If you use a wooden cutting board, you probably know that regular maintenance with food-grade oil is essential for keeping your board in good condition over a lifetime of use. Cutting board oil prevents the wood from drying out and cracking or becoming brittle, which can eventually dull your knives. It also creates a waterproof seal on the surface of the board, so it won’t absorb water and other liquids that can cause it to warp.
But the most important—and least obvious—reason to re-seal your cutting board every 1 to 3 months is to keep you and your family from getting sick. Each year millions of Americans contract food-borne illnesses, and poorly-maintained cutting boards can harbor dangerous bacteria in tiny cuts and cracks in the board’s surface.
In addition to washing your board with soap and hot water after each use, maintaining a rigorous oiling routine will help seal any cuts or blemishes on the board’s surface, eliminating places for microbes to thrive.
The Best Cutting Board Oil Options
Using a quality cutting board oil will prevent stains and odors, protect your health and keep your board looking and functioning flawlessly for years to come. The five brands below represent How To Make A Cutting Board‘s top choices among the many cutting board oils currently available on the market.
This Seattle-based kitchenware company is trusted by thousands of professional and amateur chefs, and its food-grade mineral oil offers the same premium quality as its renowned cooking tools.
The oil is made in the United States from pure, USP-certified white mineral oil and is lab-tested to ensure compliance with all FDA requirements for food safety. It’s designed for use on wood and bamboo cutting boards as well as utensils, dinnerware, countertops and other wood-based products.
This versatile oil can also be used to protect soapstone and marble, ward off rust on knives, shears and garden tools, lubricate meat grinders, restore leather and even moisturize skin.
A push-applicator cap and convenient squeeze bottle make Thirteen Chefs Food Grade Mineral Oil easy to apply to your cutting board, where it penetrates deep into the surface of the wood, preventing drying and cracking and sealing tiny blemishes and cuts where bacteria can hide. It’s also an excellent value, with just a small amount of oil needed to condition a standard cutting board.
For more than half a century, California-based Howard Products has provided consumer solutions for blemished and lifeless wood surfaces, starting with the development of its flagship “Restor-A-Finish” formula and later expanding to a full complement of wood maintenance products.
Created to provide ultimate protection from water and knife damage, Howard Cutting Board Oil is made with clear, odorless, pure food-grade mineral oil.
The product is derived from virgin mineral oils and is prevented from any contact with nuts, gluten or other potentially allergenic materials during production, storage or transport, so it’s safe for every member of your family regardless of their health conditions.
The low viscosity level of Howard Cutting Board Oil allows it to penetrate deeply into wooden cutting boards and butcher blocks, making application of multiple coats unnecessary. In addition to establishing a protective seal, it also brings out the natural richness and luster of the wood, keeping your new cutting board looking beautiful throughout a lifetime of use. It can even bring hopelessly damaged cutting boards and other wooden utensils back to life, restoring them to their original beauty and reviving their ability to perform in the kitchen.
Unlike most other cutting board oils, Greener Chef Food Grade Cutting Board Oil doesn’t contain a drop of mineral oil. It’s made from 100% non-GMO walnut oil, which has long been used by woodworkers and crafters to moisturize and protect wood surfaces.
The mission of Greener Chef—a small, U.S.-based, family-owned business—is to provide safe, sustainable options for home chefs.
. In keeping with its values of sustainability and environmental stewardship, the company doesn’t use any petroleum-based materials—including mineral oil—in its product line. Instead, both the packaging and the cutting board oil inside are free from petroleum products, chemicals, additives, BPA and aerosol. Additionally, the oil is kosher, vegan and made without gluten, dairy or soy.
The ingenious design of the recyclable bottle of Greener Chef Food Grade Cutting Board Oil features a pressure-sensitive nozzle that can be adjusted to dispense the oil in a spray, drip or stream to quickly oil, seal and protect cutting boards and other surfaces with no mess or waste.
Founded in 1887, John Boos & Co. has spent more than a century perfecting its craft, providing premium-quality kitchen tools, countertops, furniture and other wood products to customers across the globe.
To keep these items looking beautiful and functioning flawlessly, the company has also developed its proprietary John Boos MYSB Mystery Butcher Block Oil for the care and maintenance of wood cutting boards and butcher blocks.
Made at the company’s Illinois facility, the formula blends food-safe mineral oil and beeswax to condition and seal the surface of the cutting board, smoothing out any cuts or nicks and imparting a rich sheen to the wood. For extremely dry or damaged boards, the company recommends leaving a layer of the oil on overnight to penetrate deep into the wood and seal it against future drying and cracking.
John Boos MYSB Mystery Butcher Block Oil is available in several convenient sizes, including 16-ounce, 32-ounce and one-gallon bottles. It’s NSF-certified for use on food preparation surfaces, and it has a light, clean scent that won’t interfere with the flavor of your food.
Made from food-grade mineral oil and enhanced with fragrant orange and lemon oils for a boost of freshness, Clark’s Cutting Board Oil soaks deep into the surface of wood cutting boards and butcher blocks to create a water-resistant seal that shuts out moisture, stains and bacteria.
Unlike plant-based oils that can go rancid over time, Clark’s Cutting Board Oil boasts an almost infinite shelf life. Its cleverly-designed pour spout allows for convenient, mess-free application.
Regular treatment with Clark’s Cutting Board Oil —especially alongside its other wood care products, including its cutting board finish wax and buffing pads—ensures a smooth, clean, nonstick surface for food preparation and extends the life of your cutting board and other wood kitchen products.
