Seriously cedar plank salmon is just the best. Cooking on a cedar plank not only infuses salmon with amazing flavor, but makes grilling salmon easy and simple. If you’re a bit wary or intimidated, don’t be! Once you try it, you’ll see how simple it is. Here are some basics to know if this is your first time using them (or you need a refresher… which I feel like I need at the start every summer, when I unnecessarily worry I’m going to set the plank on fire- which, for the record, has never happened!).
See this video on instagram (and below) for tips and tricks on how to cook this perfectly! If you prefer to read, here are some basics to know if this is your first time using them or you need a refresher… which I feel like I need at the start every summer, when I unnecessarily worry I’m going to set the plank on fire (which, for the record, has never happened).
How to Use a Cedar Plank on the Grill: FAQs and Helpful Tips
What type of salmon to use for cedar plank salmon:
- You have a couple of options here, but I generally go for farm raised atlantic salmon filet when cooking cedar plank salmon (and most salmon).
- Individual 5 Oz Portions: If cooking for just myself or two people, I will often get the pre-portioned 5 oz filets at Whole Foods. I find that they are quite uniform in thickness, so they are easy to cook, and one filet is a great portion for one person. It’s a great option if you aren’t cooking for a lot of people.
- Whole Filet: If cooking for more than 3 people, I go for a larger filet of salmon. You can generally fit up to 1-1.5 pounds of a filet onto a whole plank. This looks really nice for presentation as well. My rule of thumb is about 4-5 oz. a person, depending on who I’m cooking for- so 1 pound for 4 people that includes a person or two who generally eats smaller portions and maybe 1.5 pounds for hungry people 🙂
What to do before grilling cedar plank salmon:
- Soak the cedar plank in hot water for at least 30 minutes-60 minutes (or according to directions- some sellers say less, I prefer to play it safe; also I like to marinade the salmon for at least 30 minutes to infuse flavor so I’ll do these at the same time. If you don’t soak long enough, you risk burning the wood a lot.
- Marinate the salmon. This is key to flavor! See below for my one of my favorite marinades.
Helpful tools when cooking cedar plank salmon:
- Tongs: to remove the cedar plank from the grill.
- Oven mitt: to also help remove the cedar plank onto the grill and place onto a…
- Baking sheet: the wood will be very hot when you remove it (although it cools down quickly too).
- Thermometer: if you want perfectly done salmon (or any type of fish, chicken or meat!) this is seriously going to help you out, especially if you are a beginner. People tend to overcook salmon, especially without a thermometer. This is my key to flaky, moist salmon.
How to grill cedar plank salmon:
- Preheat the grill to medium heat (400-500 degrees). Keep burners on medium.
- Place the soaked cedar plank directly on the grill. No need to oil or anything. Then place the salmon filet directly on top of the cedar plank.
- Close grill and keep on medium heat.
- Generally it takes around 11-12 minutes to cook the salmon– while I always use a thermometer, I also put on a timer and it’s consistently within a minute or two of this time, even if I use a 1 pound filet vs. 5 ounce filets.
- Cook until the thickest part of the salmon reaches an internal temperature of about 120-125 degrees. Over time and as I’ve cooked salmon more and more, I’ve found that the salmon continues to cook a lot as it rests off the grill, so I will usually take it off around 120, rather than 125, especially if the salmon has varying levels of thickness because the thinner areas will usually be around 135 at this point. If you prefer your salmon more cooked, you can do 125, but having made this for a lot of people, I think 120 works just fine.
How to remove the cedar plank from the grill:
- Use an oven mitt and tongs to remove the plank from the grill. I drag off the cedar plank using tongs, and then use an oven mitt to support it and place the plank onto a baking sheet since it will be hot (I know… duh. But it’s easy to forget this in the moment and then have to run and get one).
- If you have it, use a thermometer to check when the salmon is done (it should be around 120 degrees). It’s the surefire to have perfectly cooked salmon.
- Wood planks are a one and done type of deal. Don’t reuse!
Ginger Scallion Cedar Plank Salmon
- 1 tablespoons neutral oil avocado, canola, grapeseed
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon mirin
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 scallions diced (reserve 1 tablespoon for sprinkling on at end)
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 pound salmon or three 5 ounce filets
- black and white sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
- Soak wooden plank in warm water for at least 30-60 min before grilling (or according to directions- some planks will vary).
- Combine oil, rice vinegar, mirin, sesame oil, soy sauce, scallions, ginger, and garlic in a small bowl. Place salmon in a container or ziploc bag and add in marinade. Make sure salmon is evenly coated with marinade. Marinate salmon for at least 30 minutes at room temperature (or up to 2 hours). If marinating longer than 30 minutes, place in the fridge.
- Preheat grill to 400-500 degrees. Keep burners on low to medium heat. Place salmon on cedar plank- when removing the salmon from the marinade, lightly shake so there isn’t excess liquid on the salmon. I like to take some of the scallions leftover in the marinade and place them on top of the salmon for extra flavor.
- Place cedar plank on grill. Grill until internal temperature of salmon reaches about 120-125 degrees at the thickest portion, about 11-12 minutes for a 5 ounce filet or 1 pound filet. I prefer to have the salmon portioned out already before cooking, as it’s easier to monitor the temperature and cooking of each filet then. If you don’t have a thermometer- it should be pink and opaque on the inside and be able to flake off with a fork.
- Top with sesame seeds and scallions and serve within 5 minutes.