutting Board

Smirly Large Bamboo Cutting Board

See Smirly cutting board on Amazon

Size: 17" x 13" x 0.8"

About $20

Features:

  • Edge grain organic bamboo
  • Recessed handles
  • Juice groove
  • Pre-oiled and ready for use.

What we like: This board has a lot of recommendations on different sites, and we liked it enough to recommend it as a budget option. We like the organic sustainably sourced bamboo, we like the thickness of it, and we like that it doesn't slide around on the counter when you use it. And of course, great value.

The board is thick and heavy (heavier than we expected from bamboo), which means it should hold up well and won't warp (as long as it's properly cared for). 

Overall a nice cutting board at an excellent price.

What we don't like: This board isn't pre-oiled, so it must be oiled before use. If you don't do this, the board could warp, split, and splinter. And oiling doesn't just mean applying a thin coat and wiping it off; you need to slather the board in oil and allow it to sit for a few hours to thoroughly soak in. It's not difficult, but it has to be done if you want the best possible performance from this cutting board.

Most of the complaints on Amazon were about cracking and splintering. Our testing board had a few rough edges, but we didn't get any splinters from using or washing it. As long as you oil it well before use and wash against the grain, you shouldn't have any problems.

Smirly Bamboo Cutting Board with tomatoes

buy smirly cutting board:

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Best Variety of Sizes: Greener Chef

Greener Chef Bamboo Cutting Board

See Greener Chef cutting boards on Amazon

Several sizes

Large size about $22n(18' x 12.5" x 0.8")

Features:

  • Naturally sourced organic edge grain bamboo
  • Small - 4XL sizes
  • Meat carving board options
  • Juice groove
  • Fair labor practices certified.

What we like: This is a nice edge grain board and it gets hugely positive reviews. The best feature of the Greener Chef cutting boards, though, is the impressive variety of sizes: this board is available in 9 sizes, from small (9" x 12") all the up to 4XL (36" x 24"). And they are all affordably priced, too. 

The board works well, holds up to cutting well, and is quite attractive, with a two-tone design of darker interior and lighter edges. 

It's got a nice wide juice groove and it's thick enough to hold up well.

What we don't like: These boards don't have much in the way of handles, so they're a little hard to grab. The larger ones in particular can be tricky to maneuver. 

Most of the negative reviews were about the board splitting, but people didn't say if they had properly oiled the board or not, and we suspect they didn't. Remember: if you want a bamboo cutting board to last, you must oil it properly before use, and fairly frequently after that (once a month is a good policy).

buy greener chef cutting boards:

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Best Set: Kikcoin End Grain Cutting Boards

Kikcoin Set of Bamboo Cutting Boards

See Kikcoin cutting board set on Amazon

Sizes: 17" x12" x 1"; 14" x 10" x 1"; 10" x 7" x 0.8"

About $50 for 3 boards plus storage rack

Features:

  • End grain bamboo
  • 4 layers glued together
  • Pre-oiled
  • Juice groove
  • Recessed handles
  • Silicone feet included (packaged separately)
  • Storage rack included.

What we like: The price on these boards is almost too good to be true, but if you want a set of different sized cutting boards--and you're sure you want bamboo for all of them--then this set is a good option.

The end grain design is better for your knives. The sizes are good, and the boards feel nice under your knives, more like real wood.

We prefer bamboo for fruits, veggies, cheeses, etc.; pretty much everything except raw meat. But they'll work for raw meat too, as long as you're careful about washing and disinfecting thoroughly. And if you use a board for raw meat, we recommend using for just raw meat to avoid the possibility of cross-contamination.

(The large board is fine for carving cooked meats, and looks great on your table, although a dedicated carving board is always a good thing to have around.)

We appreciated the silicone feet that are packaged separately: not everyone wants feet on their boards so it's easier to use both sides, but they're there if you want them.

What we don't like: The juice grooves are on the shallow side, so not the best choice for overly juicy foods (again, get a dedicated carving board). And the boards had a bit of a chemical smell, which seems standard for boards that are made with glues. The smell will dissipate over time, and as unpleasant as may be, it's not unsafe.

The storage rack is a nice idea, especially for thorough drying, but it's a little too narrow to use easily: you have to center the boards carefully or they'll tip, and it can be a pain to do at first, but we found that after awhile it becomes automatic to get the board in the right spot the first time.

The biggest number of complaints on Amazon were about the smell, as well as splitting, warping, and splintering. Remember, these boards need to be oiled regularly--Kikcoin recommends olive oil--and if you take proper care of the board, it should hold up, and not split, warp, or crack.

Kikcoin Bamboo Cutting Board with Onions

buy kikcoin cutting board set:

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Bamboo Cutting Board FAQs

Here are some commonly asked questions about bamboo cutting boards.

Is Bamboo Better than Wood for Cutting Boards?

It depends on what your priorities are. Bamboo is harder than wood, so it will be harder on your knife blades than both wood and plastic. But bamboo is a sustainable material, so it is more ecological and better for the environment than wood and plastic cutting boards.

Is All Bamboo Safe to Use for Cutting Boards?

All bamboo should be safe for cutting boards, but the best type is moso bamboo: it's durable yet is the gentlest on knives.

Also, if you're buying bamboo for its sustainability and because it's better for the planet, then be sure to buy organic, sustainably produced bamboo.

Is Bamboo Easy on Knives?

Bamboo isn't the best material for your knife blades. It's harder than wood and most plastics, so it will take a toll on your blades. However, the increased hardness is only about 15 percent, and most people don't notice a difference in everyday use. So unless you have particularly high-end knives, you probably don't need to worry too much about bamboo cutting boards hurting your blades.

Are Bamboo Cutting Boards Easy to Maintain?

Bamboo is fairly easy to maintain, but like wood, you have to wash by hand. They also benefit from oiling (like wood), which will keep them from getting dry and cracking. Bamboo boards should be oiled about once a month, or more if it seems to be dry.

Are Bamboo Cutting Boards Dishwasher Safe?

No, bamboo cutting boards are not dishwasher safe. They are easy to clean and resist absorbing odors and bacteria, but you have to wash them by hand. You also shouldn't leave them soaking in water. Wipe with warm soapy water, rinse, and let air dry.

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Final Thoughts About Bamboo Cutting Boards

Top Notch bamboo cutting board with peppers

Bamboo isn't an exact substitute for wood cutting boards; it's harder than most woods and it dries out faster. To compensate for these drawbacks, we recommend buying end grain bamboo boards, which are better for your knives, and oiling your bamboo boards at least monthly to prevent cracking, splitting, and splintering.

If you take proper care of your bamboo board, it should provide years of service.

And because bamboo is a renewable resource and a sustainable material, it is an excellent choice for the environment and the planet. If you want to buy more green products, a bamboo cutting board is a great place to start.

Thanks for reading!

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