Wood vs Plastic Cutting Board – Which One Is Better?

cutting lemons on cutting board

A cutting board is an essential cooking item for every kitchen. While most people tend to put more focus on other kitchenware such as knives, pans, pots, and more, cutting boards are actually especially important because they come in direct contact with your food before it is cooked.

People also tend to use it daily, so this is an item that we cannot do without. Cutting boards come in a lot of forms, and two of the most popular ones are wood boards and plastic ones. Let’s compare wood vs plastic cutting boards and determine which one is better.

Most Sanitary

Many people do not put a lot of thought into buying a board, but the fact that there are so many materials available should show you that it is important to make a well-informed selection. This is especially important considering that the material your board is made from can affect the food you consume. For this reason, food safety is an essential thing to consider.

Boards made from natural materials are often preferred because your food will come in contact with fewer chemical elements than if you use something made out of plastic. Specifically, in terms of food safety, the antimicrobial agents that exist in wood, like in most plants, prevent or slow down the growth of bacteria on the board. That means your wooden cutting board significantly helps the sanitization process.

On the other hand, a plastic cutting board has a non-porous surface that makes it extremely difficult for bacteria to grow on. Cross-contamination can be prevented as long as you make sure to clean your board properly. The drawback is that chemical elements used to make the board, such as the ink, could potentially go into your food, especially if the board has started wearing off.

No matter the material it is made of, if your board has started wearing off and scratches start appearing from frequent use, we recommend replacing it. This is because these scratches can harbor bacteria and allow them to grow.

Therefore, if you do not clean your board thoroughly, the bacteria might remain, and you will get sick. Of course, as mentioned earlier, wood would naturally fight off bacteria, providing an extra level of protection, while plastic would not.

Easiest to Clean

A wood cutting board requires more effort by the user to get cleaned, mainly because it cannot get into the dishwasher. You need to make sure to hand wash it in order for it to be properly sanitized. Moreover, you have to ensure that your cutting board is kept under certain conditions because if it is exposed to prolonged heat or moisture, it might crack or even break.

A plastic cutting board requires less effort to be cleaned simply because it is dishwasher-safe. The heat that the dishwasher cleans everything under is also enough to destroy any bacteria previously created. However, the more you wash your plastic board in the dishwasher, the less durable it becomes, so you might have to replace it more frequently.

Needs More Maintenance

plastic cutting boards hanging

Wooden cutting boards generally require more maintenance than any other board. You have to wash it properly and make sure that you dry it so its strength won’t get affected. More importantly, you might have to occasionally oil it to maintain its condition at a reasonable level. As long as you take care of your wooden board, it can last you long.

In contrast, plastic boards need no maintenance. You just have to make sure to clean it. Otherwise, you do not need to do anything else to maintain it. Plastic boards can last for some time, but they need more frequent replacement than wooden boards.

Most Durable

As mentioned earlier, you have to make sure that you take the appropriate care they need to maintain them. If you do that, your wooden board will last for a very long time.

On the contrary, a plastic cutting board is not very durable. It has a meager resistance to any type of scratches or stains.

Both a wood cutting board and a plastic cutting board are generally easy on your knives, as they tend to have a softer surface than other materials. However, based on the type of plastic your board is made out of, it may have a more rigid surface and dull your knives faster than a wood cutting board.

An excellent option for a wooden board is an end grain board, which is made out of end pieces of hardwood. When using end-grain cutting boards while cutting, your knife goes through the board’s fibers. This prevents your blade from hitting a hard surface, which can dull it. Regardless of the type of wood, a wooden cutting board will be good on any knife.

Least Expensive

A wood cutting board tends to cost more than most other materials. Specifically, an end grain board can be the most highly-priced board available due to its multiple advantages. However, considering how long these wood boards last, they seem worth the investment.

A plastic board is perhaps the least expensive type of cutting board. This is because it is made of generally very cheap materials. If you are on a budget, a plastic cutting board might be exactly what you need until you can upgrade it.

Best Aesthetic

Many people prefer cutting boards made out of wood because they are environmentally friendly. They are made out of natural materials with a variety of hardwood such as maple, walnut, bamboo, teak, and cherry. Moreover, people tend to like them because they look very appealing. You can use them as decorative elements on your dining table or use them to serve different types of meals, such as cheese boards.

Plastic boards are usually light, thin, and very easy to store, which is why people like them. They can also come in different colors, which can help you sort out which one you will use for raw meat, which one you will use for veggies, etc. This can help prevent cross-contamination. They are either made out of polyethylene or polypropylene.

Depending on the material, they can be soft, rigid, or rubbery. However, plastic is not biodegradable, which means it takes a long time until it breaks down, negatively impacting the environment.

Which One Is Better?

After comparing wood vs plastic cutting boards, it becomes evident that the wooden chopping board option is far better. In terms of price, what you get indeed is what you pay. Certainly, a plastic board is much cheaper, but its quality is lesser than wood. Therefore, you might have to spend a little more in advance with a wooden board, but it will save you much more money in the long run because it lasts very long.

Video Credit: YouTube

John Siracusa

Cooking, for me, has always been an "art" infused with traditions. My career was inspired by Hell's Kitchen, the West Side of Manhattan, which boasts one of N.Y. City's best independent restaurant communities, along with Gordon Ramsay's no-nonsense approach towards always being your best.

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