Which butcher block is best?
If you regularly cook large cuts of meat, you’ve probably discovered that your cutting board isn’t ideal for heavy-duty carving and cutting. A butcher block is designed to hold up to the force needed to cut through thick meat and bones with ease, so you don’t ruin your cutting board or your kitchen counters.
Butcher blocks provide a sturdy base for cutting and butchering meat. They’re made of wood and range in size from basic rounds to entire countertops or islands. If you’re looking for a large, eco-friendly option, the Royal Craft Wood Organic Bamboo Butcher Block is your top option.
What to know before you buy a butcher block
Butcher block benefits
If you’re wondering why a butcher block might be a better option in your kitchen than a regular cutting board, it’s important to understand the differences between the two. A cutting board can provide an excellent surface for slicing and chopping veggies, fruits, herbs and other small, thin foods. However, if you regularly cut and debone large pieces of meat, a cutting board is usually too thin and lightweight for that kind of heavy chopping.
Some of the benefits of a butcher block include:
- Durability: Butcher blocks are thicker and heavier than regular cutting boards, so they’re highly durable and can stand up to heavy chopping without cracking or splitting.
- Versatility: While a butcher block is designed for chopping large items, it can work just as well for slicing and dicing smaller ingredients, such as fruits, vegetables and herbs.
- Size: Butcher blocks provide an extra-large work surface that’s perfect for chopping and other kitchen tasks, such as rolling out dough.
- Eco-friendly: A butcher block is often a more environmentally friendly option than other cutting boards, with many made from reclaimed wood or sustainable materials such as bamboo.
- Appearance: If you like your kitchen tools and supplies to offer the perfect combination of form and function, a butcher block is an excellent choice. Its attractive appearance can work well with various decor styles.
Butcher blocks can be made of almost any type of wood or combination of woods, though some may be a better choice for your kitchen than others.
- Maple is an extremely durable, heavy hardwood and is more affordable than other woods.
- Cherry is another durable hardwood, but it also stands out for its eye-catching red color. It’s more expensive than maple, though.
- Zebrawood is a dense hardwood that features a striking mix of dark grain and golden highlights.
- Walnut is a dense, heavy wood that’s softer than other options, so your knife sinks into it a bit without slipping.
- Teak is a highly moisture-resistant hardwood that earns high marks for its attractive appearance.
- Hickory is an incredibly strong wood that withstands the signs of wear and tear well.
- Bamboo is a durable, eco-friendly wood that doesn’t absorb moisture as easily as other woods. It’s usually more affordable too.
Butcher blocks are available in a wide range of sizes, so you want to choose a model that’s large enough for your chopping tasks. That means you should opt for a butcher block that’s at least 12 inches by 12 inches. If you plan to chop large pieces of meat, though, you should size up — look for an 18-by-12-inch or 20-by-15-inch butcher block.
The largest freestanding butcher blocks are usually 18 inches by 18 inches. However, you can also find butcher block countertops, so you can have the block span an entire section of your counter — or all of your countertop surfaces, if you prefer. You can also opt for a kitchen island with a butcher block top if you need a large work surface.
What to look for in a quality butcher block
For a board or counter surface to be a genuine butcher block, it should be no less than 1 1/2 inches thick. If you want the most durable block, though, stick to models that are at least 2 inches thick, which will be less likely to warp.
To make cleanup easier, some butcher blocks feature a drip groove around the edges. This indentation catches any juices that drip from the meat as you cut it, so your countertop doesn’t get dirty.
Butcher blocks are usually pretty heavy because they’re made of hard, thick wood. If you plan to move your butcher block regularly, handles are an important feature. They’re usually located on the underside to make the block easier to carry.
True butcher blocks are made of end grain wood, so the fibers are exposed to provide a checkerboard design. End grain wood isn’t as likely to scratch or dent when you use a knife on it. It also features densely packed fibers that can eventually push themselves back into place if scratches or dents do occur.
You can find more affordable butcher blocks made of face-grain or edge-grain wood, but they usually can’t withstand the wear and tear of heavy cutting and butchering. Instead, they work better for chopping veggies and herbs.
How much you can expect to spend on a butcher block
Small, freestanding butcher blocks less than an inch in thickness typically range from $15-$40, while medium to large freestanding blocks that are 1 ½ inch or greater in thickness generally cost between $40-$130. Butcher block islands and countertops can go for $250-$2,000-plus, depending on the size.
Butcher block FAQ
Are there food sanitation issues with a butcher block?
A. Wood is a porous material, so you may be concerned about a butcher block harboring bacteria like salmonella. Wood resists bacteria naturally, though, thanks to the antimicrobial compounds it contains. Bacteria also need water to grow, but wood soaks up moisture readily, which prevents bacteria from spreading.
Can I put a hot pan on a butcher block?
A. While natural wood can handle high heat, it’s usually not a good idea to put hot pots and pans on your butcher block. Some may have a laminated coating that can crack and split when exposed to heat, and synthetic woods may start to break down as well. To be safe, use a trivet under hot cookware that you place on your butcher block.
What’s the best butcher block to buy?
Top butcher block
What you need to know: This versatile, extra-large butcher block provides plenty of space for cutting meat and other ingredients, but it also works well as a serving tray.
What you’ll love: It’s made of organic, sustainable bamboo, which is also highly durable. It features a drip groove for catching juices and limiting any mess. It’s 18 inches by 12 inches and also has built-in handles.
What you should consider: It’s not as thick as other blocks, so it may warp over time.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top butcher block for the money
What you need to know: This reversible bamboo butcher block lets you cut on one side and serve on the other.
What you’ll love: It measures 17 inches by 12 inches for plenty of work space. It’s over 1 ½ inches thick to provide excellent stability. It features an attractive pattern that looks great in your kitchen too.
What you should consider: Some buyers find that it’s too heavy and bulky to move easily around the kitchen.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: Made of eco-friendly bamboo, this butcher block has antibacterial properties that make it ideal for cutting meat and is durable enough to last for years.
What you’ll love: It’s 2 1/2 inches thick and weighs over 8 pounds, giving it a heavy, durable feel. The organic bamboo is naturally antibacterial and antimicrobial for safe food handling. It can work well as a serving tray too.
What you should consider: Some buyers report cracking and chipping in the wood over time.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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