Food and Nutrition
Food and Nutrition
Food and Nutrition
Food and Nutrition

End Grain vs Edge Grain Cutting Board (Best Recommendations)

Jump to RecipeWooden cutting boards

When looking for a new cutting board there are so many options. If you decide you want a wooden board there are 2 main versions, an end grain or edge grain cutting board. I have used both over many years and here are the main differences I see, what my recommendations are, and what to look for when purchasing your own cutting board

Main Differences Between End Grain and Edge Grain Cutting Boards

Each type of wooden cutting board will have different properties. There are the main differences between the two.

Grain Orientation

  • End Grain: In an end grain cutting board, the wood fibers are oriented perpendicular to the surface. When you cut on an end grain board, your knife edge goes between the wood fibers, reducing wear on the knife and creating less visible knife marks on the board.
  • Edge Grain: In an edge grain cutting board, the wood grain is oriented parallel to the surface. This means the knife edge comes into more direct contact with the wood fibers, which can lead to slightly more wear on the knife over time and potentially more visible knife marks on the board. This is much more common.

Knife-Friendly Nature

  • End Grain: End grain boards are considered to be the most knife-friendly cutting boards. The separation of wood fibers allows the knife to cut between them, preserving the sharpness of the blade and minimizing damage to the knife edge.
  • Edge Grain: Edge grain boards are still more knife-friendly compared to cross-grain or plastic cutting boards, but they are generally not as gentle on knives as end grain boards.

Durability

  • End Grain: End grain cutting boards are highly durable and resistant to warping due to their construction method with wood fibers facing up. The boards are typically glued together to be able to have the pieces of wood laid perpendicular. Make sure it is a good quality board so you know it will hold together well. With that said end grain boards are still the most durable between these 2 options.
  • Edge Grain: Edge grain boards are also relatively durable, but they may be slightly more prone to warping than end grain boards due to the wood fibers being oriented differently.

Aesthetics and Looks

  • End Grain: End grain cutting boards have a distinct and attractive appearance due to the exposed ends of the wood pieces, creating a unique pattern on the surface. They are often checkerboard pattern that is unique to end-grain boards.
  • Edge Grain: Edge grain boards also have a visually appealing look with the visible grain patterns along the edges of the wood strips. You can get the in all different types of wood so the color will vary based on the type and stain of the wood.

Price and Availability

  • End Grain: End grain cutting boards tend to be more expensive than edge grain boards due to the construction process and the fact that they are often seen as a premium product. You can get manufactured boards that are a little less. If you want a handmade piece it will cost much more.
  • Edge Grain: Edge grain cutting boards are more budget-friendly and widely available, making them a popular choice for many home cooks and professional kitchens. They also come in more size varieties since then are easy to make.
infographic on end grain vs edge grain cutting boards.

What is an End Grain Cutting Board?

An end grain cutting board is a type of cutting board specifically designed and constructed to be kinder to your knives and to withstand heavy daily use. Unlike traditional cutting boards, which have their wood fibers oriented parallel to the cutting surface, end grain cutting boards have their wood fibers oriented perpendicular to the surface.

This means that when you cut on an end grain board, your knife edge goes between the wood fibers instead of across them. This reduces the wear and tear on the knife, keeping it sharper for a longer time and reducing the likelihood of nicks and dulling. It also causes less wear on the board. The cutting lines don’t appear as easily.

End grain cutting boards are often made by cutting wooden boards into small blocks and then arranging the individual pieces with their end grain facing up. The individual wood pieces are glued together to form a solid cutting surface. This construction method provides additional strength and durability, making the board less prone to warping.

Properly cared for, an end grain cutting board can serve you well for a very long time.

What is an Edge Grain Cutting Board?

An edge grain cutting board is that is very widely used in home and professional kitchens.

To create an edge grain cutting board, long strips of wood are glued together side by side to form a large, solid cutting surface. The edges of the wood pieces are what create the visible grain pattern on the surface of the board, hence the name "edge grain."

Edge grain cutting boards are still more durable and knife-friendly compared to a plastic cutting board. However, they are generally considered to be less forgiving to knives than end grain boards. The knife edge comes into more direct contact with the wood fibers, leading to slightly more wear on the blade over time.

That said, edge grain cutting boards are more budget-friendly and easier to manufacture than end grain boards, making them a popular choice for many home cooks and professional kitchens alike. They offer a good compromise between the benefits of end grain boards and the affordability of other cutting board materials. As with any cutting board, proper care and maintenance are crucial to keep the board in good condition and prolong its lifespan.

Someone chopping on an edge grain cutting board.

What to Look For When Buying a Wood Cutting Board

When deciding on the best choice for you, these are a few important factors you need consider.

