Caring for Cutting Boards

I'm getting ready to condition some of my cutting boards here at home, so I thought I'd post this entry from last year as a reminder.  This is how I care for these kitchen tools every month.

A good, solid cutting board is one of those kitchen tools that every cook should have.  As one who spends a lot of time in the kitchen cooking up meals for my family, I rely heavily on my cutting boards to get me through many culinary tasks.  Although my boards experience a lot of cutting, dicing, slicing, chopping & mincing on a daily basis, I treat them gently by maintaining them well.  Any type of cutting board is an investment for the home cook, and it's one that shouldn't go to waste because of neglect.

Wood is my preferred surface for cutting boards, but there are other types available to the home chef, such as polypropylene (these I highly recommend for cutting meats because they can be cleaned in the dishwasher) and bamboo, which are suitable for any kitchen.  A wooden board, however, is sturdy, beautiful to look at and is easiest on knives for cutting.  They are prone to splitting and cracking if not taken care of properly, but if you follow a few simple basics, a wooden cutting board will get you through years of meal preparations.  This is what I do in my kitchen.

This small collection of cutting boards sitting on my dough counter is due for a monthly oiling.

A good food-safe mineral oil can be found in supermarkets, hardware stores and at any kitchenwares store.  I don't recommend using a vegetable oil for cutting boards because over time it can grow stale and give off an unpleasant odor.  Not a good thing. 

  • A new wooden cutting board should be oiled every single day for the first week in your kitchen and then on a weekly basis for the first month. 
  • Every wooden cutting board should be oiled once a month.

Add a few drops of mineral oil to the cutting board.

Work the oil into your cutting board with a paper towel, making sure you get every inch and all around the edges.  After 5 minutes, wipe off any excess oil with a clean paper towel. 

Edges are the areas most susceptible to cracks and splits if there is excess humidity in your home or if the air is quite dry.  Wood likes a stable environment that isn't too humid or too dry.  

All done.  The boards are well oiled and ready to assist me in my next culinary endeavor.  Some of these boards have been in my kitchen for about a decade now.

 If I've just used my cutting board for preparing a meal and it isn't too dirty or stained, I simply sprinkle some coarse kosher salt on the surface.

Using a lemon half, I scrub the cutting board all the way around.  The lemon acts as a natural disinfectant and 'detergent', while the salt acts as an abrasive.  When I'm done, I simply wipe off the excess salt.  I then dry the board with a clean kitchen towel and store it either on my counter or on a shelf.   

If your board is excessively stained or odorous, you can wash it with a mild dish soap and hot water. 

  • Never let a wooden board soak in water because it will absorb moisture; this will make it swell, warp or split.
  • A wooden cutting board should never be cleaned in the dishwasher. 
  • Keep a separate cutting board for meatspoultry and seafood; this board should always be washed with dish soap & hot water.  If there is excess wear & tear after years of use, replace the board.  Deep grooves and nicks can harbor harmful bacteria. 

This round paddle cutting board is quite special, because it's inspired by an antique.  It is one of my favorite cutting boards!  Working with a skilled American craftsman, this 12" board along with a 15" version, will be available for purchase next week through my online store.  Exclusively made for you!  The wood conditioner you see here is specially formulated by the craftsman and will also be available for purchase.  It conditions, restores and maintains cutting boards naturally.  

If you own a cutting board or plan on buying one soon (I hope you do when my versions are up for sale!!), make sure you have a bottle of food-safe mineral oil or that wood conditioner paste I'll be offering, to help you maintain its beauty.  Cutting boards make thoughtful gifts for friends and family, especially for those who are just starting to put a home together.  It is my belief that every home cook should have at least two cutting boards in their kitchen (one for pungent ingredients & one for everything else).  As you can see, I have several ones that I use for specific tasks.  I'm not one who likes to use the same surface for strongly-flavored ingredients (think garlic & onions) and for something delicately flavored like fruit or a tea bread.  Having said that, I encourage you to keep a regular routine for maintaining the cutting boards in your kitchen; it doesn't require much to do this.  Caring for a cutting board is a wise thing for the home cook. 


  1. I have that chicken cutting board, but I never use it - it is decoration only, and I have a pig one, and moose! My regular day to day ones go in the dishwasher, but this is great advice!

  2. Lucky you to have that chicken and a pig!! I've never seen one in the shape of a moose, though. Send me a picture of it. ;)

  3. Great post (as always) and fabulous information too! I conditioned my chopping block that sits on my island (which used to BE my island before I had it cut down to sit on the new carrara) with Boos cream; however, I must confess that I only did it the one time after it was cut. Thank you for reminding me that it requires maintenance. And, thank you for suggesting the mineral oil becaus the Boos stuff can be expensive!

    Cannot wait to see your cutting boards!


  4. Hop to it my friend! Get that board conditioned and prepped. It's especially essential to do this during the Fall & Winter when the air becomes drier.

    You have to love Boos Block! Enjoy your cutting boards for years to come. :)

  5. It's going to be a cold, rainy weekend.. this seems to be a perfect project. I need to keep you around.. you keep me on task! :-)

  6. Kenn,

    This is a good weekend task, and it's especially beneficial to your boards when the weather begins to get dry.

    Condition, clean & enjoy!


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