The Art of Planking
There are several simple steps involved in cedar planking.
Following these guidelines will ensure that your cedar grilling experience
is nothing less than superb.
We have broken down the sequence of events for planking a salmon fillet
into the following steps.
- Pre-soaking the Planks
- Preparing the Planks
- Preparing the Salmon
- Planking the Salmon
- Serving the Salmon
Click on any of the pictures displayed on the left to view them in more detail.
View entire slideshow.
Pre-soaking the Planks
The plank must be pre-soaked prior to direct grilling. It is recommended
to soak the plank for two to six hours, but soaking overnight will
ensure complete saturation.
The most common method of soaking planks is to place them in the
kitchen sink and place enough weight on them to hold them completely
under the water. A roasting pan makes another excellent vessel to
soak a plank. A mug of water, a bottle of wine or a water-filled pot is sufficient
to keep the plank submerged.
Tip: Using warm water will help initially to open the pores of
the cedar and aid in the saturation process.
Tip: A 5-gallon or 25-litre pail with a lid makes an ideal
container for soaking planks. Several planks may be inserted
vertically into the pail, a lid with a hole drilled in it is
then placed on the pail, then fill the pail outdoors with a
Tip: Try adding white wine, beer or apple cider and fresh herbs to the
soaking solution for a different flavour.
Tip: Soak your planks ahead of time and store them in a plastic bag in your freezer.
When the time arrives to start a new planking experience, you can thaw the plank by
soaking it in hot water for 10 minutes.
Preparing the Planks
Dry the plank and lightly coat the top surface with olive oil or vegetable oil.
Tip: Try rubbing the plank with sea salt, garlic and fresh herbs.
Tip: Try using flavoured oils on the plank.
Pre-heat the grill on high for 10 minutes with the lid closed.
Adjust the grill temperatures to medium heat (350-400°F / 180-200°C)
and pre-heat the plank by placing it on the grill for 5 minutes.
Always have a spray bottle of water on hand to extinguish any flames.
Tip: An oven thermometer may be used to achieve accurate cooking temperatures.
Preparing the Salmon
Every successful event usually requires planning and organization -
cooking and barbequing should be no different. Assemble all ingredients and
have all barbequing equipment at hand.
It is a good idea to wash the salmon with fresh water and pat it dry with a paper
towel before placing it on the plank.
Place the salmon on the plank and add spices or sauce according to the desired recipe.
Place the salmon skin side down if fillet is not skinless.
Tip: Creating a bed of orange slices or other fruits and vegetables will help to
make the salmon super moist as well as enhance the flavour.
Planking the Salmon
Close the lid and cook at 350°F - 400°F (180°C - 200°C) for about 15 to 25 minutes.
Do not turn the salmon over on the plank. It will cook
completely with the skin side down.
Keep the BBQ lid closed to capture the smoke and retain the heat. This is the
hardest step as it is difficult to resist the urge to take a
Check briefly every 5 minutes for flare-ups. If a flare-up
does occur, reduce the heat and use a spray bottle of water to extinguish the flames.
Tip: If you have grilling gloves, you can lift up the burning plank and
spray water directly on the bottom of the plank to extinguish the flames.
Notice in the pictures how the plank has caught fire. The flames help to get
the plank smoldering to produce the sweet cedar smoke. Spray just enough
water directly on the flames to extinguish them. You don't want to
stop the plank from smoldering.
Everyone has different tastes when it comes to rare, medium or
If you are using an instant read thermometer to check the meat for doneness,
you can get a more accurate estimate of whether the salmon is
Cooking at a medium heat, the difference between rare, medium
and well done is approximately 15, 20 and 25 minutes. If
you don't have an instant read thermometer, you'll want to test the
fillet with a fork to determine if it has become flaky.
These cooking times are estimates and will vary with every
barbeque. In the pictures on the left you will notice that we
have used several different type of grills with different types
of fuels (gas, lump charcoal, briquettes) but the one thing they all have in common is that
the internal temperature of the meat indicates how well it is
Tip: Use an instant-read thermometer and check the temperature
by placing it in the thickest part of the fillet. Rare, medium and well done
temperatures are 120°, 125° and 130°F (49°, 52° and 55°C).
Serving the Salmon
When you have determined that the salmon is ready, you have
several options on how best to serve up this delectable feast.
Timing is very important with any barbequing endeavor and you
should make sure your planning of other side dishes coincides
with the estimated cooking times for the salmon.
If you are using a gas grill, be sure to turn it off.
Make sure the plank has been extinguished with your water
sprayer and be careful around flammable objects and surfaces.
If you have grilling gloves, you may lift up the smoldering plank
and spray the bottom.
Carefully transfer the salmon to a serving dish using a
turner or lifter. If it is a large fillet, it may take 2
lifters to keep the fillet intact.
Tip: Use a metal serving platter or cookie sheet and
transfer the plank directly on to the platter and serve the
salmon right off the plank. It's almost a sure bet that
the conversation around the dinner table will revolve around the concept of cooking on
Some Additional Thoughts on Planking
We hope that this has helped to take the mystery out of how to
cook salmon on a cedar plank. Every salmon lover we have met
over the past few years has expressed a positive, if not
passionate opinion that the taste and experience of a cedar
grilled salmon dinner is second to none.
Cooking on cedar planks is not restricted to salmon or fish.
We have constantly been working on perfecting recipes that
incorporate planking other types of meats, appetizers and
desserts. Be sure to check our recipe pages for some
Recipes that call for indirect heating allow the plank to be
reused several times. Be sure to clean and sanitize the planks
Cooking on a plank is so incredibly simple and the results are
so incredibly moist and delicious, you can't help but have the
greatest of entertainment experiences.
Some Additional Thoughts on Safety
Remember to always exercise caution when barbequing and respect
the fact that you are cooking with fire. Never place a smoldering
plank directly on a flammable surface.
Please make sure the plank is completely extinguished before you discard it.
Submerging the plank in a pail of water will do the trick.
Some people like to break the planks into smaller pieces and use
them as wood chips in their smoking pans or directly in
their charcoal BBQ.
If a plank has not become overly charred, or was used in a
recipe that called for indirect heating, it may be re-used - but
should be cleaned and sanitized first. You can place the
plank in the dishwasher. Remember you don't need to add
dishwasher soap as it may yield an unpleasant flavour.
If you are going to use gloves or mitts, be sure that they are
designed for the purpose you are using them for. We recommend
using high-temperature leather grilling gloves that are designed
to withstand brief encounters with the high temperatures that
are associated with grilling.