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Buying guide for Best butcher's chopping blocks

When you’re cutting fruit and vegetables, a standard cutting board can get the job done. If you’re breaking down large cuts of meat, a butcher's chopping block is usually a much better option. That’s because a butcher's chopping block is far more durable than a traditional cutting board. It holds up better to the force typically needed to pass a knife through various cuts of meat, and it also adds a decorative, vintage look to your kitchen that a basic cutting board can’t match.

However, all butcher's chopping blocks aren’t created equally, so it’s important to know what to look for when you shop. That means figuring out what type of wood, size, thickness, and other features would work best in your kitchen.

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Butcher blocks have been used in butcher shops for centuries, which is how they got their name.

Butcher's chopping block vs. cutting board

If you already have a cutting board in your kitchen, you might be wondering if a butcher's chopping block is really necessary.

The fact is that cutting boards and butcher's chopping blocks aren’t exactly the same thing, and if you frequently cut meat at home, a butcher's block may prove to be a key addition to your kitchen.

When you’re cutting fruits, vegetables, herbs, and other small ingredients, you’re usually slicing, dicing, chopping, and julienning the items, which typically doesn’t require a great deal of force. A thin, lightweight cutting board is an ideal work surface for this type of light cutting.

With meat, on the other hand, you may have to debone, fillet, quarter, and chop thicker, tougher ingredients – and a basic cutting board usually isn’t up to the job. A butcher's chopping block is thicker and heavier, so it doesn’t move around when you exert the force necessary to cut through meat. Butcher's chopping blocks also offer a larger cutting surface, which is helpful if you’re cutting a whole chicken or another large cut of meat.

Butcher's chopping block benefits

  • Durable: Because a butcher's chopping block is thicker than a regular cutting board, it’s more durable and won’t crack as easily.

  • Versatility: While it’s thicker and heavier, a butcher's chopping block can double as a regular cutting board, so you can cut fruits, veggies, herbs, and other ingredients on it – along with your meat.

  • Large Size: A butcher's chopping block offers a large work surface that’s ideal for kneading and rolling out dough, as well as performing other kitchen tasks.

  • Environmentally Friendly: If you’re looking for an eco-friendly cutting surface for your kitchen, a butcher's chopping block is an excellent choice because the boards are often made from reclaimed wood instead of new materials.

  • Attractive Appearance: While function is obviously the most important feature of any kitchen tool, it’s hard to ignore the attractive look that a butcher's chopping block offers. They can give your kitchen a warm, vintage look that complements a wide range of décor styles.

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Expert Tip
If your block comes in direct contact with the counter’s surface (i.e. has no rubber feet), ensure no water or fluid pools underneath it. The wood absorbs the fluid, and if left like that overnight, it might warp into a bowl shape.
BestReviews Cooking and Baking Expert

Feature considerations

Wood type

A butcher's chopping block can be made of nearly any type of wood, but some popular choices include the following.

  • Maple: A very durable hardwood that’s more budget-friendly than other options.

  • Cherry: A very strong hardwood that’s fairly pricey but offers a very attractive red color.

  • Teak: A tropical hardwood that’s highly moisture-resistant and offers a very attractive appearance.

  • Hickory: One of the strongest wood options; holds up to wear and tear very well.

  • Bamboo: A sturdy, durable wood that’s eco-friendly because it renews very quickly.

Some butcher's chopping blocks contain a blend of two or more types of wood, creating an even more decorative appearance with a striped or checkerboard pattern.


Butcher's chopping blocks come in a variety of sizes, but for the most functional work surface, choose a model that’s no smaller than 12 x 12 inches. However, if you routinely carve or chop larger cuts of meat, you may want a larger size, such as 18 x 12 inches or 20 x 15 inches.

For maximum surface space, you can even find butcher's chopping blocks that are 18 x 18 inches.

Drip groove

Some butcher's chopping blocks feature drip or juice grooves that run around the edge of the block. The groove catches the juices that pour out when you cut your meat, so you don’t make a mess on your countertop.

