This Cedar Plank Salmon recipe is one of the EASIEST ways to prepare fish and SO moist and tender with a Dijon maple wet rub and slightly smoky undertones.
Cedar Plank Salmon is the secret to the smoky, tender, grilled fish of your dreams. Best of all, it may sound, look and taste exquisite, but it is ridiculously easy to make! The salmon is smothered in a quick, tangy, herbaceous Dijon maple wet rub punctuated by smoked paprika, garlic, rosemary, and chipotle. Now, just pop the salmon on the cedar planks and grill to smoky, moist cedar planked salmon perfection – without worrying about the fish sticking or falling apart. Serve your salmon with grilled zucchini and strawberry spinach salad, and everyone will be swooning over the perfect meal. Read on for tips, tricks, How to Make Video and how to make cedar plank salmon in the oven as well!
Buttery tender salmon is always a quick and easy winning dinner – head here to see all my salmon recipes and don’t miss: honey garlic salmon, Tuscan salmon, sheet pan garlic butter salmon, salmon pasta, teriyaki salmon, blackened salmon in creamy Cajun sauce, baked Greek salmon with dill sauce, Asian BBQ salmon and sheet pan fajita salmon
HOW TO MAKE cedar plank salmon VIDEo
Why you’ll love this recipe
The wet rub: This cedar plank salmon recipe will rival any pricy restaurant fish at a fraction of the price. It is slathered in a wet rub made of stone ground Dijon mustard, pure maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, lemon zest, fresh rosemary, smoked paprika, garlic, onion, oregano, thyme and chipotle chili powder. It’s perky, fresh, tangy with a kiss of smoky sweetness that’s magic combined with the woodsy smokiness of the grilled cedar plank.
Quick and easy: So…. there is a caveat here. The cedar planks need to soak for 2 hours but once that is done, the salmon is prepped in less than 10 minutes and cooked in less than 20 minutes for a 30-minute meal that tastes like a million bucks.
Perfect salmon every time: This cedar plank salmon recipe is a foolproof steam-grilling technique. The fish cooks up evenly, emerges incredibly moist and tender and all in one piece. There is no need to flip the fish, or the risk of it sticking or falling apart; and cleanup is a breeze.
Prep ahead friendly: The cedar planks can be soaked days in advance, the wet rub can be made days in advance and the salmon can be marinated hours in advance. Alternatively, you can slather the wet rub on minutes before cooking if that’s all you have time for.
Healthy: Cedar planked grilled salmon is guilt free delicious! Salmon is rich in protein and an exceptionally good source of omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, selenium, and B vitamins, particularly B6 and niacin.
Versatile: This recipe can easily be adapted to your personal palate (sweeter, tangier, etc.), or use a different marinade, wet rub, spice rub, etc. entirely; because once you sink your teeth into cedar planked grilled salmon, you’ll want every excuse to do it again!
What do cedar planks do for salmon?
Cedar plank salmon is a cooking technique in which salmon (whole fillets or smaller fillets) are placed on soaked and dried cedar planks then transferred directly to the hot grill to cook. Here’s why it’s such a fabulous cooking technique:
Grilling the salmon directly on a cedar plank extracts the unique flavor and aroma from the wood and infuses the salmon with gentle, smoky, earthy, complex flavors.
Here’s how it works: As the cedar plank heats up and the fish begins to cook, the oils from the plank are released upwards, directly into the salmon.
CREATES MOIST AND TENDER SALON
Instead of seared or charred fish, it is cooked over indirect heat, rewarding you with lovely smoky fish that stays extra moist.
Here’s how it works: The cedar plank provides a barrier between the fish and the hot grill, much like a baking sheet in the oven. As the fish begins to cook, moisture is released from the plank directly into the salmon and into the covered grill, allowing the fish to gently steam. This evenly cooks the salmon so it’s buttery tender through and through, while still boasting that lovely roasted flavor.
