How To Grill Salmon on a Cedar Plank

How To Grill Salmon on a Cedar Plank

A distinctive smokiness, and nuanced and earthy taste is what sets cedar-planked salmon apart. Cooking salmon on a cedar plank is a technique that not only enhances the presentation of the dish, often served directly on the plank for a rustic touch, but also pays homage to culinary traditions rooted in indigenous North American and Pacific Northwest cultures.

Cooking salmon on a cedar plank has been cherished for its ability to elevate the flavor and texture of the fish. It's a versatile and flavorful approach that adds a touch of tradition and sophistication to the cooking experience.

Why Cedar Planks?

  • Flavor Infusion: Cedar planks add a distinct smoky and woodsy flavor to the salmon. As the plank heats up on the grill, it releases aromatic compounds that infuse into the fish, enhancing its taste with a subtle, earthy essence.
  • Moisture Retention: The cedar plank acts as a barrier between the salmon and the direct heat of the grill. This helps to retain the natural juices of the fish, resulting in a moist and succulent texture. The plank essentially steams the salmon as it cooks.
  • Prevents Flare-Ups: Placing the salmon on a cedar plank minimizes the risk of flare-ups on the grill. This is particularly beneficial when grilling fatty fish like salmon, as it allows for more controlled cooking without the risk of charring.
  • Easy Handling: Cooking salmon on a plank simplifies the grilling process. The plank provides a stable surface for the fish, making it easy to handle and flip without the risk of it falling apart on the grill grates.
  • Enhanced Presentation: Serving salmon directly on the cedar plank adds a rustic and visually appealing element to the dish. It can be a unique and impressive way to present the grilled salmon, especially when entertaining guests.
  • Versatility: The cedar plank method is versatile and complements various seasoning and marinade options. Chefs can experiment with different herbs, spices, and marinades to create diverse flavor profiles for the salmon.
  • Culinary Tradition: Cooking on cedar planks has roots in indigenous North American and Pacific Northwest culinary traditions. It's a method that has been adapted and embraced by many cultures, adding a touch of history and tradition to the cooking process.

How To Grill Salmon on a Cedar Plank: A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Selecting the Cedar Plank:
    • Choose a food-grade cedar plank, typically soaked in water for at least 1-2 hours before grilling to prevent it from catching fire.
  2. Preparing the Salmon:
    • Ensure your salmon fillet is fresh and properly seasoned. A simple blend of olive oil, lemon, dill, salt, and pepper works wonders.
  3. Preheating the Grill:
    • Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. If using a charcoal grill, aim for an even layer of hot coals.
  4. Placing the Cedar Plank:
    • Put the soaked cedar plank on the preheated grill for a few minutes until it starts to smolder and release its distinct aroma.
  5. Grilling the Salmon:
    • Place the seasoned salmon fillet directly onto the cedar plank. Close the grill lid and let the magic happen.
    • Grill for approximately 15-20 minutes or until the salmon easily flakes with a fork.
  6. Serve and Enjoy:
    • Carefully remove the cedar-planked salmon from the grill, and marvel at the beautiful smoky crust. Serve it directly on the plank for a rustic touch.


1. Can I reuse cedar planks?

While some people reuse cedar planks, it's generally recommended to use them only once to avoid any potential safety issues. A used plank might not impart as much flavor, and there's a risk of flare-ups.

2. Can I use cedar from my backyard?

It's crucial to use food-grade cedar planks specifically designed for grilling. Wood from the backyard might contain chemicals or residues that are not safe for cooking.

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