Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon

4.81 from 131 votes
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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.

Cedar Plank Salmon

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.

sprinkling a spoon of spices over a salmon 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

soaking a cedar plank in water and preheating it on the grill first

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!

salmon on a plank of wood

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.

cedar plank salmon grilling on barbecue grates

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

Grilled cedar plank salmon with a homemade herb spice mix. Cooking on wood infuses a delicious smokey flavor into this tender flaky fish.
4.81 from 131 votes
Prep Time1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

Cedar Plank Salmon

  • 1 cedar plank, soaked in water for at least an hour
  • 1 pound salmon fillet, skin on
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Herbed Spice Mix

  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions 

  • 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.

Notes

  • 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. 

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 179kcal (9%)Carbohydrates 5g (2%)Protein 23g (46%)Fat 7g (11%)Saturated Fat 1g (5%)Cholesterol 62mg (21%)Sodium 171mg (7%)Potassium 593mg (17%)Fiber 1g (4%)Sugar 1g (1%)Vitamin A 170IU (3%)Vitamin C 14.3mg (17%)Calcium 26mg (3%)Iron 1.4mg (8%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Recipe Rating




67 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Jessica says

    This was an amazing dish. I served it with asparagus and white rice. Absolutely delicious. My husband loved it as did I.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you SO much Jessica! I’m so glad that you and your husband enjoyed the dish, and the sides sound perfect. The spice rub for this salmon is one of my favorites 🙂

  2. Courtney says

    A great hint for your cedar, or any other plank, is to soak for 24 hours and start with hot water. Once they’ve soaked dab slightly with a paper towel but keep the plank wet. Wrap it in plastic a few times and put it in the freezer. Take one out 30-45 minutes before your going to use it to allow it to come to room temperature. I cook with planks regularly and this keeps them at the ready!

  3. Will says

    Can you make the spice rub ahead of time? Going camping next weekend and was hoping to make the spice rub this weekend, then grill the salmon over the campfire.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Will- Yes! I think that’s a great idea to make the rub ahead of time. Just store it in a resealable bag or airtight container. The brown sugar may pick up a little moisture but that won’t affect the taste of the rub.

  4. Brandon says

    Is it required to put the plank on the grill for 7-10mins or until smoking than flip over before placing salmon? I feel like this is an unnecessary step but also I know nothing about cooking unless it goes in a microwave from the freezer section…. Cant you just put the salmon right onto the plank soon as it comes out from soaking and go straight to the grill? Whats the purpose of charing the plank before placing salmon on it for cooking?? Does this do something for flavor????

    Please advise quickly im standing here in my kitchen wondering if I should start the grill or not…

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Brandon- great question! The charring before adding the salmon helps to get the smokey flavors started before the fish hits the grill for more flavor. You can certainly take it off the grill once it just begins to smoke. People have cedar planked the salmon straight after it’s been soaked. However depending on the plank you use sometimes it won’t smoke soon enough because it’s damp and the fish cooks relatively quickly.

  5. Judy says

    Salmon is my favorite fish too Jessica. When I see all these grilled recipes I’d love to be able to do that. Love you and all the info you give in each recipe.

  6. Stella says

    Hi Jessica

    This looks great! Can’t wait to try it this weekend. I find it interesting that you used cinnamon , a spice I wouldn’t think to normally use with fish. Why did you choose to use it? How does it affect/enhance/change the flavor? How did it even occur to you? So exciting. Looking forward to tasting this soon!

    Have a great week,
    Stella

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Stella! I use cinnamon a lot when I broil salmon with a molasses glaze. It enhances the sweetness and provides warm flavors that I love.

  7. Warren Hiatt says

    My variation is frequently requested(too much) as an appetizer at parties. Same technique but basting seasoning with melted butter, heating gas grill to maximum heat, and grilling salmon with lid closed for only 4-5 minutes. Interior will be on rare side. Carefully slice diagonally every 3/8 inch and then down the center with salmon slicer. Wiiiiams-Sonoma Potlatch seasoning is great.

  8. Shanna says

    I mean WOW!!! I cannot believe how incredible this is! The ABSOLUTE BEST Salmon recipe I have ever had. Jessica, I cannot believe how amazing this is. Even the skin was crazy tasty! So easy and insanely delicious. I worried it would be a little too sweet for my hubby w the sugar and cinnamon-not even a little sweet! Peeeerfect.. Husband said best Salmon ever too! I have gotten hundreds of recipes online and never once posted or commented.. I’m ready to shout this recipe to the rooftop! Everyone in the world should try this. Only item I omitted was cayenne bc I can’t do spice. I will make this a million times over and I will be looking at what else you have up your sleeve.
    THANK YOU!

  9. Devin says

    I’ve made this a few times now. My advice is to change nothing whatsoever. This is perfection. A little spicy, sweet, and of course smoky. Love it; thank you for providing this. Probably will be on my Christmas Eve table this year, as I go meatless (seafood only) due to custom.

  10. Debbie P says

    I made this exactly as directed using cedar planks on a gas grill. My husband said it was the best salmon he’s ever eaten. It came out juicy and perfectly cooked. I even impressed myself! Thanks for a great and very easy recipe.