MAKES GRILLING EASY!
Cooking salmon filets on a cedar plank is my favorite way to grill salmon because you simply add the cedar planked salmon, close the grill and wait. It also makes cleanup a breeze!
Here’s how it works: Grilling salmon on a cedar plank is like popping the salmon in the oven on a baking sheet, but instead you’re popping it on the grill on a cedar plank! This means you don’t need to worry about the fish sticking to the grill, burning or charring or falling through the grates.
What Salmon is best for cedar planked salmon?
Salmon is ideal for grilling on cedar because it’s mild, un-fishy, rich, and buttery. So, what should you look for when selecting salmon for grilling on cedar planks? Here are a few tips and tricks:
Use wild caught salmon if possible. Start by selecting the best salmon available. Look for salmon that is bright pink in color, smells fresh but not fishy, and, if possible, is wild caught. I prefer wild caught salmon (king, coho and sockeye) because it has a richer flavor, but if you want milder flavor, then farm-raised Atlantic salmon might be the way to go. Atlantic salmon can cook up watery or mushy due to the artificial diet but I have had success with farm raised salmon from Costco (fresh and frozen), they seem to have higher quality suppliers.
What size salmon is best? You can use either four 6-8 oz. salmon filets OR one 2 to 2 ½-pound salmon filet and slice it into filets yourself, OR if you have a large cedar plank, you can grill it all one plank.
Should I purchase skin on or off? If available, purchase salmon with the skin removed or ask the butcher to do it for you. This allows the cedar flavor to better permeate the salmon.
Where to purchase salmon? Purchase salmon at the seafood counter of your local market or grocery store to ensure the freshest salmon. Costco also has a good selection of fresh and frozen salmon.
Can I use frozen salmon? Absolutely! Frozen fish is a great option because it is packaged at peak freshness in individual filets so you can use just what you need. It’s also easy to keep stocked. To thaw, either transfer the packaged filets (or place in a sealable bag) from the freezer to the refrigerator to sit overnight (it can take 12 to 24 hours to thaw) or let the salmon (packaged) rest in a large bowl of cold water for 30-60 minutes, changing the water occasionally if it’s gone tepid.
How to Remove Skin from Salmon
Traditionally, you would leave the skin on for grilling salmon, but for cedar plank grilled salmon, you should remove the skin. This allows the flavor of the smoked cedar to better permeate the salmon, otherwise, the skin acts as a barrier and defeats the purpose of grilling on the planks.
The easiest way is to ask the butcher at the seafood counter to do it for you! Sometimes, they will even sell salmon with the skin already removed. Otherwise, it is easy to remove yourself. Here’s how:
1. Place the salmon on a cutting board, skin-side down (with the tail end facing you if skinning a whole fillet, or the narrow end facing you if it is sliced).
2. Hold the end of the salmon firmly and work the edge of a sharp knife between the flesh and skin, starting at the corner. Slice away from you using a gentle sawing motion with the knife angled slightly downward.
3. As the skin and flesh separate, pull the skin taught so it’s easier to work slice against.
4. The skin should come off in one piece, but if it doesn’t, flip the salmon over and remove any errant pieces. No one will ever know because the salmon is being grilled skin-side down.
Where to buy cedar planks
Cedar planks are the ideal wood for grilling salmon because they aren’t too strong and infuse the salmon with gently, smoky flavor. You can usually find them at your local grocery store, Lowes, Home Depot, some Super Walmart’s and of course on Amazon. I usually opt for Amazon (like what you see here), because the boards tend to be thicker.
Try and purchase cedar planks that are on the thicker side (at least 1/4-inch) so they don’t easily catch fire. As far as the overall dimensions, you can use any size and adjust the number of fillets that fit on each plank; use longer planks for large fillets or shorter ones for one to two smaller portions (as seen in this recipe). My cedar planks from Amazon were 5×11″ and each fit 2 salmon fillets.
