This Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon gently steams and smokes yielding tender and flaky salmon coated in delicious Thai chili sauce. Once you learn how to grill salmon on cedar plank, you will make it all summer long!
Table of Contents
- Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Ingredients for Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon
- Using Cedar Plank for Grilling
- How to Grill Salmon on a Cedar Plank
- How Long to Grill Cedar Plank Salmon?
- Tips for Best Results
- What to Serve with Cedar Plank Salmon?
- Can I Make It Ahead of Time?
- How to Store and Reheat
- More Salmon Recipes to Try
- Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon Recipe
If you’ve never tried to make cedar plank salmon on a grill, then you’re missing out.
I first learned this grilled cedar plank salmon recipe from a close friend over 20 years ago. It is so easy and good, it became one of our bi-weekly grilling recipes. Everyone loves it and everyone can make it! This method has never failed to impress yet!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Easy: All you have to do is soak the cedar plank, slather salmon in sauce and grill.
- Simple ingredients: You will need just 2 ingredients and a cedar plank.
- Delicious: When grilling salmon on a cedar plank, you end up with fish lightly infused with the wood’s earthy, smoky flavors.
- Show stopping: It makes you feel like a professional chef every time you pull out the cedar planks. And if there’s anything I can get behind, it’s restaurant quality without the price tag!
- Mess free: You don’t have to worry about salmon falling apart or between the grill grates as you try to flip or remove it.
Ingredients for Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon
- Salmon: Boneless salmon fillet with skin on or off that fits your cedar plank. You can use any wild salmon like sockeye salmon, coho salmon or spring salmon. Farmed salmon or Atlantic salmon works as well.
- Thai sweet chili sauce: I use my homemade Thai sweet chili sauce or you can also use store-bought one. I like Thai kitchen brand.
Wild or farmed salmon? There are differences in health benefits between wild and farmed types of salmon. I recommend to buy wild salmon, if you can afford it. The best salmon to grill on a cedar plank is king salmon (chinook salmon or spring salmon) or coho salmon. I have tried this recipe with sockeye salmon and it turns out a little bit dry, so be sure to cook it for less time. Atlantic or farmed salmon has higher percentage of fat and comes out more moist.
Using Cedar Plank for Grilling
- Buy cedar planks: You can find them in the grill or seafood section of major grocery stores and online. Alternatively, buy untreated full cedar plank at Home Depot and ask an employee to cut it into 7-8 planks to save money.
- Size: Be sure to buy cedar planks that are at least 5 inches wide and length depends on the size of your salmon. When I get my planks at a hardware store, I ask them to be cut into 13-15 inches long planks because we fish and our salmon is large.
- Soak cedar plank: Soak wood in a sink with cold water for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours. This is a vital step, so the planks don’t burn while grilling. Use a heavy glass dish or can to weigh the board beneath the water to ensure even soaking.
- Wipe it dry: After soaking, you want to dry it with a kitchen towel or paper towels to ensure proper grilling.
- Cedar planks can be soaked in advance and then frozen: That way, you don’t need to consider the hours of soaking every single time. Just soak it for anywhere up to 24 hours, lightly pat with a kitchen towel and then wrap in plastic wrap to store in the freezer. You can warm up plank on the grill before adding salmon or bring it to room temperature for 30 minutes before using.
How to Grill Salmon on a Cedar Plank
Here is how to make cedar plank salmon on the grill with only 4 steps. All you need to do is to soak the cedar plank, prepare or buy the sauce and grill the salmon.
- Soak the cedar plank: Soak it for at least 1 hour. I usually do this in my kitchen sink using a few inches of cold water and a heavy meat mallet to weigh it down. Pat dry with kitchen towel before adding salmon.
- Prepare Thai sweet chili glaze: Simply follow this Thai chili sauce recipe. It’s super simple to make by combining all the ingredients in a small pot and simmering for 10 minutes. If your grill has a side burner, you can cook the entire dish outside.
- Grill salmon on a cedar plank: Preheat your gas grill or charcoal grill to medium-high heat around 450-500F. Then place salmon skin side down on the cedar plank and brush with some sauce. Grill covered for about 10 minutes.
- Glaze the salmon more: Open the grill and brush salmon with remaining sauce. Then cover and grill for another 10 minutes or until cooked to your preferred level.
How Long to Grill Cedar Plank Salmon?
There are several ways you can check the cooked level of grilled cedar plank salmon.
Salmon will change from a deeper red color to a lighter opaque pink when cooked. Gently press the top of salmon with a fork and if it easily separates into tender flakes with a soft, moist center, then it’s ready.
We like to rely on an instant read thermometer to ensure our salmon is safe to eat. Here is a handy chart to consult when cooking salmon on the grill to your desired level of readiness.
|145 F or more
If salmon seems almost done, you can remove it from the grill and allow to rest a few minutes before serving. The salmon will continue to cook on the hot cedar plank.
