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How to Make Cedar Plank Salmon

Audrey is a cook who loves creating new flavors by tweaking recipes to include healthier ingredients.

Cedar Plank Salmon

Planking is not for salmon alone! You can plank many different kinds of fish, meats, poultry, or vegetables—even fruits. You can also plank cook on a camping trip!

Cedar plank salmon is a wonderfully easy and unique way to cook one of my favorite dishes—salmon—and to demonstrate the wonderful technique known as plank cooking.

Salmon is so good for you and it is also part of the culinary basics when it comes to knowing how to prepare fish. Not only is salmon delicious, it is full of omega-3, which makes it a wonderful food choice. Don't forget to save leftover salmon for eggs, sandwiches, and salads!

Cedar plank cooking is by far the most popular right now but check out alder, oak, and maple plank cooking as well.

Recipe for Cedar Plank Salmon

Makes 8-10 servings

Notes to self:

  • Buy cedar planks for cooking at any large grocery store
  • Buy them in a package of 6 or more so you always have some on hand
  • Buy cedar and other planks on line


  • 1 large salmon fillet (with skin) - 2-1/2 to 3 pounds - about 16 inches long and 3/4-inch thick
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground pepper
  • 1 untreated cedar plank - about 16 inches x 8 inches - at least 3/4-inch thick (submerged in water for at least 1 hour)

Dressing Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives or green onion
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • Fresh pepper
  • Cayenne pepper if desired
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

BBQ Heat Methods

Direct heat

Direct heat means the fire is just below the food. This is usually used for grilling hamburgers, boneless chicken breasts, fish fillets, and sliced vegetables.

Indirect heat

Indirect heat means the fire is off to one side of the grill or, even better, on opposite sides of the grill. Food is cooked over the unlit part.

Foods like turkeys, prime rib, and pork shoulders are usually cooked this way so that the centers cook slowly so as not to be overdone.


  1. Start by soaking cedar plank is salt water for at least 1 hour.
  2. Make the dressing. In a blender or food processor, combine the dressing ingredients except the oil. Mix until all is well blended. With the blender or the food processor running, add the oil slowly to blend in and make a nice, smooth dressing.
  3. Place salmon on a rimmed baking sheet. Using needle nose pliers or kitchen shears, remove any pin bones from the salmon.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Pour half the dressing over the flesh of the fish and use a brush to brush it on evenly.
  6. Remove plank from water and immediately place the plank over direct high heat until the edges start to smoke and char, which should be roughly 3-10 minutes. (Be careful not to let it flame)
  7. Move the plank back or over to indirect high heat and place the salmon skin side down on the plank.
  8. Grill until the salmon is just slightly pink in the center and brown on the edges—about 20-25 minutes.
  9. Remove the plank and salmon to a heatproof surface.
  10. Serve warm with remaining dressing.

Substitution Ideas

  • Substitute champagne vinegar or another specialty vinegar for the rice vinegar.
  • Use walnut oil or another specialty oil rather than olive oil.
  • Brown sugar is great as a substitute for honey or try a flavored honey.

About Cedar Plank Cooking

  • Cedar plank cooking originated with the Pacific Northwest Indians at least a hundred years ago
  • Visit an Indian salmon bake, like they have in the summer in Sequim, Washington for the taste of your life!
  • Nowadays, cooks all over the world are using cedar, alder, oak, and maple planks to enhance the flavor of foods as the wood enhances whatever food is cooked on it to give it a unique smoked flavor.
  • Plank cooking is for baby-back ribs, fish of any kind, meats, poultry, vegetables and fruits
  • There are hundreds of recipes.
  • Recipes can be adapted for the grill, the oven, or the family camping trip!

Tips on Plank Cooking

  • Always soak your plank for at least 1 hour before using. You want to submerge it in water because it will avoid wood flame ups from the grill or oven.
  • If you plan on using the plank for extended periods of time (over and over), you should soak at for least 4 hours, but possibly up to 24 hours. You do not want the plank to dry out and go to flame.
  • Soak your plank in wine, beer, liqueur, or a fruit-based cider or vinegar to add extra flavor as it will be steamed into the meat, fish, etc. as it cooks.
  • Use olive oil or a specialty oil to brush on the smooth side of the plank. This reduces the sticking factor and it also adds a little extra flavor.
  • You will want to cook your planked food in a covered grill. You can also cook them on any type grill—gas or charcoal—or in the oven.
  • While cooking on the grill, let your meat cook for a bit (usually somewhere between 20-40 minutes for most foods though check recipes). Check after minimum cook time often. If in doubt, check often!
  • Use a water spray bottle to take down any flames that may be attracted to the planks. This is why it is suggested to cook using the indirect method.
  • When cooking meat or poultry, these foods release juices that run onto the plank. Use these to re-baste the meat or poultry as it cooks.
  • If you are using the plank method in the oven, simply soak the plank as described and place in a rimmed cookie tray. Fill tray 1/2 inch with cider vinegar or some other medium that would enhance the flavor of what you are cooking (or part water, part vinegar/wine, etc). The key in oven planking is to make sure that you have liquid (that 1/2 inch) in the baking tray to keep the plank moist and prevent drying out. You can use plain water for the whole amount.
  • You can serve your planked food as is on heat resilient surfaces/plates.
  • You can platter them on a heat-resistant platter and serve.
  • Planked food makes a wonderful presentation because of its unique 'boarded' appearance.