Can you Reuse cedar planks?
Yes, you can reuse cedar planks, but it doesn’t mean you should. The first use will be the most intensely flavorful as the natural oils are released into the food. The flavor output will exponentially diminish from here. Also, keep in mind that the cedar plank will soak up some of the flavors of whatever was cooked on it previously, which will be released back into your food.
To reuse: The bottom of the board will likely be quite charred, so make sure you scrape off any leftover food, clean it with hot water (no soap) and soak very well before re-using.
How to prepare a cedar plank for grilling:
Cedar Plank Salmon is incredibly easy to make, but you need to plan ahead. The planks need to be soaked for at least 2 hours prior to using, otherwise, they can catch fire. Let’s talk about how to prepare our planks:
- Rinse the planks: Don’t skip rinsing the planks with plain water (no soap) before using to remove any dust. You don’t want to use soap because it can unpleasantly flavor your planks and your food.
- Choose the best container: Choose a container that is non-reactive, so it won’t leach chemicals into your food, is large enough to fit the planks and deep enough so they can be completely submerged in water. A ceramic 9×13 baking dish or stainless-steel baking sheet are good options, or you can even use your sink if your planks are extra-large.
- Choose your liquid: The planks can be soaked in just water or salted water, but even better, combine the water with another flavorful liquid. You can also use another liquid entirely to infuse the salmon with yet another dimension of flavor. Possible soaking liquids include: apple juice, citrus juices, berry juices, apple cider vinegar + water, or different flavors of wine. Experiment with different liquids to compliment the salmon recipe you are grilling.
- Use warm liquid and salt: Soaking the planks in warm water or warm juice will help the pores of the wood open up, so it really becomes saturated and much less likely to burn. It also increases the moistness of the salmon by releasing more steam directly into the fish. Dissolving a tablespoon of salt into the warm liquid is also a great way to enhance the cedar flavor.
- Submerge the planks: Add the planks to your chosen container and cover with your liquid of choice. You will notice that the planks will float. Weigh them down with something clean, neutral and non-reactive so the flavor doesn’t leach into the wood. I used a heavy glass jar of marinara and it was perfect.
- How long to soak the planks: This can vary depending on the quality and thickness of the planks, but a good rule of thumb is to soak the planks for 2 hours. This is what I do and have never had a problem with flare ups or the edges of the planks catching fire.
- Dry the planks: When ready to use, remove the planks form the liquid and wrap them in a towel to dry off. Do not rub the planks with oil because this can promote burning and flare ups.
Ingredients for Cedar Plank Salmon
This cedar planked salmon is bursting with bold, exciting flavors underscored by the smoky, woodsy cedar planks. Gather the following ingredients to make the easy wet rub (the full ingredients list and measurements can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post):
How to Make Salmon on a Cedar Plank
Cedar planked grilled salmon is an easy, straightforward cooking method that anyone can master! Here’s how to make this recipe (recipe with measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post):
Step 1: Soak the cedar planks
- Soak the planks in warmed salted water or liquid of choice for at least 2 hours. This ensures they don’t catch on fire while you’re grilling the salmon.
Step 2: Marinate the salmon
- In a small bowl, whisk together the Wet Rub Marinade Ingredients.
- Place the salmon on a cutting board or baking sheet and brush the top and sides with the Wet Rub.
- Let the salmon rest for at least 15 minutes before grilling, or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
Step 3: Preheat the grill
- Preheat the grill to medium-high heat (400°F to 450°F with the lid closed).
- Set the salmon on your counter about 15 minutes before you plan on grilling. You want the salmon to be nearly room temperature before cooking.
- Get a water bottle ready to spritz any flare ups (I haven’t had to do this, but you’ll want it just in case).
- Pat the cedar planks dry.
Step 4: Grill the salmon on cedar planks
- Transfer the salmon to the soaked and dried planks.
