Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon

Your salmon filets will have a mildly fresh wood flavor after you've grilled them on cedar planks.
cedar plank salmon

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Grilling salmon on a cedar plank is an amazing way to impart a light, woody flavor to your fish – plus, it’s extremely easy to make!

The grilling time is only about 15-20 minutes, depending on how you like your salmon cooked (see cooking times below). The longest part of this process is going to be soaking your cedar planks in water beforehand.

Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon

Ingredients you’ll need

  • Salmon – you can opt to buy a whole filet and portion it yourself or buy pre-cut salmon portions.
  • Seasoning – I keep my salmon seasoning pretty simple with a combination of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and pepper but you can use any combination of spices that you like.  
  • Lemon: I like to add a slice of fresh lemon to the top of each piece of salmon. The acidity in the lemon pairs wonderfully with the flavor of the fish and adds a nice touch of citrus flavor.

Equipment you’ll need

  • Cedar grilling planks – you want to be sure to grab cedar planks intended for grilling. I like these cedar grilling planks from Amazon, but you can also find them at your local barbecue supply store. 
  • Baking pan or Pyrex dish – you want a dish big enough to submerge your planks. I also recommend grabbing something heavy enough to keep them underwater, as they will try to float to the top.
  • Propane or charcoal grill – this recipe works on just about any grill, but make sure you use a grill that can reach a temperature of about 400°F.

If you like this recipe, you should also check out our guide for cold smoked salmon.

What type of salmon should I use?

I generally use Atlantic salmon because it’s readily available in my area, but King or Sockeye salmon will work great for this recipe as well.

When dealing with fillets, make sure that it smells fresh, and doesn’t have an overly fishy smell. The best way is to go to a fishmonger or market and deal directly with them.

Can you reuse cedar planks?

No, you should not reuse cedar planks.

Salmon needs a medium to high heat when being cooked on a cedar plank, the wood needs to get hot enough to release its oils, after the first cook, the oils have pretty much all been used.

If you try reusing them, you’ll actually see no benefit in it. You’d get as much out of using a wooden chopping board to create a smokey flavor as it is the oils in the wood that give the fish its distinctive taste.

Yes, you will be able to clean up the cedar planks, you can even sand them back and remove the initial charring and soak them in the water again, but you effectively now have a split serving platter.

These are cheap, buy new ones and get the most out of every cedar plank salmon dish you cook. You are worth it.

How to make Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon

1. Soak your planks

You want to soak your cedar grilling planks in water for at least 1 hour prior to placing them on the grill. You can soak them for as long as 3 to 4 hours if you prefer.

cedar planks in a foil dish with water with a mallet on top to keep it submerged
Trust me, you don’t want to skip this step!

The cedar wood will soak up the water, and it will prevent them from catching fire when they are on the grill.

2. Fire up the grill

After your cedar planks have been soaking for at least an hour, preheat the grill so it’s nice and hot by the time you’re done prepping your fish.

You can grill this recipe on any propane or charcoal grill, as long as it can maintain a steady temperature of about 400°F. I chose to grill this salmon on my Grilla Primate gas grill.

If you use a propane grill, set the burners to medium-high and let the grill preheat for 10 minutes.

3. Prep the salmon

As I mentioned before, you can purchase a whole salmon filet from your seafood counter, or you can opt for pre-cut portions of salmon.

raw salmon being held by a black gloved hand

If you choose a whole filet, you’re going to want to cut the salmon into individual portions about 3 to 4 inches wide. This will help the salmon cook more evenly, plus it’s easier to serve.

Salmon is a versatile protein and a lot of flavors pair wonderfully with it. My go-to salmon seasoning is a simple combination of garlic, onion, paprika, salt, and pepper but feel free to get creative! You can also opt for a marinade if you want a punch of flavor.

cedar plank salmon seasoning on a spoon

Add all the seasoning ingredients to a bowl, mix to combine, and it’s ready to go. You can also double or triple the recipe and keep it on hand for next time.

Lightly sprinkle the salmon seasoning over the top and sides of the fish.

4. Transfer your salmon to the cedar planks

Remove the cedar planks from the water bath just before you are ready to grill the fish. Remember, they are soaking to prevent them from catching on fire, so you want to ensure they are still wet before they hit the grill.

Place your salmon on the plank with the skin side down. You can generally fit two or three salmon portions on each plank. Just make sure you get at least two inches between each filet to ensure even cooking.

five salmon filets with lemon on top on cedar planks

I like to place a thin slice of fresh lemon on top of each salmon portion. I find that the burst of citrus flavor really compliments both the fish and my salmon seasoning wonderfully. This is purely optional.

5. Grilling your salmon

Once your grill is preheated to around 400°F, place the cedar planks directly on the grates and shut the lid of the grill.

cedar plank salmon on the grill with asparagus beside it

Cooking time can vary depending on the grill you are using and the thickness of your salmon portions, but generally, the salmon will take 15 to 20 minutes to reach medium-rare (125°F to 130°F). If you like your salmon a little more on the done side, use the guide below:

  • Rare Salmon: < 120°F
  • Medium-Rare Salmon: 125°F to 130°F
  • Medium Salmon: 135°F to 140°F (most popular!)
  • Well-Done Salmon:  > 140°F (please don’t…)

A great way to check the doneness of your salmon is with an instant read thermometer. I like to use the ThermoWorks ThermaPen One. It takes a temperature reading in about 1 second and it’s one of the most accurate models on the market.

Once your salmon reaches your desired temperature, remove it from the grill and enjoy it immediately. There is no need to let the salmon rest, so you can dig in right away.

What to serve with Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon?

Salmon pairs wonderfully with so many great side dishes. I love to cook asparagus on the grill right alongside my salmon.

Here are some great recipes we suggest:

cedar plank salmon

Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon

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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Soak planks: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 5
Calories: 402kcal
Author: Breanna Stark


  • 3 lb fresh salmon cut into portions

Seasoning mix

  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • ½ tbsp black pepper
  • ½ tbsp Kosher salt


  • Soak your cedar planks in water for at least 1 hour.
  • Preheat your grill to 400°F (medium-high heat).
  • Combine the smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and salt in a bowl and mix until well incorporated. Season each piece of salmon lightly on all sides.
  • Remove the cedar planks from the water bath and place your salmon portions on top, skin side down. Be sure to space them at least 2 inches apart for even cooking.
  • Add a slice of lemon to the top of each salmon portion (optional).
  • Place your cedar planks directly on the grates of your grill and shut the lid.
  • Let them cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 135°F or to your preferred doneness (see Notes).
  • Remove your salmon from the grill and serve immediately.


    Cooking time can vary depending on the grill you are using and how thick or thin your salmon portions are but generally the salmon will take 15 to 20 minutes to reach medium-rare (125°F to 130°F). If you like your salmon a little more on the done side, use the guide below:
          • Rare Salmon: < 120°F
          • Medium-Rare Salmon: 125°F to 130°F
          • Medium Salmon: 135°F to 140°F (most popular!)
          • Well-Done Salmon:  > 140°F (please don’t…)


    Calories: 402kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 55g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 150mg | Sodium: 820mg | Potassium: 1406mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.3g | Vitamin A: 802IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 3mg

    Nutrition information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximation only. If you’re worried you could always add a side of kale.

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