Expert Tip
Reversible butcher blocks are terrific for both cutting meat and presentation. Whatever you choose, consider getting one with a juice “trough” or channel around the outer edge to catch meat juice as well as bread crumbs if slicing bread.
BestReviews Cooking and Baking Expert


In order for a board to be a true butcher's chopping block, it must be at least one-and-a-half inches thick. Thinner blocks are best reserved for chopping fruits and vegetables.

To make sure that a butcher's chopping block lasts as long as possible, consider a two-inch or thicker model, as the thicker wood is less likely to warp over time.


Because a butcher's chopping block can be fairly heavy, moving it around your kitchen may be difficult.

If you know you’ll need to move it regularly, look for a model that features inner handles for carrying convenience.


Wood grain refers to the way the wood fibers are oriented in a block. For a true butcher's chopping block, the board should be made with the end grain of the wood, which means the ends of the wood fiber are exposed and give the board a checkerboard appearance.

This arrangement creates a surface that’s much less likely to scratch or scar when your knife moves over it.

End-grain wood is also self-healing, which means that the fibers are so densely packed that they eventually push back into place to remove dents and scratches.

Boards made with edge-grain or face-grain wood don’t hold up to butchering and other heavy knife work as well, so they’re best reserved for slicing and dicing vegetables and herbs.

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Expert Tip
If you find yourself constantly needing more space on your butcher block, consider getting a large one with legs for your kitchen. These can be up to one foot thick, so they can be easiest to use if set in a permanent spot.
BestReviews Cooking and Baking Expert

Butcher's chopping block prices

Butcher chopping blocks vary in price based on size and thickness. You can typically expect to spend between $15 and $130 for a good one.


For a small butcher's chopping block with a thickness of less than one inch, you’ll usually pay between $15 and $40.


For a medium-size butcher's chopping block with a thickness of one to two inches, you’ll usually pay between $40 and $85.


For a large butcher's chopping block with a thickness of two inches or more, you’ll usually pay between $85 and $130.


  • Avoid using harsh cleaners on your butcher's chopping block. To disinfect the surface, use undiluted white vinegar to remove harmful germs and bacteria.

  • Clean your butcher's chopping block after each use. Scrub it with a mild soap, rinse it well, and then blot away the excess moisture with a clean towel.

  • Oil your butcher's chopping block once a month to keep the surface sealed. Make sure the surface is clean and sanitized first, and then rub down the surface with food-grade mineral oil, raw linseed oil, pure tung oil, or coconut oil on a clean cloth or paper towel. Continue adding oil until it won’t absorb any more, and then wipe away the excess. Don’t use cooking oils like vegetable, olive, or peanut oil to seal your butcher's chopping block. Their natural fats can become rancid over time and contaminate the wood.

  • Don’t let spills or damp kitchen towels sit on a butcher's chopping block for too long. The wood will quickly absorb the moisture, which may cause spots. Dry your block thoroughly after each use.

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A butcher chopping block has such an attractive, rustic appearance that you probably won’t mind leaving it out on your countertop, even when it’s not in use.


Q. Why is the thickness of a butcher's chopping block so important?

A. Thicker butcher's chopping blocks tend to be heavier, so they won’t shift around when you’re cutting through a piece of meat. If you opt for a thinner butcher's block, look for one with rubber feet on the bottom to help keep it in place.

Q. Is a butcher's chopping block sanitary?

A. Some home cooks worry that their butcher's block may harbor kitchen bacteria like salmonella. However, wood is naturally resistant to bacteria because it contains antimicrobial compounds. It also keeps bacteria in check by binding with any of the water that soaks into its surface. Bacteria requires water to grow, so by absorbing any water, the wood prevents the bacteria from spreading.

Q. Does a butcher's chopping block absorb odors?

A. If you seal your butcher's block with oil regularly, it shouldn’t retain too many odors. However, if you find that your butcher's chopping block is starting to smell, sprinkle the surface with an even layer of baking soda and let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes. Afterward, wipe away the baking soda, which will have absorbed the odor.

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