Skip to main content

Get instant access to everything. 2-Week Free Trial

Make 2021 the year of “Why not?” in the kitchen with Digital All Access. Get all our recipes, videos, and up-to-date ratings and cook anything with confidence.

Get Free Access ▸

How to Care for Your Wood or Bamboo Cutting Board

By Miye Bromberg Published

Moisture is the biggest enemy of your wood or bamboo cutting board. The more water your board absorbs, the more vulnerable it is to warping or separating along glue lines as it dries. As we learned from Adam Senalik, general research engineer at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin, wet cutting boards are also softer than dry ones; that means they’re more likely to scar if you try to cut on them when they’re saturated with water. With this in mind, the best thing you can do for your board is keep out moisture.

The Best Boards

The Best Heavy-Duty Cutting Board Teakhaus by Proteak Edge Grain Cutting Board

Our longtime favorite's smooth, medium-hard, reversible teak surface provides plenty of room to work, is a pleasure to cut on, and requires little maintenance.

The Best Carving Board J.K. Adams Maple Reversible Carving Board

Both sides of this reversible board allow for neat, even slicing without interference, and each sports a spacious trench that holds an ample ½ cup of liquid.

Seasoning Your Board

Like a cast-iron pan, a wood or bamboo cutting board needs to be seasoned before use. When you season a board, you are laying down a protective coating of oil or wax that will repel water and prevent it from being absorbed by the board. Some boards come preseasoned, allowing you to skip this step, but most come bare, with no layer of oil.

To season or maintain a cutting board with spoon butter, rub on a thick layer, let it sit for 24 hours, and then buff off the excess.

We like to season our boards with spoon butter or board cream, a mixture of beeswax and mineral oil that can either be made or purchased online. Using a clean cloth, rub your board with the butter, making sure you cover any exposed surface that might come in contact with water—front, back, sides, and feet, if they’re wood or bamboo. Let the mixture sit on the board for 24 hours to absorb, and then buff off the excess. Usually one coat is sufficient to keep out water.

To season a cutting board with mineral oil, apply a layer, let it sink in, and repeat a few times until the board is thoroughly water-resistant.

You can also use mineral oil. Building up a good seasoning with mineral oil takes more time but is less expensive. Again, use a clean cloth to apply the mineral oil over the entire surface of the board. It should absorb readily. Use a generous amount and let it sit for a minute before wiping off any excess, redistributing the oil to any thirsty or dry spots. You want to make sure the board is well coated with oil, but you don’t want to soak the board in it—in some cases, too much oil can actually erode the glue that holds the different pieces of wood together. Let the board absorb the oil overnight, and then repeat the process a few times. Because mineral oil is thinner than spoon butter, it’ll take longer to develop a thick, water-repellent layer.

Water pools on top of a well-seasoned cutting board.

In both cases, you’ll know that your cutting board is properly seasoned when a bead of water sits on top of the board and doesn’t immediately sink in.

Washing Your Board

To clean your board, you can scrub it with either hot, soapy water or a diluted bleach solution—about 1 tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water, according to Marianne Gravely, senior technical information specialist at the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. It’s easier to do this in the sink, but if your board is very big or very heavy, it’s okay to clean it where it sits—although, as Gravely put it, “you’ll just have to be willing to make a mess on your counter.” You can’t simply wipe it down with a wet sponge and call it a day, though. “Scrub the cutting board well with a hot, soapy washcloth,” says Gravely, “and then wipe it down several times with a wet cloth or paper towels until you can really tell that it is clean.” You’ll still need to lift the board to clean its underside, too.

For a thorough cleaning, it's important to wash every part of your cutting board—top, bottom, and sides—with hot, soapy water.

After you’ve washed the board, don’t let it drip dry; instead, pat off as much moisture as you can with a clean dish towel. Store it upright or in a position that maximizes airflow and prevents moisture from being trapped between the board and the counter.

Whether you're using spoon butter or mineral oil, make sure to cover every part of the board that's made of wood or bamboo, including the underside and any indentations or finger grips.

Maintaining Your Board

There’s no hard-and-fast schedule for maintaining your board—it all depends on how often and how aggressively you use and wash it, as washing can erode the protective coating. Treat your board when it starts to look dry and ashy and water sinks into it instead of beading up on top. The board should look lustrous and have a satiny, faintly oily resistance under your fingertips. With a little care, your board should last a lifetime.

Equipment Review Best Heavy-Duty Cutting Boards

A good wood or bamboo cutting board can serve you well for years to come. Which model is best?

Leave a comment and join the conversation!

0 Comments
Read & post comments with a free account
Join the conversation with our community of home cooks, test cooks, and editors.
First Name is Required
Last Name is Required
Email Address is Required
How we use your email?
Password is Required
JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.