Tips for Best Results
- Keep a spray bottle with water on hand: Just in case the board catches on fire slightly, spray it with cold water. It shouldn’t happen but it’s good to be prepared.
- If your salmon fillet doesn’t fit: You can tuck the end underneath the salmon fillet or cut it into thin strips and place on the sides of the board.
- Grilling times vary: Cook time will vary based on the size and thickness of your salmon fillet plus your BBQ. If using individual small fillets, they may not need much longer after the initial 10 minutes, so keep an eye on them.
- Keep skin on or off: It truly will not affect final results except only if you like grilled salmon skin, then do not remove it.
- Do not reuse cedar planks: For food safety reasons, even if it’s not charred too much, do not use cedar plank to grill salmon second time. I’ve seen some sources say that it’s OK but I wouldn’t risk it. To save money, see my hardware store tip above! The charred wood can be used as a fire starter or broken up for smoking chips.
- Extra smoky: Char cedar plank on the grill for a few minutes before adding the salmon fillet.
What to Serve with Cedar Plank Salmon?
Cedar plank salmon is excellent year-round and pairs really well with simple side dishes like grilled vegetables and roasted vegetables.
During the warmer months, pair it warm or cold with healthy salads like simple bell pepper salad and cucumber tomato feta salad. Make grilled romaine lettuce or grilled zucchini while cooked salmon is resting.
Got leftovers? Use it instead of canned fish to make these canned salmon cakes.
Can I Make It Ahead of Time?
Yes. Grilled cedar plank salmon is a perfect recipe to entertain your guests with or serve on a special occasion. It looks impressive, is easy to make ahead and tastes delicious. Here are a few make ahead tips:
- Soak cedar planks the night before.
- Make homemade Thai sweet chili sauce up to 1 week in advance.
- In a large baking dish, coat salmon fillet in sweet chili sauce the day before, cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. It will be even more flavorful.
How to Store and Reheat
Storing: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Enjoy it cold or reheat. You can also freeze cooked salmon in individual portions in airtight containers for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight.
Reheating: Add cooked salmon to a skillet with a splash of water and reheat for 5-7 minutes or until warmed through.
No, you don’t have to flip salmon when grilling it on cedar plank. Smoking wood will cook it until crispy on the bottom.
You can buy untreated cedar fence board at a hardware store and cut it into planks. Make sure it is labeled “untreated cedar”. Treated cedar wood is treated with chemicals and is not safe to consume.
No. Cedar plank salmon has woodsy and smoky taste but it doesn’t taste like cedar. It tastes smoked and grilled!
Your salmon should not stick to a cedar plank. Slice cooked salmon with spatula into small fillets and you shouldn’t have problem serving it. It will not fall apart and will come off the plank if you use good wide and firm spatula.
More Salmon Recipes to Try
- Baked salmon in foil
- Honey garlic salmon
- Peanut butter salmon
- Baked teriyaki salmon
- Air fryer salmon and brussels sprouts
- One pan salmon and veggies
- Peanut butter salmon with miso
If you enjoyed this cedar plank salmon on the grill, you may also be interested in my collection of other healthy grill recipes!
Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon
- Soak cedar plank in water for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours. I like to fill up sink with a few inches of cold water and place weight on top.
- In a small saucepan, add maple syrup, water, vinegar, cornstarch, garlic, salt and red chili pepper flakes; whisk well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 7-10 minutes or until thickened.
- Reserve 1/2 cup sauce for this recipe, transfer remainder to a glass jar and refrigerate for other recipes.
- Preheat grill to medium-high heat (450-500 degrees F). Place salmon on pre-soaked cedar plank and brush with 1/4 cup Thai sauce. Place on a grill, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
- Open the grill, brush salmon with remaining sauce, cover and grill for another 10 minutes or until the thermometer inserted in the deepest area reads 130 degrees F.
- Cut salmon with spatula into 8 slices and serve warm right off the plank placed on a platter. You can brush salmon with more Thai sweet chili sauce, if desired.
- Store: Refrigerate salmon in an airtight container for up to 5 days. To reheat add it to a skillet with a splash of water. Then cover and cook on low for about 5-7 minutes or until warmed through.
- Where to buy cedar planks? You can find them in the grill or seafood section of most major grocery stores. Costco also sells multipacks in their seasonal aisle. Alternatively, buy an untreated full cedar plank at Home Depot and ask an employee to cut it into 7-8 planks to save tons of money!
- Soak the cedar planks for at least 1 hour: Up to 24 hours. This is a vital step, so the planks don’t burn while grilling while also keeping the salmon wonderfully moist. Use a heavy glass or can, to weigh the board beneath the liquid while soaking and flip them over halfway to ensure even soaking.