- Place the planks on the grill grates; grill, covered with the lid, until the internal temperature reaches 130-135 degrees F (or is done to your liking), about 12-15 minutes.
Step 5: Let the salmon rest
- Using tongs or a metal spatula carefully transfer the cedar planks to a baking sheet and let the salmon rest for 5 minutes before serving.
HOW TO MAKE CEDAR PLANK SALMON IN THE OVEN
This cedar plank salmon recipe is easily adaptable to the oven! Soak the planks and marinate the salmon fillets as instructed. When you’re ready to cook the salmon, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the soaked and dried cedar planks on a rimmed baking sheet and transfer the salmon on top. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes or until an internal temperature reaches 130-135 degrees F.
What temperature should salmon be cooked to?
America’s Test kitchen suggests baking your salmon until it reaches 125-130 degrees F (52 degrees C) to avoid overcooked salmon. 125-140 degrees will be medium to medium-well. I like to cook mine to 130 degrees F and the results are always perfect after a 5-minute rest. During the 5-minute rest, the salmon will continue to cook (carryover) and rise about 5 degrees. Always take this carry over into consideration when taking the temperature of your salmon or any protein.
Note: The FDA advises salmon should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, HOWEVER, if you cook your salmon to this temperature, it will be dry, chalky and overdone.
How to tell if salmon is cooked:
- Temperature. The most accurate way to see if your salmon is done is with an instant read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the salmon. As previously discussed, the FDA states salmon should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, but I like mine at 130 degrees F.
- Appearance. As salmon cooks, it changes from bright pink (raw) to opaque pink. The outside of the salmon should be completely opaque but the center should still be a bit translucent, a moist coral color, but not raw. If the salmon is completely opaque all the way through, it won’t be as juicy and tender.
- Texture. Cooked salmon will easily flake with a fork along the muscle fibers. Take care not to overcook your salmon because it will only remain buttery, juicy and tender as long as it isn’t overcooked. It is better for salmon to be under-cooked than overcooked in my opinion.
Cedar Plank Salmon FAQS
Yes, you MUST soak the cedar plank in water for at least 2 hours prior to cooking or it is like setting a match to wood and it will catch fire! It is best to use warm salted water for the pores of the wood to really open up and become saturated or try soaking in a combination of warmed water and a little juice, vinegar, or wine to add a depth of flavor.
The grilling time will depend on the size and thickness of your salmon, but most salmon fillets will cook to an internal temperature of 130 degrees F in 12 -16 minutes. Always use an internal thermometer to know exactly when the salmon is done. Transfer the cedar planked grilled salmon to a baking sheet off heat and let rest 5 minutes before serving to continue to rise in temperature and reabsorb the juices to create juicier salmon.
No, there’s no need to flip the salmon while grilling because the salmon is being cooked over indirect heat in a hot, steamy environment.
Cedar planks should be soaked for 2 hours up to overnight. After that, there is no increase in flavor infusion or moisture. If you have soaked the planks but are not ready to use them, transfer to a sealable bag (a slow cooker liner or oven roasting bag works well) and freeze the salmon planks until ready to use.
Cook cedar plank salmon at 400°F to 450°F with the lid closed for 12-15 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 130 degrees F.
Soaking the salmon for at least 2 hours should prevent it from sticking to the plank. If you are still worried, you can lightly oil the bottom of the salmon, but don’t oil the entire surface of the plank. Doing so can create flare ups and excess heat,
Yes, cedar planked salmon is safe and healthy but be sure to use the right kind of wood. Western Red Cedar the safest and most recommended for cedar plank cooking.
