We Tested 8 Carving Boards—Here Are the Best Ones for Roasts, Turkeys, and More

Our top pick is the The Boardsmith Maple End Grain Cutting Board with Juice Groove.

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A stack of carving boards on a marble surface

Serious Eats / Taylor Murray

Straight to the Point

We think a good wooden cutting board is an essential in any kitchen. However, its cousin, the carving board, often gets overlooked. A carving board has design features that make it a better choice for cutting up roasts, like a prime rib or Thanksgiving turkey. Invariably, they feature a juice groove that runs around the perimeter. From there, add-ons vary widely: some include spouts to pour off juices, while others have wells to cradle poultry.

We tested a range of carving boards to find out which ones were the best suited for any kind of purpose, be it holiday-related occasions or daily use with sporadic carving.

The Winners, at a Glance

The Best Carving Board: The Boardsmith Maple End Grain Cutting Board with Juice Groove

boardsmith cutting board

This carving board is fully customizable, arrives completely pre-treated, and is large enough to accommodate even the biggest roast turkeys and hams. We’ve stood by The Boardsmith boards for years and do think they're worth the investment.

The Best Carving Board for Serving: Lipper International Acacia Cutting Board with Grid Grip

lipper-international-acacia-cutting-board-with-grid-grip

We don't think this is a workhorse, but it's a nice board for presenting and carving a roast right at the table thanks to its comparatively smaller stature. It has triangular-shaped grips in the center that do work for keeping meat in place, but otherwise limit its functionality.

The Best Mid-Priced Carving Board: Virginia Boys Kitchens Extra-Large Walnut Wood Cutting Board

Virginia Boys Kitchens Walnut Wood Cutting Board

This reversible board has two flat sides—one with a juice well and the other without—making it a good choice for carving and other chopping or cutting tasks. It's the same width and height as The Boardsmith, but has a smaller juice groove capacity.

The Tests

A hand pouring water into the center of a carving board
Throughout testing, we kept an eye on juice well capacity—a key feature of carving boards.

Serious Eats / Taylor Murray

  • Juice Well Tests: To determine how much liquid each carving board could hold, we poured 1/2 cup of water onto the center of the board and noted whether the water pooled there or traveled to the juice groove. We evaluated whether or not the groove was able to accommodate all of the liquid without any running over the sides. After that, we lifted the board and attempted to pour the water off of one corner into a bowl. For boards that passed this test, we repeated it with 3/4 cup of water.
  • Resting and Carving Test: For each board we roasted one, 4 1/2-pound whole chicken and let it rest for 30 minutes in the center of the board. We looked at how well the board held the chicken's juices, then cut the bird into eight pieces (noting if the board could hold it all and still have room to finish carving). We sliced one breast to observe how cleanly we were able to do so and if the board contributed to the quality of the slices. We then poured all the juice off and recorded the amount the board was able (or unable) to hold
  • Baguette Test: To test the durability of the wood, we thinly sliced one baguette into 1/2-inch slices using a serrated bread knife. We looked to see if the knife gouged the wood, how deep the marks went, and if the grain of the wood visually obscured the marks at all.
  • Usability and Cleanup Tests: Throughout testing we evaluated how each board was to move, clean by hand, pick up, and pour juices off of.

What We Learned

Wood Was Best

A roast chicken sitting in the center of a wooden carving board

Serious Eats / Taylor Murray

Carving boards can come in plastic or wood, but we vastly preferred wooden models. It only took a few cuts on a plastic board to determine it was way too slick for carving.  

As we discovered in our wooden cutting board review, hardwoods like maple and walnut are the superior choices for their durability. Other types are too soft or wreak havoc on the sharp edge of your knife. For this review, we won't go into edge- versus end-grain, as we have a comprehensive explanation of this that can be found here.

Size and Shape Were Key

a stack of wooden carving boards
We found heavier carving boards to be more stable.

Serious Eats / Taylor Murray

A carving board should be big enough to set a turkey on, plus room to place the carved slices as you go. We found boards that were at least 22 inches long by 16 inches wide were the ideal size for most carving tasks.

As far as weight, 15 to 18 pounds (plus, in theory, the 10- to 12-pound turkey) was our upper limit for toting the board between the kitchen and dining table. While this is certainly heavy, weightier boards were less prone to slipping and sliding as we cut and carved. Boards that weighed less than 9 pounds just moved around too much. 

Juice Wells Need Width, Not Depth

A carving board with its juice wells full

Serious Eats / Taylor Murray

The juice wells that ran around the perimeter of each carving board had varying maximum capacities. While we were prepared to rate each board on how much juice it could hold, we were surprised to find that the shape of the well mattered too 

Wide, flat juice wells were able to accommodate a large amount of liquid, while still being easy to clean. The juice wells that were narrow and deep held the same amount, but proved much tougher to wash. Our winning boards had wells that were between five and 10 millimeters deep and at least 13 millimeters wide and could hold a minimum of 1/2 cup of liquid easily, though most could handle much, much more (upwards of two cups).

