Cedar Plank Salmon is so tender, flaky, and infused with the most intoxicating smoky aroma. This is my favorite way to prepare grilled salmon, and once you take your first bite it won’t be hard to see why!
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Cooking salmon on a cedar plank is my favorite way to cook it – and that’s saying something, because I have a plethora of salmon recipes I love! There are so many reasons to grill salmon on a cedar plank, but the biggest one is the flavor. Cooking salmon on a cedar plank will infuse it with delicious aroma of wood throughout.
The consistency is also a big reason. It’s a different cooking process for salmon altogether since it’s slower. Steam cooks the meat and you’re not grilling it over direct heat. The wood plank heats up by the direct heat underneath, and since the wood plank is soaked, it steams the salmon. This method ensures that the salmon is tender, moist, and so juicy!
The best part is that you can make this delicious meal just for yourself or for a crowd. If you’re feeding several people, you can cook a whole salmon filet on a cedar plank (as long as it fits entirely on the plank). You can also cook more than one plank at the same time. Just make sure it all fits comfortably on the grill and leave a little space in between each plank.
Why Grill Salmon On a Cedar Plank?
While grilled salmon is always very popular, sometimes you want add a little extra with a cedar plank. The main reason to grill meats on a cedar plank is to infuse them with a delicious wood and smoky flavor. Different wood planks will add different flavor, so do choose wisely.
While the meats like chicken, pork, and beef can handle many types of wood, seafood is too delicate for harsh woods. When it comes to salmon, shrimp, and scallops, use alder wood planks or cedar wood planks. Alder is the mildest wood option.
Another reason for grilling on the wood plank is to create a barrier between the food and direct heat from the grill.
Salmon – Make sure to use skin-on filet, and decide whether you’d like king salmon, sockeye salmon, or Atlantic salmon. You can use a whole filet or slice it into four individual pieces.
Oil – You just need neutral flavored oil to rub on the skin of the salmon.
Brown Sugar – This adds such a nice subtle sweetness to the salmon and compliments the natural flavor of the fish.
Seasonings – A simple blend of sea salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper create the best flavor!
See the recipe card below for the full list of ingredients and instructions.
How to Make Cedar Plank Salmon
Soak the wood plank. Place cedar planks into a roasting pan big enough to easily fit the plank. Add water to cover it completely and place something on top to keep it submerged. Make sure it’s fully submerged in water and soak for 1-2 hours (1).
Prepare the salmon. Rub the skin of the salmon with some oil. Season the salmon with salt and pepper evenly and sprinkle the brown sugar evenly. Sprinkle some cayenne pepper if using. Pat the seasoning into the salmon. (Don’t rub!) (2).
Preheat the grill to medium heat (about 450°) with a two-zone fire just in case. Place salmon onto the soaked wood planks. Place the wood plank with salmon onto the grill over direct heat (3).
Cook the salmon. Close the lid and cook salmon until it’s done (4). I prefer to cook it until it reaches 135°F in the thickest part. Depending on the thickness of salmon piece, it could take from 12-20 minutes. A whole salmon filet that is thick could take well over 20 minutes. You will have to check the temperature with an instant read thermometer.
PRO TIP: USDA recommends cooked salmon safe temperature to be 145°F, but many people feel that it is overdone.
Why Soak the Wood Planks First?
It’s very important that you soak the plank because a dry wood plank will ignite over the hot charcoal or fire. In order to keep the wood plank from catching on fire, the wood should be thoroughly wet. Give it at least an hour submerged in water, but you can also soak it for 2 hours before cooking.
To soak the cedar plank, I often use either a roasting pan or an aluminum pan. Place cedar planks into a roasting pan that’s big enough to easily fit the planks and add water to cover the cedar planks completely. Place something heavy, like a mug filled with water, on top of the planks to keep it submerged. You can leave the planks in the water until ready to put them on the grill and cook.
Yes, but I don’t recommend it. It’s tricky to reuse a cooking wood plank. First of all, it’s important to make sure that you use the same plank for the same type of meat. So if you’re making salmon on the wood plank, use that wood plank only for salmon next time. Same goes for other proteins and vegetables.
Of course, make sure that the wood is not charred too much and can be reused. Clean a used wood plank with a clean soft scrub sponge and hot water only, no soap. Wipe it with a towel, dry it, and store in the freezer.
The temperature of the grill should be medium – a medium grilling temperature is between 350° and 450°F.
Depending on the thickness of salmon piece, it could take from 12-20 minutes. A whole salmon filet that is thick could take well over 20 minutes. The best way to check your meat temperature is always to use an instant read thermometer.
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Cedar Plank Salmon Recipe
- 1 Cedar or alder wood planks
- 1 tbsp Oil – to rub the salmon skin
- 2 lb skin on salmon filet can be whole or cut into 4 filets
- 1.5-2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp sea salt to taste
- ½ tsp black pepper to taste
- Pinch cayenne pepper to taste
Soak the wood plank:
- Place cedar planks into a roasting pan big enough to easily fit the plank. Add water to cover the cedar plank completely and place something on top to keep it submerged. Make sure it’s fully submerged in water and soak for 1-2 hours.
Prepare the salmon:
- Rub bottom of the salmon skin with some oil.
- Season the salmon with salt and pepper evenly and sprinkle the brown sugar evenly. Sprinkle some cayenne pepper if using. Pat the seasoning into the salmon. (Don't rub!) Set it aside until ready to put on the plank to grill.
Grill the salmon:
- Preheat the grill to medium heat (about 450°) with a two-zone fire just in case. Place salmon onto the soaked wood planks. Place the wood plank with salmon onto the grill over direct heat.
- Close the lid and cook salmon until it’s done. I prefer to cook it until it reaches 135° in the thickest part. (Use an instant read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the salmon.)
- (Note: USDA recommends salmon safe temperature to be 145° but many people feel that it is overdone.) Depending on the thickness of salmon piece, it could take from 12-20 minutes. A whole salmon filet that is thick could take well over 20 minutes. You will have to check the temperature with an instant read thermometer.