While salmon is the most popular choice, don’t let that stop you from experimenting with other foods! Here are a few to try:
Vegetables such as zucchini slices, cauliflower slices or halved tomatoes
How to soak cedar planks ahead of time
If you want to whip up cedar planked grilled salmon at a moment’s notice, freeze your soaked cedar planks! After soaking, transfer them to a sealed plastic bag. You may need to use an oven roasting bag or slow cooker liner for them to fit, then squeeze out excess air and knot it closed, then pop it in the freezer. When you’re ready to grill your salmon, simply thaw the plank by putting it in hot water for 10 minutes or so.
how to prep ahead
In addition to soaking the planks ahead of time, you can also:
Marinade: Make the marinade ahead of time and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Marinate salmon: Store the marinating salmon up to 4 hours ahead of time in the refrigerator. Don’t leave the salmon in the marinade for more than 4 hours otherwise the acidic marinade will break down the muscle fibers.
HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT
To store: Store leftover salmon in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.
To reheat from the fridge: Gently reheat in a skillet, covered, for about 5 minutes or in the microwave at 30-second intervals. You can also warm it in the oven for about 10 minutes at 275 degrees F, until it reaches an internal temperature of 125°F to 130°F. Take care not to overcook the salmon or it will become dry.
To reheat from frozen: Thaw salmon in the refrigerator overnight then reheat per any of the above methods.
Can Grilled Salmon be Frozen?
Absolutely! Freeze leftover salmon for up to 3 months. To freeze, slice salmon into filets and place filets in a freezer size bag in a single layer, squeeze out excess air to preserve freezer burn, label and freeze. You can also freeze individual salmon filets by wrapping in plastic wrap before storing together.
What to Serve with Cedar Planked Grilled Salmon
This cedar plank salmon is delicious with simple sides such as rice, mashed potatoes, salad, and watermelon. Still, if you want to get a little fancier:
- Grains: Coconut rice, Cilantro Lime Rice, Rice Pilaf, Parmesan Risotto. You can also serve it with wild rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice.
- Potatoes: Mashed Potatoes, Smashed Potatoes, Pesto Mashed Potatoes, Twice Baked Potatoes, or Mashed Sweet Potatoes.
- Salad: Wedge Salad, Strawberry Avocado Broccoli Salad, Spinach Berry Salad, Cucumber Tomato Salad, Potato salad, or Mexican Street Corn Salad.
- Pasta Salad: Italian Tortellini Salad, Greek Pasta Salad, BLT Pasta Salad, Cowboy Pasta Salad, Bacon and Pea Pasta Salad and Greek Orzo Pasta Salad just to name a few.
- Fruit: watermelon, cantaloupe, pina colada fruit salad, fruit salad with honey lime vinaigrette, grape salad, summer fruit salad or caramelized grilled pineapple.
- Potluck Favorites: baked mac and cheese, sweet cornbread, loaded potato salad, potato salad, baked beans, corn casserole, elote (Mexican Street Corn)and grilled corn on the cob.
- Dessert: top off the feast with Peach cobbler, Tres Leches Cake, Lemon Pound Cake, Blueberry Cheesecake, Lemon Cheesecake Bars.
Fun Ways to Serve CEdar Plank Salmon
You can enjoy the cedar planked salmon with any of the aforementioned sides OR you can repurpose the salmon to use in tacos, grain bowls, wraps, and more! Here are some truly delicious ways to eat cedar plank salmon:
- Cedar plank salmon salad: I LOVE adding salmon leftovers to salads. Add salmon to a bed of baby arugula, spring mix or spinach along with cucumbers, dried cranberries, feta, sliced almonds and sunflower seeds. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar or I love mine with peach vinegar (you don’t even need to add oil!).
- Cedar plank salmon grain bowls: add your favorite grains to a bowl and pile with salmon and your favorite veggies. The veggies can be roasted/cooked like roasted tomatoes, roasted asparagus, roasted broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or butternut squash, or raw such as fresh tomatoes, thinly sliced radishes, sprouts etc. or pickled like pickled red onions, carrots, etc. or a combo of all three! You can also top with a fried or soft-boiled egg.