The Criteria: What to Look for In a Carving Board

a wooden cutting board on a marble surface with text points around it

Serious Eats / Taylor Murray / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

Many of the things that make a good cutting board also make a good carving board. At its most basic, a carving board should be made of high-quality wood that can stand up to knife cuts and won’t damage your blades. Hardwoods like maple and walnut are best, and darker woods hide stains and knife marks well. In addition, any decent carving board should have a wide, shallow, large-capacity juice groove.

Size is a key factor in a carving board, and there should be enough room to carve something as big as a turkey, plus some space to put the pieces while you work. For us, that turned out to be at least 22 inches long and 16 inches wide, though we do have a pick for a smaller board. Thicker, heavier boards are less prone to slipping and sliding around on the counter, but are a bit more unwieldy when transporting and cleaning.

The Best Carving Board: The Boardsmith Maple End Grain Cutting Board with Juice Groove

boardsmith cutting board

What we liked: There's a reason this board took the top spot in our wooden cutting board test: every part of this board displays true craftsmanship.

The Boardsmith cutting boards come in a range of customizable options, like size or the addition of feet and a juice groove. If you purchase the board without feet, it can be reversible and used for both carving and regular cutting, though this may make it a bit tougher to pick up and requires more care not to let moisture collect on the bottom.

It’s hard to imagine a turkey that would be too large or have too much juice for this board (during testing, its groove held almost two cups of liquid). We’ve stood by The Boardsmith boards for years and think they’re an excellent investment that perform well and will last an incredibly long time. 

What we didn't like: The only downside to a Boardsmith cutting board is the weight. Even though the feet will elevate the board off of the countertop so it’s easier to pick up, an 18-pound board plus a 12-pound turkey would be heavy for anyone.

Price at time of publish: $355.

Key Specs

  • Weight: 18 lbs
  • Dimensions: 16 x 22 x 2 in
  • Material: Maple
A wooden carving board on a marble surface

Serious Eats / Taylor Murray

The Best Carving Board for Serving: Lipper International Acacia Cutting Board with Grid Grip

lipper-international-acacia-cutting-board-with-grid-grip

What we liked: The raised pyramidal grid grip worked well for holding onto a roast chicken and directing the juices to the board's juice groove. Its smaller stature and lighter weight make it a good choice for those looking to carve meat table side. We found it easy to clean (water beaded off the oiled wood) and it has an accessible price point.

What we didn't like: The grid grip limits the direction and kinds of cuts you can make with a knife and the board is soft and easily marred. This board has a slick finish and we wouldn’t recommend using it for non-carving projects (like chopping vegetables).  

Price at time of publish: $45.

Key Specs

  • Weight: 4.75 lbs
  • Dimensions: 20 x 15 x 1 in
  • Material: Acacia
a roast chicken sitting in the center of a wooden carving board

Serious Eats / Taylor Murray

The Best Mid-Priced Carving Board: Virginia Boys Kitchens Extra-Large Walnut Wood Cutting Board

Virginia Boys Kitchens Walnut Wood Cutting Board

What we liked: This reversible walnut carving board from Virginia Boys Kitchens has a juice groove on one side and a totally flat surface on the other. The size we tested (there are multiple options to choose from) is large enough to carve a whole turkey plus room to set the pieces to the side while you work.

The walnut wood is rich and dark and hides any stains or knife marks well. It also has somewhat of a rough finish, which actually helps hold onto roasts while you carve. 

What we didn't like: The wood will have to be conditioned further after purchase to ensure its longevity, as compared to some other boards that are fully oiled right out of the box.

Price at time of publish: $165.

Key Specs

  • Weight: 9 lbs
  • Dimensions: 24 x 18 x 1 in. 
  • Material: Walnut
a wooden carving board on a marble surface

Serious Eats / Taylor Murray

The Competition

FAQs

What’s the best carving board for turkey?

For a board that will fit any size turkey with ease, we recommend the The Boardsmith Maple End Grain Cutting Board with Juice Groove.

What’s the difference between a cutting board and a carving board? 

The difference between a cutting board and a carving board is that a cutting board can refer to any surface designated for cutting, while a carving board has specific designs meant for carving meat and catching the resulting juices, such as a larger juice groove. 

What kind of materials should you avoid in a carving board?

Wood carving boards are ideal, as plastic carving boards are too slick for cutting into large roasts.  Avoid any cutting surfaces made of glass or stone—these are the worst on knives and the surface is too slick to safely use.