The Best Butcher Block Islands to Add Counterspace to Your Kitchen (2023)

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Add counterspace to your kitchen butcher block island will

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Bernadette Machard de Gramont

The Best Butcher Block Islands to Add Counterspace to Your Kitchen (1)

Bernadette Machard de Gramont

Bernadette Machard de Gramont is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine, and kitchen products, specifically cookware.

Published on February 13, 2023

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  • Our top picks
  • Reviews
  • Factors to Consider
  • FAQ
  • Our Expertise

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The Best Butcher Block Islands to Add Counterspace to Your Kitchen (2)

Designed to be used in meat processing, the aptly named butcher block is a favorite surface for countertops in the kitchen. It stands up well to contact with sharp knives — without dulling blades — and is fairly easy to maintain, making it an excellent choice for a kitchen island.

(Video) How to Build a HUGE Butcher Block Island Countertop

“When choosing a butcher block island, it's important to consider the type of wood used, the thickness of the block, and any treatment applied to the surface,” says Keith Melanson, interior designer and founder of the Renos Group. “Thicker blocks tend to be more durable, but also heavier and more expensive. You should also look for blocks that have been treated with a food-grade finish to make them more resistant to water and stains.”

Other factors we considered were size and any storage features that made the islands especially appealing. We chose the Catskill Craftsmen Turned Leg Kitchen Island as our top pick. Read on to learn what we like about it and for our entire list of the best butcher block islands.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall

Catskill Craftsmen Turned Leg Kitchen Island

The Best Butcher Block Islands to Add Counterspace to Your Kitchen (3)

With a generous surface area and solid wood construction, this island is an excellent combination of quality, versatility, and value. This craftsman-styled piece is made in the USA and features a 2.5-inch thick butcher block top, a solidly built surface that you can use for food preparation or as a holding area for drinks or appetizers. It features two towel bars, one on each side of the island, that can also be used with the included S-hooks to hang pots or utensils for easy access. A slatted lower shelf can house lesser-used appliances, a tray of your favorite spirits, a storage basket, and more.

Price at time of publish: $775

  • Dimensions: 30 x 20 x 35.5 inches
  • Material: Solid birch
  • Weight: 104 pounds

Best Splurge

John Boos Homestead Block

The Best Butcher Block Islands to Add Counterspace to Your Kitchen (4)

John Boos is the gold standard for butcher blocks — from cutting boards to kitchen carts, the classic Boos Block is built to last. This kitchen island features a five-inch thick end grain butcher block top (choose from cherry, maple, or walnut wood), set on a solid maple base available in a variety of finishes. The surface area measures 36 by 24 inches, giving ample workspace for slicing, dicing, or carving. A drawer blends seamlessly into the island’s apron, providing space for knives or other kitchen tools, and a lower slatted shelf lends additional storage. It comes with a hefty price tag, but this classic island will stand up to a lifetime of use and won’t budge thanks to its solid build.

Price at time of publish: Starting at $2,451

  • Dimensions: 36 x 24 x 35.5 inches
  • Material: Solid wood (cherry, walnut, or maple on a maple base)
  • Weight: 270 pounds

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Best Value

Powell Color Story Black Butcher Block Kitchen Island

The Best Butcher Block Islands to Add Counterspace to Your Kitchen (5)

Butcher block islands can get costly, but this version offers some of the same functionality as other similar models at a more moderate price. Measureing 30 by 30 inches, this square island features a butcher block-style wooden top that can be used as a workspace or storage area. One thing to note is that this isn’t a true butcher block — it just looks like one — so you’ll have to put a cutting board on top to protect its surface. That being said, it’s still well-constructed and provides plenty of storage space via the slatted shelf below, the basket-style drawer, and utensil hooks on the sides. If you love the look of a butcher block island but don’t want to spend too much, this is an excellent compromise.

(Video) How Our DIY Butcher Block Wood Countertops Look After 1 Year

Price at time of publish: $395

  • Dimensions: 30 x 30 x 36.25 inches
  • Material: Solid wood
  • Weight: 103 pounds

Best for Seating

West Elm Frame Kitchen Console, Butcher Block

The Best Butcher Block Islands to Add Counterspace to Your Kitchen (6)

This contemporary kitchen console from West Elm can fit two counter-height stools of your choice on one side, while providing generous storage space on the other. You can prep food or cocktails while guests sit at the counter—a fantastic option when you’re entertaining and don’t want to interrupt the flow of conversation. The frame is made of powder-coated iron, and is topped with a solid oak butcher block top. Two open shelves give you ample room to store pots and pans, small appliances, or other essential kitchen items. One of the best things about this model is its weight capacity—you can store over 100 pounds on each shelf (over 400 pounds overall). Plus, it’s a great looking piece that fits into a multitude of design schemes.