- Cedar plank salmon tacos: top tortillas with black beans, salmon and desired toppings. Pick from avocado corn salsa, corn salsa, avocado crema or guacamole, cotija cheese, pickled red onions and/or hot sauce.
- Cedar plank salmon burritos: layer a burrito size tortilla with plain rice, cilantro lime rice or Mexican Rice, black or pinto beans, salmon, avocado corn salsa and sour cream.
- Cedar plank salmon burrito bowls: layer cilantro lime rice or cauliflower rice with cheese, black beans, salmon, chopped lettuce, and your favorite toppings including tomatoes, corn, crushed tortilla chips and either sour cream/Greek yogurt or I highly recommend either Avocado Crema, Tomatillo Avocado Ranch or Cilantro Lime Dressing.
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Salmon and Planks
- cedar planks for grilling
- 4 6 oz. salmon fillets, skin removed
- hot tap water
- 1 tablespoon salt
Wet Rub Marinade
- 3 tablespoons stone ground Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary (or heaping ½ tsp dried)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp EACH garlic powder, dried oregano, salt, pepper
- ¼ tsp EACH onion powder, dried thyme, chipotle chili powder
- Soak planks: Combine the water and salt in a 9×13 non reactive dish (or whatever size comfortably fits your planks). Add the cedar planks and weigh down with a clean, nonreactive weight (I used a glass jar of sauce) so they are completely submerged. Soak cedar planks for at least 2 hours; drain and dry right before using.
- Marinate salmon 15 minutes to 4 hours ahead of time: In a small bowl, whisk together the Wet Rub Marinade Ingredients. Place the salmon (on what was skin-side down) on top of a baking sheet or cutting board; brush the top and sides with the Wet Rub. Let the salmon rest for 15 minutes before grilling, or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Bring to room temperature before grilling.
- Preheat grill: Preheat the grill to medium-high heat (400°F to 450°F with the lid closed). Get a water bottle ready to spritz any flare ups.
- Grill salmon: Transfer the salmon to the soaked and dried planks. Place the plank(s) on the grill grates, and grill, covered with the lid, until the internal temperature reaches 130-135 degrees F (or is done to your liking) on an instant read thermometer, about 12-15 minutes. Spritz the plank(s) with some water if the edges start to catch fire.
- Let rest: Using a large metal spatula or tongs, carefully transfer the cedar planks to a baking sheet. Let the salmon rest on the planks for 5 minutes before serving.
Cedar planksYou can usually find cedar planks at the grocery store, Lowes, Home Depot, some Super Walmart’s and, of course, on Amazon. I usually opt for Amazon (this is what I use), because the boards tend to be thicker. Try and purchase cedar planks that are on the thicker side (at least 1/4-inch) so they don’t easily catch fire. As far as the overall dimensions, you can use any size and adjust the number of fillets that fit on each plank; use longer planks for large fillets or shorter ones for one to two smaller portions (as seen in this recipe). My cedar planks from Amazon are 5×11″ and each fit 2 salmon fillets.
Oven Cedar Plank SalmonSoak the planks and marinate the salmon fillets as instructed. When you’re ready to cook the salmon, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the soaked and dried cedar planks on a rimmed baking sheet and transfer the salmon on top. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes or until an internal temperature reaches 130-135 degrees F.
- Cedar planks: You can soak the cedar planks overnight until ready to use or freeze the soaked planks for later. To freeze: After soaking, transfer the planks to a sealed plastic bag. You may need to use an oven roasting bag or slow cooker liner depending on their size, squeeze out excess air and knot closed, then pop in the freezer. When you’re ready to grill, thaw the plank(s) by placing them in hot water for 10 minutes or so.
- Marinade: Make the marinade ahead of time and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
- Marinate salmon: Store the marinating salmon up to 4 hours ahead of time in the refrigerator. Don’t leave the salmon in the marinade for more than 4 hours otherwise the acidic marinade will break down the muscle fibers.
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