Foodal’s Guide to Choosing a Wooden Salad Bowl

Have you ever wondered if it’s worth investing in a really nice wooden salad bowl, or is it just the sort of thing that needs to be replaced every so often?

The Best Wooden Salad Bowls Reviewed | Foodal.com

A good bowl can last indefinitely – if it’s well cared for and maintained regularly.

In fact, these organic containers can easily last long enough to eventually become a family heirloom. And if the manufacturer has created quality, hand turned pieces, they may even become collectables.

So, let’s have a look at some features that ensure their longevity, and how to care for them. Then we’ll go into a product review of some of the top selling wooden salad bowls currently available online.

As with most of our kitchen utensils, the materials and technique used in the manufacturing process will have an impact on the quality and durability of the product. They can be:

  • Hand turned or machine turned on a lathe.
  • Constructed of a single piece of wood or crafted out of wood segments skillfully glued together in layers, horizontally or vertically in a slat-like style.
  • Made of laminate pieces, with a thin surface veneer of wood.

How to decide which is the best choice? Let’s look at some features to narrow down the options.

Bottom Line Up Front: Our 6 Best Reviewed Wooden Salad Bowls and Salad Bowl Sets

Note: the links above lead to pricing, customer reviews, and more information and specifications on Amazon or other major retailers.

Wood and Water Don’t Mix

To start, wooden bowls are made of wood.

After a tree has come down and is no longer growing, wood and water do not make a good combination. Wood is a soft and porous material that will absorb water if any is left sitting at the bottom of the vessel, or if the dish itself is immersed in water.

When it absorbs water it will swell, sometimes resulting in cracks, twists or splits. Hot water is particularly bad for this material.

Foodal's Guide to Choosing a Wooden Salad Bowl | Foodal.com

This means, to preserve your bowl in the best possible condition, it should only be wiped out with a damp cloth or given the briefest of washes in warm, soapy water. Then it should be dried promptly with a soft tea towel.

To maintain the integrity of the wood, the container should be lightly rubbed inside and out with mineral oil, or a healthy oil such as olive, sunflower or coconut. Treat individual serving dishes and any wooden salad utensils in the same manner.

The Best Woods for Bowls

Ideally, hardwoods are best suited for salad bowls. Hardwoods come from trees with a broad leaf, that produce a nut or fruit, and that are found in temperate regions. They lose their leaves in autumn and go dormant for the winter.

In the northern hemisphere these are deciduous trees, and in the sub-tropical and tropical regions, they’re mostly evergreens.

How to Choose A Good Quality Wooden Salad Bowl | Foodal.com

As the name implies, hardwoods are generally harder than other types of wood, and the density of their cellular structure makes them a more appropriate choice for serving a dish with a high water content, such as salad.

Cherry – Cherry wood features the beautiful contrast between the rich, dark heartwood of the tree’s inner section, and the light, creamy sapwood from the outer part of the tree. Small bits of mineral deposits occur naturally throughout the grain, adding little flecks of black highlights (or lowlights, rather).

Cherry wood is known for its outstanding durability and the way its appearance improves over time, taking on a lustre of deep, rich tones. And because of these deep tones, it doesn’t need to be dyed or stained, so it’s 100% safe for serving food.

Maple – Another durable and attractive wood that’s safe for use with food. The pale color of maple gives it a light, countrified appearance that is charming and honest. And characteristic of the top woods, it gets better with age as it takes on a mature, lighter color and radiance.

Black Walnut – Another hardwood with a gorgeous contrast of light and dark browns that requires no staining, making it a good choice for food. However, with walnut there’s a hint of walnut fragrance and flavor in the bowl, a bonus if you’re a fan of walnuts… And black walnut is one of the top rated hardwoods for durability in today’s marketplace.

Teak – Dark wavy threads run throughout the grain, creating stunning highlights in teak’s characteristic profile. A naturally water resistant hardwood from the tropics, teak is very suitable in the kitchen. However, teak still requires the usual light seasoning after use to protect it.

Olive – From the Mediterranean, olive wood is strong, heavy and dense and features rich, earthy-brown streaks flowing with the lighter blond tones of the sapwood and is known for the lustrous sheen it takes on with polishing. It too may have a lingering, sweet aroma inherent in the wood.

Acacia – Strong and durable, and ranking high for hardness, acacia wood is water and decay resistant as well. With its deep, rich ribbons of amber, gold and earth tones in the lovely natural grain, it’s an excellent material for kitchenware, and takes on a deep radiance when polished.

