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What color cutting boards used for what?

When it comes to cutting boards, most home cooks are familiar with the basic wooden and plastic options. However, cutting boards actually come in a wide range of materials, colors and designs. The color of a cutting board is more than just an aesthetic choice – it can indicate what that board should be used for. Keep reading to learn all about cutting board colors and what they mean!

Wooden Cutting Boards

Wooden cutting boards are a popular choice for many home cooks. They have a classic look and tend to be gentle on your knives. However, not all wooden boards are created equal. The type of wood and color can have different implications.

Light Wood

Cutting boards made from light-colored woods like maple, birch, beech or ash are best used for general prep work with fruits, vegetables, breads, etc. The light surface makes it easy to see any dirt or food particles that need cleaning. This type of wooden board should not be used for raw meats, which can discolor the surface.

Dark Wood

Dark wooden cutting boards crafted from woods like walnut, cherry or mahogany have natural antibacterial properties that make them ideal for cutting raw meats. The dark surface also hides stains and discoloration better. Just be sure to thoroughly clean and sanitize after each use.

Plastic Cutting Boards

Plastic cutting boards are popular for their durability and low cost. They resist odors, stains and warping. However, many types of plastic boards come in different colors that signal what they should be used for.


White plastic cutting boards are best for tasks like slicing breads, cookies and pastries. The light surface makes it easy to monitor cleanliness. Like light wood boards, avoid cutting raw meats on white plastic.


Red plastic cutting boards are designated for handling raw meats, fish and poultry. The bold color hides stains well. Be sure to thoroughly clean and sanitize red boards after each use to avoid cross-contamination.


Green plastic cutting boards are ideal for fruits and veggies. The color provides high contrast with most produce. Only use them for their designated purpose to prevent cross-contamination.


Blue plastic cutting boards are reserved for seafood and fish only. Again, the bold color hides stains while allowing you to easily monitor cleanliness. Keep meat and poultry off of blue boards.


Yellow plastic cutting boards are best for tasks like slicing cooked meats, cheese and citrus fruits. The bright color shows dirt easily. Avoid using for raw meats.


Brown plastic cutting boards are multi-purpose and can be used for fruits, vegetables, breads, cooked meats and other general tasks. Just avoid raw meats to prevent cross-contamination.

Bamboo Cutting Boards

Bamboo cutting boards have grown in popularity in recent years. Although technically a grass, bamboo functions similarly to wood. It’s very hard and durable while still being gentle on knife blades.

Bamboo boards come in a range of colors, but the main designations are:

Light Bamboo

The light, natural color of bamboo is best for fruits, vegetables and breads. Avoid raw meats that can stain and discolor the surface.

Dark Bamboo

Caramelized or carbonized bamboo boards are dark brown or black in color. The darker surface is ideal for cutting raw meats while resisting stains and odors. Thoroughly clean after each use.

Glass Cutting Boards

Glass cutting boards provide extremely hard, non-porous surfaces that resist odors and stains. However, they are much harder on knife blades than wood or bamboo.

Clear glass boards allow easy monitoring for cleanliness. Avoid cutting raw proteins directly on glass. Use a separate plastic or wood board for meats to preserve your glass board.

Rubber Cutting Boards

Rubber cutting mats are flexible, non-porous boards made from food-grade rubber. They provide cushioning to reduce knife and joint strain. The material resists odors, stains, and warping.

White rubber cutting mats are ideal for breads and general prep. Avoid cutting raw meats directly on rubber boards. Instead, use them for tasks like carving cooked roasts or chickens.

Silicone Cutting Boards

Silicone boards are made from food-grade, BPA-free silicone. They provide soft, flexible cutting surfaces that are non-porous and odor/stain resistant. However, knives can damage these boards easier than wood or plastic.

Use white silicone boards for veggies, fruits and breads. Avoid raw meats. The material can hide deep stains over time with repeated use.

Marble Cutting Boards

Marble is a luxurious and beautiful cutting board material. However, it has some downsides for regular kitchen use. Marble is very hard and can quickly dull knives. It’s also porous and can harbor bacteria.

If you do use marble, reserve it for pastry work like rolling dough or decorating cakes. Avoid cutting produce, meats or cheeses directly on marble.

Composite Cutting Boards

Composite cutting boards offer combined benefits by fusing different materials like wood and plastic or wood and silicone. This allows for things like moisture resistance and antimicrobial properties.

The optimal use for composite boards really depends on the exact materials used to craft them. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for any guidelines on intended use by food type.

How to Use Cutting Board Colors

Here are some quick tips for putting cutting board colors to work in your kitchen:

  • Use separate boards for produce, raw meats, cooked foods, and baked goods
  • Match the board color to the food group when possible
  • Never cut raw meat on a board used for other foods
  • Immediately clean and sanitize boards after working with raw meats
  • Avoid glass or marble for direct cutting of produce or meats
  • Replace boards that become excessively worn, scarred or stained

Cutting Board Care

Proper care is crucial for reducing cross-contamination and extending the life of your cutting boards:

  • Hand wash boards with hot soapy water after each use
  • Sanitize boards periodically with bleach, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide or other antimicrobial solutions
  • Allow boards to fully dry before storing them upright
  • Apply food-grade mineral oil to wooden boards to prevent drying
  • Avoid soaking, harsh cleaners and abrasives on boards
  • Replace worn boards that develop deep grooves and cuts

Cutting Board Material Pros and Cons

Material Pros Cons
Wood Classic look, knife-friendly, antimicrobial (some), repairable Can warp, stain, requires oiling
Plastic Inexpensive, durable, odor/stain resistant Knife damaging, can get cuts and grooves
Bamboo Sustainable, durable, antimicrobial, knife-friendly Prone to light staining
Glass Non-porous, stain/odor resistant Extremely hard on knives, chips and breaks
Rubber Flexible, gentle on joints/knives, no splinters Prone to cuts/grooves, stains over time
Silicone Non-porous, flexible, durable, lightweight Can hide deep stains, markings, knife damage
Marble Beautiful, stays cool Porous, stains, dulls knives, cracks and etches
Composite Combines material benefits Depends on materials used


Cutting board colors provide visual cues about which foods they should be used for. Light boards are best for fruits, veggies and breads while darker boards can handle raw meats well. Glass, rubber and silicone boards have limitations on direct food contact. Any board material requires proper care and cleaning to maximize its lifespan and prevent contamination. Consider the pros, cons and intended uses when selecting cutting boards.