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The Best Cedar Plank Salmon Recipe

Kaili loves to cook—from comfort food to fine cuisine—and was the recipient of a silver medal in a food and wine matching competition.

Moist and juicy salmon cooked on a plank. Learn to make this is perfect bbq salmon!

Moist and juicy salmon cooked on a plank. Learn to make this is perfect bbq salmon!

Using Planks to Cook Meat Has Been Around Forever

Man has been cooking with and over fire since the beginning of time. Originally, food was placed directly in the fire or on top of hot coals. As humans evolved and became more creative in the kitchen, we began doing things like placing food on branches, planks, and spits to roast over the fire—meaning your meat wasn’t covered with ash.

Around the globe, different methods of roasting and smoking emerged, including hanging fish or meat over the top of wood fires in order to dry and flavor it. Smokehouses were ultimately built so that greater quantities of food could be smoked at once and the smoky flavor imparted to the food could be controlled.

This is among my favorite salmon recipes. This particular salmon recipe uses a cedar plank because I find that cedar just works well with salmon. Don’t be afraid to try another type of plank. Maple and oak also work, though the flavor is noticeably different.

The prep time noted below does not include the time required to soak the plank. Pre-soaking the plank is absolutely a must so that it won't catch fire on the grill. Please refer to my tips below.

Ready? Let's get cooking . . .

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

15 min

15 min

30 min

Serves two people 6–7 ounces of salmon

Cedar Plank Salmon Recipe

  • 2 salmon fillets, 6–7 ounces each, skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons your favorite dry rub for fish
  • 1 plank cedar, oak, or maple


  1. For best results, remove the skin from the salmon fillets. This allows the dry rub flavors to permeate the fish. Your friendly fishmonger may be able to skin the fish for you—no charge. If you are skinning the salmon yourself, start at the “fatty” end (see photo) as it is easier to pull the skin away from that end. You can use a small paring knife to help. If you don’t get it all off, don’t worry; you can always scrape the dark fat and any remaining skin from the salmon before serving.
  2. Apply the dry rub. Lay the salmon fillets on a plate or some waxed paper. Sprinkle 1 tsp of the rub back and forth over the top of each of the pieces of salmon. Press the rub into the fish to make it stick, and then roll the fish over. Sprinkle another 1/2 tsp on the bottom of each piece and press. Roll the salmon over on its sides to catch the remaining rub. Place the salmon in the fridge uncovered while the plank is soaking—overnight if you can.
  3. Get your grill ready!
  4. About 30 minutes before dinner (or longer for charcoal) get your grill started. If using gas, preheat the grill to 500°F then reduce the heat to medium. If grilling with charcoal, wait until the coals turn gray.
  5. Cook with the lid down to catch the smoke; the trick is to 'smoke' the fish, not simply cook it. I like to set the pre-soaked plank on the grill for about 5–10 minutes by itself, then carefully (it’s VERY hot) place the salmon on the plank. This means the plank has a chance to get smoking a little before the fish is placed on it. ALWAYS have a spray bottle of water nearby and NEVER leave planked food unattended on the bbq.

How to Pick a Plank

The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, which has been around for over 100 years (my copy came from my grandmother) has a recipe for planked steak. The recipe suggests, "the board for planked fish or steak should be of oak, one inch thick. It should be a little longer and wider than the meat or fish to be arranged on it.”

Tips for Perfect Planking

  • You can prepare everything ahead of time. In fact, that is best for both the plank and the fish.
  • Soak the plank. Soak the plank in water for a good five to six hours—overnight is even better. I use an old square roasting pan to soak my planks. Place the plank in the pan (or clean pail, or kitchen sink, etc.) and cover with water. You may need to weight it down so it remains submerged. I use a small mixing bowl filled with water to do that, but any heavy (clean) object will do.

Note About Cook Time

Because the fish is on a plank and not directly on the grill, cook time is a little higher than usual for grilling salmon. There will be some smoke—don't worry, this is a good thing! If the plank happens to catch fire at the edges, simply spray it with your handy bottle of water. The fish should cook in 10–15 minutes, but this will vary depending on the temperature of your grill and the thickness of the fish. I have seen it take as long as 17 minutes.

Serve and Enjoy!

I usually use the same pan I soaked the plank in to bring the fish, plank and all, into the kitchen to move it to plates. You can also take the fish off the plank right from the bbq if you prefer (this will also prevent a smoky smell in your house).

Wine Pairings

As with salmon dishes generally, a Pinot Noir goes very well with this cedar plank salmon rub. Try to find an earthier, more robust Pinot—think California or Oregon—rather than a light fruit-forward one like the ones from New Zealand.

The earthy nose and concentrated fruit in a Pinot works well with cedar grilled salmon. Try wines from California's Carneros or Russian River. For something a little bolder, Carabella Vineyard in the Chehalem Mountains in Oregon makes a particularly nice Pinot.

Like This Salmon Recipe? Please Rate It.


Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on November 05, 2012:

Hi Phyllis, you are so welcome. We made this again last night, even though the temperature was hovering around 0 degrees. Never tire of this dish. PLease let me know what you think once you have had a chance to try it yourself.

Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on November 05, 2012:

Hi Eddy. Thank you for reading; sorry to be so late responding, but I was on vacation and am still getting caught up. I have another salmon recipe that I will be doing a Hub on in the near future :-)

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on November 02, 2012:

Kaili, this is a wonderful recipe that I am very anxious to try. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and salmon was always one of our favorite meals. I bookmarked this hub so I can easily find it again when I try your recipe.

Thank you for sharing this.

Eiddwen from Wales on October 24, 2012:

I loved this hub and have to save .

I now look forward to so many more by you.


Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on October 04, 2012:

Hi bridalletter and thank you. Plank cooking is great, and once you try it you will be hooked. Your smoked salmon sounds amazing too...maybe you can write a Hub about it :-)

Brenda Kyle from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA on October 04, 2012:

Looks like a wonderful rub. I have not tried plank cooking it, that may be a new adventure in fooding. I am smoking a salmon in an electric smoker on Saturday for the first time. Can't wait to taste and smell that dish. I will come back for those cook books listed with your hub, thank you for sharing.

Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on June 11, 2012:

Thank you em!

em_saenz on June 11, 2012:

Very good, original recipe

Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on June 06, 2012:

Hi ktrapp. You can find them at some grocery stores and at hardware stores that have a good barbeque section. I just looked at homedepot.com and they have a good assortment there, though they seem a little pricier but I think that is because the planks advertized are the really long ones for doing a whole fish. My local fish store carries them in the summer. I have been able to safely get three uses out of a plank. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Kristin Trapp from Illinois on June 05, 2012:

I have to admit, I'm not much of a seafood eater, but I would certainly give this salmon a try. I know it would at least be a hit with my husband and son who love fish. This may seem like a really silly question, but where do you get a plank for this purpose?

Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on June 05, 2012:

Thank you cardelean...give it a try at your next bbq and please let me know what you think :-)

cardelean from Michigan on June 05, 2012:

I've eaten Salmon cooked on a cedar plank but have never made it before. Your recipe sounds delicious!

Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on June 05, 2012:

Thanks TToombs08!

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on June 05, 2012:

Yum. Nothing better than salmon cooked on a cedar plank. :) Great recipe and hub!

Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on June 04, 2012:

Please do leahlefler and let me know how you like it :-)

Leah Lefler from Western New York on June 04, 2012:

This looks delicious! I have to try this some day - yum!

Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on June 03, 2012:

Hi pennylu. Please give this a try and let me know what you think.

Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on June 03, 2012:

Hi teaches...salmon is my favorite fish too. It is fantastic done on a plank.

Penny Lulich from Indiana on June 02, 2012:

I love salmon! I just bought some plank wood, so I'm really glad you entered this recipe. Yum!

Dianna Mendez on June 02, 2012:

Salmon is one of my favorite fish and you have made me salivate at the sight of it! The cedar plank would make it very tasty.

Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on June 02, 2012:

Thanks DD :-)

Daffy Duck from Cornelius, Oregon on June 02, 2012:

Delicious. Mouth watering. :)

Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on June 02, 2012:

Thanks Vanderleelie. I love barbecue season...it is too short here.

Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on June 02, 2012:

Thanks Letitia!

Vanderleelie on June 02, 2012:

Good description of an old technique for cooking fish. This method was used by Northwest Coast natives, who had cedar planks and Pacific salmon readily available. Great idea for a summer barbecue!

LetitiaFT from Paris via California on June 02, 2012:

Looks so good I can smell it!

Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on June 02, 2012:

Hi toomuchmint. Yes, the plank can be reused. I have been able to safely get 3 uses out of most planks. You just need to scrub them under hot water after use (no soap needed) and allow them to dry. Once the wood starts to crack they are no good as planks, but can still be broken up and used as chips.

toomuchmint on June 02, 2012:

Great hub! I'm not much of a bbq'er, and I'd never heard of planking (except the weird Internet meme).

It seems much easier than wood chip smoking methods.

Can you reuse the plank?

Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on June 01, 2012:

Thank you lindacee. Maybe you can talk a friend into hosting a bbq party :-)

Linda Chechar from Arizona on June 01, 2012:

OMG, my mouth is watering. I haven't done cedar plank salmon in a long time. Now I live in an apartment that doesn't allow grilling. Sniff! I'm bookmarking this Hub for future reference and will try your recipe as soon as humanly possible. Sounds delish! Voted up and useful.

Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on June 01, 2012:

Hi aviannovice...give it a try, you will be hooked. I have been experimenting with different rubs and planks, and it is addictive.

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on June 01, 2012:

Sounds like a good recipe. I never did anything on planks before...

Kaili Bisson (author) from Canada on June 01, 2012:

Hi billybuc...so glad you enjoyed this recipe. The aroma when this is cooking will make you even hungrier :-)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 01, 2012:

My stomach is growling as I finish reading this hub! Thanks a lot for making me hungry! :) Great hub!

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