Bamboo – Not actually a tree, but a member of the grass family with wood-like characteristics, bamboo grows at an amazingly quick rate. Easily sustainable, strong and lightweight, it also produces anti-microbial properties that inhibit the growth of bacteria.

Plants can be ready for harvest in just four years at a height of 60 – 70’. And if you’re concerned about the ecological impact of dodgey harvest practices, look for bamboo that has been FSC certified (Forest Stewardship Council) and grown on plantations not used as a food source or habitat for the Giant Panda.

Woods to Avoid

Beech – Beech does not have the durable characteristics needed for kitchenware. Without treatment, beech will yellow, fade and eventually turn gray in color. This may be compensated for with staining or dying which may not be food safe.

Oak – Lovely to look at, oak examples just aren’t very durable. They’re easy to chip and split, and also tend to shrink as they mature – and oak usually requires a stain to bring out its features. However, staining that’s not FDA approved may not be food safe and should be avoided.

You should especially avoid dishes and other products made from red oak – they have an open and porous cell wall that allows moisture to pass through unlike white oak (white oak used to be prized as the construction material for ships due to its water resistant nature).

Birch – On the softer end of the hardwood scale, birch loses volume as it dries making it prime material for twisting and warping; and as such, is not appropriate for bowls.

Bowl Construction

One Piece Construction

In the manufacturing process, vessels created from a single, solid piece of wood that are hand turned on a lathe and kiln dried at a low heat will be the best choice, structurally speaking.

Solid Turned Wooden Salad Bowl | Foodal.com
This solid wood turned example is made of walnut and is not inexpensive. Look to pay $300 or more for these handcrafted examples.

However, as they’re the most labor intensive, they’ll be most expensive too.

Segmented Construction

There are many options for beautifully crafted vessels made of segmented pieces, glued together in a ring construction style or vertically joined in a slat-like style.

Totally Bamboo 16 inch Classic Wooden Bowl | Foodal.com
This Totally Bamboo (reviewed below) is on the extreme end of segmented construction.

But, with each seam and joint, the chance of water seepage increases. And even if you take great care in cleaning and seasoning your bowl, water damage can still occur.

Laminate Construction

A laminate is a thin slice of wood glued on top of another material such as a softwood or composite material giving it a veneered appearance. Again, water can enter the seams causing damage and lifting the laminate. I don’t recommend these.

Cleaning and Care

Most wooden salad bowls can withstand a quick wash in warm soapy water, as long as they’re inverted to drain and dried immediately. Never soak a wooden bowl, or any wooden components, in water, don’t put them in the dishwasher.

Also, avoid rinsing them under running water, then setting them aside until you’re ready to do the dishes – any water sitting in the bottom may cause splitting.

Top Rated Wooden Salad Bowls Reviewed | Foodal.com

Your salad bowl should be given a light seasoning of oil each time it’s washed; and, include the exterior, individual servers and tongs or salad handles. Food grade mineral oil is good, as are naturally healthy oils like olive, canola, coconut etc.

However, use the mineral oil if you’re only going to use the bowl occasionally – the others can go rancid and leave a foul taste.

Before creating your salad, season with lemon juice for its well-known antibacterial properties and the crisp flavor it imparts. Rub the inside with half a lemon, squeezing gently as you go for free flowing juice. Drain and lightly absorb any excess droplets with a paper towel before adding your ingredients.

And now on to some product reviews of some of today’s popular wooden salad bowls.

Product Reviews

Dansk Wood Classics

Made of beautifully segmented slats of Acacia wood, this substantial salad bowl measures 16” in diameter to 6” in height, and its sloping walls are perfect for tossing a salad.

Dansk Wood Classics 16-Inch Round Salad Bowl

The grain of the Acacia is natural without any staining, making it safe for use in the kitchen. Made in Thailand, wash in warm soapy water.

What Others Are Saying

Fans of Dansk’s offering praise its beautiful, natural grain, the sturdy heft of the vessel, its generous size and the quality construction. One customer received a cracked product, but was able to return and exchange it with satisfactory results. This is one of my favorite examples and several of us here at Foodal have purchased it on Amazon.

Lipper International Wavy Acacia

An Amazon #1 Best Seller, this large container with a wavy rim is made of natural Acacia wood in segmented, vertical slats and offers a tall profile for easy salad tossing.

