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The Best Bar Boards

These petite, portable cutting boards are ideal for quick kitchen tasks, picnics, and even serving small portions of cheese or charcuterie.


Published Apr. 15, 2021. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 23: Hearty Soup and Salad

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What You Need To Know

Bar boards are the littlest members of the cutting board family—the baby boards, if you will. As their name suggests, they were originally used in bars for cutting citrus and small fruit for garnishes. But they’re handy in the kitchen as well. Small and lightweight, they’re perfect for any tiny task you might have: cutting an apple, slicing some cheese, or mincing a few herbs to put on your lunch. They’re also highly portable, making them a great choice for picnics or other on-the-go slicing and dicing. 

We’d never tested these boards before and wanted to know which one was best, so we bought nine models, priced from about $5.50 to about $22.00. Bar boards come in a range of sizes, but we focused on models that were about half the size of our favorite small cutting board, which measures about 14 by 11 inches, or even smaller. And while plastic boards are most common in this size, we also considered wood, bamboo, and composite boards. On each board, we cut a variety of foods, mincing shallots; making lemon wedges; chiffonading fresh basil; and slicing salami, blocks of cheese, and baguettes. To test stain and odor retention, we smeared chipotle in adobo on each board and let it sit for 3 hours before washing. Over the course of testing, we washed each board 25 times to see whether any would warp, crack, or split.

Size Matters

We wanted a board that was small—but not, as it turned out, too small. One of the boards was the size of a postcard, so tiny that an 8-ounce block of cheddar cheese didn’t entirely fit on it. Technically, this board was big enough to hold a lemon, but once we started cutting the lemon into wedges, we ran out of room for the cut sections. We preferred boards that were at least 64 square inches in area, or about the size of a small paperback book. Our favorite boards were some of the largest we tested—the biggest was about the size of an iPad—but still small enough to fit comfortably in a handbag or backpack.

Stability Is Key

As with all cutting boards, stability was critical. You don’t want your board slipping around when you’re cutting. The most stable models had rubber grips that anchored the boards to the counter. Weight was a factor, too. Heavier models stayed put better than lighter-weight ones. 

Materials Provide Trade-Offs

We didn’t have strong preferences when it came to material. All the boards proved equally durable, with every model scarring when we used a serrated knife to cut baguettes on them. But none of the boards warped or cracked, even after 25 washes.

Ultimately, the choice of material is up to you. Plastic and paper composite boards require no special maintenance and are easy to ...

Everything We Tested

Good : 3 stars out of 3.Fair : 2 stars out of 3.Poor : 1 stars out of 3.
*All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.
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Reviews you can trust

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The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.

Miye Bromberg

Miye is a senior editor for ATK Reviews. She covers booze, blades, and gadgets of questionable value.