Cutting Board Oil Buying Guide
Wood cutting boards are an attractive and functional addition to your kitchen, and a well-crafted board can last for decades with the proper care and maintenance. To keep your cutting board at peak performance, you must schedule regular applications of cutting board oil designed specifically for wood cutting boards and other food preparation surfaces.
But not just any oil will do: to maximize the beauty and useful life of your wood cutting board, be sure the product you choose makes the grade in the following categories.
Health and Safety
Oils, waxes and other products designed for use on wood cutting boards must meet stringent food safety requirements, since they will be applied directly to surfaces where we chop and slice meats, vegetables, fruits and other items to feed our loved ones.
Any oil you use to condition your cutting board should be USP-certified, which means it has been rigorously tested to ensure that it does not contain harmful levels of heavy metals, microbes, pesticides or other contaminants and has been manufactured in a sanitary, well-controlled facility according to the FDA’s current best practices.
To earn the USP seal of approval, producers must undergo regular facility audits, submit to regular product quality monitoring and testing and maintain stringent documentation practices for manufacturing and review processes.
In addition to the USP-verified symbol, make sure the oil you choose doesn’t contain allergens that could potentially harm family members or friends. Components that are considered both safe and effective include:
- Mineral oil
- Lemon or orange oil
- Coconut oil
- Carnauba wax
- Lavender and other botanical extracts
- Walnut oil
- Linseed oil
- Baking soda
Most high-quality cutting board oils cost roughly $10 to $15 for a 12- to 16-ounce bottle, give or take a bit in either direction. However, not all oils contain premium ingredients, so be sure to read the label closely.
Reading reviews from other customers can also steer you in the direction of the brands that offer the most effective protection against drying, cracking, warping and fading. Many brands also offer containers up to a gallon in size, which can save you some money over the long run as long as you have space to store it.
An intelligently-designed container can have a surprisingly large impact on your quality of life, and cutting board oil bottles are no exception. No one enjoys cleaning up drips from a misshapen spout or spills from a jug that’s difficult to grip with one hand, so consider ease of use and personal preference when selecting an oil product for your cutting board.
If it comes in a squeeze bottle, be sure the plastic is soft enough to allow you to dispense the liquid without needing to apply significant force, but firm enough to keep you from inadvertently unleashing a torrent of oil. Spray bottles can be a convenient alternative to prevent messes and waste, although it may take you a bit longer to dispense the appropriate amount of oil onto your board.
A handful of products, including Greener Chef Food Grade Cutting Board Oil, offer multiple dispensing options in the same packaging, providing a versatile and user-friendly solution to customers’ individual needs.
Using Cutting Board Oil to Care for Your Cutting Board
Keeping your cutting board clean and well-maintained isn’t complicated, but it does require consistency. Use the following techniques for washing, oiling and storing your cutting board to extend its life and protect its performance through years of use.
Cutting Board Cleaning
After you use your cutting board, wash it with warm water and soap to remove tiny food particles, juices and bacteria from the surface. Soap residue left on the board can promote bacteria growth, so use a moderate amount and rinse the board thoroughly after scrubbing it with a sponge or dishcloth.
If you notice any lingering odors from food contact, you can add a small amount of lemon juice or vinegar to the soap to neutralize the smell. After rinsing the cutting board for at least a minute in clean, warm water, dry the surface with a fresh towel and set the board in a dish drainer or another well-ventilated spot so it can finish air-drying.
There are a few things you should never do when cleaning your cutting board:
- Never put a wood cutting board in the dishwasher, as the excess heat and water exposure can cause warping, cracking and other damage to the wood.
- Never soak the board in water for long periods of time, which can result in water absorption and deterioration of the wood.
- Don’t use bleach to clean your cutting board; its harsh nature can dry and discolor the wood.
- Don’t lay your board flat to dry, since one side will dry faster than the other, potentially leading to warping.
Cutting Board Maintenance
Your cutting board should be clean and completely dry before applying oil. Dispense the oil directly onto the board, using an ample amount if the board is new or the cutting surface appears noticeably dry, faded or damaged. Using a soft-bristled brush or cloth, work the oil over the entire board, including both cutting surfaces as well as the narrow edges.
Allow the oil to soak into the board for at least eight hours and then use a clean cloth or paper towels to wipe any leftover oil from the surface. Place the board upright in a well-ventilated area for several more hours of drying before storing or using it.
If you’re oiling a new board for the first time or trying to restore an extremely dry board, you may want to repeat the process above before putting the board to use. You should also consider applying a layer of wax after oiling to fortify the water-resistant barrier and make cleaning and stain removal easier. You can use beeswax, carnauba wax or a specialized wax for food preparation surfaces, and waxing doesn’t require time to soak into the wood—simply apply and wipe off the excess.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cutting Board Oil
Final Thoughts on the Best Cutting Board Oil
Proper cleaning and maintenance is critical to preserving the surface integrity of your wood cutting board. Without regular treatments with quality cutting board oil, your board is more likely to warp, dry out and develop an uneven cutting surface that can prematurely dull knife blades.
Oiling your cutting board restores its water-resistant barrier and prevents bacteria growth that can cause odors and even food-borne illness. There are dozens of options for cutting board oil available on the market, but the five brands reviewed here rise above the rest in terms of value and performance.
No matter which product you choose, be sure to use it on a regular basis to maximize the life of your wood cutting board.