  1. Material and Construction: Check the type of wood used for the cutting board. There are many different wood species but hardwoods like maple, cherry, walnut, and teak are popular choices due to their durability and resistance to knife marks. Ensure the board is made from solid wood and not composite or bamboo, as solid wood provides better longevity and knife-friendliness.
  2. Size and Thickness: Consider the size of the cutting board you need, based on your kitchen space and the amount of food you typically prepare. A larger board allows for more workspace, but it should still fit comfortably in your kitchen. As for thickness, aim for at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick to provide stability and prevent warping.
  3. Durability: Look for a well-constructed cutting board that is designed to withstand heavy daily use. Avoid boards with visible cracks, knots, or weak points that could compromise the board's strength and longevity.
  4. Stability and Weight: A cutting board should be stable on your countertop to ensure safe and comfortable cutting. It should have some weight to it to prevent it from sliding or moving while in use.
  5. Juice Grooves and Handles: Some cutting boards come with juice grooves around the edges to catch liquids from fruits, vegetables, or meats. Handles or finger grips on the sides can make it easier to lift and move the board.
  6. Reversible Design: A reversible cutting board offers the convenience of using both sides, which can be helpful when one side gets worn or needs cleaning.
  7. Food-Grade Finish: Ensure the cutting board has a food-safe finish or treatment that is free from toxic chemicals. A well-applied finish can help protect the wood and make cleaning easier.
  8. Maintenance: Consider the maintenance requirements of the cutting board. Wood cutting boards typically need regular oiling to keep them hydrated and to prevent drying and cracking. Make sure you are willing to commit to the maintenance routine.
  9. Price and Reviews: Compare prices and read customer reviews to ensure you are getting a good value for your money. Look for products with a warranty to provide additional peace of mind.

What Cutting Board to Buy - My Recommendations

All of these boards are reversible so you can use them as cutting boards or as serving boards. To pick the right choice for you, consider your budget and how much you will use it. If you are going to use it for heavy chopping it might be worth it to invest in an edge grain cutting board but if you are new to cooking or use is sparingly you can get an edge grain board that will work great for you.

Best End Grain

This end grain board has that classic end grain design. It is thicker than other boards and it comes in a variety of sizes. This board is made of hard teak wood and is built for the long term.

Best Budget End Grain

This board is 17x13 and is a much lower price than other options. It is made with a light natural wood type.

Best Edge Grain

The Boos Block cutting boards are a classic style cutting board that is loved in kitchens and for good reason. They are made with a hard maple and come in a wide variety of sizes.

Best Budget Edge Grain

If you are just starting out and need a basic cutting board this one will do the trick. It is made with Acacia wood and comes in a few sizes.

How to Store and Take Care of Your Cutting Boards

Proper care of your cutting boards on a regular basis will help keep your chopping boards in great condition for years. Here are some specific care guidelines for wood cutting boards:

  1. Wash after each use: Wash the cutting board with hot, soapy water immediately after each use. Avoid letting it sit with food residues for too long, as this can promote bacterial growth.
  2. Avoid soaking: Never soak a wood cutting board in water or put it in the dishwasher. Excessive moisture can cause the wood to warp, crack, or split.
  3. Use a brush or sponge: Use a soft brush or sponge to clean the cutting board's surface thoroughly, especially if there are food particles stuck in the grain.
  4. Disinfect with vinegar or hydrogen peroxide: Periodically disinfect the cutting board by wiping it down with white vinegar or a hydrogen peroxide solution. Let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing with water.
  5. Dry thoroughly: After washing, dry the cutting board completely with a clean towel. Make sure no moisture remains on the surface or edges.
  6. Oil regularly: Wood cutting boards need to be oiled regularly to keep the wood hydrated and prevent drying and cracking. Use food-grade mineral oil or other appropriate cutting board oils, such as walnut or coconut oil. Apply a generous amount of oil, let it soak in for a few hours or overnight, and then wipe off any excess.
  7. Rotate usage: If you have multiple cutting boards, consider rotating their usage. This practice allows the boards to have some time to dry completely between uses, reducing the risk of bacterial growth.
  8. Avoid cross-contamination: If you use your cutting board for cutting raw meat, poultry, or fish, thoroughly clean and disinfect it before using it for other food items to avoid cross-contamination.
  9. Resurface if needed: Over time, cutting boards may develop deep knife marks or stains. If the surface becomes excessively damaged, consider sanding or resurfacing the board to restore its smoothness and appearance.

Remember that regular maintenance is the key to extending the life of your cutting board and keeping it safe for food preparation. By following these care guidelines, your wood cutting board can serve you well for many years to come.

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