Grilled cedar plank salmon sprinkled with a flavorful homemade herb spice mix. Cooking directly on the wood infuses a delicious smokey flavor into this tender flaky fish.
Firing up the grill and cooking salmon on a smoldering charred piece of wood is a game-changer. Grilling food directly on a cedar plank adds smoky and earthy flavors from the timber. When you cook salmon directly on the plank, the direct contact extracts the unique aroma from the wood and transfers it to the surface of the fish.
Salmon is my favorite fish because the rich and flaky flesh cooks in minutes, my baked salmon recipe is weeknight lifesaver. It’s also packed with healthy nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids and it effortlessly takes on any flavor. This grilled cedar plank salmon recipe incorporates a blend of aromatic herbs and spices to make the dish burst with flavor.
The spice blend
A gluten-free savory sweet dry rub provides robust flavors for the planked salmon. A combination of garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, thyme, basil, oregano, brown sugar, salt, and pepper generously coats the fillet.
Where to buy cedar planks
For your first attempt at cedar plank salmon on the grill, I recommend trying Weber Firespice Cedar Planks (affiliate link). They’re easy to work with, affordable ($10 for two planks) and big enough to hold a 1 pound fillet or other items you would like to grill.
I have also purchased them from Home Depot, but I’ve seen other brands sold at major grocery stores. They come is various sizes, I like longer planks for large fillets or shorter ones for one to two smaller portions.
Leave whole or slice it?
To make serving easier and cooking a little quicker, pre-cut four portions of the fillet by gently scoring the sections but not cutting through the skin. However, this step is not necessary. If you don’t slice the salmon fillet, just keep an eye on the doneness of the fish.
Additional flavor enhancers
Slice up lemons and place them down the center to add some aroma to the fish. This also prevents the surface of the salmon from getting too dry. Add fresh sprigs of thyme on top as it grills to add even more aromatic herbaceous notes.
How to cedar plank salmon on the grill
1. Soak the plank
Submerge the cedar plank under water for at least an hour before charring on the grill. A heavy beer or wine bottle helps to keep the wood from floating to the top. The water that’s absorbed helps the plank smolder and not catch fire.
2. Char the plank separately
Preheat the grill to medium-high, about 400 to 450°F (204 to 232ºC). Place the water-soaked plank on the grill grates close the lid. When the plank begins to smoke and lightly char, about 7 to10 minutes, flip over and remove from the grill to begin salmon preparation. This charring step allows the wood to transfer more smokey flavor before the salmon starts to cook.
3. Planking the Salmon
Season the fillet first, then place it salmon skin side down on the charred side of the wood plank. Grill on medium-high heat with the lid closed until the salmon is just opaque in the center and begins to brown slightly around the edges, about 15 minutes per pound of fish. This salmon does not need to be flipped!
4. Check for doneness
Place an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the fish. Salmon will reach an internal temperature of about 140ºF (60ºC) for medium doneness. Be careful as the grill can be much hotter than your oven, so keep checking every few minutes, so the fish does not dry out. You can also use a fork to separate the center of the flesh to see if it can easily flake apart.
Can you reuse a cedar plank?
Yes, but it will have a less intense flavor output as some of the woods natural oils get used up from the previous cooking, making it drier. However, this can be partially remedied by lightly oiling the surface before soaking again.
I tend to discard the planks after use because the salmon skin tends to stick to the board and it’s easier and affordable to buy new ones. Although if the plank is still in good shape after the first use, you can wash and dry it for later. I have also used the plank again but by itself. I place it on the side of the grill to add cedar flavor to other foods.
What can you cook on a cedar plank?
Seafood like fish and shrimp, chicken breasts, pork chops, sliced vegetables, fruit like pineapple spears and stone fruit. Use a combo of ingredients to make skewers or kabobs and barbecue them on a plank for a delicious smoked flavor.
More grilling recipes
Safety first when grilling
It’s important to soak the cedar plank in water for at least an hour before cooking on the grill. A dry piece of wood with direct contact on hot grill grates can catch on fire quickly. If not pre-soaked it can completely ruin your meal. Keep a spray bottle of water next to the barbecue in case any flare-ups happen.
Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon
Cedar Plank Salmon
- 1 cedar plank, soaked in water for at least an hour
- 1 pound (454 g) salmon fillet, skin on
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
Herbed Spice Mix
- Place cedar plank in a sheet pan with water and place a heavy object on top of the board so it does not float. Soak for 1 hour.
- In a small bowl combine brown sugar, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, oregano, thyme, basil, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon.
- Evenly coat the surface of the salmon with about half of the seasoning, 5 to 6 teaspoons. Reserve any additional spice mix for later use or extra spice after cooking the salmon.
- Heat the grill to medium-high heat, 400 to 450ºF (204 to 232ºC).
- Remove the soaked plank from the water and lightly dry with a towel.
- Place the plank on the grill grate and close the lid. When the plank begins to smoke and lightly char, use tongs to remove it from the grill, 7 to 10 minutes. Close the lid to allow the grill to heat.
- Put the seasoned salmon skin side down on the plank charred side up.
- Cook the salmon with the lid closed until it's just opaque in the center and begins to brown slightly around the edges, about 15 minutes.
- Transfer the plank with the salmon to a heatproof surface.
- Serve cedar plank salmon with lemon wedges.
- Cut into portions before grilling: Place the salmon fillet on cutting board. Cut the fillet into 4 individual portions, cutting right down to the skin but not through it. This will make serving easier after the salmon is cooked.
- Dried thyme, basil, and oregano can be replaced with 2 teaspoons of Italian seasonings.
- Seasoning mixture makes about ¼ cup of dry rub.
- MAKE IT PALEO: Substitute the brown sugar with coconut sugar.
- MAKE IT WHOLE: Remove the brown sugar. Substitute kosher salt with sea salt.