How to Use Cedar Planks for Grilling Salmon

Grill Tips, Grilling, Kelly B's 101, Seafood, Side Dish

What the hell does a plank have to do with the grill?

If you don’t like dry fish, a plank has everything to do with the grill. Salmon and other fish cook quickly, which can make soaking up flavor difficult. The plank adds that flavor and keeps the fish from drying out.

Unless you need practice with your fire extinguisher, all planks should be pre-soaked. A pre-soaked plank will keep your filet moist while ensuring a smoky wood flavor in a shorter period of time. Planks can be reused. Also, the plank just looks cool, and will impress your guests. Always a positive.

Okay I want to try it. Now what?

  1. Rinse off the plank to get rid of any dust.
  2. Then, soak the wood plank in warm water for at least one hour before grilling. We recommend soaking up to four hours for best results. Add wine, beer, or herbs and spices to the water to add extra flavor. Make sure your wood plank is fully submerged in the water (again, to avoid that fire extinguishing drill).
  3. Prep your salmon in a marinade or with a good dry rub, and heat up your grill. If you are grilling with charcoal, make sure there are enough coals to spread out a few inches past the planks to ensure the entire space will be heated.
  4. Set your planks on the grill and let them heat up for about 5 minutes, or until they begin to smoke and crackle. That’s the sound of magic.
  5. Lay the fish on the planks and cover the grill. The cook time will depend on the thickness of the cut, usually between 12 to 20 minutes.
  6. For extra flavor, lay sliced lemons on your fish while cooking. Before serving, add a sprig of rosemary for taste and presentation.

Do I HAVE to use cedar?

No. It’s just the trendy thing to do, and I’m not really the trendy type. Experiment with alder, maple, hickory, cherry, and various other hardwoods. Some are sweet, some are smoky, and a few stand out in strength. Cedar is a classic wood paired with salmon, but a good grill master will challenge himself to find new flavors. You can find grilling planks online, at specialty cookware stores, hardware stores, and other places where grilling tools are sold.