  11. Kamal says

    Great recipe. I’m planning to serve this for Christmas lunch. Should I remove the cooked salmon off the chard plank before serving it indoors? I’m worried if I bring the salmon and chard wood indoors the dining room will smell of burnt wood.
    How best to lift the cooked salmon off the wood in one piece?
    Thanks in advance

  12. Debbie P says

    I have made this at least 5 times now, and my family says it’s the best salmon meal they’ve ever had–hands down. I serve it with a mix of grilled veggies and a rice dish. The only downside is that we usually don’t have any left over for my lunch–even with 2 family size fillets!

  13. S johnson says

    If you try no other recipe this is the one.!!!! It was amazing from the first bite to the last. I used natural oak charcoal to cook on and it compliment the cedar very well.

  14. Lindsey Deitch says

    We love this recipe on the pellet grill! Not really a “fish” person, but trying to broaden my palette for the health benefits of fish…the flavor of this dish is so wonderful and not really “fishy” at all. I also love how easy it is…all the ingredients in the rub are typically ones I have on hand. Cedar planks are now stocked in the pantry. 🙂 Thank you!

  15. Carol says

    I do not have a barbecue or grill and bought cedar plank salmon. Can I cook this inside in my oven/broiler or counter George Forman

  16. Alexa Brigati says

    Hi!! Can I substitute dark brown sugar with light brown sugar ? It’s all I have in the cabinet right now !!

  17. Jay says

    Did this tonight for our 4th of July celebration. It was AMAZING! Im not much of a cooked fish fan (I usually prefer sushi) but this had me convinced that cooked fish is awesome! Thanks for posting, we’ll be doing this again… and again… and again!

  18. Jay says

    Followed your cedar tips completely. No regrets! At first I was a little taken aback by the flavors, but I soon realized it was more evolved than I had been eating all week and it became even more enjoyable! Paired with grilled leeks and baked sweet potatoes, great recipe Jessica!

  19. Michelle says

    Thank you so much for this recipe, Jessica. One of the best parts of summer is making this cedar plank salmon. My husband grills it on his Green Egg, and I love when we are able to use fresh thyme and oregano from our herb garden. We often make this when we host. My older two kids love this recipe, and we all (except for my picky 5-year-old) get so excited for cedar plank salmon days. This recipe made it to my Food Family Favorites board on Pinterest and we have made it many times! It smells so good, too!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Whoo-hoo! I love that nearly the entire family enjoys the salmon. I love that you use fresh herbs from your garden!

  20. Sheri says

    This was so delicious – the whole family loved it! Hot summer evening with this and a fresh avocado, cucumber, tomato and red onion salad was absolutely perfect and sooo healthy! Thank you!

  21. Kristen Tinker says

    Simply outstanding! A huge win for a big family dinner tonight! This recipe is a “keeper!” My husband thinks it’s the best salmon we’ve ever had…Thank you!

  22. Sunny-Jay says

    Jessica, Really beautiful recipe. I subbed brown sugar eyrithritol(sukrin gold) for sugar as I’m on keto. The recipe was fantastic. It is the perfect amount of cinnamon paired with the perfect amount of spice. I’m always looking for different salmon recipes. My whole family liked it. I also plank a lot oh, but this was my first time putting tin foil on the top as it went on to the grill. It came out more moist with the foil. I did make sure that I left the bottom of the plank uncovered so it would start to burn.

    Again I really appreciate the recipe! I’m definitely going to add this to my repertoire.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you for sharing your cooking experience! I love that you used brown sugar erythritol to make it keto, what a helpful tip!

  23. Jennie Hiller says

    Wow!! Amazing recipe! By far the best recipe my family has tried grilling salmon on a cedar plank! Since I don’t like my food too spicy, I cut the red cayenne pepper in half! Thank you very much! Fan favorite forever!

  24. Tammie C says

    Made this for the first time and OMG, was soooo good!!! Will definitely make it again. The only ingredient i didn’t have on hand was the cayenne pepper. Thank you for sharing this recipe ?

  25. Jim G says

    This has been our go to salmon recipe for the last two years. I follow the recipe exactly and it’s perfect every time. The combo of the spices and charred cedar are perfect for salmon. I do remove the skin before planking it to get more cedar flavor into the fish. Not sure if it makes a difference, but it’s an outstanding recipe either way. Thanks!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you, Jim! I could see how the salmon would infuse more flavor directly on the plank. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yikes! Was the plank soaked long enough? Depending on the wood, you make need some extra time.

  26. Gavin Egan says

    This is it. This is the one. Cook salmon probably once a week for ten years. This is elevated from normal and the rub is outstanding. Everyone loved it, from my picky kids to my 75 year old only likes canned food and no seasonings father. Will absolutely be making this over and over.

  27. Ron A says

    Enjoyed this recipe. The combination of spices for the rub really complimented each other, especially the cinnamon and cayenne (nice ying/yang).

    Will definitely try it again.
    Thanks.

  28. Tarah says

    I’m so glad I found this recipe. The seasoning is just the right amount of sweet and savory and the salmon cooks perfectly as described. The seasoning is also delicious on grilled shrimp.

  29. Miki says

    Just made this tonight and it was delicious. Frankly the cedar planks are a lot more work than I thought but wondering if this rub would be good just in the oven.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I think the rub would add a really nice flavor even if baked in the oven. You’ll loose that deep cedar taste, but it’s a good shortcut.