How to Keep Your Cutting Board from Slipping When You're Slicing, Chopping, or Dicing

Follow these tips and you'll never have to worry about a lurching, wobbling cutting board again.

A quality cutting board is necessary in every kitchen. Whether you are chopping up a chicken for a stew or dicing vegetables for a casserole, you reach for your cutting board on a daily basis. While every home cook understands that keeping it clean is essential, keeping it steady is just as important for safety. Here, we get expert-approved insights on how to ensure your cutting board doesn't slip when you cut on it.

stack of cutting boards on a surface
Courtesy of Material Kitchen

Why Cutting Boards Can Slip

Todd Braley, the executive chef and director of culinary operations at Walnut Hill College, says that there are two basic rules every cook should know. One: Keep your knives sharp. Two: Anchor your cutting boards. He explains that dull knives are actually more dangerous than sharp ones, as it takes more energy to cut food with the blade. In turn, you can have a higher likelihood of hurting yourself because of this extra force.

And just like a dull knife can make for a dangerous situation in the kitchen, a drifting cutting board can also pose as a hazard rather than an anchored, stable one. "Cutting boards drift due to the fact that there are two relatively smooth surfaces on top of one another (like a kitchen counter)," he says. "Regardless of whether or not the cutting board is an expensive end-grain butcher block style or a cheap flexible plastic board, they are both relatively smooth and, therefore, they do not have enough friction to hold themselves in place when pressure is applied." He likens a moving cutting board to a moving target. No matter what you are cutting, if the board slips, there could be potential for injury. "If you take that situation and include cutting wet vegetables or slippery proteins, more than likely, it'll start to look like one of those rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time type of scenarios," Braley shares.

Nonslip Techniques

Anchoring your cutting board with a material on the bottom (it doesn't have to be the same size as the board) will help keep you safe. Braley recommends commercially available rubber mats that are specifically designed for this exact purpose. While he notes that these are often the costliest options, they are the longest lasting. "Another alternative is to buy an inexpensive roll of mesh shelf liner and cut it down to size. It can be handwashed and hung to dry between uses," he says. Otherwise, consider using a kitchen towel, washcloth, or other type of cloth underneath your cutting board. In the event that you are cutting proteins that could cause a mess or lead to cross contamination, Braley suggests dampening one or two paper towels and placing your board on top of them. "Lastly, sometimes in a professional kitchen, you may see a length of plastic wrap pulled into a rope and coiled underneath," he adds. "While this method works very well, I personally save it for emergencies when other alternatives are not at hand so as to cut down on plastic waste."

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