Price at time of publish: $1,399

  • Dimensions: 50 x 30 x 36 inches
  • Material: Oak, powder-coated iron
  • Weight: 134 pounds

Best Rolling

John Boos End Grain Butcher Block Culinary Cart

The Best Butcher Block Islands to Add Counterspace to Your Kitchen (7)

This luxurious butcher block cart by John Boos is modeled after work tables found in commercial kitchens. Made exclusively for Williams-Sonoma, this island on locking casters is made from stainless steel, topped with an ultra-durable 2.25-inch thick Boos butcher block made from northern hard rock maple. Equipped with two drawers and two shelves, this piece has a ton of storage space for utensils, extra dishes, larger pieces of cookware, or small electric appliances (and then some). There are also two towel rods so you can keep dishtowels within easy reach. A fantastic addition to your kitchen, since its on wheels, it can be moved to wherever it is most needed.

Price at time of publish: $2,895

  • Dimensions: 48 x 24 x 36 inches
  • Material: Maple, stainless steel
  • Weight: Not specified

Best Small

Rosecliff Heights Cuthbert Rolling Kitchen Cart

The Best Butcher Block Islands to Add Counterspace to Your Kitchen (8)

A great addition to smaller spaces, this compact cart is especially useful since it’s on casters — you can move it out of the way when it’s not in use. Made of tropical hardwood, it features a 2.75-inch thick butcher block top, set on a frame made of the same wood. The lower shelf is fixed in place and provides some room to store a toaster, mixing bowls, or any other items that don’t already have a place inside a cabinet. The piece arrives unfinished, so you can opt to paint, stain, or seal the wood as you wish, but you can also simply oil the surface and enjoy its natural look.

Price at time of publish: $430

  • Dimensions: 24 x 24 x 34 inches
  • Material: Parawood (rubberwood)
  • Weight: 84 pounds

Factors to Consider

Material

True butcher blocks are meant to be used as cutting surfaces and will often be constructed using an “end grain” style. This means the wood is cut at a 90-degree angle to the grain, resulting in a surface that is durable yet less likely to show knife marks or dull knives when used as a cutting surface. A good quality butcher block countertop should be around two inches thick or more.

Size

When choosing a butcher block island, you’ll want to be sure it fits well in your space and has enough surface area to use as a workspace (or function as additional counter storage). The smallest island we’ve listed measures 24 inches square, which is compact but still functional. If you’re using it as a prep surface, anything smaller may feel a bit tight.

Features

If you’re in need of storage, pick an island that has a shelf or two that can house small electric appliances, books, dishes, or whatever you wish. Drawers are a nice addition and can be convenient places to store knives and other kitchen prep utensils. A towel rod is also a fantastic feature so you can always keep a clean dishtowel within reach.

(Video) How to Install a Wooden Kitchen Island Countertop | This Old House

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you clean a butcher block kitchen island?

    “Use a damp cloth and mild soap,” says Melanson. “Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive scrubbers, as these can damage the surface of the wood. After cleaning, it's important to dry the surface thoroughly to prevent water damage.”

  • How do you treat a butcher block counter?

    Mineral oil or beeswax will nourish the wood and prevent it from drying out, according to Melanson. “You should reapply the treatment regularly, especially if the surface of the wood is starting to look dry or dull,” he says.

  • How durable are butcher block countertops?

    Very — they were built to stand up to frequent use by butchers, hence the name. “Butcher block countertops are durable, but they can scratch or stain if not properly cared for,” says Melanson. Avoid putting hot pans directly on its surface, and wipe off any spills right away. If you’re worried about maintaining the look of your butcher block, you can always opt to use a cutting board or mat on top of the actual wood surface for additional protection.

Our Expertise

Bernadette Machard de Gramont is an LA-based freelance writer specializing in food, wine, and kitchen products. After a two-year stint at Williams Sonoma headquarters in San Francisco, she now researches and tests a variety of cookware, bakeware, and wine tools, and interviews field experts for their insight.

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