Apr 282011

[photo-kitchen cutting boards]

If you already read my Part 1 – Choosing the Right Cutting Board post, I hope you found useful information there on choosing a good wooden cutting board.  There I covered the pros and cons of different wood materials and how they affect a cutting board’s usability.  Selecting a quality and appropriate cutting board is important because they are likely to last a good while.  They are a crucial tool that any cook, professional or not, must have in the kitchen.

Continuing on my series here in Part 2, I will cover the non-wood kitchen cutting boards.  Namely, soft plastic, hard plastic, and glass cutting boards.  These boards are dishwasher safe and often come in various colors and decorative patterns to match your home decor.


Soft Plastic Cutting Mats

  • Soft plastic cutting mats are very light weight,thin, pliable, and affordable.  They are good for ordinary slicing and cutting.  They make an excellent surface for transferring chopped foods right into a cook pot, or between work stations in the kitchen.
  • Soft plastic boards are easy to clean and are generally considered more sanitary than wood cutting boards.  For this reason, the Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture recommend plastic over wood.
  • Like the name says, soft plastic is soft.  This means they are gentle on knife blades which also means less frequent knife-sharpening work.
  • On the flip side, since the material is soft, this plastic is prone to knife cuts and nicks rather quickly.  These grooves harbor bacteria and will require more frequent replacement than other types of cutting boards.
  • Top brands for soft plastic cutting mats include Norpro and Progressive International.  See a list of other flexible plastic cutting mats.

[Photo-flexible cutting mats]

Norpro Colored Cutting Mat Set

Hard Plastic Cutting Boards


  • Hard plastic cutting boards share many similar characteristics with soft plastic mats.  They are  more light weight than wood, are easy to clean, and relatively inexpensive.
  • Some notable differences between hard and soft plastic is that the former is thicker and stronger.  They are more suitable for heavier cutting and chopping.
  • Hard plastic is also prone to cuts and gouches just like the softer mats.  When the cuts are deep and many, the cutting board should be replaced as they become breeding niches for bacteria.
  • Another down side to plastic boards is that they are less eco-friendly.  Choose ones that are biodegradable to be kind to our environment.
  • See a list of hard plastic cutting boards here.

[photo-plastic cutting board]

Oxo Good Grips Plastic Cutting Board

Glass Cutting Boards


  • Glass cutting boards should be made out of strong, heat-resistant tempered glass.  They are durable, long lasting, easy to clean and require little maintenance (e.g. no regular oiling as with wood boards).
  • Since glass is non-porous, this type of cutting board is the most sanitary and easiest to clean.  They do not absorb odor or liquid like wood boards do.
  • On the flip side, glass surface is slick, especially when its surface is wet.  This can cause food and even your knife to slip easily, creating safety concerns and difficulty in cutting.
  • Glass boards are also the toughest on knife edges, causing knife blades to dull quickly.
  • Another factor to consider is that glass cutting boards can be heavy.  This makes them a little less easy to move around for hand-washing or for food transfers.
  • See a list of glass cutting boards here.

[photo-tempered glass cutting board]

Sabatier Glass Cutting Board


Selecting the right cutting board is a personal preference based on how and what you have to cut most often.  I do highly recommend that different cutting boards be reserved for specific uses for food safety concerns.  At the minimum, a separate cutting board for vegetables and raw meats should be maintained.  I personally own two just for vegetables.  Then I have another reversible wood board; one side for cooked meats, the other for raw meats and seafood.  How do you separate the use of your cutting boards? Share your ideas by submitting a comment below.


See my related post: Part 1 – Choosing the Right Cutting Board on the pros and cons of different wood materials and how they affect a cutting board’s usability.

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