Blackened Planked Salmon


Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on September 20, 2013:

Thanks so much for stopping by Dolores - I somehow missed your comment~ It is lovely on the wood!

EZ - hope this works out better for you - it should~ Very easy and very delicious!

Kelly A Burnett from Southern Wisconsin on September 20, 2013:

My husband loves salmon and the first time I made it - well let's say I have room for allot of improvement. The recipe I had included Chili which did not settle with our taste buds. It also called for garlic salt and the fresh minced garlic - of course, there are simply no substitutes for fresh food. I will be sure to try this because I love grilling. What a treat! Thank you very much!

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on May 28, 2013:

Hi Audrey! long time no read! Wow this looks so cool! I've never seen this plank cooking but it does look like fun and the salmon looks lovely on the wood. Must try!

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on August 24, 2010:

Great but don't see a name - will do a search on the Internet.

Katie on August 24, 2010:

Hey, if you like cedar planks, check out this company. They produce their planks in Idaho, as apposed to China.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 13, 2010:

Thanks, Pamela. It really is super easy but it is also super delicious!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 13, 2010:

akirchner, This is all new to be and it sounds like a very good way to cook salmon. Very good method for salmon.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 11, 2010:

Darski - Thanks so much - and as always, you are so kind!

Paula - Thanks so much for stopping in and use those won't be sorry!

Paula Kirchner from Austin. Texas on June 11, 2010:

I absolutely love planked salmon. It is always a treat and I order it whenever I can. I have never cooked it myself, but have three planks sitting in the garage ready to be used!

Darlene Sabella from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ... on June 11, 2010:

Love this hub and love salmon, so good for our health, and better to grill, look at all the flavors you can create, fantastic my dear friend, you a simply amazing with your skills. Thumbs up and all the above.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 11, 2010:

Alek - Thanks SO much for the high praise! I hope you do try it because with any foods it is delicious! I usually do salmon because I love salmon but it will work with just about anything.

Sandy - thanks so much for stopping in....try it - I think you'll like it!

Holle, Holle - me and snakes, you and salmon....okay Spanky, try trout, steelhead or tuna - or any fish actually but you'll have to watch it for the temps - or try some of those recipes on the different sites. They are awesome!

Also try beef, chicken or some other meats if you just can't take the salmon....I think someone just never prepared it right for you! But if you don't like it, you don't like it - just like me and the 's' things....I want to say mahi-mahi is also a fattier fish but you can cook most anything that's not moving on the plank!

Holle Abee from Georgia on June 11, 2010:

I was wondering...could you use another type of fish with this? I know you said we could, but what kind would you suggest? You know how I feel about salmon! lol

Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin, USA on June 11, 2010:

I love salmon. I have never seen it cooked this way.

Nancy Hinchliff from Essex Junction, Vermont on June 11, 2010:

ak, this is an amazing of your best. I loved it. I watched all four videos all the way through. I'm fascinated by this. I am definitely going to try it when I get to Austin....can't wait!

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 11, 2010:

Stephhicks68 - Thanks so much for commenting - try it on other foods as well though. It really is a wonderful way to cook.

Hello, hello - Yes, do try it in the oven. It is a marvelous way to cook just about anything.

Holle - You are too kind!

Crewman6 - The trick is the soaking (and keeping a wee bit of an eye on it from time to time).

Judydianne - Thanks so much for stopping by - and it really is a neat trick for cooking! Salmon bakes are the best things to go to though in the Great Northwest!

judydianne from Palm Harbor, FL on June 11, 2010:

This sounds delicious! Thanks for the techniques.

Crewman6 on June 11, 2010:

Learned something new- never would have guessed you could cook on a piece of wood without catching fire!

Holle Abee from Georgia on June 11, 2010:

Awesome hub! Looks like a winner to me!

Hello, hello, from London, UK on June 11, 2010:

I have never had it but I will try it in the oven because the English weather doesn't BBQs.

Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on June 10, 2010:

I love plank cooked salmon - fresh salmon is always in season for our anniversary in May!

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