Lipper International Acacia Large Wavy Bowl available on Amazon

With its beautiful lustrous grain, no staining is required making it highly suitable for food. Made in Thailand, this product can be washed in warm, soapy water and measures 12 x 12 x 7”.

What Others Are Saying

Happy customers like the bowl’s deep sides for tossing greens, its handsome, natural appearance and sturdy construction. However, there are numerous reports of a rough finish with coarse spots, flaws and even splinters. Read more customer reviews now.

Totally Bamboo

Made of sustainable, Moso plantation bamboo, this attractive two-tone example features dark segments in a ring style with a blond rim. The darker bamboo is steamed to caramelize the bamboo, creating the color difference and no dyes or stains were used to change color, making it food safe.

Totally Bamboo 16″ Classic Bowl

Sturdy and durable, it can be cleaned with warm soapy water, measures 16” in diameter, and is made in China.

What Others Are Saying

Satisfied shoppers love the large size of this product, which is great for big gatherings. They also like the quality of construction and the finishing of this particular example. There’s not too many reviews in place as yet, so not many complaints either. See what others are saying about this beautiful product.

Mountain Woods Hardwood with Contrast Trim, 7 Piece Set

This striking two-tone set Includes the main salad bowl, four individual serving dishes and two serving utensils. It’s constructed of plantation grown Asian hardwood, which is grown with sustainable & responsible practices and is handcrafted in Vietnam with a distinct cherry-colored trim.

Mountain Woods 7 Piece Cherry Rim Wood Serving Bowls & Utensils Set

The salad container measures 12 x 4”, and the servers are 7 x 2.5”. Hand wash in warm soapy water and towel dry. There’s also a version of this set with a tripod stand – great for small spaces or tossing a Caesar at the table.

What Others Are Saying

Those who bought this set enjoy its good quality, and professional finish, the classy and elegant appearance, good customer service, and value. Some were disappointed that the cherry trim is a stain, and not actual cherry wood (which is normally a North American grown hardwood although various cherry tree relatives grow throughout the world). Check out more customer reviews on Amazon.

Mountain Woods Organic Acacia Wood, 7 Piece Set

Each of the seven pieces in this set is hand crafted from solid piece construction of Acacia wood, plantation grown with sustainable and responsible practices, and offers beauty and functionality.

Mountain Woods 7 Piece Organic Acacia Wood Serving Bowls & Utensils Set

The large salad dish measures 10 x 10 x 7” and the servers are 6 x 6 x 4” and the set comes with two utensils. Wash in warm soapy water.

What Others Are Saying

Happy shoppers report being pleased with the skillful and well-made qualities, the handsome appearance, versatile shape and size, and good customer service. There was one complaint about poor finishing, and a few comments about the uneven thickness due to handcrafting. Read more reviews on Amazon.

Lipper Cherry Finished Wood, 7 Piece Set

The Lipper seven piece set is made of durable segmented Acacia wood with a rich cherry stain that has been FDA approved as food safe.

Lipper Cherry Collection 7-Piece Salad Set With 12-Inch Servers

The large salad bowl measures 12 x 4”, and the four serving containers are 7 x 2 ½” with two 12” serving utensils.

What Others Are Saying

A lot of favorable reviews for this set with comments about the good value for the price, the rich, cherry color and handsome appearance, and flaw-free finishing. Two shoppers reported receiving cracked products that were successfully returned. See more customer reviews on Amazon now.

Conclusion

That wraps up our overview of wooden salad bowls. There are plenty available that will provide durable service with the natural beauty of wood, and hopefully we’ve narrowed down your search a bit. Whatever your selection, just apply a little TLC for years of happy salad tossing!

First published May 25th, 2015. Last updated January 6th, 2016.

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About Lorna Kring

Recently retired as a costume specialist in the TV and film industry, Lorna now enjoys blogging on contemporary lifestyle themes. A bit daft about the garden, she’s particularly obsessed with organic tomatoes and herbs, and delights in breaking bread with family and friends.

22 thoughts on “Foodal’s Guide to Choosing a Wooden Salad Bowl

  1. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten from a wooden bowl in my life. I often regard it as unattractive and awkward to do so, but haven’t really given it a chance. Also I constantly worry about splinters of wood showing up in a great tasting bowl of goods I’m trying to enjoy, especially after wear and tear. But now that you recommended the ones to select and avoid, maybe I might give it a go.

    • So..we think alike @TPhoenix…I have always disregarded having a wooden bowl in my house, I find them looking ‘queer’, not until I read this article, my perception changed. The only disadvantage will be in washing I bet, from what I gather, one has to be very careful… for preservation purposes…what I know is, am bookmarking this article up until the day I make a choice to buy one or two for starters then I’ll know whether to add more to my group of crockery 🙂

    • Well, I think your concerns are valid TPheonix, and like any cookware, care has to be given in the selection of wooden bowls to ensure their safety as well as longevity. One of the aspects of wooden bowls that I find most appealing is that with aging, the finish becomes more polished and richer in appearance. And as diane points out, care does have to be taken against water damage – but, like any tool of good quality, a bit of care in maintaining them will result in a lifetime of reliable service.

  2. This is a great, comprehensive guide! I like that you specifically called out the issue of washing wooden bowls, that has always been the roadblock with me. My family feels that simply wiping or giving a light scrub is unsanitary. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found our salad bowls in the dishwasher or sitting in a pot of water for hours *grumble*.
    Before you buy an expensive bowl, make sure everyone in your house is on board with how to properly care for them!

    • I hear you hungryChicken, rinsing off dishes before washing is such a habitual action it can be hard to change. My ‘salad bowl radar’ is always on high alert when guests help with the clean up after dinner!

  3. We have a lot of wooden bowls and cutting boards lying around that are from bamboo. It’s one of my favorite materials as far as utensils and whatnot are concerned. Any quality wood bowl (or similar item) is far better than a plastic bowl or something that’s not made from wood, that’s for sure.

    • Bamboo is a great ‘wood’ for cookware and utensils, and is definately my material of choice over plastic, considering the products used to manufacture plastics and the safety concerns of their after effects.

  4. I think wooden bowls look great for things like fruit or bread, but that’s as far as I go for using them. I am too paranoid about the cleaning and a quick rinse is all I do. They are good for kids to use as they don’t break and good for outdoor use for the same reason.

  5. I’ve always thought wooden bowls looked gorgeous for salads, but have been wary of the care and cleaning. The tips given are kind of a little ritual, though, so I may just have to give it a shot someday. The top-rated options are certainly lovely, I’m especially fond of the Dansk model and the Lipper cherry set.

    • The seasoning is a bit of a ritual Leopard, and one that I enjoy. It’s like sharpening a good knife, or cleaning a quality paint brush – you look after the tools, and the tools look after you.

  6. I’m leery of dishes that I cannot clean and sterilize uniformly. This is why I don’t generally use them. My fears might be slightly irrational on this however. Properly cared for wooden dishes do seem to look nice. They seem durable for children.

  7. The germ thing’s a sticking point for a lot of people nytegeek, that’s why I like to season my wood salad bowl with lemon before crafting a salad. The antibacterial agents in lemon juice and their essential oils is a powerful growth inhibitor for bacteria commonly found in food prepraration… and it adds great flavor.

  8. These wooden serving vessels look like heaven. A lot of people eat with their eyes and serving platforms like this make your salad pop. I would worry about cleaning anything made out some something organic or was once alive – especially if it is expensive.

    • They are beautiful, and you’re so right about how visuals contribute to the dining experience Jasmine. Cleaning’s pretty easy, it just requires a bit of care… my one-piece maple set is over 30 years old and still looks great with just a light seasoning after each use.

  9. A wooden bowl (and wooden ustensils in general) are something that you don’t really need but they’re just so cool to have. My mother gave me some and I fell in love with them – they look really good! The meals are definitely more enjoyable when you use these.

  10. This is a good read. Thanks for the recommendations. I want to get a wooden salad bowl set but I don’t have a lot of knowledge with them. I always see different sets made with different woods and would simply gage which was the better set by price. This article has helped point me in the right direction.

  11. Well that Dansk Acacia bowl looks absolutely gorgeous, and that really makes me want to get out there and see some of the other options out there. I have my wooden bowl here, but it is getting old and has been around for a while now, so I would like to think that I am due for a change here. I am intrigued by the bamboo bowls, too, and I cannot say I have ever seen one of those, but I can imagine that they are very useful and convenient, so that is a possibility. Very interesting stuff, and thanks for sharing.

  12. I love good quality wooden salad bowls! I’m surprised you didn’t mention the Andrew Pearce wooden bowls (maybe you haven’t heard of them?). He comes from a long family tradition of craftsmen, and produces amazing wooden bowls in cherry and black walnut. I visit his workshop in Vermont each year on our vacation there.

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